What we are …..
What we are –
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE?
Take an empty cola bottle sometime and fill it half full of water. Then, take some vegetable oil and fill it the rest of the way. Then try to shake it with all your might so it will become all mixed up. What happens? The moment you stop shaking, it begins to separate from one another, doesn’t it? What is the moral? The moral is that, by their very nature, oil and water do not mix.
The same is true with Godliness and worldliness.
You might say that we live here and we need to be in the world. We might need to be in the world, but does the world have to be in us?
2 CORINTHIANS 5:20 tells us where we stand in relation to the world.
2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
In EPHESIANS 2:19,
Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
we are told that we are citizens and members of God’s household. We are no longer citizens of this world, and as the song says, “This World is Not My Home, I’m Just a Passing Through.” And since we belong to God; since we are citizens of heaven working as ambassadors here on earth;
we need to focus more on God and less on the world, but to do so, we need to make sure that
we really believe in God, and not just think we do.
When I was going to school, I had a physics professor who was teaching us about the law of the pendulum. We all know what a pendulum is, right? It swings from side to side, and it always decreases in the length of its ark with every swing. The professor had nailed a rope to the wall just above the blackboard. To this rope, he had attached a baseball. He asked how many of us really believed in the law of the pendulum and we all raised our hands.
With that, he pulled the rope to one side and marked where it was on the board. Then he let go of it and every time it swung back to his side, he put another mark where it stopped. The end result was he had many marks, all closer to the center than the one before, proving the law was true. He asked again how many of us really believed in the law, and we all raised our hands once again.
Then he took us to the auditorium, where he had hung a thick nylon chord from the rafters just above the stage. Attached to this chord was a 100-pound weight. He asked for a volunteer. He had a chair sitting on the side of the stage and he had the man who volunteered sit in it. He then took the weight, which was hanging in the middle of the stage and carried it over to about an inch from the boy’s face. He asked him if he believed in the law of the pendulum, and the boy, starting to get a little worried by now, said he did.
With that, the professor let go of the weight and it swung clear to the other side of the stage, and then began to come back. I have never seen anyone move so fast in my life as that young man trying to get out of the way.
Did he believe, or did he just think he believed?
This is not a particularly long sermon, rather it is particularly short, but I felt like I should talk about the belief Christians have, or at least, should have.
The first thing we need is…
1. A BELIEVING HEART
In JOHN 1:7, we are told that Jesus came so that all men might believe.
That is how we believe; through Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there is no belief.
John 1:7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
That is confirmed in JOHN 20:31, when it says that by believing in Jesus Christ, one may have life in His name.
John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
In order to be a real Christian, and in order to receive eternal life, we must be real believers.
We must have a burning in our hearts to be with Jesus; to know more about Him; and to know Him more.
Remember the story about the young man who sat on the chair waiting for the 100-pound weight to come back towards his face? There are many Christians who have the same type of faith in their belief in Jesus. They think they believe, and they say they believe, but when push comes to shove, they get out of the way as fast as they can.
Remember when Peter told Jesus that he would follow him into death if necessary? A few verses later, we see where Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter was like that young man on stage, too. He thought he believed, but when he was pushed, he collapsed like a house of cards. And we cannot have faith unless we really believe.
Everybody believes in something. What is it that you believe in? And how much do you really believe in it? It is very easy to think you believe when there is no risk involved. It is more difficult to truly believe when you risk losing something very important.
Just like the student, we need to know the basics of what is offered to us. He needed to know what the law of the pendulum was, and we need to know what the law of salvation is. It is eternal life in heaven, with God the creator.
Once we understand what is offered, we are ready to find out …
2. WHAT IT IS WE REALLY BELIEVE IN
USA Today took a survey several years ago and asked Americans in the top 1% income bracket how much they would spend for three things: Great intellect, true love, and a place in heaven. Those wealthy people said they would be willing to spend an average of $407K for great intellect, $487K for true love, $640K for a place in heaven!
So, some people think they can buy their way into heaven. That falls right in line with people like that great theologian, Sophia Loren. She said, and I quote, “I should go to heaven; otherwise it’s not nice. I haven’t done anything wrong. My conscience is very clean. My soul is as white as orchids, and I should go straight, straight to heaven.”
George Barna conducted his own survey, and 51% of those surveyed said they believe that if a person is good, or does good things for other people, they will get their spot in heaven. So we see that Ms. Loren’s beliefs have been around as long as there have beenpeople on the earth.
