Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

the author and finisher of our faith

This is the actual sermon that will be aired on Sunday, 07-12-2008, ON WCHP radio, 760 AM.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

the author and finisher of our faith

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The word “faith” here stands for 3 things in the Bible.

1) Jesus is the author and finisher of the scriptures.

2) Jesus is the author and finisher of the hope.

3) Jesus is the author and finisher of the Christian race.

1. Jesus is the author and finisher of the scriptures

As a born-again Bible-believer, there is nothing for you to believe outside what the Lord Jesus Christ delivered in the scriptures. Christians have a common faith because they have common scriptures which were

1) authored,
2) finished,
3) delivered,
4) revealed,
5) taught,
6) preserved,
7) and magnified

by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible is Jesus’ articles of faith.
Our common faith is the Bible itself; not the catechism, not Vatican 1 or 2 or 3, or the council of Trent, or the canons of Dort or the Synod of Emden, or the Westminister confession of faith or any other defiled product of the human spirit.

I once offered a gospel tract to an older gentleman. He refused by saying "No thank you, I'm a Catholic".
I said "Sir, those are just Bible verses".
He then gave me as honest a confession as I've ever heard:
"It's ok, we a have a little more than that".

He not only authored the scriptures, he finished them. When Christians deny the fact that the Lord preserves his word down through the years and translations, they deny the fact that he is the finisher of our faith.
How could he be the finisher of our faith if he didn’t preserve it?

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke and some 40 Hebrew secretaries wrote. Sometimes he wrote himself.
Once he etched two tables of stone with his finger in the backside of a desert.
Another time he scribbled on the plaister of the wall of a king’s palace.
If you’re born-again, it’s because he’s written upon the table of your heart.

The Lord Jesus Christ wrote the prologue and the epilogue of the Bible and everything in between.
He’s there in the first verse of the Book:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

He’s there in the last verse of the Book:

Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

He’s there in the middle verse of the Book:

Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Beware of getting carried away with the Red Letter editions of the Bible. All the words of the Bible are inspired by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, not just the red stuff.

The Lord Jesus Christ wrote the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Epistles.

He is the only author to have written anything before his birth and after his death.

He is the best-selling, best-loved authored of all time.
He is the most-read, most-translated, most-quoted, most-plagiarized, most-immitated, most-criticized, most-praised author of all time.

In the Pentateuch, he’s a greater anthropolgist than Levi-strauss.
In Joshua, he’s a greater military strategist than Thucydides and Clausewitz.
In Judges he’s a greater tragedist than Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus.
In Ruth he’s a greater short-story writer than Hemingway.
In 1 Samuel to Esther, he’s a greater historian than Herodotus.
In Job he’s a greater dramatist than Shakespear.
In the Psalms he’s a greater song-writer than Homer.
In Proverbs he’s a greater writer of wisdom than Confucius.
In Ecclesiastes he’s a greater philosopher than Plato.
In Song of songs he’s a greater poet than Wordsworth and Neruda.
In Isaiah to Malachi he’s a greater prophet than Nostradamus.
In the gospels he’s a greater autobiographist than Augustine.
In the epistles he’s a greater letter-writer than Horace.
In Hebrews he’s a greater theologian than Ruckman and Larkin and Scofield.
In Revelation he’s a greater horror-writer than Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King.

Did you know that Stephen King is mentioned in the Bible?

Job 18:14 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.

That’s in the middle of a context dealing with the antichrist, who is to be brought to the king of terrors. Stephen King is dealing with a very dangerous spirit.

You look unto Jesus in prayer and also in reading the scriptures “looking unto Jesus the author”. How in the world can you do that unless you’re looking at what he authored?

The Holy Ghost in the verse writes “looking” and in the same breath mentions “faith”.

2Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God.
How can you know the Word of God if you don’t read the word of God?
How can you consider yourself a Christian if you’ve never read the whole Bible? If you’ve never finished the scriptures, how can you know the one who finished them? How are you as a spiritual Christian, looking unto Jesus, if you’re not constantly in the book?

