This morning I want to ask you... Why do you believe?
- 1 Timothy 4:12
He's telling Timothy to be an example of what a Christian should be. We're called upon also to be an example of a Christian to the world around us. But to be a Christian, you know, what does it mean to be a Christian? Certainly a Christian is one who is a follower, a disciple of Jesus.
But why are you a Christian? Why do you believe the Bible and why do you obey it? Why do you believe that there is a God? Why do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
You know, there's a lot of reasons to believe, certainly. The scriptures themselves are a testament. The fact that they are factually accurate in every way that can be proven. We compare it with what we know of archaeology. It lines up perfectly. What we know of world history, it lines up perfectly. There is scientific foreknowledge. There's are a lot of things about the Bible that show us, give us proof that it is from God.
And the Bible, of course, tells us of God. It tells us that we can look at the world and know there is a God. It's hard to deny that. But we can't look at a tree, for instance, and know what God wants for us. We might look at that tree and its complexity and know there is a God, but it doesn't tell us anything about what God wants for us. His Word does that.
Why do you believe? We all need to know that. It's something that each one of us should think hard about. The reason why we believe. You know, a lot of people believe because my parents believed, and so I [they] believe what they believe. Well, when push comes to shove that kind of belief is not really going to sustain you.
- 2 Peter 3:13-17
This passage is really teaching us how to endure persecution. And, in verse 15 we're told three things to do.
- Don’t be afraid.
- Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.
- Be ready to give an answer.
Why do you believe? Why are you a Christian? Why would you follow this Savior who was nailed to a tree? And so, there are three things. Don't be afraid. Sanctify the Lord God in your heart, that helps with a fear right there. Putting God first in our heart helps to eliminate that fear and then be ready to give an answer of the reason that for the hope that is in us with meekness and fear. And, be ready to explain why you have this hope.
Why Do YOU Believe?
So why do you believe? You know, there are a number of reasons why people believe and we're not necessarily going to get into the Bible and evidence and things like that. When we talked about beginning at the beginning, what is the motivation that leads to you being a Christian?
Do You Believe Because of Fear or Love?
Is it fear or is it love?
You think about fear and we're talking here about the idea of dread.
- Romans 13:7
The fear which arises from the dread of punishment; I don't want to go to hell. I read about hell and I don't want to go there. The alternative to hell is Heaven. The way to get to heaven is obedience to God. And so, am I a Christian simply because I'm afraid to go to hell? And there's really nothing wrong with being afraid to go to hell. The idea of fear here is dread or terror. A slavish fear, such as is characteristic of a slave in the presence of a cruel and heartless master.
- 2 Timothy 1:7
You know, the words denote cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense. Other translations, use the word spirit of timidity, timidity. God has not given us a spirit of timidity. You know, some believers, though, are only, uh, believed because of a fear of punishment. This will be the person who obeys out of necessity and maybe grudgingly. He will never put the kingdom of God first in his life.
He will not deny himself and fear will die out after a short time. And so why do we believe? Are we a Christian simply because of fear? Because we are afraid we dread the consequences of hell?
Or maybe it's a reverent fear. This is the kind of fear that we must have.
- Eccesiastes 12:13
This is a reverence and a respect for God and his authority. This holy fear is nearly the same thing as love.
- Acts 13:16
The idea is those that love God. It's not a fear of dread but a fear out of love for God. Is it fear or love?
Love is the mature motive for following God.
- 1 John 4:18
And so fear is absent in this kind of love. You know, again, fear is a dread of chastisements which comes to those who are disobedient. It has torment. There's worry about punishments. And the worry about punishment is a form of punishment itself. And so he says that "Perfect love casts out fear." Where there is genuine love, fear really cannot exist.
You know, love puts out dread and puts in joy and service to God. Those who are believers, because they love God, they're going to obey with love.
- John 14:15
You know, they're going to put the kingdom first. They're going to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
- Matthew 6:33
The one who is genuinely loves God and who is obedient because of love is going to deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Christ. You know, fear grows smaller while love increases. And so why do you believe? Is it fear or is it love?
Why do You Believe is it Because of Fad or Conviction?
Why do you believe is it a fad or conviction?
A fad is a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal. Now, you think about clothing fads and hairstyles and things like that. Music sometimes is a fad. This also, sometimes is true in religion. Sometimes folks obey because many others are obeying. It's not necessarily wrong, these will follow Christ with great zeal for a time. But when the next fad comes along, Christ gets dropped for something else. [For} whatever the next interest is.
There's so many people that obey because and become Christian because their friends are doing so. Sometimes I think we see this at church camp when one kid in the cabin gets baptized next thing you know, they all want to be baptized and sometimes it's genuine and sometimes it's because they they see this and and they want to do it as well. But, they really don't have the conviction.
And so, it just something you follow for a while?
- Romans 10:2
There is this zeal for God, but it fades after a while with some folks. You know, many suppose that as long as they are sincere and zealous in religion then God will be pleased. Enthusiasm, not guided by God's word, often leads to persecution.
- John 16:2
Sometimes it's real easy to follow God when things are easy, but when things become difficult, that fad, that enthusiasm you once had goes away. If that's all you're obeying and that's all you are as believer is because then it's a fad. It's a passing fancy with you, with some people.
Or is it because of conviction? You know, conviction is a strong persuasion or belief, you know, when that persecution comes, those who are truly convicted, they're going to stand and they're not going to run. They're not going to fall away. You know, those that are just following the fad, when that persecution comes, they're out of here.
- 2 Timothy 1:12
He's talking about because he's been preaching the gospel, he suffers these things. He's been arrested here in 2 Timothy, he's about to be put to death. He's in prison. He says, I'm suffering all of these things. "Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I believe, and I am persuaded. That he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
You know, this is a genuine conviction. You know, Paul might have been able to get out of prison. He might have been released if he had recanted his belief in Christ. If he had turned away and told the Roman authorities what they wanted to hear. But Paul was convicted. He was fully persuaded.
You know, Vine's Expository Dictionary, says this is a bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral consideration. You know, Paul looked at the things. He looked at the scriptures. He looked at the word of God and the revelation he had received from God. And he was fully convinced that what he had committed to the Lord, his own life, his own soul that God would keep.
He, like Abraham was fully persuaded.
- Romans 4:21
He put his trust in God, just like Abraham did. He loved Christ and there was not a thing that could move him, not a thing that could shake him.
- Romans 8:35-39
He was fully committed, fully persuaded that no matter what, nothing could shake him. Nothing could pull him away from God. Now, he could, of course, as can we all, turn away of our own accord, but Paul did not do that. And he knew so long as he did not do so, that God was with him.
- 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Here Paul talks about those that are, you know, persecuting him within the church.
And so we see that Paul was convicted to the point that he was willing to suffer all of those things for the sake of Christ, for the sake of his fellow believers. You know, many today who are believers, they don't have any real conviction. They were not fully persuaded. They have left their first love just like the church there at Ephesus in Revelation chapter two. Most anything can move them away from Christ. You know, when they face hardship, they're out of here. When they face ridicule or persecution they'll change the way they look at life. They'll change the way they speak. You know, when they're appealed to with some worldly interest, they'll forsake the Lord, sometimes. for that.
You know, it's amazing to me that people will miss worship services all the time because something going on in their personal life. [Like] something going on at the school, something going on in recreation. They'll miss the church services because that's going on.
It really ought to be the other way around. We miss those things because we have obligations first to the church, to the worship of God, to the service of God. Some, when their family or friends turn against them, you know, they're going to turn away.
Are you a believer because of fad or because you're fully convicted?
Are You a Fake or Sincere Believer?
You know, fake is to simulate, to counterfeit, preen, imitation, imposter, worthless imitation, passed off as genuine. Simply put, it's a hypocrite. Some, really, they're faking their belief. They are not sincere. They obey to please some other person; their husband or their wife, their parents, or someone else. They obey for the gain from the world that come to them in their business, maybe. Jesus calls this type of person a hypocrite.
- Matthew 23:13 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29
You know, in Matthew 23, there are seven times that Jesus says this, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! The hypocrite, that's one that wears a mask. It's like an actor, one that comes out on the stage and they play one role. They're wearing a certain mask and they exit the stage, they come back on, they play a different role. They're wearing a different mask. That's where this word comes from. You know, a hypocrite deliberately and as a habit profess to be good. When he is aware that he is not a hypocrite, does not intend to be what he pretends to be.
Some people, their religion is all for show. It's all fake. It's not real. It's not genuine. They know it and they are using. They're so called fake for some worldly or earthly gain.
- Romans 16:17-18
So this is one again who is faking their belief. nad when someone is faking their belief, they will sneak around and do things that are wrong and hope nobody sees. People like this, oftentimes, they will not get involved in any church activity. They won't get involved in any spiritual activity. It seems foolish to them.
And so, are you are you a fake or are you sincere?
- Philippians 1:9-10
Paul prayed that they increase in their love, and their knowledge and their judgment of God's Word and the application of God's Word. This would come with more knowledge of His Word. Then, we will approve or try those things that are excellent, that are sincere, that are pure, not double mindedness or deceitful. Again, we're called to be an example of the believers in word and conversation. And that's the manner of living, and charity and our love and our spirit and our faith and our purity.
A sincere Christian is one who is truly and totally converted. He is always what he professes to be. His motives are pure. He may not always be perfect. And, there may be some things that is perceived maybe as hypocritical. Again, the hypocrite has no intention of being what he pretends to be a sincere Christian. Sometimes they are going to mess up, but their motives are pure. His character, can be held up to the light without discovering any impurity or sin.
And then when it does show impurity or sin, that person's going to repent.
- Ephesians 6:24
You cannot fake religion because God knows and God cannot be deceived.
- Galatians 6:7
Eventually, if you are not sincere in your religion, eventually, you will reveal your true character.
Do you Believe out of Faith or Doubt?
Doubt is an uncertainty, a distrust, a lack of confidence. The believer who has doubts will believe part of the truth, you know, maybe only those things that he likes. He will disregard those commands of God that they feel are not necessary. And of course, they're going to be judged for that. You know, they'd be careless with their life and their morals, they don't really believe that God will punish for their sin.
- James 1:6
Now here the double-minded man, the one who has doubts, those who waver, you know, one moment they feel God is going to keep His promise, and at another moment He feels that He will not.
And so, is your faith characterized by doubt?
Or is it simply faith, the real faith, genuine faith?
- Hebrews 11:6
Faith is this trust in God, believing [that] He will save us if we obey him.
- Matthew 14:31
Here's Peter walking on the water to meet the Lord. He sees Jesus on the water. He says, If it be you, Lord, let me come out to you. He gets out of the boat. He walks on the water. And then as he looks around and he sees the waves, he begins to fear and he begins to lose faith. And then Jesus reached out his hand and says, Oh, ye of little faith. You know, he had faith, but it was weak. He saw the waves, the things around him caused him to fear. And it turned into doubt, and it began to be afraid, and it began to sink. It takes real faith to serve and follow God. And we see that great faith that took him to get off the boat and walk on the water. That's a lot of faith, but it, like so many times when we go out in faith, and things don't turn out exactly like we hope they will, we begin to lose that faith. We begin to have a little doubt.
Do you believe out of faith? Or is there a little bit of doubt, a little bit of wavering in your belief? It takes real faith to serve and follow God.
So why do you believe? Is it fear? Is it that dread of hell? Is it godly fear? Is it a fad? Is it fake? Is it a doubting fear? A faith? Doubting faith? Or is it love? Is it conviction? Is it sincerity? Is it faith?
It's necessary to serve God for the right purpose.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5
You know, we're called upon to examine ourselves, to examine our faith, examine our motives, to compare our life with what God's word teaches. Are we living up to that standard?
You know, the only way we can do that, the only way that we can be a true believer, certainly, is to obey God, to obey Christ. Believe that He is, as we said in Hebrews 11 verse 6, that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
How do we diligently seek Him? In His Word. His Word reveals Him to us. His Word reveals to us how to be saved. Believe and repent of your sins based upon your belief. Confess your belief in Jesus. Be baptized to wash away your sins. And then we're told that we must live a life of faithfulness to Him.
I urge you today, if your motive for being a Christian is anything other than love, conviction, sincerity, and faith, then you need to make some changes in your life. If you're not a Christian, to put on Christ in baptism. If you have not been committed and convicted as a Christian as you should, we urge you to repent and to come back.
If we can help you at all to respond to the Lord's invitation. Please contact us so that we can assist you.