We see the fallacy of this in ROMANS 9:30-32 –
Romans 9:30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.
‘What then, shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it – righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
Why not? Because they pursued it, not by faith, but as if it were by works.’
In ISAIAH 55:8, we are told,
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.’
Why are we so intent on taking God’s word and trying to change it to fit our desires instead of just accepting His word as the law we should live by? But by our works is how we live, isn’t it? We must earn the respect of others and earn promotions at work. We can sing about the best things in life being free, but when it comes to the things of this world, it all has to be earned. And that is how most people think about going to heaven; it must be earned by what we do.
The Israelites had a believing heart, but what they believed in wasn’t helping them. They believed they had to follow all the laws of the Old Testament to get to heaven. They were just like the people today; good and earnest people who have it all wrong when thinking about their relationship to heaven.
Those who believe in works or some other way of getting to heaven besides believing in Jesus are not bad people. They are wonderful people who have the right heart, but their heart is misdirected. The trouble with works getting you to heaven is that you have to be in 100% compliance – in every thing, all the time. That, in itself, is impossible for us to do. That is the same thing as saying you can never make any mistakes. None of us could live up to that expectation.
Mark Twain once said that if doing good was what got us to heaven, you could not get in, but your dog could. Like Paul says, you cannot be good enough to get into heaven any more than you can stand on the earth and touch the stars.
The Bible is very clear in what we should believe in. It does not mince words and it uses no metaphors to explain it. Pure and simple, we need to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent to be our ONLY way to heaven. He is our Redeemer and our Savior. He is THE path, not ONE OF THE paths.
So, we need a believing heart, and we need to realize just what we really believe in. Once we have these down pat, we are then ready to …
3. STOP RUNNING AWAY
The student sat in the chair, and when the weight started swinging back his way, he quickly jumped out of his chair and ran away. He believed, but he believed only until he had to risk losing something, like his head.
Many Christians are the same way, too. They go to church and do all the things, and they will continue to do that until a serious challenge comes along. With our finite minds, we must have certain logical steps to take us into Christian maturity. God knew this, so we find His instructions in the Bible.
In MARK 9, we read where Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy and then the boy’s father came up and said, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.” We are much like that boy’s father. We all believe, but we also sometimes … don’t believe. In other words, we believe with our intellect, but we do not believe with our heart. We need to do like the boy’s father did and ask Jesus to help us have more belief.
We need to do the same thing Jesus told Thomas about the scars in His side. In the last part of JOHN 20:27, Jesus said, “Stop doubting and believe!”
We have a natural tendency to run away before we commit. We see that all the time with people who say they are Christians, but will not go to anybody and tell them about Jesus. I truly believe that being non-committal towards Jesus is a sin. If we don’t know Him here, He has promised to not know us there.
Let me ask you a question. Picture yourself at your wedding. You are standing there and the minister asks you if you will take your fiancé for better or worse, etc. What do you think would happen if you just looked around and said nothing? Do you think you would hurt your fiancé?
If the minister asked you if you took that person to be your spouse, what do you think the response would be if you were absolutely silent? Again, do you think you would hurt your fiancé? Do you think you would be helping yourself? No, you would be doing more damage to that person and to yourself than you could ever calculate.
That is the same with your relationship to Jesus. Many people freeze up when asked to state their relationship to Jesus. Many people would actually rather deny Him than take the risk of having somebody mock them by confessing Jesus. Isn’t that what Peter did on the night they arrested Jesus?
ROMANS 10:9 promises us,
‘… if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him, you will be saved.
Now, before we go any further, let me say that we must believe in Him, and we must confess Him. And, if we confess Jesus is our Lord, and that we have Him in our hearts, doesn’t it make sense that we would also be striving to do what He wants us to do?
In ACTS 2:38, we are told to repent and be baptized. It means just that.
Stop running! Get on B.A.S.E. with God.
BELIEVE – ADMIT – SURRENDER – EXPRESS
Believe that Jesus is Lord; Admit to yourself that He is your Savior; Surrender your heart to Him today; and Express Him to others around you.
The young man who sat in the chair on the stage had a decision to make. He could trust the truth, or he could run when it got uncomfortable. We have that same choice to make today.
that one day you will have no other place to run to, and you will find yourself in that long line, waiting to be judged one-on-one with the Lord. When you find yourself standing there, what are you going to feel like when He looks directly at you and says, “NEXT”?
I think the only option we have today is to be sure we are protected against tomorrow’s onslaught. Are you protected? Would you like to be? Do you think you should be?