Chain Reactions of Faith

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Chain Reactions of Faith

Rom 5:1-4 GW  Now that we have God's approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.  (2)  Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor. So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God.  (3)  But that's not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance,  (4)  endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.

Have you come to the point in your life where you believe God? Are you done blowing Him off? Are you done just playing at church? Are you ready to hang everything on Him and His Word? Then you have God’s approval by faith. We have been talking about this for the past several weeks. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.

All who likewise believe God are called Abraham’s spiritual children.  If you want to call yourself a Christian, then you too must believe God as Abraham did in order to be counted righteous.

It is not enough to believe in God, you must believe God, believe His Word that He has passed down through the ages in the Book we call the Bible. Believe that He sent His only Son into the world, to die for your sins and was raised on the third day. Believe that as many as receive this Word....Jesus, He gives the right to become His children.

You can’t pick and choose what you believe, you must believe God’s Word...all of it!
2Ti 3:16 GW  Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval.

In this Word you will find what is necessary for salvation. Believe it and you will be saved! In this Word you will find what is necessary to keep your salvation. Believe it and you will persevere and be saved.

This is the starting point for all of Abraham’s children. Believing God. When you believe God, you have faith, and that faith then sets off a chain reaction of events, and we are going to talk about that chain reaction in the message today.

Here’s what happens when we are fully convinced that what God promises, He is able to perform. Here’s what happens when you believe that God will give eternal life to you by believing  in His Son, Jesus Christ.

First of all, you have God’s approval. Perhaps you have heard the term justification. That’s what we’re talking about here. The idea is that by faith in Jesus Christ you are rendered just or innocent in God’s eyes concerning your sin. What a deal.

We are all sinners, and the wages of sin is death, but the one who has faith in Jesus is regarded as sinless because Jesus paid the price of his sin.  You are justified. It is “just if I’d” never sinned.

Next in the chain reaction of faith is peace. The word here means an absence of strife. So through faith in Jesus Christ we have the absence of strife with God. Our war with God is over!

Oh, there may be some skirmishes here and there brought on by our own sinful actions, but because of faith in God and His Word, we know we can come to Him, confess our sins, and have peace restored in a moment as these sinful actions are forgiven and removed as far as East is from the West.

1Jo 1:9 GW  God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong.

If that isn’t enough, we also know by faith in what God’s Word says, that God has given us His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells us and helps us to say no to sin. Sometimes we don’t listen to Him and we sin anyway.

In that case He seeks to convince us of our wrongdoing, for the sole purpose of driving us to confession and availing ourselves of God’s promise to forgive, thereby restoring our peace with God.  

Now, an unbeliever might jump in here and say, “I’m not at war with God. I don’t have any argument with Him. I’m happy with my life the way it is. Why do I need to believe His Word and surrender to Christ. Besides, I don’t want to become some sort of a religious kook!”

It’s true, there may very well be an absence of strife in your life right now. For one thing, the devil is not interested in stirring anything up, he’s got you right where he wants you! For another thing, God in His great patience and love for you is giving you time to surrender.

2Pe 3:9 GW  The Lord isn't slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn't want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act.

If you refuse His overtures of grace and refuse to believe Him and His Word, your day will come and it won’t be very pretty. The world is in shock right now because of the devastating tsunami that left over 120,000 people dead.

The destruction is awful, the loss of life astronomical, but I think what really strikes us is the suddenness of it all. A lot of so-called “beautiful people” enjoying a dream vacation on a beautiful sunny day and suddenly they are no more.

And I wonder? Did they have faith? Did they die believing God?  I’m sure some did, but the majority likely did not.

Why do these natural disasters happen? They happen because of sin. Not that the people who were in the vicinity are any worse sinners than the rest of us, but sin brings death and destruction  And these disasters should always cause us to reflect on Jesus’ commentary on a small scale disaster that happened in His day.
Luk 13:4-5 GW  What about those 18 people who died when the tower at Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more sinful than other people living in Jerusalem?  (5)  No! I can guarantee that they weren't. But if you don't turn to God and change the way you think and act, then you, too, will all die."

Disasters, remind us of the effects of rebellion against God. Disasters should remind us that one day there will be a final destruction for all of those who have not “believed God and refused to put their trust in Christ. And if we don’t start “believing God” a worse fate than a natural disaster awaits us. A fate that doesn’t last for one day or one week, but for an eternity.

Some other events to ponder this week. Reggie White, big, strong, seemingly invincible ex Packer, falls asleep and dies. He was 43! Bill Waters, also in his 40's founder of His Oasis and a pastor in the Plainfield Wisconsin area goes to the hospital for heart surgery and dies on the operating table.

Friends, our day is coming! And it could be just as sudden!

1Th 5:3 GW  When people say, "Everything is safe and sound!" destruction will suddenly strike them. It will be as sudden as labor pains come to a pregnant woman. They won't be able to escape.

When it comes will you be at war with God or at peace? Peace only comes by faith, by believing God and having it accounted as righteousness. Anything less is war! Anything less is eternal destruction! It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement.

The peace that follows in the chain reaction of faith and justification is what the Bible calls the peace that passes all understanding.

