Memphis Belle

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“What It Means To Believe in Jesus” Continued


You say, OK now, I do have the knowledge and I’m convinced, so therefore I must be saved-no you’re not. It isn’t enough to be convicted. You know there are lots of people who come to church week after week, and the Spirit of God will speak to their heart in this place and in every Christian church where the gospel is preached, that Spirit of God speaks to that person and gets them on conviction, they get persuaded, but there is a sin in their life or something is not there that ought to be-persuaded about their tithing, persuaded about joining the church, persuaded about being saved. And you know what? They have conviction, they have the knowledge, they hear the truth from the pastor, the Spirit of God convicts them, they get fully persuaded-‘I know this is right, I know this is what I ought to do.’ And how many people say to me week after week ‘You know, I’ve been planning to join the church, I’ve been aiming to join the church. Well I know I should, and finally I’ve come…’ ‘How long have you been sittin’ there being convicted?’ ‘Oh, about two years, five years’-I think the longest has been 20 years! ‘Well, I’ve been knowing it all along.’ Well, you know what’s happened? Listen, having the knowledge that they should be a member and getting convicted of it, did that make them a member? Absolutely not. Having a knowledge about salvation, having knowledge about Jesus and knowledge about what the Bible says about the judgment, being convicted of it-does that make you saved? No it does not. What’s the word. The third word is TRUST. Now, here’s what’s happening. Now watch this. Now we have moved from factual knowledge to an inner conviction, a full persuasion that something needs to change, something needs to happen in my life. Remember we said in the very beginning that belief is a word of action? Faith is the noun. ‘I trust’-that’s a word of action. My “trust”, that’s a noun. [Faith is the substance of things not seen…”Hebrews 1. That faith is a noun-substance, not action.] Believing is a word of action. Now it used to bother me in my first church, I would talk to lots of people up in the mountains of North Carolina, and I’d try to witness to them, try to get them saved, and somehow, no matter what I did, oftentimes it just didn’t work. ‘And so I do believe’ (people would say), and somehow it just wouldn’t work, you know, they’d never come to church-no evidence of salvation, tell you right now, they don’t read the Bible. ‘But I do believe in God.’ Well you see, there’s a problem there. And it used to bother me and now I’d think ‘Now wait a minute there. There’s something wrong. All these folks telling me they believe.’ Well you know they grew up with their grandparents and great-grandparents and their great, great grandparents-they grew up in those mountain there, so everybody sort of believed and handed down [that belief without real Bible based knowledge]. You know, listen, you can hand-me-down a lot of things in your family, but listen, you can’t hand down salvation to anybody. It just doesn’t work. So it bothered me so much, and that was my first church, and I hadn’t been there that long. In fact, I had driven all over that community-I had a yellow dot on the map, I knew where every single person lived up in those mountains, visited every single household in that community, knew who was saved or at least who told me they were, and who was not. Sometimes I put a red pin where they were lost. Well there were a lot of red pins on that map, I can tell you that. But what bothered me was they kept telling me they believed. I think ‘OK God, show me something.’ So I got my Greek New Testament and a concordance and I went through the Bible. Every time the word trust, believe, believing, believed, any of those words that had to do with faith, every single time I found one, read it in the Greek New Testament, looked at it in its context, and here’s what I discovered. I remember what a fantastic feeling I had when I got through. It took me awhile to do it. Four hundred sixty some times the word faith or believe or trust is in the New Testament. Here’s what I discovered every single time somebody is expressing faith or believing-something happens. There’s no such word as I believe, period. [James 2-faith without works is dead-i.e. faith, belief, trust bring works, actions on our part, and at times, God’s part.] When I believe, something is going to happen. I believe I was saved, I believe in Jesus healing me, I believe in God answered prayer, I believe and I follow his will, I believe and I said yes to his will to my life-something always going on, we’re talking about a word of action.

Now, there are three words, give me those three words again. The first word is what?-KNOWLEWDGE. Second word?-CONVICTION. Third word is TRUST. Now, we said, first layer is knowledge. Absolutely essential. Second layer, conviction. So what do I have now? I have the knowledge, I’ve got the facts. Secondly, something’s going on inside of me, I’m under conviction. I’m fully persuaded that this is the truth. I’m fully persuaded that for me to be saved something’s gotta happen in my life. Here’s what happens. Here’s where trust comes in. When I trust, here’s what I do, I move from facts and conviction, I move, listen from being an interested observer, that will affirm that all these things are true, I move from being an interested observer to becoming involved in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, what have I done? I’ve moved from just knowing the facts, something, knowing that God is trying to do something in my life. I have moved into a personal relationship. I have moved into a personal involvement with the person Jesus Christ. You see, it’s always belief in him, belief in his name, not just believe the gospel only, but believe in the personal gospel. You see, in all these verses, verse after verse after verse after verse, what do we find?-we find him talking about placing our trust in him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him”-not just believes what he said, but believes in him as a person. And so therefore it’s not enough for me to believe in what he said as being true, but I must place my trust in him. Now, I want to give you a definition in a few moments. But I want to get back to something that is very important, because probably you’re thinking about it and I certainly had to think about it. So alright, let me ask you a question. ‘You’re explaining all this to us and you’re telling us that I’ve got to have knowledge, first of all that Jesus Christ is God, secondly that my sins have separated me from God, thirdly he went to the cross and died for my sins, and I believe in the resurrection. Now, how much of that must I know, how much of that must I have known in order to be saved?’ So I had to ask myself this question. ‘Lord, help me to be able to remember if at all possible’-I was 12 years of age, I’d been going to church most of my life, some sort of church there, as I have mentioned before I’d even been to the Methodist church, Baptist church, Holiness church where I got saved. So what did I know on the morning when I stepped out of the 2nd row on the end, stepped down, knelt at the altar and began to weep and asked the Lord to save me? How much did I know? Well let me tell you what I didn’t know. I didn’t know there was such a word as sanctification, reconciliation, redemption, justification. I may have read those words in the Bible, I didn’t know what any of that meant. If somebody asked me, ‘Do you know what deity means?’ I probably would not have known what that meant. Well how much did I have to know as a 12 year old kid to get saved? Here’s what I do remember I know I knew, because as soon as I was saved five of my Sunday school friends came and knelt beside me and started praying-we all prayed out loud in the Holiness church--and they were praying out loud for me to be saved. Well I’m kind of getting saved and they’re praying for me to be saved, and I was saved. Now let me tell you what happened. The pastor said, "Charles, come up here and tell these people what happened to you.” I can remember what I said, I said, “I don’t know all that’s happened to me, but know this morning I gave my heart to Jesus.” Now, how much did I know? I knew this. I knew that I had sat and listened to this man preach for a number of years. If you ask me if I know what he said-no, that wasn’t important. I was just under the preaching of the gospel. How much did I know? I remember at least I knew this much. I knew that I believed in God and I believed in what the Bible said about Jesus. Now how much I knew about him at that point, is just what I was reading as a kid. I did know that I was a sinner, there was no question about that, I knew that my sins had separated mew from God. I did know that, because I was kneeling down there weeping, because I was under such conviction that I needed to be saved. And I believed that Jesus went to the cross and died for my sins, I did believe that he rose from the grave. Now, beyond that, I don’t know how much I believed. But you know what? Thank God I didn’t need to know a whole lot beyond that. If you don’t believe that Jesus is God, that puts him on the level of a man, so how are you going to put your faith in him for salvation, if he’s just another man? Secondly, surely you know that you’ve sinned against God, he said “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” You know that you’ve sinned against God. The Bible says that your sins have separated you from God. You say, ‘Well I feel real close to him.’ That may just be an emotional feeling, but if you’ve never trusted Jesus as your savior, you’re separated. That’s what God said, that’s not what I said, that’s what God said. And the third thing, you’ve got to believe in, listen, if you don’t believe that Jesus Christ went to the cross and died for your sins, why did he go? Is it just some historical fact that just another guy who got crucified? No. He was God who came to walk in human flesh among men and to die on the cross because he was the sinless virgin born Son of God. What did I know about the virgin birth? Probably nothing, except that I read it in the Bible, and I believed whatever that meant. It’s not that you have to have a lot of knowledge. But you must have some knowledge, and there must be some conviction. Listen, you’re not even going to want to be saved unless you’re under conviction about sin. This is why you can’t make somebody want to get saved. In other words, a person’s not going to be saved until they come under the conviction by the Holy Spirit and become fully persuaded ‘My sins have separated me from God, and if I don’t trust the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, I’m going to hell when I die.’ If a person’s not convicted of that, doesn’t believe that, why are they going to walk into church, go to any church, read the Bible, talk about Jesus, have anything to do with anything religious? And if you want to see what’s happening, you can look at the world out there, of people who have nothing to do with God, nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible-you know why? Because they don’t believe truth. They have absolutely no conviction about their dying and going to hell without Christ. So, why do you expect them to get upset? Why do you expect them to join a church? Are you going to want to talk about Jesus? There’s no conviction. They’re not fully persuaded of that. The truth is, you cannot be saved-you cannot be saved if there’s no conviction. Why? The Bible says the Spirit of God must draw us [John 6:44,65]. Jesus said “Only those whom the Father gives to me are mine.” If you don’t have any conviction about sin and about who Jesus is and about judgment, you know what?-there’s no desire. God must place the desire in your heart to be saved. God must place a desire in your heart-based on what?-based on truth, on knowledge-of where you are, and who he is and what he said about what’s gonna happen. Based on a conviction I must do something about my relationship, and what I must do is to place my trust in him as my personal savior, and that when he died on the cross he paid my debt in full, and therefore if I’m gonna be saved I must accept this person-Jesus Christ-as my savior, the one who died on the cross at Calvary.

