Leon Fontaine - Qualified
When I was younger, a friend of mine that gave his life to Christ began to come out to church for a little while, very disciplined, very tough, very unique man. I mean, martial arts, fighting, special forces in his country before he moved here. Just a ton of things. When he found Christ, he tried to apply this willpower. This talent to endure anything. This guy could endure stuff, man. He was trained and he tried to apply that to Christianity. He left the city that I was in and didn't see him or he didn't communicate with me. He just seemed to kind of go with his own little world, then he began to spiral down. And eventually took his own life and did it in the most painful way he could because he felt there was something wrong with him.
He couldn't measure up. He couldn't do what he needed to do as a man for God. And I could tell you story after story. Even in my own life of, you know, just trying to, "God, where are you"? And it comes down to a message that I'm going to do today. That if you don't get this, if you don't apply yourself to this, you're going to be an unhappy Christian. So many believers, they're trying to win over something in their lives right now. Maybe you've got a health situation. Maybe you've got a relationship that is just killing you. Maybe you're struggling in finances. Maybe you're dealing with self-worth issues and feelings of significance. Maybe emotionally you feel like you're a mess. And when we give our lives to Christ born-again spirit-filled, and we don't understand the topic I want to dive into today. You begin to feel frustrated. You literally begin to everything that you are taught to believe from the Word gets challenged by your experience.
The Bible does not say that we are to fight the devil, but we are to recognize he is our adversary. We fight the good fight of faith because that is what places us in victory. We are not to focus on the devil and fight him. In verse 30 of Romans 9, it says, "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not even pursue righteousness have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith, but Israel who pursued the law of righteousness. Which means their own works has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by their works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: 'I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble, a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trust in Him will never be put to shame.'"
Now people say, "Well, that stumbling stone is Jesus". All right, that's accurate. But let's dive in deeper into the context of this text. It is talking about righteousness. For you to be right with God. For you to be in a place where God looks at you and smiles. God's favor is all over you. God's blessing, His promises are yours. The word justified is a very similar word to righteousness. So here's a way to understand these words. To be justified means to be just as if I'd never sin. Jesus did that for you on the cross. Righteousness means to be in right standing with God.
You know, if you've done something and you forgot your anniversary and you come home that night and realize I forgot it. Dude, you are not in right standing with your wife tonight, okay? She's unhappy with you. But these words, they are saying to you and I, and Paul continually taught this issue and it is still the issue today in your life. I know because I deal with this every day. When I'm believing God for a promise in my life, of healing, of prosperity, of peace. Ought then I'm trying to live my life better. So I'm just thinking, "Okay, I've got to pray more. I've got to read more. I've got to fast more. I've got to give more. I've got to volunteer more. I've got to do this more". And I'm trying to earn this place with God where He will give something to me, do something for me, and that is when you frustrate the grace of God. That is when you fall from grace. That is when you have fallen over this rock of offense. Which is what makes you right with God.
I remember a lady in my dad's church when I was pastoring with him. And she knew the Bible. Man, could she recite verses. She had been to church all her life. When she came to our church, she was already a middle age woman with teenage kids, and she was an expert on everything, and she was an expert on everybody. She had a mouth. She knew how to talk about people, assassinate people, and she was forever complaining. I do not remember at all in my 14 years of knowing her. I do not remember at all ever have her having an answer to prayer. She'd get up and complain all the time. If she'd get me aside somewhere, it will be to complain about why her prayers aren't answered. And whenever they weren't, she'd always, which they never worked. It would always be, "I have been serving God faithfully with my whole life. I have tithed. I have brought my kids to Sunday school". And on and on this pedigree of how amazing she was would come out.
In healing services, we would see people healed who weren't even Christians. We'd see people healed who were brand-new Christians. We'd see people who would get miracles who weren't as faithful as her in attendance. They didn't know as much of the Bible as her. But you'd try to talk to her, and she couldn't get off. Now, listen to this word. She couldn't get off her self-righteousness. She was going to make herself righteous. And that is the lie that the enemy brings. Now, when we use the word self-righteous, it usually means, we kind of add the word arrogant in there. But I know beautiful, passionate, wonderful people who want to serve God and they as well are passionately wrong, as they think that it is their perfection of cleaning up their life, of living right, of doing right.
This is what qualifies them for God to move in their life. But over and over again in the Bible it says if you do that, you frustrate the ability of God's grace. If you do that you fall from grace. His ability in your life. You stumble over the stumbling stone which isn't Jesus because you love Jesus. It's the fact that Jesus won you a place of favor with God. He got your sins forgiven from your past and your future and God's favor is upon you. And you, my friend, if you are a follower of Jesus and He lives in your heart. You are righteous because of Jesus. You are righteous as a gift.
Now, the second you begin to pray and believe God about something and then you start to remind God of how much you've done for Him. You have fallen. You have stumbled. You're frustrated and you'll continue to try. I'll never forget the last time I spoke with this lady. She started talking about her kids, her grandkids. The frustration of how nothing was working in her life. Kids not serving God, grandkids not serving God, messes here. Her life was one big mess. And I want you to know that if you're going to walk in the ability of God, His grace. Then you must believe that you are righteous. Until you believe that you are righteous in Christ, until you humble yourself and say, "I thank You, that You qualify me for this promise".
I remember as a young pastor, Sal and I came in and just began to take over this little place called Springs of Living Water Center. We kind of had a funeral for it and restarted it and call it Springs Church. That as it began to grow, when people got saved and I mean, it packed out of first service, second service, third service. I mean, with the growth came problems. I mean, we had issues and death threats and financial issues and building issues and staffing issues, and you name it. Then there's my personal stuff. I'm believing God for health and blessing in our home and family. And there were times when there were so many things on my plate that I was believing God for that if I wasn't careful, I would move from faith righteousness to self-righteousness.
And this is when it would kind of go like this, "God, I'm pastoring this church. People are getting saved. Look what's going on here. I just need You to answer our thing. Could You please help me out here". And when you get to that place, my very vocabulary as a believer, a follower of Christ shows that I have frustrated the grace. God doesn't back away from me. In fact, everything I'm believing for has been given to me past tense. And so it's not a matter of me proving myself to Jesus to have that financial miracle, to be strong through the storm that is coming. And by the way, there are times you have to understand that when you pray, there are some storms you walk through.
Now by that I don't mean healing or no. What I mean is, for example, one lady wanted me to pray for her. That the devil would stop bothering her. Well, that's not a prayer that's going to be answered because it's not Biblical. We have an enemy on this planet and he's always going to try. So the Biblical truth is, put on your armour, pull out the sword, and he's not going to be a problem. He's already defeated. But if you put this on the devil, like some of the testimony services from years ago. The devil has been on my case. It's been so rough. It's been so bad.
See, once we begin to feel like I have to earn and do something. Now, I love to do things. I love volunteering. I love preaching. I love helping people. I love talking to people. I love this church. I love what God's doing in our world. I love just pouring my life into my family, my marriage, my kids. I love what I'm doing. But I'm not doing it to earn brownie points with God. I'm not doing it for God to bless me. I'm doing it because I love Him. And I already know He's blessed me with everything, and it's already a done deal. So when things don't work, I don't look at God and go, "Why haven't"?
I know that according to the teachings in the book of Peter, that He's given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. That it's a done deal. That Jesus has qualified me. He has given me a gift of righteousness. And so when you begin to understand these truths, your life changes. There's someone listening to me right now. You're so frustrated. You're so angry. I had people tell me, "Well, the Bible says if you'll call out to God, He'll answer". That's the only verse you've memorized. The Bible says you have not because you ask not.
So now, I'm asking. That's the second verse you've got. Those are your two verses that hinge your entire future. Maybe you should begin to dive into God's Word and learn the beautiful, wonderful principles of faith, of grace, of mercy, of righteousness. This incredible plan that has been built for you. But lazy people they were saved for years and they don't even understand the Word. They've got excuses like, "Well, you know, you teach it to me. If I read it, I don't get it". Oh, stop it. That's what you said when you took fractions in Grade-three. Oh, I just can't. No, they said. No, apply yourself. Sit down and learn. That is the same with God's Word.
