Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Is Faith?

Part 10 of Authentic, a series on 1 John

Text: 1 John 5:1-5

You can listen to this sermon here.



Who is he that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (v. 5).


Mocking Faith 

If you’re someone who regularly uses Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably come across several anti-Christian memes. Someone I follow on Twitter has created a fake atheist Twitter account. The account has over 400 followers. All he does is tweet silly anti-religion memes. For example: "Faith: Pretending to know things you don’t know." "Give me an 'F.' Give me an 'A.' Give me an 'I.' Give me a 'T.' Give me an 'H.' What have you got? No evidence!" "Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is denial of observation so that belief can be preserved."

Are Christians foolish for having faith? No. Usually, when Christian faith is mocked, the person doing the mocking doesn’t understand what Christian faith really is. What is faith?


Real Faith

John writes that every person who has been born of God “believes” (vv. 1, 5). Faith is essential to the Christian life.

1. Faith is well-founded belief. 

A “well-founded” belief is “based on good reasoning, information, or judgment.” Christians believe that “Jesus is the Christ” (v. 1) and that “Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 5). John wrote his Gospel so that people would make these affirmations about Jesus: “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” (John 20:30-31).

What caused John to believe? It was the resurrection of Jesus. John says that he found the tomb empty except for the cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus dead body: “Then the other disciple [John]…went in [the tomb], and he saw and believed” (John 20:8). John also claims that the risen Jesus appeared to John and the other disciples (John 20:19-20).

The majority of scholars (including non-Christian scholars) accept the following facts: (1) Jesus died; (2) Jesus’ tomb was empty; and (3) Jesus’ followers (e.g., John) sincerely believed that they had seen the risen Jesus. Christians believe that the best explanation of the facts is that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

2. Faith is life-altering belief.

Faith is more than merely “believing the right things” (i.e., being theologically correct). Faith in the gospel is something that changes our lives. When we believe that “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (4:9), we can’t help but love God. And when we love God, we seek to please him. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (v. 3). (Those who have faith in Christ also have been given the Holy Spirit, and “the fruit of the Spirit is love,” Gal. 5:22.)

In 2:15, John wrote, “Love not the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” To “love the world” is to have the values of the world (i.e., to live for what the world is living for). To the world, God’s commandments are burdensome. The world isn’t interested in doing God’s will. But, John writes, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (v. 4). Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).