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Building a Strong Foundation of Faith, Part 2

From the series Trusting Jesus No Matter What

Have you ever been in a really trying situation, and someone says, “Hey, you just need to have a little more faith.” In this program, Chip will emphatically tell us: The Bible doesn’t teach that! Join us as Chip continues his series, Trusting Jesus No Matter What, by defining biblical faith and identifying the biggest roadblock that often stops us from fully depending on Jesus.

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Message Transcript

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.

Can I suggest that the number one enemy of biblical faith is fear? Fear of missing out, fear of being rejected, fear that God won’t show up, fear that He is going to – if He asked you to take a step with your finances, that you won’t have enough for you. Fear that if you confront someone that God has spoken to you about, about dealing with an issue, of lovingly, kindly speaking the truth in love, it’ll blow up the relationship. And so, how that person views you is more important than what God has said to you.

See, biblical faith requires courage. But Jesus said, “I am always with you.” Jesus said, “My strength will give you whatever you need in every situation.” Jesus said, “As you trust Me and walk with Me, I am your resource. I’ll never leave you, I will never forsake you. The same power that raised Me from the dead,” Jesus would say, “it lives in you.” But the means of accessing the power and the grace of God to live in a way that makes a difference in your life and others is biblical faith. The biggest misconception is that you need more faith. That’s what I always believed early in my life. I guess I just need more faith. I’ve got to get more faith. But listen, Jesus said if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed – it was very, very, very tiny – you can say to that mountain, “Be moved and be cast into the sea.”

So, here’s what I want you to get. There may be nothing more important that I’m going to say than what I’m going to say right now. Growing in your faith is not about getting more faith. Growing in your faith is about getting a clear view of the object of your faith.
It’s when you see Jesus clearly, that Jesus is all-knowing, all-powerful, just, kind, patient, understanding. When you grasp that Jesus is available, the power and the grace will come and will flood in your life the moment you turn to Him and take that step of faith.

When you can begin to grasp who Jesus is much more accurately, not the Jesus of the narratives, right? It’s very important that we learned about Jesus and that He was born and the Christmas stories and the miracles that He did. The gospels give us a picture and a story and a life of Jesus who died and rose again and lived a perfect life. The narratives and the Jesus of the gospels are absolutely critical.

But what I want you to know that when we get to the epistles, and the Church has been growing for about thirty, thirty-five years. And then one case, about sixty years. And then the Spirit of God is going to speak to say to us through the apostles: He has risen, He is ascended into heaven, He’s at the right hand of the Father. This is the Jesus that you need in the midst of conflict. This is the Jesus you need as your high priest and what He does and where and when and why. This is how Jesus accomplished His perfect life in dependence on the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is how you can. And this is why Jesus came, what He is doing right now, and what you can expect in the future.

Those are the things that we are going to learn. But here’s what you must understand. Your concept of what it means to have faith or to trust God if you’re anything like me or the people that I have had the privilege to pastor about the last thirty-five years, goes something like this. Are you ready? Okay.

This is how we think of faith. It’s sort of like the people that really have faith are like a spiritual Indiana Jones. And, you know, there’s, I’m on this side, right? And I could go all the way over. I need to get to this side over here. But, you know, it’s a bridge, it’s a rickety, rickety bridge. And, you know, of course when someone takes a step, some of them are going to fall out and you don’t know if you can make it. And you look down and there’s crocodiles or piranha and it’s very, very dangerous. But there are some people with great faith.

And whoever it is that has that kind of faith, that’s not me. That’s not me. And so, I’ll just do the best I can.

Let me give you the picture of biblical faith. So, there was a youth pastor and he was up in the Michigan area and was taking his youth group on a retreat. And they were going to ice skate and have a lot of fun and play a little hockey, just have a good time. And he wanted to make sure that it was a lake and he wanted to make sure it’s frozen.

And so, you know, he says, “Okay, students, stay back,” and he takes a stick, right? He pounds it and pretty good here. And in his heart he is thinking, like we all do when we are taking steps of faith, “You know, the worst thing that could happen in the world: youth pastor leads youth out on ice, ice breaks, kids die. I mean, he’s just thinking…

And then he just knocks it again, knocks it again. And then as he does that, he hears this funny sound. Brrrrrr. It’s a rumbling. It’s a rumbling. And pretty soon he turns around and he looks and there’s a huge truck, I mean, one of those big, big trucks, you know, like an eighteen-wheeler level on the back and it’s open, and it’s filled with logs. This truck is going across the frozen lake. How much faith would it require for him to say, “Okay, youth group, let’s go!”

About the size of a mustard seed. Do you get the picture? You see, it’s not how much faith you have. It’s the object of your faith.

And what I believe has happened over time is in our consumer context of Christianity, Jesus has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller.

And I am sure glad that I, you know, got to read Bible stories and Jesus with the little children coming and getting on His lap and, some of those Bible stories about, you know, Jesus is so kind and so loving and here’s the disciples. And it’s sort of like this nice, pleasant, He sure wants to help me. And make no mistake, He does.

The narratives and the Jesus of the gospels are absolutely critical. And Jesus hasn’t changed, but what I want you to know that when we get to the epistles, when you get to Colossians 1, we will study a Jesus who spoke the world into existence and holds it currently, right now. And if He can hold all of that, He can hold whatever you are facing in your life.

We’ll go to Philippians 2 and we’ll find a Jesus literally who descends into greatness and becomes this servant and high priest that is going before the Father for you and says, “Follow Me the way I followed Him, because as I humbled Myself, the Father exalted Me and He wants to do that to you and in you.”

