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#5 Faith's Foundation

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FAITH’S FOUNDATION

(A Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 3/22/98 a.m.            I Corinthians 2:1-5

PROPOSITION:  Overcoming believers need a living faith that testifies to Christ and the cross, that disavows self-sufficiency, and whose foundation is the power of God.

I. introduction

-     FAITH is that spiritual ingredient of your life that is the most pleasing to God when it is directed to...and connects you with...Him.

-     EVERYTHING of eternal value in your life is of FAITH.

-     “IT is by grace you have been saved  through......FAITH! (Ephesians 2:8)

-     IF you are righteous here this morning, the Bible says that it can only be a “...righteousness from God (that) comes through.......FAITH in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:22)

-     ROMANS 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through......FAITH, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....”

-     WOULD you say that YOUR faith is an important thing?

-     ROMANS 11:20 says that we “stand by....FAITH.”

-     “WE live by......FAITH, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

-     EPHESIANS 3:12 says that we approach God “through......FAITH.”

-     ROMANS 1:5 says that our “obedience comes from .....FAITH.”

-     WOULD you say that YOUR faith is an important thing?

-     ROMANS 12:6 says that the Gifts of the Spirit operate in us in proportion to our...FAITH.

-     I PETER 1:5 says that we are  “shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation in the last days”.....by FAITH.

-     WOULD you say that YOUR faith is an important thing?

-     THE apostle John writes in I John 5:4, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our.......FAITH.”

-     PAUL writes in Romans 1:12 that when we get together we are “mutually encouraged by each other’s.....FAITH.”

-     ROMANS 14:23 says that everything that is not from faith is sin.

-     I THESSALONIANS 1:3 says your work for God’s kingdom that is acceptable to Him is produced by....FAITH.

-     GALATIANS 5:6 says that the,“.....only thing that counts is FAITH expressing itself through love.”

-     IN fact, I Peter 1:8-9 says this about the GOAL of your faith,

      “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,(9) for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

-     WOULD you say that YOUR faith is an important thing?

-     BUT faith is not something you have to come up with.

-     THE good news of the Gospel is that Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

-     YOU are told to fight the good fight of FAITH (I Timothy 6:12)

-     YOU are instructed to build yourself up in your most holy FAITH (Jude 20)

-     JAMES and Peter tell us that the trials of life are intended to refine and expand our FAITH.

-     YOU can see from the few passages I have quoted here this morning why YOUR faith is our #1 concern here at Westgate Chapel.

-     YOU will stand or fall before God based on one thing only...what you did with the measure of faith that He gave you.

-     THE faith of the Corinthians believers was of paramount importance to the apostle Paul.

-     WITHOUT faith everything else in their lives would be one giant waste of time and effort.

-     AND he was concerned about them, because there were several things in their lives and their fellowship that were making shipwreck of their faith (that is a term he uses in I Timothy 1:19).

*     They had their eyes on certain leaders....faith destroying activity.

*     They had their eyes on their rights (law suits)....faith destroying activity.

*     They were overly impressed with the wisdom of the world.....faith destroying activity.

*     They were boasting about their accomplishments....faith destroying activity.

-     SO, in the first 5 verses of I Corinthians 2, Paul gives them three indispensable principles concerning their FAITH.

ii. THE FOCUS OF faith’s testimony

-     AND the first principle is the focus of faith’s testimony.

-     LET’S read from verses 1-2,

      “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. (2) For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:1-2)

-     THE Corinthians believers had been impressed with the superior language and debating skills of the philosophers of their day and their city.

-     THESE guys were spell-binding, entertaining, exciting to listen to.

-     I MEAN the orators of Corinth could move you....to tears or to laughter.

-     THEY could transport you away from your troubles when they spoke.

-     AND when they were done you were rightfully impressed with their abilities. The spotlight was on their talents....on them.

-     AND that would have been the temptation for Paul when he arrived in the city, cold turkey.

-     AND he could have impressed them with...

*     His knowledge of the Old Testament.

*     His knowledge of the doctrines of God, quoting the great Rabbis of his day. He was a learned man himself....a man of letters.

*     Explanations of the prophetic passages of Zechariah.

*     His knowledge of the worship traditions of the Jewish religion.

-     THAT approach might have impressed the people with his educational accomplishments, but it would not have awakened FAITH in the hearts of the Corinthian people.

-     AND that was Paul’s goal....to awaken FAITH in the people so they could be saved and live for God.

-     SO he determined to “know nothing” when he was with them except the focus of faith’s testimony.

-     THIS was the “testimony about God.”

-     AND the content of this testimony had two parts...

*     Jesus Christ.

•     The love of the Father that sent His Son.

•     His miracle birth in a manger.

•     The anointing of the Holy Spirit on Jesus to do the will of the Father.

•     His miracles.

•     His teachings.

*     Him crucified.

•     His determination to do the will of the Father.

•     His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.

•     His arrest and beating at the hands of the High Priest and Pilate.

•     His death on the cross and the power of His blood to set captives free.

•     His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father.

-     PAUL determined that nothing else mattered to awaken faith in those Corinthians pagans.

-     THE testimony of faith is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

-     WHEN faith opens its mouth, it speaks of Jesus.

-     NOTHING else matters by comparison.

-     HE is the testimony of faith.

iii. THE confession of faith’s disclaimer

-     AND when faith is awakened and the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus Christ to you....you too will echo the words of John the Baptist,

      “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

-     THAT is the confession of faith’s disclaimer...which is the second principle of faith that I find in I Corinthians 2:3,

      “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.” (I Corinthians 2:3)

-     PAUL didn’t arrive in town in a limo with an entourage and a fanfare.

-     HE didn’t have his PR people blitz the city with his pictures and reports of successful crusades in Lystra and Derbe......with 8 by10 glossies of the vast crowds attending his meetings.

-     HE wasn’t announced as God’s man of faith and power for the hour.

-     THAT is not the way of faith.

-     FAITH has an honest disclaimer.

*     I came to you in weakness (not because he lacked leadership authority) but....not feeling personally up for the magnitude of the job in Corinth.

*     I came to you in fear (not for his safety) but..... not wanting to displease his master.

*     I came to you with much trembling (not because he was scared of opposition) but....Paul did not treat this assignment from God as a light-hearted or casual thing, sensing responsibility for the eternal consequences of his ministry there.

-     THIS self-doubt may seem awkward to us.

-     IT certainly was to the Greeks. It would have been considered a weakness in their culture....as it is in ours....to admit that you didn’t have things under control.

-     BUT how foolish of us to act as if we have our lives together and can take care of ourselves.

-     JESUS said, in John 15:5,

      “....apart from me you can do nothing.”

-     ZECHARIAH 4:6 says clearly that it is,

      “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.”

-     WHEN self-distrust issues forth in faith on God, God is free to do His work in and through us.

-     THIS is faith’s disclaimer.

 

iv. the basis of faith’s foundation

-     HERE is the last principle concerning faith this morning.

-     IT is the basis of faith’s foundation.

-     YOU will find it in I Corinthians 2:4-5,

      “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power (5) so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.” (I Corinthians 2:4-5)

-     ORATORY, slick programming, comprehensive advertising won’t cut it in our world if the church of Jesus does not have the goods.

-     WHAT are the goods?

-     THE demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

-     WHAT kind of power is that?

-     IT is the work that only God can do.

*     Take a cold, self-sufficient sinner and break them and draw them to the cross and make them new.

*     Take a young man addicted to crack cocaine and set him free.

*     Take a young woman, broken by abuse in her childhood, and make her whole.

*     Take a young man, hooked on pornography, and set him free.

*     Heal a broken and sick body.

*     Melt a cold unforgiving heart.

*     Restore a divided marriage.

*     Send His presence into a heart that never thought of things eternal....and make a worshipper out of a hedonist.

-     WISE and persuasive words can’t do these things.

-     ONLY the power of God can do these things.

-     AND when His power is in operation, there is a foundation for faith that will last forever.

v. conclusion

-     THE Christian faith is NOT.....

*     Attending church services.

*     Giving to the poor.

*     Singing hymns or worship choruses.

*     Learning certain doctrines.

*     Obeying a code of moral rules.

-     THE Christian faith is FAITH in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

-     IT is a faith that produces a relationship with Jesus Christ that is real and works day to day.

-     IT is not based on your righteousness or good works...but on the power of God.

-     RESURRECTION power at work in you and me today.

-     THAT is the foundation for our faith.

-     NO wonder Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:18-21,

      “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, (20) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, (21) far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

 

HAVE FAITH IN GOD

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