FAITH IN CHRIST
Faith In Christ
Last week, we began our fall series, “In Christ.” For a pastor, fall signifies the beginning of the BUSY SEASON: fall programming, holiday messages, Advent, Christmas, New Year, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost!
The Seed’s Mission Statement is filled with action verbs: “Know, Grow, Go and Sow.” Our mission statement is in your bulletin each week. Many of you wear our church’s wrist bands to help you remember to “Know God’s Love, Grow In Christ’s Grace, Go In The Power of the Holy Spirit, and Sow Seeds of Faith.” I have been reflecting on The Seed’s ministry over the last, almost seven years. There have been wonderful seeds of faith sown into the lives of many people right here in this room, many others in this community and many more around the world. It is our vison that the Gospel “seed” will bear fruit--in each person here, and in every seed we sow in the outside world. It is our prayer that the Gospel seed will grow wherever it is planted. The challenge for the Gospel seed to grow is that those who receive the seed of God’s love, grace, mercy and peace will soon learn how to plant these seeds for others. For us to plant seeds of faith, we need to continually grow in Christ’s grace. Then we need to go in the power of the Holy Spirit to sow those seeds of faith.
This morning we are going to spend some time with the Apostle Paul. We will look at the opening of his letter to the church in Ephesus and then we will turn our attention to Paul’s words to the church in Colosse.
Before we begin our study today, let’s stop and pray. “God of all grace, we come today to grow in Your grace. We come to be hear Your Words of peace and mercy. May your peace still the storms in our lives. May your peace be always present in the busyness of our daily lives—in our work, family, schools, and communities. Come, Holy Spirit, grow Your grace in us today. Grant us the peace that passes understanding. We pray for our world and for all who need Your grace this day. Amen.”
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.[i]
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[ii]
This past month a friend asked me to write a brief essay on faith for him. He said it had to be 250 words or less. He said he was not looking for a dissertation or sermon. He told me that he would be taking it with him to Rome for a Missionary Conference. The conference is being held to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis on the door of the Wittenberg castle. My friend’s goal was to come up with 95 different points for the church to discuss today. The program my friend is presenting in Rome is called “95-4-2-Day!” To be honest with you, I was a little overwhelmed that he asked me. Then, I thought to myself, 250 words, that is no problem. But I put it off and put it off and put it off. When I was working on the message for this week, I sat down, wrote my essay and emailed my friend.
In the process of trying to write my essay on faith, I came across many quotes from some of the powerful voices of the church. Voices that have helped inspire the church to hold fiercely onto her faith. I thought I would share a few with you today as we turn to the topic of faith.
Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that you may understand. St Augustine[iii]
It is not from works that we are set free by the faith of Christ, but from the belief in works, that is from foolishly presuming to seek justification through works. Faith redeems our consciences, makes them upright, and preserves them, since by it we recognize the truth that justification does not depend on our works, although good works neither can nor ought to be absent, just as we cannot exist without food and drink and all the functions of this mortal body. Martin Luther [iv]
There is the analogy of faith: it is a master key, which not only opens particular doors, but carries you through the whole house. John Newton
This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own, and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness, and intercession of Jesus. John Newton [v]
Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow: without it prayer will not hit the mark.
J. C. Ryle[vi]
So what is faith to you? , “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”[vii] I often think of the 12 disciples after Pentecost. It was their job to build the church. Somehow, Jesus had inspired their faith—through His teaching, His death, and His resurrection. Listen again to , “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” How did these 12 disciples build the church? FAITH.
So What is Faith?
Found In Christ
When we read the two passages today from Ephesians and Colossians, we find the Apostle Paul writing from a prison cell in Rome. Paul had made three missionary trips from Jerusalem to many of these cities and churches that he is writing to. He had been to Ephesus. It was in Ephesus where Paul spent most of his time. Now he wrote to the church that he loved. He told them that God finds them faithful and wants to bless them. Listen again to the opening lines of Ephesians --- To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Did you hear it? Can you see it? “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Paul called them saints. Go back to the times when this was written. Only a few Old Testament prophets, people and a few angels were given the title “saints.” For Paul to apply the title “saint” to the pagan Greeks was nothing more than mind blowing. John Calvin said this about the title “saint”: “No man is … a believer who is not also a saint; and, on the other hand, no man is a saint who is not a believer.”[viii] Paul called the people of the church in Colosse “holy.”
The word “saint” means “holy one --- set apart or consecrated.” As Paul writes, the word “saint” described what had happened in the hearts of the faithful in the churches of Ephesus and Colosse. These faithful people were saints despite the fact that they lived in the shadow of the pagan temples. They were saints amidst the moral decay of Asia Minor. They were saints as they lived their lives as shopkeepers, homemakers, fishermen, sailors, tent makers, carpenters, and raising their children.
Have you ever considered yourself “holy” or a “saint”?
Exactly why were they referred to as saints? Because they believed. They believed that Jesus was the Son of God. They believed that God raised Jesus from the dead. They believed, therefore, they were saints. Paul says they are saints because they are faithful and they were found in Christ. In Ephesians Paul writes they “were faithful in Christ Jesus.” To the saints in Colosse Paul says ---"we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.”
Think of that statement. “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.” These believers were found to have faith in Christ Jesus during their everyday lives. They held onto their faith in Christ Jesus during the struggles, pain and suffering of their daily lives. They held onto their faith in Christ Jesus even when all the other people in the city went after pagan gods.
As I thought of this statement, I thought, “What would people say about me? Would they say that they have heard of my faith in Christ Jesus?” How do people find me in the midst of my everyday life? Will people know that I have faith in Christ Jesus by the way I act, by the way I talk, and by my walk? Will people find me faithful in Christ Jesus by the way I react to trials, tribulations and testing?
Will I be found in Christ Jesus?
Will you be found in Christ Jesus?
Faith In Christ
To be found in Christ Jesus means that we have “faith in Christ Jesus.” In our reading today in Colossians, we have a trinity of the qualities of believers: Faith, love and hope! Faith is listed first! The Apostle Paul was very specific about their faith. Their faith was in Christ Jesus. The object of their faith was Christ Jesus. Faith by itself has no real intrinsic value. Many people say they have faith. Some people have faith in their bank accounts. Some have faith in their abilities and education. Some have faith in faith! I have heard some say they have faith in reincarnation and karma. Faith by itself or in something other than Jesus Christ will not hold you up or bring you home to heaven.
Salvation does not come by believing in belief, or believing in a set of doctrines or a creed. Salvation comes by believing in Christ. When John G. Paton was translating the Bible in the Outer Hebrides, he searched for the exact word to translate believe. Finally, he found it. “Lean your whole weight upon.”[ix]
Salvation comes by believing in Christ. Salvation comes by leaning your whole weight upon Christ.
Look at Paul as he writes the saints in Colosse: 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you.
Chuck Colson tells a story in his book, “Born Again.” When Colson was serving his prison sentence after the Watergate scandal, his newfound faith in Christ was severely tested. His wife did not understand the “born again” business, his son was picked up on drug charges, and Colson himself was despondent. But God met him in his misery. A group of Christians in Washington, including Senators Hatfield, Hughes, and Quie, were praying for him. Senator Quie discovered an old law that allowed an innocent man to serve a prison term for another, and Quie volunteered to serve the remainder of Colson’s term.[x] Colson turned him down, but he had experienced what the Apostle Paul had written about: “love … for all the saints.” Charles Colson was again refreshed in the reality of his faith in Christ.
Sometimes I stand absolutely amazed by God. Sometimes I almost cannot take in the depth and width, the length and height of how much God loves me and sets the entire stage for me when I’m working on a message. Today’s message goes back to May 20, when little Emma Parli was admitted to the hospital for tests. Her parents thought she had the flu but it had gone on way too long. Jac and I left for Florida on May 25. As we drove, John called and said, “I’m dying here, Pastor Dave. Give me a verse to hang on to.” We stayed in contact with John, sending him new verses every day. John was in our youth group in the mid 90’s. He has a twin brother, Tim, and an older brother, Ben. We’ve taken the Parli boys with us on mission trips. When I was in seminary, the Parli boys delivered a month’s worth of frozen crock pot meals to our home. The boys nicknamed me Hurricane Dave when we rebuilt homes on our Go N Serve in Florida. I married Ben in La Jolla a few years ago. Hearing John’s cry broke my heart. When Jac and I got home on Father’s Day, Jac asked her JESUS CLASS to pray for Emma. By then Emma was having surgery and chemo and radiation. As the weeks ensued, Emma lost her hair and laid in bed for weeks. Jesus Class kept praying and then, at the end of August—the kids asked if they could do something more than pray. “Can we send a blessing box to Emma? You know, with stuff a six year old would like?” Jac waited for the leaders’ meeting and got permission. And here we are today: filling our blessing box for Emma and her family.
