The A-B-C-D of Faith (week 5, Back to Basics series)

The video for this session can be watched at the bottom of this page.

[John 7:37-39)

This is our fifth week in the series, and a very important week.  It seems appropriate to do a quick check on where we’ve been.

Our first week was spent looking at who Jesus was.  We took the gospel of Mark and saw Mark’s effort to show us that Jesus demonstrated authority that only God could have.  He taught with authority and drove out evil spirits with a command; he forgave sins and healed the human body; he demonstrated authority over nature, over life itself, and he also demonstrated authority over us, but chooses to invite us rather than command.

For our second week our focus was on the cross of Jesus. Most importantly we heard of Jesus’ cry ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and we talked of how Jesus took the sin of the world upon himself and took it to the grave.  This leaves us without the burden of sin.  This was underscored by the curtain in the temple being torn in two, meaning nothing now separates God from the people.

For our third session we stepped aside and considered the Bible, what it is, how to read it, and how God relates to us through it.

Last week we discussed how Christianity is not about meeting a standard to qualify for God’s favour, rather that “salvation”, or “being made right with God” is achieved by Jesus on the cross, not by our performance.  In that regard we all stand as one.

In the second week I raised a question: “If there is still something between us and God what is it? Because it isn’t sin.”

My answer to that question has already been given, and it was demonstrated in our earlier acted-out demonstration of broken relationship and reconciliation.

What is true between people is largely true between us and God also.  When a human relationship breaks down, those at fault need to repent, and those injured need to forgive – often both parties need to do both.

But with God, it is us who have walked away or otherwise done what is wrong by God.  It was necessary that God forgive us, because there is no other way from God’s end of things.  And God has forgiven us – long ago.  Now it is necessary for us to admit our wrong and change direction (repent).  That is our part in the great reconciliation.  When both parties have done what is needed, the relationship is restored.  This is THE critical point.

Now, to apply this in the most practical way I know how.  I want to present you with the A-B-C-D of faith.

To help us get into this, we have a story from the book of Acts in the Bible.

[Acts 16:16-34]

A is for acknowledge, and in our honest moments this isn’t too hard for most people.  This is to acknowledge that we are sinners.  That is, we have done things that are wrong in God’s sight.  In week 2 I held up that book and said ‘consider this to be the book of my sins’.  A is to acknowledge that you have a book like I do, and it needed dealing with.

B is for believe – to believe that Jesus death on that cross was God’s way of dealing with the problem of sin.  You don’t need to understand it, in fact I don’t think in this world we will ever understand it, like many other critical things.  But we can believe it, and the testimony of many, many people over the centuries declares that believing it became the gateway to knowing it to be true.

C is to count the cost.  The gift of Jesus in dealing with our sin is indeed undeserved and free.  But it would be dishonest of me to not say that in another sense, it will cost you your life.  That is, God is offering a new life at a new level, with new and eternal purpose.  But you will need to be prepared to let the old self go and take the new self up, or else what’s the point?  God’s gift isn’t so you can carry on the old broken life; that simply wouldn’t make sense.  Many people can’t wait to let the old life go, but some people just can’t let the old life go.  So C is to count the cost.

D is to decide.  You could spend a lifetime gathering information about God, and get no better progressed than we are after five short weeks in this series.  Why?  Because most of what there is to know is discovered along the way.  It simply cannot be discovered in advance.  This is like any relationship.

You have the testimony of those who have followed Jesus and discovered the truth, the power, the wonder of the relationship with God through Jesus.  And you have the claims and promises of Jesus coming to you through the pages of the Bible.  Maybe you even feel the pull of God within yourself, saying “this is the way to go.”

But the truth is you now know enough to say “Yes, I want to go with Jesus,” or “No, I don’t want to go with Jesus.”  You may yet say “I’m not sure, I’m not ready to decide,” but if you do it’s not because you don’t have enough information.

So this is a day that I offer you a definite opportunity to say “Yes” or “No” to Jesus.  You may have never done this before, or you may have done it 20 times before – it doesn’t matter.

But if you can acknowledge you are a sinner in need of a Saviour; if you believe that through his cross Jesus is indeed that Saviour; if you consider the cost and you’re willing to let the old go to take up the new you; then just maybe you’re ready to say “Yes” to Jesus.

If you are, for the first or the 20th time, I’m going to ask you to do something uncomfortable, but for a good reason.  I’m going to ask you to come down the front and kneel on the step here (if you’re able), and here I’ll pray with you to say ‘yes’ to Jesus.

The reason I ask you to do that is because tomorrow morning when you wake up, you will definitely ask yourself if it was real, or if perhaps you were just sucked along by those around you, or some emotional thought.  Very few of us like to do stuff like this in public, so if you do that you will know you really mean it.  It will help you tomorrow morning.

This may take us 2 minutes or half an hour, I have no way of knowing.  If you do come down the front I ask you to stick around here, maybe on a front seat, until everyone has been prayed for.  Because I want to have one final word to anyone who does this.

Pam is going to play our last song, and it will be like any other hymn unless you want to come down here and pray.  If no one comes forward then our service will end as usual, but if anyone comes down, you are free to depart following this hymn.  Morning tea will be served at the hall as usual.

Video of week 5 of Back to Basics – The A-B-C-D of Faith – runs 24:23.

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