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Faith That's For Real

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FAITH THAT’S FOR REAL

Romans 10:5-15

INTRODUCTION:

A. [Not long ago, a night worker at a Kinko’s copy shop in Birmingham, AL, was arrested for producing tens of thousands of dollars in counterfeit money on the sophisticated color copiers in his shop.

It’s not an isolated problem—with the improving quality of this type of equipment, Treasury officials are facing a significant increase in such counterfeiting efforts.]

What used to take a skilled engraver and printing equipment now can be done on a color copy machine.

Yet, no matter what the technology is for making this money, it’s still counterfeit; it has no value except by deception.

B. There is such a thing as counterfeit faith as well.

It is manufactured in different ways, but the end result is still the same—men and women who miss the fullness, the joy and satisfaction that comes from a real, authentic relationship with the living God.

In the beginning of this tenth chapter of Romans, Paul is expressing his urgent desire that his fellow Israelites would come to faith in Christ.  Yet, instead of turning to Christ, Paul says they have substituted a different faith, a counterfeit righteousness that falls short of God’s desire for them.

Let’s pick up the discourse in vs.5 (READ vs. 5-15)

Romans 10:5-15 (NIV)
5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”
6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)
7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

C. In order to help us judge the difference between counterfeit faith and authentic faith, Paul gives us several characteristics of faith that’s for real.

How do we recognize if we have this real faith Paul’s talking about?

First, Real Faith is;

  1. ROOTED IN AN INTERNAL TRANSFORMATION
    1. Paul quotes from Lev. 18:5 in which the Lord, through Moses, tells His people to obey His laws.

                                          i.    That is one kind of righteousness, Paul says, but it is focused on external behavior.

1.      As the entire gospel makes clear, men and women have proven incapable of fully satisfying that kind of righteousness; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

                                        ii.    The only righteousness that is authentic is one that is not only in your mouth — external behavior—but one that is in your heart—internal transformation.

                                       iii.    And that is precisely what Christ offers us—to come into our hearts and transform us into new creations.

    1. Paul says, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified” (vs. 10).

                                          i.    He is talking about an act of the will—a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.

                                        ii.    And yet it is an act that is produced only by the Holy Spirit working inside us.

[Imagine for a moment I come home one day with a pet pig.

I dress that pig up in silk and satin; I dab some perfume behind his ear; I set him down in a library and declare, “Look what a lovely, sophisticated creature I have created!”

But the minute the door opens and that pig spies a mud puddle, he’s out like a flash and wallowing in the mud. —Why?

Because no matter how much I dress up that pig, make external changes, he’s still a pig — nothing has changed his essential character or nature.]

    1. No matter what you and I attempt to do in our own efforts, real faith can only be created by God’s grace working in our lives, producing an inner transformation.  

Rom. 12:2 (Phillips) “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from with in, so that you may prove in practice that the Plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.”

                                          i.    Who is doing the re-molding of our minds—who is transforming us? —It is God

                                        ii.    God will perform the internal transformation—if we provide Him with the faith that allows Him room to work in our lives.

Transition: There’s a something else that characterizes real faith:

Secondly, Real Faith is;

  1. DEMONSTRATED IN A PUBLIC PROFESSION
    1. Once the inner transformation has begun its course, the inevitable result is a desire to declare what God has done in us.  

READ vs. 9-10.

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

                                          i.    We need to notice a couple of things about this confession:

    1. First, the confession is “Jesus is Lord”

                                          i.    The word “Lord” simply means, “master”.

1.    Now if we confess that Jesus is Lord we are saying He is the master—He is the master of the created order—He is “sustaining all things by His powerful word” (Heb. 1:3)

2.    But when we confess, “Jesus is Lord” we are saying something else:

                                        ii.    2nd, “Jesus is Lord” of our very lives.

1.    Now it takes on a personal dimension.

2.    It’s one thing to acknowledge Christ is Lord over creation, it’s quite another to humble ourselves to the point that we let Jesus take over the reins of our own lives

3.    But if we confess anything short of this willingness to become a bondservant of the Lord Jesus, then we are not practicing an authentic faith.

    1. Authentic faith is not secret faith.                                           i.    When Christ becomes Lord of our lives, there is an inevitable desire to share that good news with others.

1.    Indeed, for those earliest Christians, the very act of baptism was a public profession of their newfound faith in Christ.

                                        ii.    Now when we talk about public profession we mean more than just repeating the words of a confession before the members of the church.

1.    Too many have made that confession yet denied that confession by the way they lived their lives.

Let me give you an example:

[Once a man returned to his car in a parking lot and found a note under the windshield wiper.

The note read like this: “I just smashed into your car. The people who witnessed the collision are watching me. They probably think that I am writing down my name and address. I am not. They are wrong.”

And there was nothing more written on the note.]

