"A Transformational Faith"
What saved Abraham still saves people today. I agree I am saved by God and He takes my faith and turns it into righteousness, but don’t I still need to do more?
A Transformational Faith
A. I want you to think back to your spiritual birth. I want you to remember what you thought, how you felt, what it was like to make the decision to become a Christian. I hope it was a day filled with joy and excitement. I hope it was a time when you came to believe that Jesus could do for you what you could not do for yourself.
B. Now, seek to remember the moment when you walked into the water and were about to be baptized. I don’t know about you, but I was a little nervous. I knew that I was making a life changing decision. The water may not have been very warm or maybe you were outside in a river, but there you stood with a person next you asking you a question, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Do you accept him as your Lord and Savior?” For me, it was a simple “yes.” Then you heard something like, “I know baptize you in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins.” With a quick breath you were placed down under the water and in an instant you were back up.
C. It was a great day. Maybe there were others around you and you heard clapping or people saying “amen!” After getting dressed you might have been surrounded by some people who sang to you, prayed with you, and welcomed you into the local family as a brother or sister in Christ.
D. For some of you that day was a long time ago and maybe you have to work at remembering that day or those emotions or thoughts. But your life forever changed. So what was it that saved you? Was your repentance and changes to how you lived that saved you? Was it the ceremony of baptism and the immersion in water that changed you from a sinner to a saint? Or was it God? Was it he the blood of Jesus that cleansed you, the Spirit of God that raised you and make you a new creation? I don’t believe you have one without the other. Somehow God was willing to take our faith and would use that faith to justify us before Him.
I. A Faith That Saves
A. Paul has been pushing one topic this entire time, it is that of salvation – the ability to stand before God as sinless. It is a gift from Him that requires a faith from us in order to receive it. Faith. The very idea of grace is somewhat ambiguous. Faith is defined as believing in something you cannot see. It is accepting something for which you don’t have physical evidence to show. It is much more than just saying you want something, it is a life changing faith.
B. The Hebrew writer states (Heb. 11:1-2). These “people of old” are the stories that we read in Heb. 11. In the story of Enoch we are told that he pleased God and did not see death. Then the writer explains (Heb. 11:6). Faith not only believes that God exists, but it believes that some reward is given to those who seek God. That reward is eternal life. It is not just a life after this body dies, but a life that is lived in the flesh and then extends on for eternity. I don’t have a lot of evidence of heaven, but I do have a lot of evidence of God. Nature shows there is a God. But life also shows that something greater than me, guides and leads me, prompts me, aides me and strengthens me. Yes, I believe that God exists and rewards me if I seek Him.
C. So Paul pushes these Christians and asks them to think about their start with God and how their spiritual walk is going. READ Gal. 3:1-5.
II. Abraham and You
A. The cross was a foundation to the gospel message that Paul taught these people. But here is the point. If rule keeping is what saved you, then Jesus died for no purpose. Rules are great to keep you growing and moving forward, but they are not the source of your salvation – Jesus is. You claim that grace by placing your faith in him. The evidence is seen in h0w the Spirit is at work in you. Does the Spirit of God work because you control Him by works or because you believe in Him and submit to Him?
B. Paul’s point is that a trusting, believing faith from you is what changed you, not your own works. It is just like Abraham. What saved him? Was it circumcision or was it faith in something he could not prove. (READ Gal 3:6-9).
C. The Jews were quick to claim Abraham as their father and the beginning of their race. Yet what God wanted from Abraham was for him to believe that he would be the father of many people at a time when he had no children. How much faith does it take to believe when our biological bodies show we cannot have children that we believe we will simply because God said we would?
D. In Gen. 15 Abram talks frankly with God. He asks God, “What will you give me, for I continue to be childless?” Then we hear God. Watch this in the text (Gen. 15:4-6). God counted the faith of Abraham as righteousness. Abraham would continue to make mistakes and not fully understand God’s plan, but it didn’t stop him from believing that God would make it happen. The covenant sign of circumcision came after this story. It was a faith that believed even though it didn’t make sense.
A. What about us? How much faith does it take to submit to immersion in water as a way to connect to the blood of Jesus? The water is just water. There is nothing special about the water, but the faith of the person is what makes that baptism of great effect.
B. Faith is not simply some dream or statement, but it is something that transforms our lives. It changes where we put our hope and trust. It changes how we live. It’s not a manipulation of God, but a submission to God. So when we claim Jesus as our Lord by submitting to him in baptism, it is an action of faith that brings about our salvation. If you simply are baptized to live the way you used to live, that’s not faith, that’s a religious game.
C. Faith is what saved Abraham, Noah, David, the thief on the cross, 3000 at Pentecost, Saul who would become Paul and you. Do you have such a faith?
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister