Statistics
1567 sermons as of December 9, 2018.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
 send email...
 
Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
 sites.google.com/site/rcoamaru/
 
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Faith Is The Way!
Text:BC 22 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2008-05-11
Added:2009-05-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH XXII

(Reading: John 3:1-15; Phil.3:1-11)

 

Faith Is The Way!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     There is one argument that seems to keep coming up between Calvinist and Arminian Christians.

          That disagreement concerns the matter of who decides that we believe – God or us.

 

     There was once a lady who became so involved in arguing with a gentleman that it was her decision to believe to her surprise she looked at the time and saw it was one o’clock in the morning!

          She was quite shocked, and she said, “Well, I didn’t know it was so late.

              “I see that can’t convince you, and I’m sure all you’ll say won’t convince me; so good night.”

 

     “Yes,” said the gentleman, “it is time to go to rest.

          “I suppose, however, that when you go to bed, you’ll spend a few minutes praying to God.”

 

     “Indeed, sir, I do.”

          “Please, then, madam, tell God what you have just told me.”

 

     “What is that, sir?”

          “Why, madam, that you began with Him, before He began with you.”

 

     “No, I will not,” she said.

          “I knew you wouldn’t,” said the gentleman, “and so I saved this point for my last.

              “You see, I have never found any person of your opinion, that could address God, in consistency with the language you hold out so confidently to your fellow-mortals.”

 

     It’s so true, isn’t it?

          Every believer on his bended knee is a Calvinist.

              But don’t think that the vast majority of Christians will admit it to you!

                   In this way, congregation, we come to see how it is faith that we all need and yet it is faith which is so misunderstood.

 

     So it is timely that here we have our Confession of Faith dealing with exactly this subject – faith.

          Mind you, you could say that it naturally comes here because of the sequence being followed in the Confession.

              It logically comes after dealing with who Christ is and what He has done.

     And it is the way we must begin in seeing what the fruits of Christ’s work are and the way they come to us.

          But let’s be thankful that it is in this Confession at all and thus a great help to us.

 

     So we turn to the area of our justification through faith in Jesus Christ.

          And as we do so we note, first of all, WHAT BIBLICAL FAITH IS.

 

     Well, put simply, biblical faith is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation.

          That was pictured so well in John 3.

              Because when Jesus is lifted up, like the snake in the wilderness amongst the Israelites, men and women come to faith – they have eternal life.

                   In the words of Article XXII, this the “upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, appropriates Him, and seeks nothing more besides Him.”

 

     Congregation, it’s really the answer to the question of the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16.

          For in verse 30 he asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

 

     And you remember how they answered him, don’t you?

          For in verse 31 we read them says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

 

     It’s so simple.

          But so simple it’s in danger of being misunderstand – and that’s certainly what the devil delights in!

 

     For many, especially those sophisticated, men and women of fame and power, feel that this is just not enough!

          They must have something more difficult.

              Something more suited to where they’re at.

     So the gospel in its simplicity becomes an offence to them.

          In the words of 1st Corinthians 1 verse 23, preaching Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentles.

              To them faith has got to be involved and complicated.

     Something like the traditions of men come up with.

          Something to do with what you do or don’t do.

             

     There is an example of this in 2nd Kings chapter 5.

          You might remember Naaman, the general in Aram’s army.

              He went to the prophet of the Lord seeking a healing for his leprosy.

     The prophet didn’t even see him in person but told him to go and bathe seven times in the Jordan.

          “What!” said Naaman.

              Not that poor excuse for a creek!

                   He would much rather go and wash in one of Damascus’ better rivers.

 

     But what then did his servants say to him?

          In verse 13 they go up to him and say, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great wouldn’t you have done it?

              “How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”

                   It is quite simple!

 

     There was a minister in the 17th century, Thomas Doolittle, who used to catechise the members, and especially the young people of his congregation, every Lord’s day.

          One Sabbath evening, while dealing with the very subject of what biblical faith is, as found in Answer 31 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, he challenged his students to say the answer in the first person.

              So instead of the third person – ‘us’ and ‘our’ he got them to say ‘me’ and ‘my’.

 

     Well, that made the young people think a bit.

          After quite a pause one stood up, and, showing real humbleness and sorrow, he said, ‘Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing me of my sin and misery, enlightening my mind in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing my will, He persuades and enable me to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to me in the gospel.’

 

     It was a riveting scene.

          Because he was the last young man anyone would thought would say this.

              So he showed exactly what biblical faith is all about!

                   And he went out and lived what he’d just professed!

 

     Here we have a picture of what biblical faith is.

          And it’s further developed with how Article XXII ends.

              For the last sentence declares, “faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him and all His benefits, which, when they become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.”

 

     So it’s all about God.

          Again, not something we hear much of when people speak about faith nowadays.

              For faith isn’t about you and your feelings – it’s about what God plants in you to join you to Him.

     So you are not justified because of your faith.

          But you cannot be right with God without faith either.

             

     This is why faith is called here an “instrument.”

          It is the way we connect with Christ through the communion of all His benefits.

 

     Thus we have seen WHAT BIBLICAL FAITH IS.

          Next, we move on, in the second place, to see WHERE BIBLICAL FAITH IS.

 

     Of course, you would say that biblical faith is in the heart of the believer.

          But how does it get there?

 

     The Confession is quite clear.

          “We believe,” it begins, “that to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts an upright faith.”

              The faithful Church has always believed that faith is worked in us by the Holy Spirit.

     Scripture is quite definite about this.

          The apostle writes in Philippians 1 verse 6, that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

              Then, further on in verse 29 of the same chapter, Paul says, “For it has been granted top you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.”

 

     And who could forget those immortal words in Ephesians second chapter?

