“Christians Have Great Faith”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Most of us probably have some things we hold very close to our heart. We value our loved ones and family members. We are grateful for our good health and the opportunity to work and to make a living. Yes, there are lots of people and things that are valuable and important to us. The same, perhaps, can be said about our moral and spiritual values. They are important to us as well. They are at the core of who we are and what we believe. We might be in the very early stages of developing those beliefs and practices; and if so, I hope you will continue to grow in your walk with the Lord. In other cases, however, those beliefs are something we have held for a long time. And over the years we have allowed them to shape our views about God and our ideas about how we can live in relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Well, the same is true with us here at “Key to the Kingdom.” We have some beliefs which are important to us. They are at the foundation of who we are and what we believe; and for the next few minutes, I want to share some of them. In fact, some of them have already been addressed in previous lessons. But today I want to highlight five specific teachings from God's Word. When it comes to our relationship with God, these are at the very heart of the Bible's message. Some of them may even be on your list of important things, as well. I trust you will stay tuned to this station as we consider what is at the core of our great faith.
There are many things which are important to us here at “Key to the Kingdom.” Those things provide a foundation upon which we minister and share these weekly messages. Now, obviously, each one of those is worthy of an in-depth study of its own; yet, we will not take time to do that today. For example, we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We believe Almighty God is the Creator and the Sustainer of all things. We believe the Holy Spirit is God's reminder of His presence with us. We also believe the Lord is coming back; and when He does, He will make all things right. Many more things are at the core of our ministry and teaching; and for the next few minutes, I would like to share some of those beliefs with you. First of all, we believe God loves all people. In John chapter 3, we find these words, in verses 16 and 17: <For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.> That is the most often quoted and memorized passage of Scripture in all of the Bible. And we know that: We believe that, and we live by it. Yes, God loves us more than we will ever know. Before we even thought about loving God, we remember He first loved us (1st John chapter 4, verse 19). And God is absolutely perfect in His love. We know that from Jesus' statement and Matthew chapter 5, verse 45: <He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends His rain on the just and on the unjust.> Oh, in the wide spectrum of good and evil throughout this world, we know that God's love is in the midst of us. His love never runs out. Oh, at times we may think God doesn't love us. At times, we may wonder if He has forgotten about us, but then we are reminded of those stories we read in the Bible. We think about God seeing the dreadful condition of those people in Egyptian captivity. He heard their cries. He saw their pain. He recognized that, in fact, they were being mistreated. He did something about that. He sent a deliverer to bring them out of that captivity. We also think about the time when God sent His servant, Jonah, into Nineveh. The Assyrians lived there. They were evil and mean and cruel people, and Jonah had a message about God's love for them. They heard that message and responded to it. And then we think about the story that Jesus tells us in that parable about the father who waited day after day, continually looking down the road for his prodigal son to return; and one day he did. And when he returned, the father threw a party to celebrate him coming home. And no doubt, we receive those types of love from God, different expressions in different ways, each and every day. Well, here is the second thing I want us to notice: We believe God sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to save the world. These words are found in Romans chapter 5, verses 6 through 11: <You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.> You know, the common thought among many people is that they can save themselves through their own good deeds and righteous living. They believe that the better they live, then, the better chance they have of receiving an eternal home with God in the end. And so as a result of that kind of thinking, they put their trust and faith in themselves. They put their faith in their Bible study or prayer life. They believe if they show up to worship on some certain Sunday, or give a little bit of money here and there, then God will notice them and He will bless them and He will save them. Yes, many people believe their salvation depends on their efforts and not on God's effort. But as the Apostle Paul wrote, as we just noticed, we are powerless to save ourselves, for it is only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled back to God. You know, none of us can find a solution to our sin problem on our own. It simply does not exist without God's Son. But that solution is found only in the Son of God. That's the only way we receive that free gift of salvation. In the midst of no hope and without any other plan in place, God sent His Son to do just that. And that is the greatest demonstration of love this world has ever known or ever will know; that the blood that Jesus shed upon the cross of Calvary is what makes us right with God. There is absolutely nothing else which does that. When that salvation is received we have the promise of a home with God. And that leads us to those familiar words found in 1t John, chapter 5, verse 13: <I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.