Sermon – Faith: Fully-Convinced

Faith=fully convinced 16.9 title slide

 

 

 

 

What is faith? We use the term ‘faith’ all the time. Do we stop and think about what it means to have faith, especially when it comes to having faith in God.

This is the first of three talks exploring the biblical idea of faith – and hopefully they will help us to think about how great it is to be a person of faith in God.

Read the Bible Text – Hebrews 11:1-39 Joshua 2:1-24

Talk – Hebrews 11 & Josh 2 (Outline)

Faith Decision Diagram (KDN)

– Ken Noakes

 

Sermon – By Faith Alone (Romans 3:27-4:25)

Romans 1-8 Slide

‘Happy’. He said to me.

As I looked into the face of my friend, with the dark rings under his eyes, hair a little dishevelled, hands grasping the double shot expresso, which was his heart starter for the day, he said:

‘My goal in life is just to be happy’.

So much about what we relentlessly pursue in life aims to create an end result in which we will be happy. Burden now, achieve lots, sacrifice in the present – so that at some point it will all be worth it. We will be able to count up the coins, list off the achievements, bow to acknowledge the praise that is being directed our way – and then, we hope, we will be happy.

Some people call it the rat race.

There is nothing wrong with working hard, striving to reach goals, aiming to achieve much – that is the world we live in. In fact, it can be quite satisfying. Does it make us ‘happy’?

Yet, when it comes to faith, God works on a different spectrum – and for that reason Christians do well to recognise works, although they might be good, are not the measure used to determine godly happiness.

‘Happy is the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works’ (Rom 4:6). Let’s look at how…

Read the Bible Text – Romans 3:27-4:25

Sermon – The Goal of Ministry (Romans 1:5-17)

Romans 1-8 Slide

In the Old Testament we meet a brave prophet named Habakkuk (great name – imagine naming your child Habakkuk!). His role was to bring God’s people back to obedience to the covenantal promises which God has made with Israel at Mt Sinai. By the promises and under the law (10 Commandments and Covenant Code) Israel would know how to live as righteous ones. If the covenantal obligations were neglected, ignored, abandoned, then punishment would come. God’s gift had been the prophet Habakkuk, who spoke what was often thought to be an offensive message, for the sake of saving Israel and calling them to repent of their unrighteous attitudes or behaviours. In other words, to call God’s people back to the righteousness of faith.

Habakkuk admonished Israel by saying the righteous person will live by his faith’ (Hab 2:4)

Fast forward to the Apostle Paul in AD57. He writes to the church of Rome. Similarly his message was often deemed offensive. To him he understands how the promises of God in the Old Testament find their fulfilment in Jesus. So, he proclaims God’s gospel and, like Habakkuk, calls people to faith.

Quoting Habakkuk, he reminds us that ‘The righteous will live by faith’ (Rom 1:17).

In this sermon, we look at Romans 1:5-17 and we should see that faith in Jesus is the most fundamental response to God’s gospel and the way by which Christians most honour Jesus as Lord.

Read the Bible Text – Romans 1:1-17

Talk – Romans 1.5-17 (Outline)

– Ken Noakes

 

Sermon – The Essential Gospel (Romans 1:1-4)

Romans 1-8 Slide

“The most important letter ever written.”

“An open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture.”

That – and much more – is what people have said about Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Without question, this letter has had a huge influence on our world. From Augustine in the 4th century to Luther in the 16th century to the evangelical revivals and the arrival of the gospel in Australia in the 18th century, all the major events of Christian history seem to have been ignited in some way by this magnificent letter.

In this sermon we begin with a wonderfully succinct yet profoundly deep summary of the gospel message – the core truths at the very heart of the Christian faith boiled down to just four words!

Read the Bible Text – Romans 1:1-4

Talk – Romans 1.1-4 (Outline)

– Ken Noakes

 

 

Sermon – The True Faith: lived (Titus 3)

Titus Cropped

Does Christianity work? Do Christians offer anything of value to our modern, contemporary, progressive world today?

The answers could be offered in well-articulated arguments which aim to defend and describe the true faith established by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The answers could be influenced in the way that followers of Jesus Christ pass on their faith from generation to generation. Both are valid.