Now, so you must have three things. What’s the first word?-knowledge. The second word?-conviction. And the third word is what?-trust. Now, I want to give you a simple definition. I want you to write it down. Now whether you write it, your wife writes it, your children write-get it down. And I’m gonna say it, and then I’m gonna come back and say it in very short phrases so that you understand. Now I ask the-‘Help me to, enable me to say it in a brief way so that you can say to someone ‘Here’s what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.’ Alright, get your pencil out. You ready? Because I want to encourage you to put it in the back of your Bible. If you put it on a piece of paper or in a book, then you’ll go home and lay it down somewhere and nobody will be able to find it. I want to encourage you. You say ‘Should you write in the Bible?’ Absolutely. Mark words, color them up, whatever you want to. Listen, that’s what makes it precious. I lost my favorite Bible. I didn’t lose it, somebody stole my favorite Bible. Had it in my briefcase, and the only thing I had in it was my Bible and a Greek New Testament and a pen and somebody stole it. I offered $500, that’s a lot of money back then. $500 for any college kids who’d go through all the dumpsters where someone, till someone would find my Bible, nobody did. Well, what difference did it make? I’ll tell you, because it was so written up, with all kinds of dates and things that I’d put in there, it was especially precious to me, because it said something about what God was doing and had been doing in my life. Write in your Bible, don’t worry about that. Alright, you ready? We’re talking about now, what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. To believe in Jesus Christ-now let me give it to you first and then you write it-to believe in Jesus Christ is to have a confident conviction that he is who the Bible says he is, he will do what he promises, and upon placing my trust in him I enter into a personal eternal relationship with the Son of God. Again, To believe in Jesus is to have a confident conviction that he is who the Bible says he is, he will keep his promises, that is, he will do what he says he’ll do, and upon placing my trust upon him, I am entering into a personal eternal relationship with him. Once again, To believe in Jesus is to have a confident conviction, that is, a compelling conviction within me-I must believe this-that he is who the Bible says he is, he will keep his promises (that is, he will do exactly what he says he’ll do), and upon placing my trust in him, committing myself to him, I’m entering into a personal eternal relationship with the Son of God. Now I could say a lot about forgiveness of sin and going to heaven [receiving eternal life]-all that is the result of believing in him. To say ‘I place my trust in him’, that means ‘I’m betting on him, I’m affirming that what he says is true, I’m willing to risk my whole eternal future on that. Alright, there are three things that are absolutely necessary for me to believe. What’s the first word?-knowledge. Second word?-conviction. And the third word is what?-trust. Now, how many of you can look back in your life and say I know that when I joined the church I had enough knowledge, that I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that I understood what it meant to place my trust in him and to accept him and to receive him as my savior-that as many as received him-not facts-as many as received him gave he the right to become the sons of God.

