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Building a Strong Foundation of Faith, Part 1

From the series Trusting Jesus No Matter What

Anxiety, hopelessness, and fear are on the rise all across the world. And that surge has led many to say, “God, how can I make it through this?” In this program, Chip has some encouragement for us as he begins his series, Trusting Jesus No Matter What: How to Build an Unshakeable Faith. Learn how we can deepen our relationship and dependency on God to weather any storm we will face.

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Message Transcript

When I step back, here’s what I can tell you, we have an immature Church. We have a Church that cares more about our consumer needs and our world and whether the Church is open or closed or whether the pastor does “x” or whether he does “y”. And now we post on things and we attack one another.

I have literally been in rooms where friends of twenty years don’t talk to each other now. Both believers. I have been in rooms where father and son or mother and daughter won’t talk and can’t agree because of how they voted or how they see the world.

Those things are so deeply disturbing when we think of who Jesus is and why He came and what our mission is.

And by contrast, I have had glimpses of seeing God work like never before.

Just before the pandemic, I think I had been to China for I think seven different times. I found myself seeing people risk their life for the gospel and have a faith that when I rubbed up against it it was like, Oh, God, could I get more of that?

I found myself with one of my colleagues on the island of Malta with, I mean, Arab believers from all around the world interviewing a man from Syria who shared the story of a seventeen-year-old as ISIS was coming into their village who told his mother, “I will not hide, I will not pretend that I am a Muslim so I won’t be killed. Remember the words of Jesus.” He’s seventeen years old. A fairly new Christian. “If I deny Him before men, He will deny me before His Father.” And ISIS came and he was killed in front of his mother and his sister.

We have this collision, a culture that is crushing the message of Jesus Christ. We have God raising up people and the Spirit moving. And then we have, I think, an issue in the Church that if not addressed, it’ll be tragic.

You see, as I have met with pastors all across the nation, and literally all across the world. What they realize is something is wrong. What do we do? And here’s what I want to tell you. The answer is not a spiritual band aid. The answer is not a couple new programs. The answer is not a political answer, a social answer, a cultural answer, a media answer. The root of the issue goes far deeper. We need faith. We need a robust, powerful, unwavering faith that the early Church had that turned the world upside down.

We need a faith like that seventeen-year-old who said, “I can’t deny Jesus.” We need a faith, we need a generation both old and new, people that have been in the pews and people that have just come to Christ who say, “I will trust Jesus,” are you ready? “no matter what. No matter what. No matter the cost.”

And what I would suggest is this is the Jesus that most Christians believe in, especially here in America, is not a Jesus that you can give your all to. The view of Jesus that we have, the way that we have repackaged Him, the plastic Jesus, that we have turned into how will He meet my needs? Will He make me happy? Can I have the right relationships? The Jesus that we put our hands on our hips and get mad at because my life isn’t working the way I want it to. And I prayed a prayer or I gave some money or I followed the formula like this pastor or teacher or someone said. The Jesus that we find celebrity pastors or whole denominations in sexual scandals.

It's time for us to get to know and to see more clearly than ever before a Jesus that we can trust, a Jesus that will build a faith in our lives and in our relationships where we say to Him, “No matter what, no matter what changes, no matter the cost, I will trust You. I will walk by faith.”

And that raises, I think, one of the most important issues of our day. How do you build an unshakable faith? How do you build a faith that, when no matter comes at you, you stand firm? What is it that people have had from the prophets to the apostles to all through Church history to today where God is moving where they trust Jesus? What do they understand? How do they see life? That’s what I want to talk about.

And so, I want to invite you on a journey to discover: What is biblical faith and what is not? Why it’s so important and how to develop that unshakable faith, faith in the resurrected Christ who has the power, who has given you His Spirit, that no matter what you face relationally, circumstance, the future He will give you all that you need to walk through it, to endure it, to be transformed by it, and then be changed in such a way that your life, with all your imperfections and all of mine, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is a faith that is contagious, that gives love and gives light. And nothing is above our relationship with Jesus. No political party, no ethnicity, no cultural perspective. Nothing is above the Lord Jesus Christ and following Him.

That’s the kind of faith that changes the world. That’s the kind of faith in the rearview mirror that changed the world. It’s the kind of faith that I have seen, that I have caught, and that I want to pass on to you.

Let me give you three reasons why there’s nothing more important than developing and building an unshakable faith - except love. If you would read all through Scripture from beginning to end and you just said, “Wait a second, what is the most important thing in Scripture?” Is it morality? Is it keeping rules? Is it being religious? Is it how often you go to church? I mean, just reading through the Scriptures, what matters most?

“Now, abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”

The apostle Paul would tell us that the only way to access that kind of supernatural love is by faith.

Here’s what I want you to get. Just lean back for just a minute and follow with me. I want you to grasp how important faith is. It’s why the most important question that you can ask any day of any situation or any relationship is this: What does it look like to trust God in this relationship? Or what does it look like to trust God in this circumstance? What does it look like to trust God in this opportunity?

Because here’s the deal. [1] Theologically, faith is how we enter into the new life, right? God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe,” believe, faith, right? “believe in Him would have eternal life.”

We have learned that we are saved by grace through faith in Ephesians chapter 2. The apostle Paul would tell us – what? “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God,” Romans chapter 5.

Or later in the same book, if you believe, “If you trust in your heart and profess with your mouth, you will be saved.” You see, faith is so critical. It’s at the absolute core of how we come into a relationship with Jesus.