Yet there is a way that the established and passed on faith can be most clearly valued by our world today – it is when the faith is lived out and visible to the world around.

The salvation offered in the gospel should be lived out in the godly lives of those who have been saved and for the benefit of those who might be saved through the proclamation of this true faith supported by the testimony of transformed lives.

This talk is about how Christianity works, when it is seen in Christians devoted to doing good works.

Read the Bible Text – Titus 3:1-15

Talk – Titus 3 (Outline)

– Ken Noakes

The Reformation Overview (& the five ‘Solas’)

October 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.

What is the Reformation?

Back in the 1400s people began to study in a new way. Universities were developing and there was a spirit of enquiry and questioning. It was the period we know as the Renaissance, which means ‘new birth’. A new age was dawning.

People (especially across Europe) began to question. Instead of merely reading what previous writers had said there was a great desire to go back to the sources, to the original documents. People were fascinated by the Greco-Roman empire and philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle and Socrates and Seneca and so on. Scholars translated the secular original texts and studied them in detail, and along with the philosophers they also began to study the biblical texts in the same way.

Now at this point in history, the late 1400s, early 1500s nobody read the Bible. The church told people what to believe and how to ensure their salvation. Many priests and monks had never read the scriptures. Some, like Ulrich Zwingli from Zurich were scared to even open the pages. Martin Luther (who would become a great German reformer) had studied to become a monk and a priest but did not even look at a Bible until he was 20 years of age.

izwingl001p1

Ulrich Zwingli

When people like Luther and Zwingli and scholars such as Erasmus and others began to read they were amazed. They realised that what was recorded in scripture was very different to what was taught in the canon law of the church. They began to question the practices of the church and they began to question the doctrines that the church promoted.

Now Martin Luther was incensed that the church taxed people, fined and oppressed them and then offered salvation through good works. He began to speak out. He read in the Bible in the letter to the Romans that salvation is through faith alone, not through doing what the church told you and going through their practices and rituals.

Luther

Martin Luther

He saw that faith in Jesus Christ is what is necessary for salvation. He wanted everyone to be able to read the scriptures just as he did so he translated the Bible into German. He no longer thought that you had to believe in what the church told you, if you wanted to know about the Christian faith then you only need to read the Bible, scripture alone.

During the 1520s Luther spoke out and people listened. A major upheaval began. People realised as they read the Bible that they did not have to pray to Mary, that statues of saints were of no value and that transubstantiation –  the idea that in the ritual of the communion mass the bread and wine becomes the actual body and blood of Christ –  had no scriptural foundation.

In Zurich at around the same time Ulrich Zwingli was coming to the same conclusions. The city took a vote to either follow the traditional thinking or to embrace the ‘new’ ideas. They chose the new way. Zwingli was appointed as priest of the cathedral and began preaching the New Testament to the people.

Across Europe the old ties with the Roman Catholic Church were being broken and people embraced the newly discovered, or recovered message of the scriptures.

They began to understand that it was by God’s grace alone, and not through any earned merit, that salvation was offered. And how does this come about? It comes about through Jesus Christ when God sent his son to take away our sins. It is by Christ alone that we can be saved. This is not what the church was teaching.

And they also learnt why this is so. It is for God’s glory, not for the church or the arch-bishops or the pope.  God did this for his glory alone. They called on the Church to reform.

Five Solas

And so, reform swept through the church and new churches and denominations were formed and more and more people were taught the biblical truths. They recognised that there were five key doctrinal points that were at the basis of the reform. Today we call them the five solas, using the Latin word for alone or only.

Sola Scriptura (“scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.

Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is Saviour.

Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

 

What does the Reformation mean for us today?

Five hundred years later it means the same as it did for those reformers. Through their reclaiming of the truths that are found in scripture we know that our salvation is secure. We know that Jesus has made that one true, perfect sacrifice for our sins. We know that the Bible is the record of God’s revelation of himself in Jesus Christ. And we know that we live for his glory.

The work of the Reformers reclaimed the eternal message that faith in Jesus brings salvation. Our lives are shaped by this fact. Our church is shaped by this fact. And our world is shaped by our Christian witness as we share the gospel which is the message of salvation, assurance and hope that we find in Jesus.

 

Glenn Clarke – Lecturer in Church History, Bible College of SA