We are saints because today we are expressing our faith in Jesus Christ by sharing our love of God with Emma and her family. We are saints when we express our love by taking up an offering for hurricane relief. We are saints when we show our faith in Christ Jesus by sharing the love of God through a Noisy Sunday. We are saints when we show our faith in Christ Jesus when we help someone with the church mouse. All of these events, show the love of Christ through our faith in Christ. We are saints who are sowing seeds of faith everywhere we go.
As believers, the people of Ephesus and Colosse were “in Christ.” Scripture teaches that when we are “in Christ” the old has gone, the new has come (). Archaeologists tell us that many of the nameless slabs in the catacombs of Rome carry the inscription “in Christo” (in Christ), and significantly also bore on the same slab its spiritual corollary “In pace” (In peace), testifying to the radical newness and joy which came in Christ.[xi]
Being in Christ gives us a reason to celebrate as Paul and the ancient Christians did. This being IN CHRIST is a wonder of wonders!
I want to close with an experience I had this week. I met with several pastors this week for a prayer time. One of the pastors is a woman. I will call her Jane. Jane has been battling cancer for the past few years. She had surgery on her throat and had part of her throat removed. Recently, she was diagnosed with tumors in her lungs. She went to the doctor and after all the x-rays and MRI’s, the doctor told her that she was not a good candidate for surgically removing the tumors from her lungs. As Jane prayed about this deeply disappointing moment, she decided to go see a thoracic surgeon so the doctor could explain fully why she was not a good candidate for surgery. She made an appointment with a surgeon she had never met. Before she went to see the surgeon, she said that she heard the Holy Spirit speak to her heart and say, “If you get to do the surgery, you will meet my peace.” Jane went to see the surgeon who looked at her x-rays and reports and said, “I will do the surgery for you on Saturday. Are you available?” Jane looked up astonished. She told the surgeon that she was speaking at two woman’s retreats that Saturday, but she could cancel. The surgeon is Jewish. He said, “Then let’s do it Sunday.” Jane’s husband is a pastor, as is Jane. Her husband was away on a mission trip to Indonesia. Jane went to the hospital on Sunday with her daughter. As they sat in the waiting room, her daughter said, “Mom, you are going to meet God’s peace here.” Jane looked at her daughter and started to cry. She had never told her daughter what she heard from the Holy Spirit. Next, Jane’s nurse came in and introduced herself. She said that she was going to be Jane’s nurse for preop and post op. The nurse’s name was “Shalom.” The nurse was an Indonesian woman. Jane tried to explain all that was going on inside of her—how her husband was in Indonesia, how God has told her that she was going to meet peace—and how Shalom’s name means peace. My friend was able to share the Good News of the Gospel with nurse SHALOM.
I googled the verses in the Bible that contain the words IN CHRIST and I found 18 great verses! (read yellow highlights)
Top of Form
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. ...
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.[xii]
Bottom of Form
Bottom of Form
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
FAITH IN CHRIST…is the MASTER KEY that opens every other door…
Your SO WHAT? For this week, take this list home and find some quiet time…read and write down your thoughts…
As a Christian, our entire identity is found IN CHRIST…
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. It’s not because of us…but because of CHRIST…. because of Christ we are sure of what we hope for and we are certain of what we do not yet see!
Let us pray ---
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
September 24, 2017
Pastor Dave Peters
[i] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[iii] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
[iv] Luther, “Concerning Christian Liberty,” 393.[iv]
[v] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
[vi] J. C. Ryle Ryle, Practical Religion, 91.
[vii] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[viii] John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul and the Apostles to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, trans. T. H. L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 123.[viii]
[ix] Warren Wiersbe, Be Complete (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1981), p. 24.[ix]
[x] Charles Colson, Born Again (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell [Chosen Books], 1976), pp. 338, 339.
[xi] Alexander Maclaren, The Epistles of St. Paul to the Colossians and Philemon, The Expositor’s Bible (New York: A. C. Armstrong, 1903), p. l7.
[xii] Unless otherwise indicated, all content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Contact me: openbibleinfo (at) gmail.com. Cite this page: Editor: Stephen Smith. Publication date: Sep 23, 2017. Publisher: OpenBible.info.