We are going to meet a Jesus that when we get to Hebrews chapter 1, we learn: How did all this happen?

He not only spoke the world into existence, but He speaks now and this precious, precious tool He has given us of the written Word and the living Word and how to use it and how to believe it is in such a way that we become instruments of God like He was God’s instrument in ways that change us and change the world.

And then finally we will get to Revelation chapter 1 and we will have a picture of this righteous, all-powerful judge who is going to make all things right, who is going to solve all the problems; way beyond social justice, it’ll be biblical justice, it’ll be a justice of someone who sees all things accurately, knows the hearts and the motives of all people, knows all things actual and possible, and is absolutely committed to bringing about what is good and what is right and restoring all things.

I want to introduce you to this Jesus. It’s not that He’s different from any Jesus that we have studied in the gospels, but it’s a picture and a snapshot that allows the object or the view that we have of Him to get enlarged. It allows us to see Him for who He is, not for how we remember Him to be from all the stories that we have heard.

And I would say this as humbly and kindly as I can. The Jesus that has been taught in many of our churches for many of the last three to four decades has been a Jesus that has not been worthy of worshipping. He’s a Jesus that condescends, it’s a Jesus that we have been told our agenda and our happiness and our fulfillment is what matters.

And it’s in a Jesus that we know what we believe by either what we experience or by what we feel and that we have become the sovereign self and the center of the universe. And the Jesus that we have invited into our life is a conditional Jesus: If You make my life work out, if You make me happy, well, that will work. And if it works, great. And if not, I’ll try something or someone else.

And that Jesus is not the Jesus of the New Testament. That’s a Jesus that the young people of our world don’t want to embrace. That’s not a Jesus that is in the Bible. That’s a Jesus that is unworthy of your full devotion.

But I’ll tell you this: When you get some glimpses, the Jesus of the epistles, who fills out the story of the gospels, who allows us to see things and to grasp who He is, you will see a Jesus who is asking you to step out with your relationships and your finances and your gifts and your mission and your purpose and your family and your priorities and your singleness and your purity and to walk with Him in holiness. And the One who is asking it will be like, you know, fifty feet of ice and a truck rolling behind you. It won’t take a lot of faith, because He is faithful, He is true, He is just, He is currently the One and only sovereign King and Lord of the universe. And when you get that snapshot, when you get that view, and when it goes from your head into your heart, I am telling you, transformation happens.

In fact, I’ll close with a picture, very personal and very close to me. Just because you’re a pastor doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. And one of the biggest challenges that my wife and I ever had was a time when one of our sons went through a pretty predictable time of rebellion. And it was, he didn’t want to believe in God and his dad was a pastor and looking back, there were a lot of pressures on him that I don’t think I was very aware of.

I also think, you know, if he and I were sitting here he would say, “You know, Dad, you didn’t help a whole lot with some of your attitudes.” And he would be exactly right.

But I remember coming to a point where this just isn’t working. And it wasn’t that he got off into some big terrible things. It was an attitude of rebellion that was destroying our family. And I remember having a really tough conversation with him about: “You know, if you can’t live in our house with very minimal rules, you don’t have to, you could, I can’t tell you to believe in God or convince you. But then maybe it’s time for you to move out and go your own way. And you get all the authority to do whatever you want but you get all the responsibility.”

And I said, “But why don’t you think about it for about forty-eight hours and before you make a decision.” And tears streaming down my face. I’ll never forget that moment in front of our house in the car with my son.

And, you know, he decided to stay, God did an amazing thing, his life was so transformed. And interestingly now he’s a songwriter and produces music for the Church. But I remember, you know, after making sure that it was really real, saying, “Son, what was it? What turned the corner for you?”

Listen very carefully. You know, I wanted to hear, “Dad, your sermons were amazing.” I didn’t hear that. Or, “You know, I just realized it was all my fault and I had a rebellious heart and I needed to get with the program.” I didn’t hear that.

He said, “Dad,” and tears coming down his eyes, he said, “you know, I have watched you and mom and I have caught mom early in the morning on her knees out there in front of the couch or with a little light on reading and, you know, you’re basically the same guy at church as you are here at home. You certainly don’t have it all together.” But he said, “Dad, Jesus is so real to you and mom and I went in my bedroom for the last forty eight hours and I said, ‘Jesus, if You’re really real, would You reveal Yourself to me the way you have to my mom and dad?’” And he said, “He did.” And I want you to know that that wasn’t our morality, that wasn’t our spiritual activity, he caught, he saw biblical faith. Imperfect, of course.

So, I’m going to invite you to join me on a journey. Where we are going to build an unshakable faith as we look at four specific snapshots. We’ll go to Colossians 1, Philippians 2, Hebrews chapter 1, and Revelation chapter 1.

And here is my invitation. When you see the Jesus of the epistles and you allow that to fill in what you have learned from the Jesus of the gospels, and you watch it filter out some of the Jesus that we have made up in our mind or that we hear in our culture, it will give you a solid rock faith to believe in and you will be the kind of person that trusts Jesus no matter what. And you will build an unshakable faith and you’ll do what the apostle Paul did.

It says he fought the good fight; he ran the race. And what did he do? He kept the faith. That’s my prayer for you, my prayer for me, and here’s the deal. The world is very, very challenging right now and God is doing miraculous things. It’s people of faith that will be the ones that He will use, because without faith it’s impossible to please Him, but they who come to Him must believe two things. That He actually exists, He’s active and working and who He is. And that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

I want you to see Him accurately, to see what He is really like, and to experience the kind of reward that no amount of money or fame or popularity could ever give you. So, join me.