Summary: If you're struggling with your faith, not sure who to believe, not sure if you believe in Jesus, then you're struggling with obedience
Have you been in a situation, or a circumstance, or has something happened to you or your family and you just wonder how you’re going to get through it? I often wonder about what the followers of Jesus thought as they fled into the night when he was arrested and executed. They must have been scared and frantic. They must have worried about what was going to happen to them and their families. I can imagine that they wondered what the last three years was all about. Why follow a man who could raise the dead just to watch him die on a cross? What was that all about? Could they go back to the lives they had before? What was the future going to hold for them?
Last week we left the apostle John on the witness stand. He's the only eye witness left alive to talk about who Jesus is. Not only is he an eye witness but he was the best friend. John knows Jesus better than anyone, possibly even more than his own mother did. "Who is Jesus?" John is asked. This is his testimony, "We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life."
A lawyer wants to do two things to the testimony of a witness that undermines his case. He wants to discredit the testimony as false or misleading, and he wants to attack the credibility of the witness. Sometimes he can only do one and not the other, but, if he can do both it's a bonus. This is what people do who don't want to believe the testimony of this eye witness.
If you don't want to accept what John said, then you have to discredit what he said as false. And a lot of people don't believe John because they don't have faith. The Hebrew writer says this about our faith, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." In the same chapter in Hebrews he continues to explain, "By faith people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword."
Paul confirms this, "Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us."
If you were going to dig into the stories this Scripture refers to you would discover that people of faith accomplished these great things when they were weak, tired, worn out, and frightened. God showed up in their weakness and because of their faith achieved these incredible results. Even Jesus himself went to the cross as a weak, broken, beat up and frightened man but then accomplished the most incredible miracle in history by resurrecting Himself from the grave. The power of God does the miraculous for those who have faith and who in their weakest moment trust that God will show up.
So John is on the witness stand and the prosecutor wants to undermine his credibility. "Who is Jesus?" the lawyer asks. John tells him. But if you're an unbeliever his testimony has to be discredited. You have to make a case that his information is inaccurate, or even an outright lie.
"How do we know we can believe you?" This is the next question. How can you rely on the testimony of this witness? There were those who were false teachers during John's day who claimed that they were apostles, too, just like John. There were others who claimed that Jesus wasn't really human, he didn't really suffer and die as a human being. "So how do we know who is telling the truth, how do we know we can believe you?" John responds, "If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did."
If you want a faith that endures like the faith of Jesus, or the faith of John, or the faith of someone you know who seems to always have faith and you wonder how they do it.
Here's how you have a faith that endures.
You obey God's Word.