Charles Stanley - The Companion of Faith
The Christian life is a life of faith. We have faith in God. We have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have faith in the Holy Spirit. We have faith in the Word of God. We trust this to be the Word of God. Our whole life is a life of faith. We talk about walking by faith, living by faith, dying by faith. We pray to God in faith that He is listening, that He cares, and that He will hear and answer our prayers. So, faith has become a very, very vital part of all that we believe and all that we do and all that we are as a Christian.
Now sometimes, because we place such great emphasis on that part of our particular Christian life, sometimes it almost appears as if we neglect some other very important part. Because, you see, while faith is absolutely essential to everything we do, that is only part of the Christian life, and oftentimes people can become very satisfied saying, well, you know, now I've trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I'm eternally secure in Him, and so that's that. There's an entirely different side of all of this. And what I want to talk about in this message is this: I want to talk about the companion of faith. There's something that goes along with our faith, something that we cannot afford to neglect in God's eyes, something that He holds us accountable for, something we are responsible for.
Now, think about this for a moment. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you and I will agree that Christ came to live on the inside of you. He says, "I'm abiding in you and you're abiding in Me". So we know that Christ is living in and through us as a result of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Now, that being true, and we have been given the responsibility, one of the works of the believer is to share our faith, that is, to tell other people what Jesus Christ means to us. Now, think about this. We have become God's sounding boards. Every single person who has Christ living on the inside of them is a sounding board, listen, for the gospel. And Paul said to them, he says, "You have become imitators of us".
Now, we talk about imitating Jesus. We can only imitate certain aspects of Jesus's life. We certainly can't forgive sin and we can't do many things that Jesus Christ did, but we can imitate to some degree to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Now, they were beginning to share their faith, and their works were being heard about all over that part of their world. God had done a miraculous work in their life, and as a result, their works were being shared. Now, think about this for a moment. When you trusted Jesus as your Savior and He began to live on the inside of you and He gave to every single one of us the responsibility of being a sounding board to people around us about who He is, what He does, how to receive Him as our personal Savior, think about this, it would be absolutely, totally unthinkable and unbiblical, unscriptural, to think that Jesus Christ would live on the inside of you and me and be quiet about Himself.
It doesn't even make sense. He came to live on the inside of us because, He says, the church is the body of Christ, that is, His hands, His arms, His feet, His eyes, His heart, His ears, that's who we are. We are the sons and daughters of God. We have become the body of Christ. He's seated at the Father's right hand, and He is living on the inside of us in the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, having given us the responsibility of sharing with the world who He is, why He died on the cross, His resurrection, His coming again, it would be absolutely unthinkable for Jesus to live on the inside of you and be quiet. So therefore, we, too, should be the sounding boards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the office where you work, in your home, among your friends, among your pleasures, among your labors, he says, sounding boards for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, when we think about our faith, for example, let's think about it in this light, and that is, oftentimes because of the emphasis we place on faith, and it is a very strong emphasis and it is an emphasis that is legitimate, we place a very strong emphasis on our faith because we say we do not want anybody to be misled, misled into thinking that you can go to heaven and be accepted by God by doing good works. And so we place great emphasis on the fact, "For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, not of works lest any person should boast, for we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus unto good works".
Now, the result of our faith in Christ is good works, but it is not because of our good works that we are saved, and so we place a great emphasis there. And so we quote lots of scriptures and we, every single Sunday, point people to the cross because we know that the cross is the only way and the only means by which anybody will ever be able to get to heaven. So it's not works. And so, we make no apology for saying, the Bible says, not by works of righteousness which we've done are we saved, but by the mercy of God. We want to make it very clear that no matter how good and how moral and how ethical a person is, you don't get accepted by God for your good works.
You may be a moral person, very ethical in many ways. The problem is this: your morality, your good works, listen, your ethics, none of these deal with the real major problem. The real major problem is the sin problem, that we have a sinful, fallen nature. My works cannot, listen, my works can't correct that and cannot change that. So what we say is, listen, don't be misled by thinking that you're being good and doing good works; that is, good from your perspective; will get you to heaven, because you haven't dealt with the major problem that separated you from God, which is sin. And the only way that can be dealt with is at the cross. When Jesus Christ died, He took your sin debt in full, paid it absolutely in full, and when you receive Him as your personal Savior, listen, your sin problem is dealt with, you're forgiven and cleansed, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, you become a child of the Living God.
Now, the problem is that many people stop with that and say, "Well, thank God I'm finally saved". Sit down! And yet, that is not what God says at all. So we place great emphasis on that, and oftentimes that emphasis is so strong, people sometimes think well, you know, now that I'm saved, that's it! They do not realize they have an obligation, our obligation to serve the Living God.
So I want to take you through a number of scriptures, and I want us to read each one of them because I want you to see, listen, faith has a companion, and that companion is works. That is, we're not to work to be saved. We can never work that hard, that long, that much. But because we are saved, we have a personal responsibility to be sounding boards of the truth that transformed our life, sounding boards of the gospel, listen, vessels of God, tools of God, channels of God through whom He can express His goodness, through whom He can help those who are in need, through whom He can help those who are poor, through whom He can help those who are sick, through whom He can help those who are discouraged and depressed.
We are the body of Christ. He's left us here in order to live His life through us and to do through us for others what He knows they need, and He's chosen us as the vessels through whom to do it. And because you're saved, you have positioned yourself to be a vessel and a channel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Which brings me to this whole idea, and that is the idea of the spirit in which you and I are indeed to engage in good works. What should be the spirit in which we do it? Well, go back, if you will, to Matthew chapter five in the Sermon on the Mount, and listen to what Jesus said, because this is the spirit in which you and I should engage in good works.
Now, watch this, because I tell you, Satan can trap you, deceive you, in ways that you wouldn't even dream of. Listen to what He says. He just got through saying that you and I are the light of the world. He says: "You're the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone take a lamp, put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see, they may see your good works, but glorify your Father who's in heaven". Now, He says you're the light of the world. What is He saying? Every single one of us has the light, listen to this, if this is a world of darkness, and every single believer has the light of the truth of the gospel in them, you cannot afford to keep it under a bushel, he says, you can't afford to keep it cloaked. You can't afford to keep it covered up. You can't cover up, you must not cover up the light. It is the one thing people in darkness need.
Now, watch what He says: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see," what? See you? No. See what? See your good works. And having seen, listen, watch this, having seen your good works, which is the work of Jesus Christ in and through you, they will give glory to God. The one thing that you and I do not want is glory. The one thing that we do not want is to be exalted because that is the beginning of the end of your testimony. And there are a lot of people who cannot handle God's blessing upon them. Before long, they begin to think it's what they're doing. Before long, they begin to talk about I, me, mine, what? And before long, what happens? They begin to believe that they're that good, that strong, or that good looking, or that they own this, or that wealthy, or whatever else that they may be boasting, and I'm here to tell you God hates pride.
Listen, the one thing He wants above everything else is to be exalted by us, so that our works must exalt Him. Our works must glorify Him. We are vessels. We are tools. We are channels. That's what we are. And how often people are blessed of God, and they can't handle it. Next thing you know, they're boasting about what they've done or what they're gonna do. Listen, we are to give, we are to share, we are to pour our lives into other people, listen, not in order to get something in return but because we care, because we love them. And He says here, He says, "Let your light so shine before men, they'll see your good works". But they're gonna glorify God, their Father who's in heaven.
So when you think about the spirit in which you and I are to share what God lays upon our heart to share with other people, when God begins to work in our heart and He begins to move us to give to other people, listen, it is always giving in such a fashion that we're not looking for praise, we're not looking for glory. And you know what, if you give and then you're just sittin' there waiting for thanksgiving, wrong spirit. Because what you gave, listen, watch this, I'm coming to something very important. You give it in the name of Jesus. And so, when you look at this passage and you look at the spirit in which we ought to do it, we must always recognize the fact that, apart from Him, we are nothing.
Let me ask you, what are you apart from Jesus Christ? Flesh, bone, blood. What are we apart from Jesus Christ? Fallen nature, sinful human beings, wicked and vile in our hearts apart from God's righteousness. It is Jesus Christ living on the inside of us that's transformed us. Anything good about any single one of us is the presence of Jesus Christ within us. Don't ever forget it. It is the spirit in which we engage in those works. We wanna, listen, we wanna give glory absolutely to God and take nothing of ourselves. That's what Jesus said. You remember what He said in the fourteenth chapter? He said, "It's my Father who works through Me. It's my Father who's working in Me and through Me". Even Jesus didn't take credit for His works. And certainly, we cannot. And anytime a person does, they, listen, they have a misunderstanding of what is really going on inside of them, a misunderstanding of God.
Now, you say, well, does that mean that we never have any pride at all? No, we are to, listen, there is a godly pride, which means pride enough I wanna do my best, I want to look my best, I'm an ambassador for Jesus Christ, represent him. We all, listen, we should all do our best, look our best, be our best, why? Because we represent the Son of God, and He's invested a great deal in you and me. Look at the cross, that's how much He invested in us. And so, we are channels. Now, we talk about the fact that we are representatives of His and that we are to exalt Him in this. But there's something else I want us to remember here, and that is we're to, listen, we are to serve Him in His name. We're to do good deeds in His name.
And somebody says, "Well, I've been wondering what in the world does 'in His name' mean"? Here's what it means. It means at least three things. Whether I give you a drink of cold water in the name of Jesus, or give you five hundred dollars in the name of Jesus, or pray with you in the name of Jesus, or give you or buy you a dinner in the name of Jesus, in other words, whatever we do, whatever good deeds out there, listen, whatever those good deeds are, we do them in the name of Jesus. What does that mean? Well, I think it means a, minimum of three things, it can mean a lot more than that. But it simply means this. Number one: what I'm doing is in harmony with God's revealed will. This is what I believe God wants me to do at this time. To do it in His name is to do it in harmony with.
You and God are, listen, you all are in agreement about it, to do it in harmony with him. Secondly, to do it in subjection to His will, that is, His authority. I do it His way, in His timing. Whatever good deeds should be in His way, in His timing, under His authority, waiting for His timing, do it His way, because, certainly, that is the best way and the most profitable way to do whatever God calls us to do. Thirdly, naturally, is in dependence, listen, in dependence upon His power. Whatever we do, we do it in His name, in dependence upon His power, which says, "God, I can't do it apart from you. I can't, but you can".
Somebody says, "Well, now, doesn't that sound sanctimonious"? You don't have to say it out loud, but the truth is I can tell you, you and I can't do anything in our own strength that's going to be fruitful, bearing a real, lasting fruit, or may, listen, lots of people can make an impression, godly people make an impact. So what you have to ask is this: do I want to make an impression on somebody? Or do I want to make an impact for the gospel? Am I doing this for myself, or am I doing this for Jesus's sake? In the name of Jesus, listen, in the name of Jesus, I'm doing it because I believe it's His will. In the name of Jesus, I'm doing it in His timing, in His way. And in the name of Jesus, I am certainly going to do it depending upon His Holy Spirit, and certainly also, I'm gonna do it with thanksgiving.
So, think about this. If all the works we do, whatever we do for somebody in the name of Jesus, whatever we do, if it's in the spirit of thanksgiving, if it's in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, if it's in subjection to, that is, to His authority, His timing, His way, if all of this is true, you know what? Whatever we do, God will make profitable, and I'm gonna show you in a few moments why that's so important. God will make profitable. And so, the spirit in which we are to engage in good works, that spirit is to exalt Him in it, and to do it in His name, but likewise, to do it motivated by love. Now, some people don't know how to love anybody. Some people have never felt loved. They don't know how to love someone else. And this is why, now watch this carefully, because it's not a word of criticism, it's just reality.
Some people don't know how to express love. They may try to express love towards you or help you, and you think, well, they're all thumbs. Watch this, the very fact that they try, give them the credit. They may not do it the way you need it. They may not do it the way you expect it. It may not be what you expected or exactly what you need, but you know what? If they've never understood what it means to love somebody, they've never felt love in their heart, it may be a little difficult for them to express what they really feel because they don't necessarily, they'd like to feel love, they may know they want to, ought to, but sometimes they don't know how.
Now, I want you to jot down several, I've got two lists here, jot down several things, because this is a good way to check yourself out. Now, if you don't care, don't write it down. Now, I mean that seriously. If you don't care, don't write it down. Listen, if you want to check out yourself and be sure what you're doing is in the right spirit, that is, it's certainly in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you want to exalt Him and you want to do it in the spirit of love. Let's think about what are the things that motivate people to engage in good works. I mean, people can do good things. What motivates them? Well, sometimes they're motivated by the desire for acceptance by someone else. And if they do a certain thing, they get accepted. They're looking for approval in their life.