          Verse 8 there declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

 

     So biblical faith is definitely not already in us.

          By nature we are blind to the truth.

              We were unwilling to accept the Word of God.

     Because that Word testifies against us and humbles us.

          And so it had to be God Himself, through the Spirit, who did this.

              It’s the Spirit who completely turns us around.

 

     This is why Article XXII goes on to state again the sufficiency of Christ.

          Because the Arminian and the Roman Catholic would say it’s not only by faith alone.

              In fact, the Arminian says that the Spirit’s way of working faith is kind’ve like a “gentle suggestion.”

     They say that once someone sees the sense of the Gospel, he’ll see for himself how true it is.

          His ‘rational mind’ will spot the difference and believe.

 

     To the Roman Catholics the working of the Holy Spirit is needed because natural man isn’t receptive to the supernatural contents of God’s Word.

          To be able to accept God’s Word we must first be raised to its level.

              So they speak about receiving a supernatural gift to be able to do this.

                   A gift, incidentally, that comes through the hands of man!

 

     Both views are saying you need something besides Christ.

          No wonder Article XXII talks about that kind of view making Christ half a Saviour!

              Then faith is not alone.

 

     And here we turn to seeing another aspect to WHERE BIBIBLICAL FAITH IS.

          Because while it’s source is in the Holy Spirit it is now in the believer too.

              The Confession speaks about attaining “the true knowledge of this great mystery.”

                   It also uses word like “embraces Christ” which show something personal is going on.

 

     And something personal is going on.

          To Calvin the “firm, sure knowledge” isn’t only a dry understandable knowledge but a knowledge of love.

              That includes confidence.

                   The Heidelberg Catechism in Answer 21 goes on to say that true faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true but that it’s also a deep-rooted assurance.

 

     So someone may profess their faith because they know the Catechism but his heart doesn’t live for the Saviour.

          And that’s wrong.

              This is not where biblical faith is.

                   Indeed, if faith without confidence in Christ is true faith then, as James 2 verse 19 says, even the demons would believe!

 

     Congregation, this is why we must understand that faith is true knowledge and assurance.

          This true knowledge is that you acknowledge God’s Word as true.

              You understand what it says.

                   And you don’t get to that confession without a broken heart and a trust in Christ.

                  

     You can see why there is such a wrong view about faith today.

          People have disconnected it from knowledge.

              “Let go and let God,” is a popular phrase amongst them.

     And when they hear a sermon, or a “message” as they like to term it, it must be something that does something to you.

          It becomes a feeling not a fact.

 

     There is a poem which shows this.

          It is called, ‘Feeling, Faith, & Fact.’

             

     It goes,

          Three men were walking on a wall

          Feeling, Faith and Fact.

          Feeling had a dreadful fall

          And Faith went tumbling back

          But Fact stood fast

          And pulled up Faith

          And soon stood Feelings too.

 

          They pause awhile in grave debate,

          To learn from their behaviour

          Said Faith to Feeling,

          ‘You, my friend, can never be my Saviour.

          ‘I’ll have you learn this lesson true,

          ‘If you would follow braver,

          ‘Let’s keep our eyes on Sir Fact,

          ‘And we shall never waver.”

 

     This leads us right into the third aspect to Article XXII.

          From seeing WHERE BIBLICAL FAITH IS we come to show HOW BIBLICAL FAITH IS.

 

     We have seen that faith isn’t only an intellectual knowledge.

          Indeed, since faith is what we have of God in us it must show forth the One who put it there first of all.

              Having true communion with Christ means this faith is alive.

 

     The letter of James brings this out.

          In chapter 2 verse 26 it declares, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds in dead.

             

     The apostle John takes up the same theme.

          In his first letter chapter 3 verse 14 he says, “We know we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.

              “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

 

     This is what Article XXII means to embrace Christ with all His merits, appropriate Him, and seek nothing more besides Him.

          We confess here that we must definitely show whose we now are.

 

     Now, this has led to further debates in the past.

          A group called the Scholastics loved to philosophise that if faith is always connected with works, you can’t say that only faith justifies.

              But Calvin had a sharp answer to that.

                   He said that the light of the sun is never without warmth, yet no one can say that it’s by the warmth that you see the sun.

 

     In the same way, faith is never without works.

          Yet we are justified by faith without our works coming into this.

 

     A missionary in the East Indies was called to the death-bed of a native believer.

          When with her there, he asked her how her mind was.

              She replied, “Happy! Happy! I have Christ here,” she said laying her hand on the Bible, “and Christ here,” pressing it to her heart, “and Christ there,” pointing upwards to heaven.

 

     What a happy Christian!

          Wherever she might be, the Lord of the universe was with her, and she was always at home.

 

     Can you say the same, dear friend?

          Whichever situation you’re in, no matter where you might be, is Jesus in here?

 

     This is the spirit Paul had.

          In Philippians 3 verses 7 till 11, he declares, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

              “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

     “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

          “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

 

     Congregation, we must not forget what a huge rediscovery this true faith was at the time of the Reformation.

          Then the scales were taken off people’s eyes.

              After centuries of being blinded by a welter of superstitious ceremonies they could now see!

 

     Out of this true revival came the changing of Europe.

          From hearts changed by faith nations became changed.

              As was shown again with the Great Awakening in the 18th century and the Dutch Afscheiding in the 19th century.

 

     Do you want to know how Biblical faith is?

          Well, look at your life.

              What does it show?

    

     But especially, dear friend, who do you know?

          Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Loving Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You for giving us this most wonderful gift in Your Son.

          Thank You for the faith which joins us with Him and so with You too.

              For we are now Your children and You are our Father.

     Please help us to show who we know.

          Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

    

 

 

 

             

                  

 

    

 

 

         




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner