Summary: A message of the Christian’s responsibility in living a Christ honoring life
THE FAITH TO WIN
INTRO: The 26th Olympic games are in Atlanta this summer, and excitement over this event runs from Miami, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska.
Who will win the gold? Who will come home with the medals? Whose childhood desire to be an Olympian will become a reality? Whose thousands of hours of training, endurance in spite of multiple injuries, and single-willed dedication to pursuing the Olympic dream will pay off?
Which champions will be idolized, made into national icons, and receive millions of dollars for endorsing popular products? These questions will be answered soon.
We Americans have great hopes for our country’s athletes and will be cheering them on. In the Olympic Spirit, we will applaud the victorious efforts of all the athletes, regardless of their nationality.
Many of us fondly remember past Olympics. We recall memorable performances by gymnasts like Olga Korbut and Mary Lou Retton; swimmers like Mark Spitz; runners like Carl Lewis. Who will be the new champions of these Olympics games? The world waits to find out.
ILLUS: A reporter once asked Tom Landry, successful coach of the Dallas Cowboys, “What makes a champion?” His answer was power-packed. He said, “A champion is simply someone who didn’t give up when he wanted to.” He went on to explain: “Success is not accidental. We learn how to achieve.”
Tom Landry further explained the power of positive action by saying, “I’d like to list four short steps that I think it takes to be a champion in the field of sports. 1. Faith. It’s believing that you can win. 2. Training. The Cowboys work out four times a week. They lift millions of tons of iron each season. They run many miles to win. 3. Goals. All winning teams set high goals. 4. You must possess the will to reach the goal you set for yourself. This is probably the most important quality of all champions.
No doubt Tom Landry got these four steps straight out of his experience as a Christian. What we have here is a formula that will succeed, not only in sports, but more importantly in the Olympics of life!
I. A BELIEVING FAITH.
See Acts 16:31. You cannot believe it unless you receive it. It’s not enough to have it in your head. It’s not enough to say it with your mouth. It’s only enough when you believe it in your heart! Do you believe it? Is your trust in Jesus Christ? Have you placed your confidence in Him?
People who win trust Christ; those who lose trust themselves. People who win love Christ; those who lose love this world. People who win follow Christ; those who lose follow the crowd. People who win seek Christ’s approval; those who lose seek man’s applause. Winning involves believing.
II. A SAVING FAITH.
Faith saves from sin, death, Hell, and a meaningless life. It saves to eternal life, Heaven, meaning purpose, fulfillment. Hebrews 11:6 NIV says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. God is pleased when we are saved, renounce our sinful ways, and receive His righteousness.
ILLUS: When Charles Colson became a Christian, he experienced a marked difference from the political prominence he enjoyed when he was Nixon’s chief council. Colson was facing charges for the Watergate scandal and would serve time in prison. As much as Colson had tried to please the President, he realized the only way he could overcome his sinful predicament was to please God. Colson’s repentance and prison ministry bear testimony to the saving faith of Jesus Christ.
III. A SUSTAINING FAITH.
If you believe, you will receive Christ. If you receive Christ, you will be saved. Once you are saved, you will be sustained. God will take care of you. He is all powerful!
ILLUS: A young boy was waiting after church for his family. The pastor saw him standing around and struck up a conversation. Noticing the boy had just come from Sunday School, the pastor thought he would ask him a question to see what he was learning. He said, “Young man, if you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” Thoughtfully the boy replied, “Sir, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole box of apples.”
Our mighty God can be trusted. Keep the faith! The faith will keep you. It will see your through (see Hebrews 4:14).
IV. A DECLARING FAITH.
We’ve got to tell people about our faith, about the Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Peter 2:9, NIV says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
We are not saved to be smug or self-satisfied. We are saved to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. Our faith must be a declaring faith. We declare it through the things we say and the way we live.