Full-length Sermon Audio: Is Your Faith Your Own – MP3
Let me start by asking you a question: Is your faith your own? By that I mean, is the body of beliefs, the faith, that you hold dear is it based on your understanding of God and His word or is it based on someone else’s understanding of God and His word? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me illustrate this by looking at Joash, the 10th king to sit on the throne of David. He reigned for 40 years in Jerusalem and life was marked by several important characteristics:
- A Child Of Providence – He was providentially saved from the murderous rampage of his grandmother Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10-11a). He was the only male descendant of the line of David left alive, thus ensuring the continuation of the Davidic bloodline by which the Christ would come.
- Raised By Godly “Parents” – He was reared by his uncle the Jehoiada, the High Priest, and his wife Jehoshabeath within the “house of God” (2 Chronicles 22:11b-12). Here he would have been taught to love God and His law. It had been a long time since a king of Judah loved God and His laws.
- A Restorationist – Sometime after Joash took the throne at the tender age of seven, he began to restore the temple and reform the priesthood (2 Chronicles 24:4-14). Years of neglect had taken their toll on God’s house and the priesthood has become negligent in their duties.
- Spiritually Hollow – In the process of time Joash’s adoptive father and spiritual mentor “grew old… and died” (2 Chronicles 24:15). It is then that something very interesting happens, Joash “abandoned the house of the Lord… and served idols” (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:17-18). In fact the usual summary statement of the kings reflects this, “And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2).
What do we see in Joash? We see a man who was spiritually hollow, faithful in doing what the Lord desired so long as Jehoiada lived. Yet, sadly, Joash’s faith was not his own. Therefore, as soon as Jehoiada died, the under-girding of Joash’s faith was stripped away and his faith collapsed. This inspired story begs the question, Is Your Faith Your Own? If this could be true of Joash, then it could be true of us as well.
Many Professed Christians Their Faith Is Not Their Own. Rather, it is based on:
Accepted Church Beliefs: This person faith is solely based what the church they attend teaches. If their church believes something to be right and true, then so do they. If their church believes something to be wrong and false, then so do they. All these people are doing is matching their faith to their church’s doctrines. Consequently, this kind of person would be at home just about anywhere. Now, the church is the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15). That is the church upholds God’s revealed truth through His word. Nevertheless, the standard of truth is not the beliefs and practices of a congregation, rather, it is the God breathed words of scripture (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). For example, your belief in baptism as a work of faith should not be founded on the fact your congregation believes it to be so, instead it should be because God’s word teaches that it is so (cf. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-11; 1 Peter 3:18-22; et. al.). If your faith is based on your church’s beliefs, then your faith is not your own.
Family Traditions: In this scenario, a person basis their faith on his or her families’ religious traditions. If great-grandpa Jones was a member of the church of Christ, then it reasons that all good Jones’ will forever be members of the church of Christ. Whole families lean on the faith of one person but when that person is gone the faith of the family is gone as well. Now don’t get me wrong, as parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, we have a responsibility to teach God’s word to our young (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Ephesians 6:4). But, note what Paul said about Timothy’s faith in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Lois and Eunice were tasked with the duty of teaching young Timothy the faith, but they also had the responsibility to push Timothy to move from the family faith to making his faith his own. If your faith is based on family traditions, then your faith is not your own.
Personal Loyalty: In this case a person’s faith is practiced out of personal loyalty. Perhaps they are loyal to the one who converted them or to a beloved role model. We see this demonstrated in the relationship some have with preachers. Their faith is based on whatever the preacher says or thinks. Much like our first example, if their preacher says it is right or wrong then this person believes it is right or wrong. I believe if Paul could speak to directly to this kind of person he would ask, “Is Christ divided? Was [your preacher] crucified for you?” The church at Corinth was divided along personal loyalties (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17) and sadly we see far too many Christians dividing themselves along the lines of what their favorite preachers think on a particular subject. Yet, Paul said he went to great pains to ensure that his listener’s faith did “not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Our faith must rest in God, not men. If your faith is based on personal loyalties, then your faith is not your own.
If your faith is not your own, then the blessings that accompany faith are not yours as well:
God’s Comfort is not yours. Perhaps no other passage has provided comfort to troubled heart like the 23rd Psalm. Yet, have you ever noticed that the promises of comfort this passage provides are predicated on the fact that you can truthfully say, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Not my churches, not my families, not my preachers but mine. If the Lord is not your shepherd then you shall want (v. 1) and your soul will not be restored (v. 3). You will walk through the valley of the shadow of death and you fear because the Lord is not with you (v. 4). If your faith is not your own you cup will be empty (v. 5), and you will never dwell in the house of the Lord (v. 6). Making your faith your own is serious business.