Timothy, as he's writing to Timothy a young man, Paul says, "Listen Timothy. Study to show yourself approved unto God, as a workman that needeth not to be ashamed and rightly divide the word of truth". He is saying that to get results in your life feed on the Word. Learn the Word. Get into the Word. And I want you to know there's someone listening to me right now, and you've judged God because you can't get results with your two verses. And you've never got to know Jesus. You've not dived into the Word to find out what is new covenant is like. Oh, you're reading Old Testament stories that you don't even bring to the cross. And there's stuff in the Old Testament that isn't even applicable anymore once it's taken through the cross and there's lots that is.
So my challenge to you today is when you give your life to Jesus Christ, you are righteous. As I've travelled and spoken with different people, I've been at conferences where they all bring in just kind of a plethora of different teachers from different persuasions and I've watched preachers get up and preached to Christians and just flogged them with living right and God has turned His head and He's displeased. You've got to get right with God. And by the way, when you start preaching that way, you can find anything to make someone feel guilty because the Bible says that if you knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, it's sin. Whatever is not of faith is sin.
If you're going to get your righteousness, you being right with God through your behaviour. I'm sorry but you're already finished. What you do is you recognize that I am righteous through Jesus' behaviour. And then as this becomes your identity, this powerful realization on the inside affects everything you do on the outside. Any addiction will fall to understanding righteousness. Some of you are saying, "Well, Jesus is my Lord". Good! But Jesus is your righteousness, too. Have you even studied that? He's your righteousness. He's not just your Lord.
Now, it's encompassing and it's beautiful. You know what I'm talking about. So what are we going to do? In Romans 10:2-4, it says there, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge". What? There are passionate zealous people. I would see at these conferences. Someone get up and passionately preached something, tears streaming down their face and they're passionately wrong. Emotions no longer move me because it actually scares me when I need a Christian when they make a point, they cry, and they get passionate, because people are moved by emotions. They're moved by passion.
Hey, listen to me. There are people who are passionately wrong. So what are we going to do? Let's get into God's Word and let's learn how to be that believer. This goes on to say that this people who have zeal but no knowledge. It says, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness are going about to establish their own righteousness. They've not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law. Which means earning your righteousness to everyone that believes".
When you believe in what Jesus has done on the cross for you and you begin to stay in His Word and just study and enjoy the truths of what Jesus has done. You will rise up. I'm telling you with a peace, a joy. You'll pray about things and you'll know how to pray about it. When the enemy tries to get you to be condemned. The enemy tries to get you to feel guilty and small as though you're disqualified from this miracle. You'll just laugh in his face because you know the teachings of Jesus that say, "He's qualified you. He is your righteousness. He's given it to you as a gift. All the promises are yes and amen because of what Jesus has done for you and I".
The solution. Someone saying, "Well, Leon, what do I do"? Well, the Bible teaches us that by grace, God's ability and favor are you saved through faith and not of yourselves. It's a gift. You need to begin to daily, the Bible says in Romans 10:8-9, the Word needs to be in your mouth and get it into your heart. Have you began to declare each day in your prayer time? That because of Jesus I'm righteous, because of Jesus I have God's favor, because of Jesus I have every promise. I'm qualified for it. Because of Jesus if my prayers line up with the Word, they're answered. As you begin to confess.
In fact, the verses that I've given you today. You need to write them down. And every day in your car, your prayer closet, wherever you go. You need to read them out loud and say, "This is mine. In the name of Jesus". And then as you do that, you're going to begin to follow Jesus in a way that has such peace. The Bible says the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. One of the things that the Jews in the New Testament were really concerned about was all the rules on eating and drinking, what, where, when, and how, etcetera. And this teaching is listen to me. That's not how you qualify. That's not how you earn righteousness. You qualify by just accepting it humbly. Jesus, thank You.
Often when I go to believe for things, when the enemy starts to move me that I haven't done enough, read enough, preached enough, given enough, volunteered enough. I've fallen over here, said bad things over there. I just go back. Well, Leon, doesn't earn his own righteousness. He freely accepts the righteousness of Jesus. And then the promises of God work easily in your life. So my challenge to you. This message is absolutely life changing or go back to your self-righteousness of trying to earn God's blessing, earn God's favor, earn God's promises, earn God's forgiveness, when Jesus already did all of that.