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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Side Effects of Faith

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:2
For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

Daily Scripture Reading - 3 John

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Answer
Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts

We have seen this week that when it comes to the salvation of our souls, active and saving faith is faith that works. It is faith that is based upon a relationship of trust placed in Jesus Christ. It has Him as its object and gives the believer strong evidence and proof of the things he hopes for and cannot see.

Aside from faith affecting behavior though, what other side effects are present when we have faith? Does faith work its way out in other ways beside just our behavior?

Hebrews 11:2 states that by faith the elders obtained a good testimony. So by having faith their testimony was improved. What does it mean to have a good testimony?

These elders, those who have come before us in the faith, by trusting in God and the promised coming Messiah (by grace through faith of course), obtained a good testimony. It is interesting what many in the church today think of when we ask them to give their testimony. The typical testimony starts out with the believer talking about how he lived in sin before Christ, and usually the bigger teh sin the more sensational the testimony! Apparently it is more exciting for Christ to save a person from the BIG sins rather than being equally glorious in saving any sinner no matter their age or experience in this fallen world.

But as the testimony unfolds, we hear about all that they struggled with and all that God delivered them from and by the time they get to the point in the story that they were converted, they stop. As if the climax of a testimony is the moment of being born again.

But in reality, when the Bible talkes about testimonies is it talking about telling the story of right now today and the things God is doing in your life! It is a testimony rooted in the moment, not just a telling of everything that happened up until salvation. How often do we recount all that we did before being saved when God does not even remember those things? (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19). That to me is shocking. While we may remember and recount those things the true power of a testimony is seen in how our faith is working right now, today.

Yes, it is glorious that we have been saved from sin. But at times I fear that we revel in the depth of depravity before we glory in the unfathomable love and grace of God. As I stated, Biblically speaking, ones testimony may have some background given, but it is a testimony to what God is doing - present tense.

Another intersting fact here, especially from this verse in Hebrews 11, is that in the original language, the testimony is coming from someone else! This is not the elders talking about their testimony. It is a testimony from an outside source as to what their faith has accomplished in their lives - and this is a good testimony.

Literally, this verse says not that they worked to gain or obtain this testimony. It states that they were testified of, of had a witness given about them. We see in verses 4 and 39 that it is GOD who is giving this testimony. It is God who is testifying on their behalf, giving the ultimate approval to their lives of faith. So one side effect of faith is that God will testify to your obedience.

Do we ever think about our testimony from that perspective? What would God say about us if He were asked?? Certainly then a testimony could never be given to exalt the man instead of exalting Christ! But that is what matters most is it not? What does God know about us?

Del Fehsenfeld, Jr, the revivalist who founded Life Action Ministries, preached often that the only degree that really mattered was the AUG degree. Ever heard of an AUG? It is an "Approved Unto God" degree bestowed by God when we have a good testimony! Are we living right here and right now in a way that glorifies God and gives Him the opportunity to give a good testimony about us?

What other side effects are there from this faith that works? A few items from Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:2-8 are worth noting.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


By faith we have been justified. Because we are justified we have peace with God. As a result we rejoice in hope and even are able to glory in tribulations. Because tribulation produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And true hope does not let us down but testifies to us of the love of God!! Speaking about how faith holds us up under tribulation, consider James 1:2-8:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


Here we see other side effects of faith. We see joy in the face of trials and tribulations. We see patience leading to maturity in the faith. Faith is foundational to the Christian life. It is how we enter new life and how we continue to grow. It is essential to our development and our maturity. Faith, complete trust in Christ that casts out fear and doubt, is required for peace, joy, and hope. It is necessary for patience and a right perspective and outlook on life. Faith in Christ carries us. It really does define who we are and what we do for Christ and what He accomplishes through us.

That is why through faith we are able to obtain a good testimony today. And it is also why without faith it is impossible to please God. Remember, anything we do that is not faith based is sin! Whatever we do that is faith based glorifies God, gives Him an opportunity to testify about what He is accomplishing in and through us, and gives us a good testimony in the church and in the world.

Today, what is your testimony? How is your faith working right now? What good is it accomplishing. And what side effects are present in the midst of struggles, trials, victories, and obedience as you continue to walk by faith?


Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Yet again, I believe that the preaching of alarms of conscience and repentance as qualifications for Christ, is unacceptable to the awakened sinner. I will introduce one, as Saltmarsh does in his "Flowings of Christ's Blood Freely to the Chief of Sinners." Here is a poor brother who dares not believe in Jesus. I will suppose him to have attended a ministry where the preaching is "If you have felt this, if you have felt that, then you may believe." When you went to your minister in trouble, what did he say to you? "He asked me whether I felt my need of Christ, I told him I did not think I did, at least I did not feel my need enough. He told me that I ought to meditate upon the guilt of sin, and consider the dreadful character of the wrath to come, and I might in this way feel my need more." Did you do so? "I did; but it seemed to me as if while I meditated upon the terrors of judgment, my heart grew harder instead of softer, and I seemed to be desperately set, and resolved in a kind of despair to go on in my ways; yet, some-times I did have some humblings and some meltings of heart." What did your minister tell you to do to get comfort then? "He said I ought to pray much." Did you pray? "I told him I could not pray; that I was such a sinner that it was of no use for me to hope for an answer if I could." What did he say then? "He told me I ought to lay hold upon the promises." Yes, did you do so? "No; I told him I could not lay hold upon the promises; that I could not see they were meant for me, for I was not the character intended; and that I could only find threatenings in the Word of God for such as I was." What did he say then? "He told me to be diligent in the use of the means, and to attend his ministry." What did you say to that? "I told him I was diligent, but that what I wanted was not means, I wanted to get my sins pardoned and forgiven." What did he say then? "Why, he said that I had better persevere and wait patiently for the Lord; I told him that I was in such a horror of great darkness, that my soul chose strangling rather than life. Well then, he said, he thought I must already be truly penitent, and was therefore safe, and that sooner or later I should have hope But I told him, a mere hope was not enough for me, I could not he safe while sin lay so heavy upon me. He asked me whether I had not desires after Christ. I said I had, but they were merely selfish, Carnal desires; that I sometimes thought I had desires, but they were only legal. He said if I had a desire to have a desire, it was God's work, and I was saved. That did prop me up for a time, sir, but I went down again, for that did not do for me, I wanted something solid to rest on." And sinner, how is it now with you? where are you now? "Well, sir, I scarce know where I am, but I pray you, tell me what I must do?" Brethren, my reply is prompt and plain; hear it. Poor soul, I have no questions to ask you; I have no advice to give you, except this, God's command to you is, whatever you may be, trust to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. Will you do it or no? If he rejects that, I must heave him; I have no more to say to him; I am clear of his blood, and on him the sentence comes, "He that believeth not shall be damned." But you will find in ninety-nine Cases out of one hundred, that when you begin to talk to the sinner, not about his repentings and his desirings, but about Christ, and tell him that he need not fear the law, for Christ has satisfied it; that he need not fear an angry God, for God is not angry with believers; tell him that all manner of iniquity was Cast into the Red Sea of Jesus' blood, and, like the Egyptians, drowned there for ever; tell him that no matter however vile and wicked he may have been, "Christ is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him;" and tell him that he has a right to come, be he who he may, or what he may, because God bids him come; and you will find that the suitability of such a gospel to the sinner's case, will prove a sweet inducement in the hand of the Holy Spirit, to lead that sinner to lay hold on Jesus Christ. O my brethren, I am ashamed of myself when I think of the way in which I have sometimes talked to awakened sinners. I am persuaded that the only true remedy for a broken heart is Jesus Christ's most precious blood. Some surgeons keep a wound open too long; they keep cutting, and cutting, and cutting, till they cut away as much sound flesh as proud flesh. Better by half heal it, heal it at once, for Jesus Christ was not sent to keep open the wounds, but to bind up the broken in heart. To you, then, sinners of every sort and hue, black, hard-hearted, insensible, impenitent, even to you is the gospel sent, for "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," even the chief.

I might here pause, surely, but I must add yet one other point upon this negative mode of reasoning. Any other warrant for the sinner's faith than the gospel itself, is false and dangerous.

It is false, my brethren, it is as false as God is true, that anything in a sinner can be his warrant for believing in Jesus. The whole tenour and run of the gospel is clean contrary to it. It must be false, because there is nothing in a sinner until he believes which can be a warrant for his believing. If you tell me that a sinner has any good thing in him before he believes, I reply, impossible—"Without faith it is impossible to please God." All the repentings, and humblings, and convictions that a sinner has before faith, must be, according to Scripture, displeasing to God. Do not tell me that his heart is broken; if it is only broken by carnal means, and trusts in its brokenness, it needs to be broken over again. Do not tell me he has been led to hate his sin; I tell you he does not hate his sin, he only hates hell. There cannot be a true and real hatred of sin where there is not faith in Jesus. All the sinner knows and feels before faith is only an addition to his other sins, and how can sin which deserves wrath be a warrant for an act which is the work of the Holy Spirit?

How dangerous is the sentiment I am opposing. My hearers, it may be so mischievous us to have misled some of you. I solemnly warn you, though you have been professors of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for twenty years, if your reason for believing in Christ lies in this, that you have felt the terrors of the law; that you have been alarmed, and have been convinced; if your own experience be your warrant for believing in Christ, it is a false reason, and you are really relying upon your experience and not upon Christ: and mark you, if you rely upon your frames and feelings, nay, if you rely upon your communion with Christ, in any degree whatever, you are as certainly a lost sinner as though you relied upon oaths and blasphemies; you shall no more be able to enter heaven, even by the works of the Spirit—and this is using strong language—than by your own works; for Christ, and Christ alone, is the foundation, and "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Take care of resting in your own experience. All that is of nature's spinning must be unravelled, and everything that getteth into Christ's place, however dear to thee, and however precious in itself, must be broken in pieces, and like the dust of the golden calf, must be strawed upon the water, and thou wilt be made sorrowfully to drink of it, because thou madest it thy trust. I believe that the tendency of that preaching which puts the warrant for faith anywhere but in the gospel command, is to vex the true penitent, and to console the hypocrite; the tendency of it is to make the poor soul which really repents, feel that he must not believe in Christ, because he sees so much of his own hardness of heart. The more spiritual a man is, the more unspiritual he sees himself to be; and the more penitent a man is, the more impenitent he discovers himself to be. Often the most penitent men are those who think themselves the most impenitent; and if I am to preach the gospel to the penitent and not to every sinner, as a sinner, then those penitent persons, who, according to my opponents, have the most right to believe, are the very persons who will never dare to touch it, because they are conscious of their own impenitence and want of all qualification for Christ. Sinners, let me address you with words of life: Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as ye are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh to me I will in no Wise cast out." If thou believest in him thou shalt never be confounded.

2. But now, POSITIVELY, and as the negative part has been positive enough, we will be brief here. The gospel Command is a sufficient warrant for a sinner to believe in Jesus Christ. The words of our text imply this—" This is the commandment." My brethren, do you want any warrant for doing a thing better than God's command to do it? The children of Israel borrowed jewels of silver and jewels of gold from the Egyptians. Many, as they read the Bible, find fault with this transaction; but, to my mind, if God bade them do it, that was enough of justification for them. Very well; if God bid thee believe—if this be his commandment that thou believe—canst thou want a better warrant? I say, is there any necessity for any other. Surely the Lord's Word is enough.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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