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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - A Saving Faith

Charles Stanley - A Saving Faith


TOPICS: School of Faith, Faith

One of your greatest assets in life which you use continually money cannot buy. And yet oftentimes we overlook it. It's a gift from God. Jesus said a great deal about it. And the truth is you and I exercise it every day and in fact, the more we exercise this particular gift He's given us, the better we do at whatever we do. We'll do more, we'll do better. We will be used by God much more, as if we did not use it at all. And so when I think about all the things that He's given us, which are innumerable, one of the most precious and most powerful is the gift of faith, which He has given to every single one of us. And that's what I want to talk about in this message, and this is the beginning of a series entitled "In the School of Faith".

There's so much to learn about trusting God. There's so much to understand about what it really and truly means to trust Him. Many people think they do but they don't. So I want you to turn if you will to Mark chapter four in the thirty-fifth verse, I want us to start with this verse and Jesus spent a great deal of His time instructing His disciples about faith. And there are some reasons which we'll talk about. But beginning in this thirty-fifth verse, it's sort of typical of the kind of things He had to deal with. So He says, "On that day, when evening came, He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. There arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' Do you still have no faith?'" After all you've seen; after all I've said, do you still have no faith? "They became very much afraid and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'"

So I want you to write down these definitions that I'm giving you. And the first I want us to understand is what do we mean by intellectual faith or natural faith, which is faith that everybody has? And that is, intellectually believe something to be true without proof or commitment. For example, I could say, intellectually I believe some things about Jesus and about what He did. So this is not godly faith. So the second faith is faith in God, the confident conviction that what He has promised He will fulfill. The confident conviction that you and I have that what He has promised He certainly will do. And that speaks about a relationship that we have, confident conviction that what He's promised He will do. It is saving faith, the trust, is trusting in Jesus, the person, the Son of God, watch this, as a living Person for the forgiveness of sins and of eternal life. That is, it's a personal relationship. Look at that. Trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as a living Person that we're relating to, for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life.

Saving faith is one thing. Intellectual faith is something else. One of the reasons many of you who've made decisions, you've joined the church. Maybe you've said, Well, I think I'm a Christian, I believe I am. You expressed intellectual faith. If there's no personal, intimate relationship with Him; if there is no turning about in your life; if it's all intellectual you believe about something, that is not saving faith. Remember what we said? That saving faith is more than that. It speaks of forgiveness of sin, the gift of eternal life and a personal relationship with the Person, Jesus Christ. Now Jesus spent a lot of His time attempting to instruct His disciples and to help them understand what true faith was all about. And sometimes He had to scold them a little bit as we saw in the chapter we first read. In the boat, He said to them, Do you still not have any faith? Now, if you grade the disciples, and I think humanly speaking we could grade them, there were four kinds of faith. First of all, there was no faith. That's what He said to them on the boat. You don't have any faith? And then He talked about little faith. And then He talked about great faith. And then He talked about a faith failure.

So I want us to look at the Sermon on the Mount for a moment in Matthew chapter six. And you remember when Jesus was spending a lot of His time in this chapter talking about different things that they would need. He talked about prayer and fasting and so forth. He talked about worry and being anxious. And then He said in the thirtieth verse, "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? O You of little faith"! So, there's no faith, then there's little faith. Then there is great faith; and a good example of that is in the eighth chapter of Matthew the scripture says, "When Jesus entered Capernaum," in verse five, "a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, And saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.' Jesus said to him," now watch this, "Jesus said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion said, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, just say the word, and my servant will be healed". Just say the word, You don't even have to come.

Now most folks would have said, Well, come on to my house, so they could brag about the fact that Jesus had been there. So he said, You don't need to come, "just say the word, and my servant will be healed". When he said that, Jesus said, I've not found this kind of faith, this degree of faith, in all of Israel. So there's no faith, there's little faith and there's great faith. Where would you fall in that category? So, all of us have a degree of faith in our relationship to Him. I either have, let's just count out the no faith. Let's say we either have little faith or we have great faith. Now listen. It may be struggling faith; it may be faith that is just wobbling and wavering and here today and gone tomorrow.

We all have intellectual faith. We all have at least a little faith. And God wants us to have great faith in order to do what? He wants us to have the same kind of faith that He's talking about in order that He can do the same thing through you and me that He intended to do through them. Because He has a plan and a purpose for your life, no matter who you are, no matter what somebody says to you, God has a purpose for your life. He has a plan for your life. The reason, the primary reason He wants you to have great faith is because you and I will respond to Him on the basis of the degree of faith we have. If we have great faith, He can give us great challenges. If we have great faith, He can do great things through us. That's why it's so very important that you and I learn to trust Him and to walk obediently before Him.