And so, we can certainly understand that sometimes people feel like they need that in their life, and so that's what they're going after is acceptance and approval. Sometimes it's because of pressure. If I'm motivated by somebody's pressure on me, first of all, I won't have the right spirit about it, and secondly, I'm not gonna do it, and if I do it, I won't do it long. And I won't do my best. So, our deeds and our work and our service for God certainly should not be as a result of wanting acceptance and pressure, nor for financial gain. That does not mean that God's not gonna bless you, I'm coming to that, but our motive for helping someone else should not be financial gain. You see somebody in need, somebody hurting, whatever God called you to do, our good deeds should be motivated by something else, certainly not fear of consequences.
Now, I could do some things out of pure fear of consequences if I don't do it. I mean, it may be the right thing, something God wants me to do, but the reason I do it is, listen, not because of love, but because I fear the consequences. Or it just may be that I want to be obedient to God and it's not so much a matter of love, but I just feel better by being obedient, so I'm just gonna do it because God said it, that's it, I may not have a lot of feeling about it. So, you can engage in a lot of good works in life, but the truth is the motivation's not right. And so, we want to avoid all of these things.
Now, one last thing, now watch this carefully. Let me ask you a question. If I should ask you this question: What, listen, what is the judgment of God all about? The judgement, listen, there'll be two judgments: The Judgment of the Saints and The Judgment of the Lost, people who die lost. What's the Judgment all about? The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the Judgment. Well, what's that all about? If I'm already saved, is that all about my salvation? Is Jesus gonna take another look at my salvation to see if it worked? No. What about the judgment of the lost? Is He going to give them another chance? No. Then what is the judgment of Jesus Christ all about? The judgment of Jesus Christ is all about one thing. It's about, listen, it's about our works. That's, listen, that's why it's so absolutely important. It's about our works now.
People say, "Well, I'm in. You know, I'm saved, and that's all that matters". That's not all that matters. It's about our works. Now, listen to two or three passages of scripture. Look, if you will, now let's turn to, well, let's look, first of all, at Hebrews chapter six for a moment. Hebrews chapter six, and I want you to look at this one, then I want to give you two passages about The Judgment because The Judgment is not a matter of something that I have an option about. It is appointed unto man once to die and after this, the judgment's inescapable. Now, watch this. He says a word of encouragement in the sixth chapter of Hebrews verse ten. "For God is not unjust so as to forget your works and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints".
You know what He says? God Himself would be absolutely unjust, out of character, if He forgot what you and I are doing. Now I want you to turn to some very sobering passages. Second Corinthians chapter five. Look at that. Second Corinthians chapter five. Listen to what He says. Verse ten, He says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed," or rewarded, "for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad". What's The Judgment all about? It's about rewards. For what? For works. That's what it's all about. It's about reward for works. Now, if, for example, our works are bad, we're gonna be like Swiss cheese. He says all that's gonna burn up, and only what's left is gonna count. That's what we're gonna get rewarded for.
Second thing I want you to notice here. I want you to look, if you will, let's look in the twentieth chapter of Revelation first, 'cause here's another judgment. Listen to what this one says. Twentieth chapter of Revelation, verse eleven through fifteen, and somebody says I don't read that book because I don't understand it. You're gonna understand this part. Look at this. Verse eleven. John says: "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened; another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their," what? "According to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds".
That is, The Judgment is all about our works on earth now. Somebody says, "Well, when you die, can you take anything with you"? Absolutely. Our works. Will they make a difference in your salvation? Absolutely not. Make a difference in your reward? All the difference in the world. That's what The Judgment's about. Think about this: when you and I stand before Him, listen, we may be busy in this life, and we may think there are a lot of things in this life that are important. This life is so short! And eternity is so long. And Satan has deceived us into thinking: squeeze out all the happiness, squeeze out all the joy, squeeze out all the indulgences. Get everything you can get in this life because it's gonna be short!
And he's right about that short part. He's very deceptive about the squeezing part. What would Jesus say? Here's what He said: He wrapped it all up in one verse. He said, "He who saves his life for himself shall lose it, but he who gives his life away to others will save it". You know what pleases the Lord most? That His vessels, you and I, have trusted Jesus as our Savior, that our lifestyle is pouring our life, which is His life, into the lives of others. Good deeds, good works, not because we want to get saved by them, but because we love Him and couldn't do less for a God has done so much for us.