Justification, Peace and Grace are not yours either. Paul says in Romans 5:1-2, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” If your faith is not your own, then you have not been declared righteous before God. Therefore, you are His enemy and you do enjoy the grace needed for salvation. I cannot stress this enough, you must make your faith your own.
If your faith is not your own, then neither is the Assurance of Salvation. Listen to what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:5-11 (NKJV), “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Did you notice our key words, “Your faith…”? If your faith is not your own, then you will be barren and unfruitful, shortsighted and blind. Your call and election will not be sure, and you will surely stumble. Have I made the case that your faith must be your own? Then let’s learn how to do that.
Four simple ways to make your faith your own:
Get Into God’s Word: I can remember being in Bible class all the way back in the little church in Waverly, TN where we attended as children, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17 KJV). What lesson was Sarah Parchman trying to teach me from this verse? Well, quite simply, faith comes for getting into God’s word. Do you want to make your faith your own then get into God’s word. Read the stories of old, tales of faith, courage, and obedience. Read the exhilarating accounts of our Lord, His miracles, His teachings, His interactions and His dying and resurrection. Read the letters, delve into the deep thoughts of Paul’s mind, learn applications from Peter and James and be amazed at the stories of your faithful brothers and sisters in Christ as they fought the spiritual battles of the early church. You’ll never make your faith your own without first getting into God’s word for yourself.
Pray For More Faith: Who doesn’t recall the agonizing plea of the helpless father who cried out to Jesus, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). You remember the story, a desperate father had brought his demon possessed son the Jesus to be healed (vv. 17-18a). But Jesus was not there, so the disciples decided they would take care of this little problem, however they were not able (v. 18b). The boy is brought to Jesus (v. 20), Jesus questions the father about the boys situation (vv. 21-22a) and pleads “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v. 22b). “If you can!” Jesus replied, “All things are possible for one who believes” (v. 23). It is at this point the father admitted the imperfection of his faith, mixed as it was with doubt, the desperate father pleaded with Jesus to help him to have the greater faith the Lord demanded. Jesus answered that man’s plea for more faith and healed his son (vv. 25-27). When was the last time you prayed for more faith? If you are anything like me, you’re good at praying for all sorts of things and yet, terribly neglectful to pray for this one thing, more faith. Our Father is a good God; He will answer your prayer for more faith. Start by admitting to Him you have an imperfect faith. Ask Him to give you your own faith as you get into His word and as you endure trials.
Be Purified By Trials: Nobody likes trials of life. Yet, Peter said, “Rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). There are many aspects to why the Christian rejoices during trials, many more than we can cover in this lesson (cf. Matthew 5:11-12; Luke 6:23; Acts 5:41; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 1:2-4). The focus of Peter’s admonish to rejoice in trials is because trials purify your faith. Just as fire purifies gold by burning off all the impurities, so trials purify your faith by burning off those things that are weighing you down (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2). When you face trials with a view that this is good for you faith (so often we simple want them to go away), because it will purify you faith, then you can begin to make your faith your own.
Share Your Faith: The last way for how to make your faith your own, is share your faith. The blind man of John 9 is the perfect illustration of this point. His faith was strengthened by virtue of sharing and defending His beliefs in the Lord miracle. Notice the progression with me: When first questioned by his “neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar” (v. 8) as to how he regained his sight he responded “the man called Jesus” (v. 11) healed him. Next as he is examined by the Pharisees he said Jesus was “a prophet” (v. 17). As the blind man’s defense continued he argued Jesus is “from God” (v. 33). This was too much for the Pharisees, so they threw him out of the synagogue and it is then that he comes face-to-face with Jesus and declares to Him, “Lord, I believe.” (v. 38). The more this man shared his faith, the more his faith became his own. The more you share your faith, the more you defend the gospel, the more you faith will become your own. A friend recently told me that he has asked a Mormon missionary what their conversion rate was. The Mormon man said, “less than 1 in 10,000 door knocks.” My friend was stunned and followed up with, “Well then why are you doing it then?” To which the man replied, “It makes us Mormons for life.” We can learn something from that. I want you to share your faith for two reasons, to make disciples of others, and to make your faith your own.
Well we’ve been asking a very important question, “Is Your Faith Your Own?” We started with the example of a man who had everything spiritually going his way, yet his faith was hollow and it lead to his downfall. We explored various incorrect foundations on which people establish their faith such as church, family and men. From there we explained that if you build your faith on any one of those foundations then you do not enjoy the blessings that accompany faith. And then finally, we established how to make your faith your own. So is your faith your own? It needs to be. Friends, my heart’s desire is to help you on this spiritual journey to heaven. If there is anything I can do to assist you in make your faith your own, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be my pleasure to aid you in this journey.