Are you certain that you’ve ever placed your trust in him? Now, I’m not being critical, I’m simply saying this-you may believe a lot of things as facts, but have you ever moved from being an observer, to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by placing your trust in him as your personal savior? Have you ever said “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus, I do believe that you’re the Son of God, I know that my sins have separated me from you. I am asking you to save me, and I’m asking you to save me based on the fact that you did die at Calvary and I do believe that you died for my sins, and I do believe that because you died for my sins it makes it possible to be fully forgiven, and when I die I go to heaven [or as some denominations believe and teach: "I receive eternal life at the resurrection of the just (I Cor. 15:49-56; John 5:28-29)].” However you may have put it in your own words, have you ever told him that? Have you ever done that? Or have you been one of those persons who said “I believe, as long as you believe something, that’s all that matters.” No, that’s not all that matters. It matters this, that when you die you will stand in the presence of a Holy God and give an account for your life. No excuse will be acceptable, because you see, God so loved you that he gave his only begotten son-sent him into this world-to live among men in the flesh without sin, to go to the cross and be crucified, and upon him placed all the sin debt of yourself and the entire world. He loves you that much. Then to reject his Son, to say no to his Son, to ignore his Son-when according to the Bible, listen, God’s whole redemption plan is wrapped up in the cross. It’s all there. That’s why the apostle Paul said ‘It’s the only thing I boast of is the cross.’ Why? That’s where Jesus made it possible for you and me to be forgiven of our sin, and to have absolute assurance that when we die we’re going to spend eternity in [the kingdom of] heaven with all the glorious things that God has provided for us. Have you every said to him-“Yes, I do believe the testimony of Scripture, I do believe that you’re the Son of god, I do believe my sins have separated me from you, I do believe you died on the cross,I do believe that you rose from the dead, I do believe that you are seated at the Father’s right hand even now. I’m asking you to forgive me of my sins, I’m placing my trust in you that you’ll do what you said, that you’ll forgive me, and you’ll make me one of your own.” The moment you do it, that quickly, you become a living child of God, saved for ever and ever and ever. Remember the definition, entering into a personal, eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Father, how grateful we are that you can take a verse like John 3:16, and cram and jam so much truth that in a lifetime we will never be able to exhaust the meaning of that verse,--if we took it word by word, never be able to exhaust it. There is so much of yourself, your love for the world, your provision of salvation, your gift of eternal life. And thank you that you said that you so loved the world-which was your way of saying, I do, I do, I do-which was your way of describing the incomprehensible love, inestimable love, immeasurable love that you have for each one of us, so that all of us are the objects of your love. And you said that you would pay the full price in the death of your Son, so that there is no price to pay, no work for us to do, to be saved, but simply to place our trust in you, to believe that you’re the God you say you are, you will do exactly what you say you’ll do-and that that faith alone will bring about our acceptance, our salvation, our eternal life. We bless you, in Jesus name, Amen.”

Again, to learn more about Jesus, who he was, is log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/romans/introduction.htm (our need for a savior, who Jesus is) ; http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/lamb/lastsix.htm (the Last Six Days of Jesus Christ) ; http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/lamb/1.htm (the Gospel of Mark), and (Prophecies of Jesus Christ’s 1st Coming).

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