Now, in spite of all the things that Jesus said, look at this. In spite of all the things He said, and then in the thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen chapters of John sixteen primarily, and then, that's His prayer in the seventeenth chapter. All the things that they saw, all the things that they heard, you come to the resurrection and Jesus meets with His disciples and Thomas isn't there. And they say, Look, we've seen Him; and they express their faith and he say, here's what he says. I will not believe. So, Jesus in His grace comes back again. Thomas is there and he said to them, I got to feel it; I got to see it myself. Next time He came back and Jesus said, Look, feel. Finally he believed. What will it take to bring you to realize and to recognize Jesus Christ is the Son of God? And He is the only hope you have of getting to Heaven.

How long will it take you to realize this Bible is the true Word of God? And God is our Heavenly Father. And He sent Jesus for the primary purpose of dying on the cross, that your sins may be forgiven, your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And when you leave this life you go absolutely immediately in to the presence of God. How long will it take you before you're willing to believe the truth? Not some intellectual attitude about I believe Jesus was and this, that and the other and the facts. But believe in Him with a relationship whereby you ask Him to forgive you of your sins. You turn from the life that you've been living. You surrender your life to Him. You yield yourself to Him. He becomes the Lord and Master of your life. How long will it take you to come to the place that you make the most important decision in your life?

Well, that brings me to something that I want us to discuss for a few moments here, and that is this whole issue of saving faith. That is the faith that really and truly saves. Intellectual faith will not get you salvation. That's just saying I believe the facts about Jesus. You know, crucified, resurrected and all that. I do believe all that. That's not a saving faith; that's not a relationship with Christ. So I want us to deal with what I think is a real deception; and that deception is this. That many people who sit in church week after week; many people probably who watch, who listen. You grew up going to church or you grew up and your family took you to church. And maybe you got sprinkled or poured on, baptized, when you were a baby. You don't know anything in the world about that, but that's what they did to you; what your parents were doing. They were dedicating you to the Lord, but to the pastor or the priest may have said to you, Now that you're saved because you've been baptized. And so, you grow up and what do you have? You have intellectual faith. You believe that all those things that they taught you and therefore if you were baptized you must be saved. Oh yes, I believe in Jesus. You have an intellectual faith but you do not have saving faith. Because saving faith demands a relationship and the requirements for a relationship like this.

And so, I want you to turn to James chapter two for a moment and look at a passage here that again reminds us that there's got to be more than just intellectual faith here. In the second chapter and the eighteenth verse, "But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works". Watch this, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder". In, listen, intellectual faith is no more than the faith demons and the devil have. The demons believe in God. The devil believes in God, absolutely. But that's intellectual faith. That's believing the facts. Naturally the devil believes the facts about His crucifixion, resurrection, and so forth.

Many people have intellectual belief in the life, the history, some of the attitudes and so forth about Jesus, intellectually. But remember this. There's a gap between intellectual belief and saving belief, and the gap is relationship. I can believe a lot of facts, but if I don't have a personal relationship, which comes about when I confess my sins. I repent of my sins. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. Unless that's there, all you have is an intellectual belief in and about Jesus Christ; but you have no relationship. Because when you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, what happens is the Bible says your sins are forgiven. Jesus Christ comes into your life through the Holy Spirit to live from that moment on in you, with you and upon you, He says, that's what He promised, He'll be in you, with you ,and upon you. And so therefore, at that moment you have a relationship. And that from that moment on, you yield you're saying, I'm a follower of Jesus. That's what true saving faith is all about.

And there are many people who've never done that. They sit in church week after week, listening to false doctrine, if you just be good. Listen, the false doctrine today is good works will get you to Heaven. If you'll just believe in Jesus and good works. Well, now what do you mean by believing in Jesus? Are you talking about intellectual faith? If the idea is believing in Jesus intellectually and doing good works, you got two problems. The Bible's very clear that it's not good works. And the Bible is very clear that it's saving faith, relational faith, not intellectual faith. And many people have been deceived and because of never been taught, number one. Some people, they just think if I just believe about Him and they'll tell, Oh, I believe in Jesus. And I've asked people, for example, Well, how long you been a Christian? Well, I believed in Jesus all my life. That's what I hear. I believe in Jesus all my life. You've heard that. I believed in Jesus all my life. Well, what kind of belief was that? If it's all your life, it's intellectual.