But it’s beyond that. [2] It’s also how you grow. The apostle would say in Colossians 2:7, “Just as you received the Lord,” right? “by faith, now so walk in Him.” In fact, in 2 Peter chapter 1, he tells us something that our faith does. Follow along with me. It says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” how? “through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

You see what I’m saying? You enter the relationship with God through Christ by faith. You grow in your relationship with Christ and are transformed as you appropriate promises where you get to know who He is. And as we get glimpses of who Jesus really is, we are transformed from the inside out.

1 John would tell us we don’t know what we will be like, but this is what we know. When we see Him, we will be like Him. And that process is happening now, but it happens by faith.

And here’s my burden. I just want you to think of this. I don’t think this has become the source and the goal and the focus of many Christians’ lives. I think somehow morality took over, right? You’re a parent and, you know, “I don’t want my child or my daughter or my son to get into drugs or get hooked on alcohol or become sexually active or get in with the wrong crowd. And so, I want them to go to the youth group and I want them to be a good person.”

And I think we have watered down the revolutionary, the God who came and took on human flesh to start a revolution and to fulfill a mission. And we have watered it down to a self-help Jesus who will make my life work out. And let’s just be a little bit nicer than other people and go to our little religious activities once or twice a month, tip our hat that we believe these things, and try to be just a little bit more moral.

And that kind of Christianity has about seven out of ten of our young people leaving the faith, because it’s not compelling. It’s not supernatural. It’s really consumeristic. We need a new faith, we need the kind of faith that transforms us, that leads to us transforming our world, because people see Jesus in us. In our fallenness, in our brokenness – yes, without perfection, for sure.

But I want you to know that theologically, faith is at the core of coming to know Christ. Faith is the means and way by which we become more and more like Christ and grow.

And then, finally, faith goes beyond that. [3] It’s a means by which Jesus actually works in our life to reveal Himself to us. The intimacy of our relationship isn’t about a list of activities or duties or trying hard.

The access by which your connection with Jesus, it’s won by faith. It’s when you trust Him, it’s when you believe in what He says.

So, theologically, faith is the most important thing, apart from love.

And practically, you can’t experience Christ apart from exercising biblical faith.

I have a number of verses that I have memorized over the years and as I was reviewing for this and praying about what to share with you, I realized that at the most practical level, it was Jesus who said, “This is the work of God: that people believe.” And so, practically, what He wants more than anything else is for you and me to trust Him, to have biblical faith.

I was thinking back that, you know, that passage I memorized as a young Christian, you know, where it talks about, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct,” or, “give guidance to your path.” See, it’s by trusting Christ that we get direction.

In Isaiah 26, there’s a little passage that talks about: God will keep that person in perfect peace whose mind is staid on Him, because He trusts in Him. What I want you to know is your experience, your Christian experience of God the Father manifesting His life in you through the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ personality and power, the conduit is faith. It’s trusting Him.

And just a word to some of us that are a little bit older, if you’re a parent, if you’re a grandparent, if you’re a serious Christian, it’s not just theologically or practically that faith is so vital and crucial, important, and at the center of the bullseye of what we need to understand and live out.

You are leaving a legacy – all of us are – for our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends, the people we go to church with. You see, at the end of the day, far more than your morality, although that’s what comes out of a vital faith, it’s they’ll catch your faith. Do you believe God? Do you take risk? Do they see God working in your life? Are there things happening in your life and my life that aren’t explainable by: You’re a nice person. Right? You read the Bible now and then. You’re trying to be good.

The kind of faith we are talking about is transformational. And your kids will see it. It’s real, it’s authentic, it’s powerful. When you rub up against people that have a robust, vital, living faith, you catch it. It inspires you. And those that will come behind you, it’s the legacy of faith.

In fact, the Scripture says that we should imitate the faith of those who have come before us. And the apostle Paul would say to a group of people who began to lose their way, he told them, “You know, you came to know Jesus and you trusted Him by faith,” Galatians chapter 5. He said then some false teachers came and pretty soon you went back to following Jewish rules and circumcision and all the rest.

And then he makes this absolutely amazing comment in verse 6 of Galatians 5. He says, “Circumcision is nothing and lack of circumcision is nothing. The only thing,” think of this, the apostle [said], “the only thing that really counts is faith being demonstrated,” or, “working itself out in love.

And so, I think it is time now to talk about: So, what is biblical faith? I mean, what does it really look like?

And before we do, I’d like to suggest we talk about what it’s not. See, I think when I meet with Christians and I talk with people, we think it’s trying harder and doing more. That’s faith. Or, it’s a feeling. You know? God, I think He wants me to take this step of faith, but I’ve got to get this feeling somehow inside of me and when I get this feeling. Or it’s an emotion. You know, I just, when I have this powerful experience, when I “feel close to God,” or have this emotional connection.

Or maybe it’s biblical faith is those special people. They have these experiences with God and, you know, in some special event, maybe it’s a second or third or fourth or fifteenth work of the Holy Spirit and it’s sort of a secret of how to get it, but there are certain people that have it or faith is this, you know, like, the few, the proud, the Marines. God doesn’t expect all of us to be that way, but there’s just this special group of people that they have this extra faith and they kind of live out these New Testament kind of lives.

And I would suggest that none of those things are true. And faith isn’t talking yourself into something or positive thinking about faith. And faith is not, as one recent sort of cult book came out, it’s not a secret that if you just say it or believe it and keep speaking it out loud you can speak things into existence.

No, biblical faith is believing in the character and the promises of God to the point of acting on them, whereby your obedience is the evidence that you actually believe, that you actually trust Him.

Biblical faith is focused on the person of Jesus, the promises that He has made. And biblical faith is: This is what You have said and because of who You are and because of this specific promise that I am holding on to, I am willing to step out and take a risk. I am willing to do what I cannot see, I am willing to obey You even though I am very, very much afraid.