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March 13, 2016

"FAITH TOWARD CHRIST"

TEXT: Acts 20:21 (Read vv 17-38)
READING:
 Hebrews 11: 1-19

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SUBJ: Biblical faith as the gift of God whereby we lay hold on Christ through whom we come unto God and we furthermore are able to be pleasing unto God.

AIM: That we might ever be found as the just ones of God who are so by faith and live by faith.

INTR: In that it is declared that we are “saved by grace through faith” it behooves us to learn all that we may and that we might be careful that we be not deceived by the imitations of true faith that are all about us.
1. Many claims are made to faith by people at all levels of religious activity and thus we hear many things that find no correlation in scripture. The claims of many seem to indicate that they have faith in faith.
2. We, as believers are never to take any gift of God for granted else what may appear to us as faith may indeed be presumption.
3. There is no way that we could cover all the aspects and references to faith, but we can address it as it appears in this text – that which is towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

THESIS: True faith has Christ alone as its objective, its confidence and its hope. Through faith God is honored in that His Son is believed, trusted, reverenced and so salvation is made manifest.

I. Faith defined
1. It is first to be understood as a spiritual gift of God worked in us for the purpose of being exercised in a right relationship with God and that through Christ our Lord.
2. Faith entails a number of things all pertaining to Christ:
1) Persuasion of the truth of a matter and so we find the report of the being and existence of Christ and His work to be true.
2) There is moral conviction of the truth witnessed in Christ and the Word of God through Him.
3) There is total and exclusive reliance upon the object of that faith.
3. It is evident that the foregone comes to be realized as a way of life to the possessors of it.
1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
2) Faith is defined by the behavior – James declared that he would show his faith by his works. The implication here is that faith moves us to the imitation and obedience of Christ.
3) Paul’s claim was made clear in I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

II. Faith in operation
1. We are often reminded of such scripture as: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6.
1) We would note that pleasing God is an objective and that requires attention to His precepts
2) The hymn writer observed that we should “Trust and Obey” when in fact the two cannot be separated – if we trust Him than we know all that he commands is good and profitable for His glory and our good.
3) It begins with believing that He is, and ends with diligently seeking Him.
2. In that Christ is the objective and that eternal life is defined in knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent we are constrained to interaction with Christ – there is nothing passive in faith.
3. It is the means by which Christ is revealed – It is required to behold (with recognition) the Lamb of God and to understand both the necessity and the provision of the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins.
4. Paul thus exhorted Timothy: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

III. The connection of faith to repentance
1. The fact is that this thread occurs throughout in that there can be not turning from sin where there is no turning toward Christ – So Christ preaches “repent ye and believe the Gospel…”
2. In that Paul addresses it we must give attention to the matter of direction or aim:
1) The following is a quote from Matthew Henry: “We must by repentance look towards God as our end; and by faith towards Christ as our way to God. Sin must by repentance be abandoned and forsaken, and then Christ must be faith be relied on for the pardon of sin. Our repentance towards God is not sufficient, we must have a true faith in Christ as our Redeemer and Savior, consenting to Him as our Lord and our God. For there is no coming to God, as penitent prodigals to a Father, but in the strength and righteousness of Jesus Christ as Mediator.
3. Thus having abandoned all hope of self and come to despise our sin against God we are brought by faith to full surrender to Christ and that which He alone can provide.
4. Faith appropriates to its holder the truth and reality of salvation – understood by Christ in us the hope of glory.