But let me warn you here. This is a war and that should tell you that there are enemies. When by grace through faith, you come over to the Lord’s side, you are at peace with God, but you begin a new war with Satan. The devil will counter-attack. He will do everything in his power to separate you from the love of God.

It’s not easy being a Christian. The spiritual battles are intense, but if you persevere in believing God and His Word He will help you through those battles and help you maintain your peace in the midst of the most trying circumstances.

As far as being worried about becoming a religious kook, well let me tell you, followers of Jesus will definitely do some weird things in the eyes of the world.

They forsake all and follow Christ. They love their enemies, they value life from conception to the grave,  they give a tenth of their income and more to the church, they regard sex as a gift from God and seek to keep it pure. They love one another and care for one another.

In short, they look to the Word of God for their instructions for living. Knowing that God is no longer an enemy, and that He is faithful, and that His promises are as good as gold, they become like Abraham and simply believe God because they know God is good and He is their friend!

Take it from someone who has been on both sides of this war. Peace with God is above all things, there is nothing in the old way of living that compares. Nothing! That’s why we “religious kooks” are always seeking your conversion. Not for a feather in our cap, but that you too may experience this unbelievable peace that we have, the peace that passes all understanding.

A peace that flows from believing God and being justified by Him.

The chain reaction of faith doesn’t stop with peace! Look at v2!

(2)  Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor.

Faith in Christ, makes us just as if we’d never sinned, it gives us peace with God and now we read that it  gives us access to God’s gracious favor 24/7.  Oh that more Christians would understand this wonderful privilege given to them. God’s grace is available to us moment by moment!

Remember our definition of grace? It is divine influence on your heart. In every decision you make, in every circumstance in your life, in every temptation, in every trial, you have access to God’s grace, God’s divine influence.
His influence can help you cope, His influence can help you decide, His influence enables you to stand no matter what is going on in your life. Whatever your situation, learn to play this unlimited grace card.

Just pray to the Lord, “Lord, this is too much for me, I am too weak, I need Your influence on my heart” . This passage says because you have faith in’ve got it!

Paul continues: “So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God.

The idea of bragging here is that of rejoicing! We rejoice because we know that as we tap into God’s promise of divine influence we receive the glory, the attention,  from God that our situation warrants. God “glories in” He “weighs in” on our situation and that is cause for rejoicing!

Here’s something to remember about playing your grace cards. Don’t hoard them, use them! Bring God’s favor, His grace, His influence into every situation of your life It is Holy Spirit power for living and ultimately brings glory to God!

(3)  But that's not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance,  (4)  endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.

Sometimes God’s grace, His favor doesn’t deliver us from our suffering, but even then Paul tells us to rejoice in the suffering. Because even in our suffering we can be sure that God is at work, His divine influence is there. He uses our suffering to create endurance, which in turn creates character, which in turn creates confidence.

Here we have another chain reaction connected to faith that we need to look at. By faith we know that if suffering comes, our loving God has a purpose for it. These sufferings or tribulations are defined as “soul squeezings.” It’s like putting your soul into a trash compactor.

These times of intense spiritual pressure are brought on by real or perceived as real circumstances. It could be a break up of a relationship, a financial crisis, the untimely loss of a loved one, it could be something as minor as a spat with your spouse.

They all can become tests of faith, and as we survive them by confidently knowing that God will pull us through, He builds endurance into our character.

The Christian is trained by these squeezings to be able to say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.

This endurance then fashions our character and I love the Greek word here for character it is defined as “proof of genuineness, trustworthiness.” Through suffering, (soul squeezings) God builds endurance, and through endurance He is making you a genuinely trustworthy person in His kingdom.
There is nothing like soul squeezings to test your faith for genuineness. Usually the first thing a new Christian wants to do when that first trial comes along is to chuck his faith. I know, I have been there....many times, but again I’m here to tell you, don’t do it!

Hang on! Endure! God will pull you through and make you a genuine, trustworthy follower of Jesus Christ.

Finally, the chain reaction of suffering, endurance, and character building produces confidence or hope. You will become a “hopeful” person. As you experience new trials and tribulations you will have a noticeable confidence and a noticeable hope. People will notice!

This hope comes from knowing you have been down this road before and God has always been faithful in pulling you through. It’s a hope that zeros in on the blessed assurance of the destiny of heaven that awaits all those who persevere. Jesus said, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.”  Therein lies our hope. It lies in believing Jesus.

So when trials and tribulations come your way. When you feel like you are being squeezed in on all sides, and the devil is urging you to give up. Resist him! Persevere, hang on! Cash in those  divine influence on your heart cards that you have an unlimited supply of.

When you cash them in, God will assure you that He is using this squeezing to build your hope. he is making you genuine. He is teaching you to endure. And you can tell the devil, not this time fella!  I’m hanging on to God!
I know that God is using this trial for a reason and therefore I will brag about it, I will rejoice about it, I will glory in it, I will endure it cheerfully, because in the end, the God who loves me so much that He gave His only Son to die for me will be glorified and that’s all that matters.

Chain reactions of faith. Faith leads to justification, justification leads to peace with God. This peace gives us access to His divine influence favor 24/7, an influence that is needed when trials come our way. Trials that produce endurance, which produces character, which produces confidence.

These are all good things and they come when by God’s grace,  we make that first step and “believe God” and it is accounted to us as righteousness.