> Yes, our belief lies in the fact God sent His Son to save us from sin. He saves us from the guilt of that sin. He saves us from the shame it brings into our lives. He saves us from the stain with which that sin marks us. But we are also saved from eternal separation from God. We are saved from the sting of death. We are saved from the curse of sin. And the list goes on and on. But then on the other hand, we are also saved for the opportunity to do good things for other people, because of that salvation. We are saved for that eternal home that God has reserved for us. Here is a third thing I want to mention today: We believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. The Apostle John wrote another passage of Scripture which is familiar to us, and it also is an important part of what we believe. It is found in John chapter 20 verses 30 and 31: <Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.> Part of the process of coming to know Jesus Christ as our Lord, and recognizing Him as our Savior, is that we have faith in Jesus. We believe in Jesus Christ and then we live out that faith on a daily basis. We believe in His power to save. We believe in His resurrection from the dead. We believe He is coming back to bring us into the presence of Almighty God. You know, for those who believe in Jesus and who live out that faith an eternal life is a reality, and we do not have to wonder whether or not we will be in the presence of God. There is no room for second guessing. There is no reason to have any kind of uncertainty. But rather, we can know with full assurance and we can know with great confidence, eternal life awaits us. And that is important, especially when it comes to sharing our faith with other people. How would it look if we are uncertain as to whether or not we will receive salvation when we try to share that story with other people? That really doesn't make a great deal of sense, does it? If we are uncertain, ourselves, of the salvation God has given to us through Christ, then we cannot share that message with any kind of confidence. And so we know that we have confidence when we live out our faith in Jesus Christ. We have that salvation, even now, and we can anticipate a fuller expression of it when the Lord returns. No, nothing and no one else in which we place our faith can do that. Salvation only comes through our sincere faith in Christ; and God saves us through the sacrifice of His Son, which has already been made. And because we believe in Jesus, as His Son and in His power, we demonstrate that by identifying ourselves with Jesus. Well, the Apostle Paul describes that identification process in two different ways, in the letter called Romans. We read these verses in chapter 10, verses 9 and 10: <"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."> There is no need to be ashamed of or embarrassed to admit Jesus Christ saves us through our belief in Him. We believe these words from the Apostle Paul; and as we do, we submit ourselves to Christ as our Lord. We trust Him as our Savior. In other words, we belong to Him and He belongs to us. And that faith is lived out on a daily basis. And everyone who knows us recognizes that Jesus, indeed, is our Savior, and we are not embarrassed to admit that. You know, quite often on Facebook®, I see quotes, or see little statements that say something like, if you believe in Jesus and are not afraid to admit it, then like and share it with others. Well, that is a nice thought, isn't it? But often times it is easy to hide behind social media. But confessing Jesus Christ as our Lord does not only need to happen when we are baptized, or perhaps even on Facebook®, but it happens every day we live. We confess that we belong to Jesus in the words that we say and the actions we do, and even in the attitudes of our heart. Anyone and anything we place above the name of Jesus Christ can never save us. It only comes through our sincere faith in Him. And no other god or idol or image can ever do what God has already done for us. Well, part of our identification with Jesus is also found in Romans chapter 6, beginning with verse 1. <"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."> Our baptism into Jesus Christ demonstrates we believe God can and does forgive sin. And when we express our faith by being baptized, it becomes a living testimony of His grace saving us; and so, through His baptism, we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ as our king. We decide to live in such a way that He is glorified in all that we say and do. And so baptism is part of the process, the transformation process of becoming a child of God. It also lets others know, this is how I am responding to what Jesus Christ has done for me. I'm not turning back, but I am participating in the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf. Here's a fourth thing: We believe we are to grow spiritually as Jesus’ disciples. Notice these words from 2nd Peter chapter 1, beginning with verse 5. <"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.."