Summary: At times in life, we need to stop or at least pause and get back to the basics.This sermon series focuses on the “Basics of the Christian Life, Believe, Belong, Abide, and Bear Fruit.“ Today we will begin by focusing on the role of belief in our Christian lives.
At times in life we need to stop or at least pause. Maybe life has become too hurried, busy or stressful. Maybe we have over-committed or made things more complicated than they have to be. Maybe it is the virus, the snowstorm, or balancing work and home. It just becomes too much. This can also apply to our spiritual lives. Perhaps we have gotten distracted, apathetic, too rigid, or overzealous. Perhaps we trying to be super-spiritual and at some point our faith stopped being a blessing and turned into a burden.
We need to get back to the basics. That is what we are going to do for the next four Sundays. Today we are starting a new sermon series focusing on the “Basics of the Christian Life.” In the weeks ahead we will focus on these four themes, “Believe, Belong, Abide, and Bear Fruit.“
Today we will begin by focusing on the role of belief in our Christians lives.
In Acts 16 the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas are unjustly beaten and thrown into a Philippi prison. The story continues in verse 25, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” The story then tells how the jailer saw the damage, and thinking that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But the apostle Paul cried out “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here. And the jailer called for lights and rushed in and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul responded with these words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Belief is the doorway to salvation.
In John 6:47 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” With Nicodemus in John 3:16; Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Throughout scripture we see this same truth. Whether the biblical writer uses the word belief or faith we can see that we are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ.
Belief is what brings us into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the doorway. It is by grace through faith that we are saved. Without belief no one will enter into the kingdom of God.
With this in mind it puts away all other definitions. Attending church regularly does not make a person a Christian. Giving money to the church or to people in need does not make a person a Christian. Being from a family or country that calls themselves Christian does not make a person a Christian. Praying, fasting and reading one’s Bible does not make a person a Christian. Being baptized does not make a person a Christian. Saying a prayer or even volunteering at church does not make a person a Christian. All of these things are good and should flow out of the Christian life, but even trying to be a good person does not make one a Christian. We all have sinned against God in many ways and this sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). We are all deserving of death and condemnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The only way a person could earn salvation is if they had not committed one sin in their entire life, and none of us have done that. The only way one can become a Christian is by fully trusting in Jesus Christ. As one turns from their sin and believes in God their sins are forgiven and they are made right with God.
Some might ask, why is it saving faith and not saving love or saving obedience or saving forgiveness. If salvation was through any of these it would have been earned, but there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, did everything that was needed for us to be reconciled to God. We are saved by simply believing. God stirs in our hearts, draws us to Himself, reveals the truth of the gospel, grants us faith and as we believe we are saved.
A saving faith or belief is more than just believing historical information. It is more than just believing that Napoleon lived or that World War II was a real event. It is putting your full trust in Jesus Christ for today and for eternity.
Let´s think of it this way. In the 1800s there was man named Charles Blondin. He was a renowned French tightrope walker. He had performed in circuses and many other amazing venues, but finally he set his mind on crossing the Niagara Falls, on the border of Canada and the United States. Niagara Falls is 320 meters wide and over 50 meters tall. That means he was planning to walk on a tightrope over a water fall where he would be over 15 stories above the raging water and he would need to walk a distance that would be longer than 3 futbol fields; without a safety net. About 25,000 people arrived by trains and boats to watch Blondin attempt this amazing feat.