When you are saved, you can point back to sometime in your life. You're maybe be able to point the day, the hour and so forth; but you know that a relationship developed. Because you express faith, genuine, saving faith in a Person, the Son of God, for the forgiveness of your sins. And from that moment on, when the Holy Spirit came into your life, things changed. Things had to change because you had a brand new relationship with Him. Now that brings up something else and that's the whole issue of repentance. Look if you will in Luke chapter twenty-four for a moment. And this is very important because we live in a day when there's an attitude that in order to be saved, you just receive Jesus Christ as Savior and this lordship business hasn't got anything to do with it. Listen carefully. I want you to look this way for a moment and listen. A hundred and eighty-five times in the gospels, Jesus is addressed as Lord, a hundred and eighty-five times. If He's addressed as Lord a hundred and eighty-five times, there's something very significant about that. You know, they didn't call Him Jesus. They called Him Lord, because they acknowledged His Lordship.

So I want you to turn to the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke for a moment; and this is one of the last things Jesus was saying to His disciples before He left. And beginning in verse forty-four, "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, And He said to them 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,'" watch this next verse, "and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem". Well, what about believing? Because it was understood.

Think about this. First of all, you're not going to, listen, first of all, it's hard for some people to deal with their sin issue anyway. You're not going to go around repenting of sin if you don't first believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is. That He did what He said He had done; that He came for the reason He said He came; and that He'll do what He said He would do. So just because it's not mentioned, it's absolutely understood. Listen, repentance and faith go hand in hand; two sides of the same coin and you can't have one without the other. In other words, if you have saving faith, you are going to say that I am trusting Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sin, for the removal of this in my life and the guilt of my life. And now I am saved by the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, when you and I think about salvation, the idea of saying, Oh, my sins have been forgiven. Yeah, I know it, but no, He's not the Lord of my life.

Well, let me just say this. If you are saved and He's not the Lord of your life, let's put it like this. He is the Lord of your life. You're just refusing to acknowledge Him as the Lord of your life. He is the Lord. He's not the Lord if, or maybe, or possibly. He is the Lord. He is the Lord as God sent Him. He is in control of all things. He is the Lord who created all things. He's the Lord who sustains all things. He is the Lord who lives within us moment by moment, day by day in the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the Lord of all of life. When you receive Him as Savior, you got Him as Lord... whether you recognize it or not. That's why, listen, that's why the very idea that a person is saved by the grace of God and then is living in sin and continues to live in sin, there's something wrong. And oftentimes people ask me, get all kind of emails of parents, for example, who say, I know my son was saved back yonder, but he's living in sin. What do you think I should do and how should I respond to him and so forth, depends on what they're up to and what they're into. If a person's genuinely saved, they're saved. Does that mean they're not going to sin? No, they're going to sin. Does it mean that they're going to be lost if they sin? No, it doesn't.

But here's what I want you to see. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you took Him as Lord. You may not have understood it. You, nobody may have explained it. But, listen, watch this. He's not just Lord in somebody's life who understands it. He is Lord, period. In fact, He's the Lord over the life of every wicked, vile, sinful, evil person in the world. They just don't know it, but He is Lord. And the scripture says that one day every knee, listen, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess what? Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And I would simply say this. If you have a belief system in which you believe all these things about God and Jesus and so forth, here's the question you need to ask yourself. Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which took place at the moment I confessed my sins, repented of my sins, yielded it all to Him and allow Him to forgive me, transform me, make this awesome eternal change in my life? Has there ever been a time when you came into a personal relationship with Jesus about your life.

So I want you to be clear, that's my whole purpose, that your faith in Jesus Christ is not just intellectual, but it is saving. You accept Him as a Person, the Son of God; the only sacrifice that could take care of your sin. And you're willing to yield your life to Him. That means a change. It means a transformation in your life. It means a different direction in your thinking and every aspect of your life. And the longer you walk and the more you understand, listen, the more God is going to give you a sense of awesome absolutely perfect assurance about that relationship. So my prayer is for you, that if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior right now. You say, Well, what do I say? Listen carefully. It isn't just what you say, but it's what you mean in your heart. You ask, you say this. Lord Jesus, I do believe that You're the Son of God. I do believe what I've heard and what I've read, that you died on the cross and somehow Your death paid my sin debt in full. And that if I accept You as my personal Savior, You will forgive me of my sins, change my life, and that You will empower me to walk a different kind of life. And I'm asking You to forgive me and I want this personal relationship he's talking about. The moment you do that, you don't ever have to beg God to save you. All you have to do is ask Him sincerely with a surrendered heart, and He'll do it. And that's my prayer for you.

And Father, we know that Your Word never returns void, never, never, never. But you said it always accomplishes what you sent it out for. And I pray today that millions and millions of people who will hear this message over a period of time will hear it, believe it, apply it and allow You to become the Savior and Lord of their life. I pray that those who are genuinely saved, that You would strengthen their faith; encourage them and equip them to be stronger, better, more effective servants and more effective witnesses of the Gospel of Christ. We love You and we praise You and we thank You that ours is not a salvation of maybe, but absolutely, in Jesus' name, amen.
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