What Does It Take?

I was pondering some things recently, trying to understand how we can effectively share our faith. The reason I was wondering is because sometimes we Christians wear ourselves out trying to “convince” someone that they “need Jesus.” That in itself is problematic. We don’t need “Jesus,” we need deliverance; we need salvation — but it is only available through the work Jesus did on the cross.

But then, even that is not enough. His death on the cross was important, but it much more important that he rose from the dead. As Paul told us, “If Christ has not come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

That is why you will never be able to “argue” someone into the Kingdom of God. You will never be able to convince them of their need unless the Spirit of God breaks through their rationalizations and self-justification.

As I see it, whether or not you believe the Bible is up to you. However, I can say with a great deal of confidence, if you are willing to diligently seek the Lord, you will find Him. That is something the Scriptures make clear. Deuteronomy 4:29 declares, “. . .  if you look for Yahweh your Elohim, you will find him [but here’s the caveat] whenever you search for him with all your heart and all your soul.” If you are going to walk around and “kick the tires,” to see if this “faith stuff” will work, you are fooling yourself.

The key to finding the Truth is searching with “all your heart and with all your soul.” And when Yahweh makes a promise, you can bet He will keep it! Of course, “seek” means seek, as in actually search for;  Yahweh responds to a serious and diligent effort (Proverbs 2:1-6; Matthew 7:7-11).

There are all kinds of folks who say they believe in Jesus, Yeshua, and each of them will give you a different story of how he or she came to the faith. But as one brother wrote, there are three kinds of testimonies: the version told to a Christian audience, the version told to non-Christians and finally, there is the truth.

Well, history is filled with testimonies, some quite amazing, of how people sought the Lord Jesus Christ and eventually had their lives touched and changed by him. But is “believing” in Jesus enough?

My initial response is, “Yes.” However, you must also have true faith. You see, there are two kinds of faith: ascentia and fiducia. Ascentia is nothing more than mental acknowledgment. But as James wrote, “You believe that there is one God. That’s fine! The demons also believe that, and they tremble with fear: (James 2:19). See, it is not enough to believe that Jesus is real, you must have fiducia. That is; you must have a trusting faith in Christ’s work. It is fiducia we are supposed to possess. We are to have a faithful dependent trust in the work of Christ on the cross who cleansed us from our sins. It is not enough that you have a mental acknowledgment or a confidence in the history of Jesus. You must trust in the sin sacrifice that Jesus made on that cross.

Yes, I realize there are preachers out there who teach something totally different. They will tell you that if you want to be saved from your sins, you have to believe in God, along with doing good things (or not doing bad things). Folks, don’t buy into that. We are declared righteous before God by faith (Romans 3:28; 5:1) — and not by anything we could possibly (Romans 4:1-5; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Also, you don’t have to be wait until you are at the bottom of do-do to find Him. The only thing He requires is that you genuinely want to know Him. Life in our God’s Kingdom will never become clear to you if you are trying to figure it them from a distance. You know, like someone glaring in a store window as he ponders what he wants to buy. But I assure you that if you just want more time to “decide” whether you want to believe and obey Him, you will never learn the truth about Him. He created the heavens and the earth, and He made the rules. We are God’s creation; He is not our creation.

Jesus said, “Those who want to follow the will of God will know if what I teach is from God or if I teach my own thoughts” (John 7:17). So, the key to knowing our God is by choosing to do His will. That seems simple enough. When we begin to obey Hm, He will reveal Himself and His Word to us. Once we begin to seek and obey Him, things that were unclear become very understandable. He went on to say, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Now maybe you need to read those verses again, because it is saying that Yahweh will only reveal Himself to those who love and obey Him. I realize that is not what skeptics and doubters want because they want solid proof! They want Yahweh to show Himself so they can examine Him and makeup their minds whether He is acceptable or not. If you want to verify that, go ahead and read Matthew 12:38-39.

My friends, the skeptics and doubters, didn’t make the rules. Yahweh is the Living God, and He is also the Loving God. He has called us to a relationship, but He wants a relationship with those who honor Him and believe Him. He is not going to show up to be examined by the skeptic. Sure, the skeptics will laugh at believers and call them gullible, naïve, wishful thinkers, fools, and on and on . . . why? Because they do not see or understand what the believer sees and understands.

For instance, many years ago I worked with a couple of guys who freely admitted that they did not believe that “God” existed, and even if he did, he was not “knowable.” When we were in the office, we would continually banter back and forth. I made some good jabs, and they would duck and send out a strong right hook . . . Yeah, we had a great time! Anyway, after this went on for several days (even months), I finally turned to them and said, “You know, you have made some pretty sound arguments. But here’s the thing, I can never deny what I have seen and what I have experienced. Yahweh is as real to me as this desk sitting in our office.” That is one thing they could not argue against. As Leonard Ravenhill has said, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”

But all of this is nothing new. Jesus spoke very openly about the fact that people who do not belong to God cannot “hear” the truth. That’s what he told the Pharisees: “The person who belongs to God understands what God says. You don’t understand because you don’t belong to God” (John 8:47). That’s right. Yahweh’s wisdom is for those who chose to love and obey Him. To non-believers it is foolishness. As Paul wrote, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

J.B. Phillips renders that verse slightly differently:

“the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with— they just don’t make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual things. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has an insight into the meaning of everything, though his insight may baffle the man of the world

There are all kinds of reasons to accept the Bible as being the truth. But that doesn’t matter. To a non-believer, the idea that “all Scripture is God-breathed . . .” (II Timothy 3:16) is foolishness, and so are the miracles, healings, prophecies, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! The whole kit and Kaboodle! All of those things are foolishness to the unbeliever. So don’t be surprised when a skeptics doubts you — or even makes fun of you.

Now, if you are reading this and are indeed skeptical of the whole thing, I challenge you to begin intelligently, but also honestly, and Yahweh will reveal Himself to you. Which reminded me of a time when Paul was teaching in the city of Philippi and was thrown into prison. All kinds of neat things happened, but a jailer asked him the most important question any could possibly ask: “. . . what do I have to do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

Paul’s answer was short and to the point: “. . . Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved (Acts 16:31). My friend, the same is as true for you. If you believe in the living Lord, Jesus Christ, you will be saved.Then, as you begin to obey the commands of God and seek Him, you will find Him.

Nickolas

With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.

The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.

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