Make Your Faith Count!

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INTRODUCTION: Our message series is called, “Lord, Make My Life Count!” Make my life meaningful, make my life purposeful, Lord, make my life count both now and for eternity. So far we have looked at “Make Your Work Count!” and “Make Your Rest Count!”, and today we will look at “Make Your Faith Count!” (Read Hebrews 11:1-6 and pray.)

Everyone believes in something. There are many different beliefs in the world, but everyone believes in something. Even non-religious people have a deeply held set of beliefs about the world around them. So, in a world with so many choices, where do you turn? They can’t all be right. So how do you know what to believe in?

What you believe about God and the world is vitally important, because what you believe has a direct impact on the actions and decisions you make in life. How sad if you got all the way to the end of your life and found out that you had based all your actions on a belief that wasn’t even true.

You have to believe in something, so you had better make your faith count. And that’s what today’s message is all about. Today we will look at five biblical principles that will help you make your faith count, not only for this world but for all of eternity.

I. Faith means trust (Hebrews 11:1; Proverbs 3:5-6)

And the first principle is this: faith means trust. We see this in the classic definition of faith we find in Hebrews 11: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) That phrase “being sure” translates a word that means “substance, confidence, assurance or trust.”

Faith means trusting what you can’t readily see. The woman who trusts her husband doesn’t follow him around everywhere and check all his phone records and read all his emails. Why? Because she doesn’t have to see it all in order to believe. She trusts him. And faith means trust.

It’s the same when we talk about having faith in God. Having faith in God doesn’t simply mean believing that he exists. A lot of people believe that God exists. But having faith in God means trusting him – you trust his character, you trust his promises, you trust his word.

Faith involves knowledge, assent and trust. Knowledge is important because you have to know something before you can believe it. Assent is important because you must agree with what you know before you can believe it. But it is not real faith until you take that final step which is trust.

The children’s message this morning is a great illustration of this truth. Pastor Chris asked the children if they believed that he existed. That’s knowledge. Then he asked them if they believed he could catch them if they fall. That’s assent. But they didn’t exercise real faith until they showed their trust by actually falling back into his arms.

It’s the same way with God. It’s good to believe that God exists. And it is good to agree that God’s Word is true. But until you trust him, until you make a conscious choice to fall into his arms and rest completely in him, then you do not truly have faith.

The book of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) So that’s our first principle this morning. Do you want to make your faith count? Then understand that faith means trust. If you truly have faith in God, then you will trust him with your life.

II. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)

Our second principle is this. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Look at Hebrews 11:6 with me: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

You cannot please God without faith. It is impossible. You can try. You can try and live a perfect life. You can try and do all the right things. You can be in church every morning and on your knees every night, but if you do not have faith, you cannot possibly please God.

Why is it impossible to please God without faith? The rest of the verse tells us why. “Because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

So first, in order to please God, you must believe that he exists. That makes sense, doesn’t it? It would be hard to please God if you didn’t believe that he even existed. But notice this is much more than just believing that there is a god. It is not enough to believe in the general existence of God. You need to believe that God himself exists.

I am probably not going to have a good relationship with my wife, Rosi, if I don’t believe that she exists. And it’s not enough if I believe in a general sense that there is such a thing as a wife. No, I need to believe her, know her, love her, trust her. In the same way, you need to believe that God himself exists. It’s not enough simply to believe that there is a god out there somewhere. You need to believe in Him – the one, true God who has revealed himself to us in the Bible.

And not only must you believe that God exists, you must believe that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Believe that God exists? That’s knowledge. Believe that he rewards those who seek him? That’s trust. Faith means trust, and without faith it is impossible to please God.

III. Faith must be in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, 16:31; 1 John 5:11-12)

Our third principle is this: Faith must be in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says this: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The God of the Bible has revealed himself to us through the history of Israel in the Old Testament and through the coming of Jesus in the New Testament. And the testimony of Scripture is clear. If you want your faith to count, your faith must be in Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 is a powerful statement, so I want to make sure you understand what it means. When the Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else,” it literally means, “Salvation is found in no one else.” That means you will not find salvation in Islam. You will not find salvation in Hinduism. You will not find salvation in Buddhism. You will not find salvation in the Jewish faith apart from Christ. You will not find salvation in pagan religions or the worship of nature. There are 21 major religions in the world, with many other smaller groupings, subgroupings, and offshoots. And you will not find salvation in any of them except through Jesus Christ.

