Summary: Examining four features of faith found in the confession of the thief on the cross next to Jesus.
We continue in our series Dare to be Different and this month our focus is on Different Features. I want us to consider together Four Features Of Faith:
1. Confession of faith
2. Confession of sin
3. Confession of Christ
4. Confession of salvation
Most of us know the account of the crucifixion of Jesus. Listen to Luke 23:32-38, Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with Jesus. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed Him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on His right and one on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked Him, too, by offering Him a drink of sour wine. They called out to Him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above Him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
Luke 23:39-43 says, One of the criminals hanging beside Him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Let’s examine the Four Features of Faith we find in these verses:
First, THE CONFESSION OF FAITH
“Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?”
Most people in the world today have faith in something or someone. It could be a belief in themselves or a guardian angel, or the spirits of their ancestors, or in mother earth, or in a “god” or “gods”, or in some great mystic force.
It matters what we believe, what we have faith in and who we have faith in is important.
The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
The only faith pleasing to God is genuine faith in God. Real faith in God, real faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Our faith must be genuine and it must be an obedient faith.
We are saved by grace through faith, not by our works, or our deeds, or trying to live a good life by our standards or the standards of the world. Yet the Bible is emphatic when it states that faith on its own, without works, is useless. James especially makes this clear, Faith without works is dead (James 2:20).
Our confession of faith is demonstrated not just by our words but also by our actions by our obedient service to our Lord.
Our confession of faith in God, in Christ as Lord and Saviour does not make all of our problems and troubles disappear. The thief on the cross recognised Jesus for who He was but the thief was still on the cross.
Think about the story of Job for a moment. Job’s troubles came because he had faith not because he lacked faith. The same was true of the Apostle Paul, because of his confession of faith the apostle faced problems and difficulties and hardship and trial.
Many of us who confess Jesus as Lord know that as disciples of Christ, there have been times in our lives when our faith has been tested by troubles.
The truth is when problems have come, that is when we have discovered God is for us not against us.
He has sustained us, He has carried us, He has led us, He has blessed us.
In times of trial, in the storms of life, we can still confess that God is faithful, His promise is He will never leave us, He will never forsake us.
Second, CONFESSION OF SIN “We deserve to die for our crimes¨
1 John 1:9 says, But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Jesus provides the way for us to be forgiven of sin and also to conquer sin through Him.
We are forgiven because of His sacrifice on the Cross.
1 John 1:7 reminds us, “The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin”
1 John 2:1-2 says, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”