                                       iii.    Some of have done that with their confession of Christ—we’ve gone public in the church stating that we believe Christ is Lord, but then discover there is no content to our faith.

                                       iv.    Now how do we turn that around so that our confession is real?

1.    We begin to take concrete steps in our lives that show we truly acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

                                        v.    How do we do that?

1.    We look at Jesus Himself and see how He dealt with life and we begin to imitate His actions until they become our very own.

2.    And the closer we find our own thoughts and actions corresponding to those of Christ the deeper and more authentic our faith becomes.

    1. Another aspect of this public profession is found in our witness.                                           i.    When God produces in us an internal transformation, we will inevitably seek to offer an external witness.

                                        ii.    We find ourselves becoming so involved in Christ-likeness that we begin to share what Christ has done and is presently doing in our lives with others.

Transition: Which leads us to the last aspect of authentic faith

3rd, Real Faith is:

  1. SHARED WITH A MISSIONARY SPIRIT
    1. As we’ve seen, an internal transformation takes place, followed by an external witness.  But when Christ has become Lord of our lives, we want to see the gospel communicated to everyone—not just those with whom we have contact.                                           i.    That is why the early Christians had such a profound missionary spirit.

                                        ii.    And throughout the history of the church, Christian disciples have sent out others to preach the good news of Jesus.

    1. “How can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Paul asks.  “And how can they preach unless they are sent” (vs. 14-15)

                                          i.    The love of Christ compels us to share with others, including those beyond our personal reach.

                                        ii.    That is why God calls some to special service in carrying the gospel as missionaries.

1.    Missions may involve sending Christ’s messengers around the globe or across the street.

2.    Or it may be short term missions such as we have with our Easter service at the PAC.

                                       iii.    Missions is not so much distance as much as it is faithfulness to share and send.

    1. Now, I want to bring this down to a personal level as far as Northwest Family Church is concerned.                                           i.    The great challenge of this church is to keep moving in authentic faith toward the future.

1.    This involves our mission abroad, but I’m more concerned at this moment with our home mission that meets in this building and lives in this community.

                                        ii.    As soon as people walk into a church they can tell if it’s oriented toward the past or the future.

1.    They don’t discover that by what they see as much as by what they hear.

                                       iii.    When you have occasion to visit another church or when you talk to believers in this congregation—listen to how they talk about one subject—the greatest days of the church.

                                       iv.    Now if people are talking about the past as the greatest days of the church we’ve got a problem—but if they are talking about the days yet to come as the greatest days of the church then we are experiencing authentic faith in God.

1.    The direction we are looking as a church body is enormously important!

2.    And it takes a great deal of faith to switch the direction in which we look.

    1. But the starting point lies in God.                                           i.    Vision is rooted in God—God transcends time.

                                        ii.    He is the God of the past, but repeatedly in Scripture He is the God of the future.

1.    We need to fix our attention on who He is and what He wants to do.

2.    Theology in the Scriptures, is not a doctrinal discourse but the record of God’s revealing Himself through history.

                                       iii.    We must assume that God will continue to reveal Himself in the future.

1.    Therefore, we can’t live only in the past, because God is calling us to something.

Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NIV)
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

                                       iv.    God always has something out in front of us, but if we’re looking behind us, we’re going to miss God’s new mission for our church.

1.    That’s the reason He put our eyes where they are—to look forward!

[Harry Truman visited Oliver Wendell Holmes when Holmes was in his nineties.

When Truman walked into the room, the retired justice was reading Plato’s “Republic”.

Truman asked him, “Mr. Justice, why at this point in life would you be reading something like that?”

Oliver Wendell Holmes replied, “I may be old, but I haven’t stopped growing.”]

                                        v.    Now, if somebody can have that perspective about law and philosophy, how much more should we have that perspective about the church of Jesus Christ?

1.    It may amaze some of the younger folks that many of our seniors have taken initiative to keep up with technological advances and have trained and studied to keep their minds sharp.

2.    They know what “surfing the web” means

3.    They know “Google” is not a comic strip called Barney

When we have the real faith that it takes to be people sent out on Christ’s mission we’ll begin to understand the meaning of Robert Kennedy’s great quote: “Some people look at things the way they are and ask why? others look at the way things could be and ask why not.”?

Which question are we asking today?

CONCLUSION:

Someone once said, “Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will always be able to see farther.”

That statement fits together well with what we’ve been discovering this morning.

Real faith leads to internal transformation, to public profession, and to a missionary spirit, but we know that as we proceed, and as our faith grows, it will take us to the point where we can see the next level God wants us to reach for.

God wants us to have a real faith—a faith that brings to us the joy, the fullness, the satisfaction, of knowing that we are in a real authentic relationship with the living God.

It is not regulated by age—it is not gender specific.  “Whosever will—let him come”!

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