Now that’s not to say you will not find elements of truth in other religions. But salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

1 John 5 puts it very simply and clearly: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12) Eternal life is found in Jesus Christ. If you have Jesus, then you have life. If you do not have Jesus, then you do not have life. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Faith must be in Jesus Christ.

IV. Faith alone saves (Romans 4:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9)

1) Faith means trust. 2) Without faith it is impossible to please God. 3) Faith must be in Jesus Christ. And 4) Faith alone saves. This is one of the most precious teachings of the Bible. Faith alone saves. Look at Romans 4 with me. Paul writes: “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:4-5)

Work is different from faith. When you work, you get a paycheck. Your paycheck is not a gift. You don’t write your boss a thank you note: “Dear boss, thank you so much for my paycheck this week. That was so thoughtful of you. Thank you for your kindness. Love, Me.” That would be ridiculous! Your paycheck is not a gift. It is wages. You earned it.

But salvation is not something you earn by your works. Do you want to know what you earn by your works? Do you want to know what your wages are? The Bible says we have all sinned, and the wages of sin is death. Apart from Christ, even your best works contain a mixture of good and bad. There is a measure of sin and selfishness in everything we do. And so our works earn us death, not salvation.

Salvation is not by works but by faith. Look at Ephesians 2 with me. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Salvation is the free gift of God. Salvation is by God’s grace, not your works.

We started this whole message series a few weeks ago by talking about work, and the importance of work in your life, and how you can make your work count. But your works have no place when it comes to your salvation.

This ties in with principle number two that without faith it is impossible to please God. You can be the best person in the world and do the greatest religious works of anyone in history, and your works will not contribute one speck towards your salvation. You are saved by grace through faith, not by works. It is the gift of God. This is such an important principle. Faith alone saves.

V. Faith that saves is not alone (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-17; Matthew 7:16-20)

However, and this is just as important, faith that saves is not alone. This is our fifth and final principle. And if you really want to make your faith count, then you must grasp this one. Faith alone saves. But faith that saves is not alone.

We just saw in Ephesians 2:8-9 that faith alone saves. But then we go on and read in verse 10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So God does want us to do good works, but those good works come after we are saved, not before. Notice Ephesians 2:10 doesn’t say we were created to do good works, but rather, we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

In other words, faith in Christ comes first. When you put your faith in Christ for salvation, you become a new creation. The old things have passed away, and everything becomes new. That all happens by faith. But now that you are a new creation, God has work for you to do. You are created in Christ Jesus to do good works. And those good works are a necessary outgrowth of your faith.

In fact, although you are saved by faith and not by works, the Bible says that if your faith does not result in works, then you are not really saved. Look at James 2 with me:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)

In other words, true saving faith will always be accompanied by works. Faith without works is dead. Your faith must be accompanied by action.

Jesus said,

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16-20)

Is your life bearing good fruit or bad fruit? Are you living for Christ, or are you living for the world? It’s not enough to say, “I believe in Jesus,” and then go on living as though you don’t. That’s not saving faith. True saving faith is always, always, always accompanied by works.

How are you saved? By faith in Jesus Christ. How do you know you are saved? Because your life will show it. Faith alone saves. But faith that saves is not alone.

CONCLUSION: Today’s message is a challenging one. But it is the heart of the Christian message. 2 Corinthians 13 says: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

There is no Christianity without Christ, and there is no Christianity without faith. 1) Faith means trust. 2) Without faith it is impossible to please God. 3) Faith must be in Jesus Christ. 4) Faith alone saves. 5) Faith that saves is not alone. I pray that you will take these five biblical principles today, and use them to examine your own life and your own faith.

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, let me encourage you to trust him today. Fall into his strong and loving arms. Trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Let him make you a new creation. Let him give you new purpose and meaning in life.

If you are a Christian, then let me encourage you to live by faith. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Everyone believes in something. What do you believe in? Let me encourage you this morning to trust God and believe in Christ. It is the only way of salvation. It is the only way to live the Christian life. It is the only way to make your faith count.

© Ray Fowler

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