Summary: This sermon seeks to lay a solid foundation for faith in the lives of believers and encourages the development of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
When a carpenter is erecting a building he must have a solid foundation. Likewise, we need a solid foundation for our faith. Also, a carpenter must have an accurate plumb line lest the structure could wind up being a new Leaning Tower of Pisa. In your home, have you ever tried to hang wallpaper without a plumb line? It’s a disaster. In a similar way, in science all experimentation starts from the use of a “constant” – something sure, unmoving, unchanging – in order to arrive at consistently accurate conclusions. Without a reliable constant, the researcher can never be sure of his findings.
In the same way, we too, must build our lives using a plumb line or a constant. And the constant we choose must be true, trustworthy and unchangeable. The problem in our day is humanism tells us that everything is relative. That’s a modern way of saying that happy lives can be built without plumb lines. When it comes to the things of God, to think in relative terms is sheer stupidity, it’s foolish. As human beings we’re walking variables, unpredictable; we’re happy one moment, sad the next. There’s nothing constant in our life except when we make Christ, the living Word our constant, our plumb line. Then we have a foundation, direction and a straight path to guide us. Jesus is the only constant of whom we can say, “He is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
We’re the most blessed people on earth because we have truth as our plumb line. Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth and the life...” (John 14:6). And what a privilege we have to order our lives around His never-changing Word, which Jesus also said is truth in John 17:17 when He declared in His prayer to His father, “Your word is truth.” My point is, the Bible gives us a point of reference, a stake around which we must move in order to maintain stability in our lives. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we can bounce our questions and concerns off the unchanging truth of God’s Word as the foundation of our faith in the same way that the scientist challenges the variables against the constant. So as we seek to build a foundation of our faith one truth is:
I. The Bible itself can never replace the true object of your faith
You see, the Bible is God’s revelation of Jesus Christ, the living Word, the Seed of our faith, the promise, the true object and foundation of our faith. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees even though they knew the Old Testament Scriptures better than anyone else. All their lives they had been schooled in the Scripture. They had learned, memorized, repeated, taught, written and spoken the verses about the coming Messiah ever since their youth. Yet, when Jesus stood in front of them they didn’t recognize Him. Their study and knowledge didn’t help them when the One of whom all their learning spoke, stood before them. Jesus said to them in John 5:39-40, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”
The Pharisees knew the book, yet they missed the Author. The sad things is, we can make the same mistake. We all learn in school to read a book to learn the contents, not to know the author. And then as Christians, we carry that same mentality into our study of the Bible. We become students of the book, but miss the Author. Jesus amplified this point further to the Pharisees as he continued, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47). Part of the problem with the Pharisees was that this man from Nazareth was talking about “faith” as a way of relating to God and pleasing God. And this concept was totally foreign to the Jews because they were depending on their obedience to the Law to gain God’s righteousness, favor and relationship. In their minds, they thought obedience to the law was God’s desire for them. So when Jesus came and tried to make them see that God looks upon the heart and not outward behavior, they didn’t understand and saw no need for faith in Him. Now, as we seek to build a foundation for our faith let’s look at Old Testament faith for just a few minutes.
II. In the Old Bible faith is sparsely mentioned
In the entire Old Testament, which takes up 80% of the Bible, faith is mentioned only 15 times and never in terms of a relationship with God. Mostly it refers to a man breaking faith with his wife or Israel breaking faith with their God. And the reason its not mentioned is that the object of faith – Jesus Christ, the Messiah – hadn’t yet been revealed. God, through the prophets of old, talked about the day when He would come and what He would accomplish for all mankind. And many of the saints of the Old Testament believed in the One who was prophesied to come. They were saved, if you will, on a credit card. They enjoyed some of the benefits of salvation, but they knew there would be a time in the future when the final payment for sin would be made and the full benefits of salvation would be available. We read about these saints in Hebrews 11. But this was the best they could do, not yet knowing the object of their faith. They couldn’t have faith in Him yet because as Paul says in our text, faith had not yet been revealed vv.22-23...