The Christian a Believer - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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The Christian - a Baliever


The Christian is a Believer

Reading: Jn.16:1-33

The Bible words (NT only) that relate to faith, belief, trust etc are used many times more than 550! So we can see that the idea of belief, believing or having faith is a common way of describing the Christian. This is the family of words that I want to look at this evening. The subject before is very important; faith is indeed absolutely crucial as we see in:

Heb 11:6  "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

The Christian is characterised by faith

Acts 4:4 "But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand."

Acts 11:21 "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord."

Rom. 10:13-14 "For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"

But it wasn’t always like that
You see there was a time when each believer was an unbeliever or a not-yet believer! The verse we’ve just looked at spoke of needing to hear, needing to know before believing became possible. The same thing is implied in several other places. For example:

Acts 5:14 "And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,"

Acts 19:18 "Also many of those who were
now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices."

Here their old ways had been wrong and they came admitting their mistake and turning away from their old ways they placed their faith in something or rather someone else! (Specifically the context refers to the practice of black magic and sorcery.)

No mere emotional reaction
Belief and faith in the Bible are not to be understood as somehow just a mystical and/or emotional reaction that defies analysis but belief/faith is always related to specific content. The genuine believer is not characterised by wishful thinking but by what he actually believes and in whom he specifically places his trust.

Eg. 1Pet.1:21 "who through him (Christ) are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."

Thomas had doubts about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: he hadn’t been present when Jesus had appeared to the other disciples and he spent the following week nursing these doubts – then Jesus appeared again and this time Thomas was there! Thomas was at once convinced of the reality of the resurrection and called out in the presence of Jesus "My Lord and my God!" Jn.20:28.  Jesus doesn’t rebuke Thomas for this but if anything gently chides him for being so slow and unwilling to believe!! The Gospel closes a couple of verses later with these words:

Cf. Jn.20: 30-31 "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Who can believe?
One of the wonderful things about the gospel message is that there are no restrictions upon the type of person who may be numbered amongst the believers!

Both men and women were there! In Jesus day women were considered by the majority of Jews as being second class citizens – but not so in the Kingdom of God. Jesus had women amongst his followers from the outset and was unafraid to have spiritual dealings with them. In fact his readiness to have such dealings surprised his friends and shocked his enemies!

Eg. Jesus spent time talking to the Samaritan woman at the well while his disciples had gone away to get food. In this conversation Jesus directs the conversation in a spiritual direction and then tells the woman just who he is – this type of information is not recorded as having been given to many others at that time! But this was the reaction of his disciples:

Jn.4:27 "Just then his disciples came back. They marvelled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you seek?" or, "Why are you talking with her?""

In Luke 7:39-50 we read of how Jesus had been invited to eat in the home of a Pharisee when a fallen woman comes in and wipes his feet with her hair and anointed them. The Pharisee is horrified – in his eyes had Jesus been someone special he would have realised just what kind of woman this was whereas Jesus seems to approve her. Jesus reaction shows he does know not only this woman but also the hard heart of this Pharisee. Far from condemning the woman Jesus sends her on her way with the assurance that her sins have been forgiven. The episode ends with Jesus saying to her v.50 "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

If further proof be needed then consider to which group of people the first message of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was committed – it was committed to a small group of disheartened women who had gone early to the tomb on that Easter Sunday morning.

See Mt.28:5-7 "But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead,"

So we are not surprised to read of the NT church that women were involved.

But we should note that men too were included:

Acts 5:14  "And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,"

In the west in our day there is something of a trend towards the feminisation of the church and such a presentation does not commend itself to men. Some of the songs sung sound more like romantic love songs than true robust worship and manly men feel ill at ease with such. The conclusions that the enemy then suggests is that Christianity is for sissies and not for real men. But this is a deformation – read the descriptions of the strength of Christ, of the sufferings of Paul etc. The gospel is for men too!

Without spending too much time on it I just want to state that the gospel, this glorious Christian faith is also for children – for boys and girls. The Christian faith is simple enough to be understood by the youngest child – so share with children and with grandchildren the good news. Please note I said the Christian faith is simple I did not and do not declare it to be simplistic – there are riches and depths to satisfy and to produce wonder in the most profound intellect. Let’s not believe the lies of the enemy to the contrary!

Again the Christian faith is not reserved for one particular national or racial grouping nor for one particular religious type – true believers come from amongst the circumcised and the uncircumcised.

Rom.1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Acts 10:45 "And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles."

Peter addressed the Council of Jerusalem that had been convened to discuss the place of the Gentiles within the church. This is part of what Peter said:

Acts 15:8-9 "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith."

Having insisted upon this fact that all kinds of different folk can and do become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we must also make it clear that this is uniquely because of the grace of God the Father who calls men and women, boys and girls to a living vibrant faith in the Saviour. Sin has so damaged every single person that none of us would ever choose Christ if it were not for the Father’s intervention. We would see no beauty in Christ and we would see no value in pursuing him preferring to continue in our own rebellious ways. Indeed until we heard God’s call that is exactly what we did!

Jn.6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

Is the believer perfect? Do hristians try to give the impression that they’re a cut above the others?
Simple answers – no and I hope not!

The Word of God certainly does not suggest that the Christian/the believer has arrived and has no need of making further progress:

Note that believers have examples to imitate and to set:

1Thess.1:6-7 "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia."

1Tim.4:12 "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an
example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

1Thess.2:13 "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God,
which is at work in you believers."

And yet the believer is radically different from the unbeliever
Thus far we have been emphasizing the fact the believer is in many ways so similar to the unbeliever – he certainly has no reason in himself for boasting about the fact that he believes as though this belief were the result of some personal effort or skill. And yet the Bible makes it clear that there is a great gulf that does separate the believer from the unbeliever:

2Cor.6:15 "What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?"

Things that are well-adapted to the believer are irrelevant to the unbeliever and vice versa:

1Cor.14:22 22-25 "Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you."

Are you a believer this evening? Are you characterised by faith – not some airy-fairy kind of wishful thinking or a vague sort of optimism – but by a robust Biblical faith, by a firm conviction that certain things are true and can be depended upon. Then rejoice knowing that faith is a mark of belonging to our God and the Saviour. All spiritual blessing comes with Christ and your faith unites you to him.

Perhaps one of the most famous verses in the Bible says the following:

Jn.3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

Is this belief your belief? If you are not a believer I must impress upon you just how important this matter is because of the stakes involved - Eternal life, life of the age to come. Do you know this eternal life? Do you know your sins forgiven as the woman we read of earlier? Does the announcement of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead fill you with joy as it did those women who heard the explanation given by the angel?

O come to faith in Christ, come today! Jesus will not reject you or send you away.

But beware of inaction, of prevarication, of delay. The road to hell is paved with good intentions – Merely intending to believe at some time in the future, without actually doing it, is of no value. Understand that you stand in no neutral position at the moment – either you believe and you have eternal life but "whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."

May our gracious Father in Heaven open our eyes and grant us faith to believe.


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