> As baptized believers, we seek to grow up as Christians. We focus on becoming mature disciples of the One who has saved us. And so we spend our time studying the Bible and growing in our relationship with Him. And then we put these teachings into practice as we develop the virtues of living a Christian life. Well, that might require us to do some things just a little bit differently. We might need to change our priorities or our goals. Perhaps our interaction with others needs to be adjusted. In other words, we begin to follow His example as we love one another and as we love other people whom God puts into our life. And when that happens, then these qualities and virtues, from 2nd Peter chapter 1, become a living and active part of our daily lives. Here's one more thing I want us to notice, number five: We believe through God's grace, we receive eternal life. Paul stated it this way in Ephesians chapter 2, beginning with verse 4. <“Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed to us in His kindness in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -not by works, so that no one can boast.”> The Apostle Paul mentions the fact God's grace saves us two times. Now, there is no way to misread that; because, God's grace saves us, therefore there is no way for us to save ourselves. We can never do enough good deeds to earn our way to heaven. We can never be tempted to say, “Well, God, look at all the good things I have done throughout my life. Certainly, I deserve that eternal home.” The temptation might even be to create a certain list of things to do and to say, believing that through them we can save ourselves. In other words, we might even want to add to the simple message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. But that doesn't work at all, does it? It simply says to God, “Your Grace is not sufficient. I need to do something to make sure that it is good enough for me.” Imagine how that makes God feel. He gave the very best. He sacrificed His Son. He loves us more than we will ever know. And there is nothing we can add to His grace to make it any better. Oh, we can never underestimate, nor can we overstate, the importance of God's grace. We are saved by Him, and not by our own efforts. You know, it makes no difference what our social standing might be in this world, today. Whether we are rich or poor or male or female, the fact remains, God's grace brings salvation to all people. And there is nothing about God's grace in which we can boast or brag. We cannot take credit for it. We cannot add anything to it. We only receive it because of what Jesus Christ has done on our behalf. And so God's grace is what saves us, and nothing else. Our salvation is about what He has already done. In other words, our salvation is all about Jesus. It is about His amazing love and forgiveness. And because that is true, none of us are in a position to ever say, “I earned,” or, “I deserve that salvation.” You know, when our life as we know it comes to an end, we can know with full confidence and with full assurance His grace is more than enough. Well, those are five biblical truths in which we put our faith and trust, here at “Key to the Kingdom.” They are at the foundation of who we are and what we teach and preach. And I really hope and pray that those are foundational principles in your life, as well.
This small chapel is inside of a church building, and a great deal of Bible study takes place in this room, and many other rooms that are scattered throughout this building. People come together and open their Bibles. They study the Word of God. They seek to learn more about Jesus Christ and His impact upon their lives. And it is important we do that. We come to grow in the area of discipleship. We grow in our maturity and seek to know God and to know His Son, Jesus Christ, just a little bit better. And once that happens, we then go out into the world to share our faith. Yes, the process that goes on in this church building is that we deepen our faith. We have great faith, and then we allow that to transfer into how we live on a daily basis. I remember a sign I saw in a church building one time. It said, “Enter to worship, leave to serve.” And that's a great thought, isn't it? We come to worship, to study, to grow, and then we take that out into the world and serve other people. We do that by ministering to their needs. We do that by sharing the Good News story of Jesus. We do that by representing Jesus Christ in various aspects of our life. I would encourage us, today, to develop our faith, to go deep in our faith, to know as much as we can about who we are and ‘whose’ we are, in Jesus Christ, and then, as we leave the building, to take Jesus with us and to tell that story of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard it.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. I appreciate you taking time to study with us some of the foundational teachings which we believe to be so very important. If you would like to hear this message again, please find it on our website: The address is keytothekingdom.com, and the title is, “Christians Have Great Faith”. There are many other lessons on the website, as well. I hope you will find those which might be of interest. Please feel free to download any of them in audio, video or written format. It will cost nothing to do so and there is no obligation required. A number of short devotional thoughts and videos can also be found, and they offer some spiritual insights that might be of assistance as you grow in your walk with the Lord. Other information can be found about this ministry, which might be of assistance in some way. Social media tools, such as Facebook® and a free phone app provide other ways through which you can stay up to date with the messages we offer on a weekly basis; and I hope you will take advantage of those which are most convenient. Every week, our goal is to share part of the story of God's love and His Son's salvation, and I hope you will join us just as often as you can. Thank you again for tuning in to today's broadcast. I hope you will do so again, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”