At the end of the day, you either believe the author of this book, or another author. You either have the faith of Jesus Christ, or the faith of another man.
At the end of the day it’s “thus saith the Lord” versus “Thus saith so and so”.
It’s author against author; book against book.

2. Jesus is the author and finisher of the hope.

More than once the Bible will speak about “the faith of the Son of God” or “the faith of Christ”. The faith you have is the faith of God. That doesn’t mean that the Lord has faith; it means he gives faith: the faith that is of God, that comes of God.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The antecedent of “it” is faith. The faith that you have in Jesus Christ was not produced by you. It was given to you of God. How was the ability to believe in Jesus Christ given you? By the preaching of the word of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

According to the last half of the verse, you hadn’t heard anything until you heard the word of God. Hearing comes by the word of God. So until the word of God had come to you, you had been spiritually deaf. You hadn’t heard a spiritual sound in your life until you heard a verse being quoted. There are physical sounds detected by your flesh and there are spiritual sounds detected by your spirit. Your spirit had never heard anything until it heard the words of God because they are spirit (John 6:63) and spiritual sounds are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14)
When you heard the word of God, at the moment God also gave you the ability to believe it. But you can stop your ears. You can shut down the sound. And then like the Pharisees, you will not understand the speech of the Lord Jesus Christ because you cannot hear it. Just like a radio station, when you don’t receive something you can’t hear it. If the word of God doesn’t speak to you it’s because you’ve hit the “mute” button.

I stand here today to preach the Lord Jesus Christ. I love and worship him. I have never seen him. I have never heard him. I have never touched him.

1Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Not only do born-again Christians believe in Jesus Christ. They love him. Many people believe in Muhammad. Nobody loves him. Many people believe in Buddha. Nobody loves him. Christians are not a special breed of people who are able to produce dillusional faith. We exercise no effort in believing in the face of reality. Our God gave us the faith. We simply have it and we obtained that wonderful gift by receiving his words when we heard them. We simply didn’t turn off the radio station. Obtaining faith is as easy as hearing.
Saving faith is a gift. Do you want to become a believer? Then just listen. The Lord Jesus Christ will make a believer out of you. It is his gift.
It had to be that way because Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please him”
Well faith is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, not of man.
There are no great believers; just great hearers.
If you want to grow in faith, then simply do what you first did to obtain faith: hear the word of God. Spend time in the Bible and God will increase your faith.

Hebrews 12:2 has more to say.

This is a generation of quitters. They quit school, then they quit work. They quit the wife then they quit the children. They quit the ministry, then they quit the church.

Jesus Christ never quit a thing in his life.

He didn’t quit carpentry, he didn’t quit his ministry, he didn’t quit his own.
Though all quit on you, he won’t.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Do you know why charity is greater than hope and faith in 1 Corinthians 13? It is because whereas “charity never faileth”, hope and faith do. Heaven is a hopeless, faithless place. Exactly what every atheist dreams of, and he can only get there by faith. Evidenly our God also has a taste for irony.

Jesus Christ walked up Golgotha, got on the cross and did not come down till he had cried “it is finished”. (John 19:30)
He is the author and finisher of our faith and when his blessed hand scribbles “the end” with its own blood, woe to that man that would presume to add a P.S.
If your faith does begin as well as end with Jesus, then your faith is not in Jesus. It’s not Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It’s Jesus, Jesus and Jesus.

3) Jesus is the author and finisher of the Christian race.

When Paul says in 2Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”
“ the faith” as Paul speaks of it, includes worshipping Jesus Christ as God, believing the scriptures, the resurrection, the rapture, separated living, the renewing of the mind, the two natures of the believer, a heavenly conversation, a right attitude, an honest testimony, a bold witness, an assurance of eternal life and the will of God.
The author and finisher of all these things is Jesus.

The reason we look unto Jesus is precisely because he is the author and finisher of our faith. The Spirit of Jesus Christ never bore witness unto Mary, or the Pope, or any “saint”.
All Christians recognize that. But sometimes, though Christians realize that their faith was authored by Jesus, they think it is finished by Ruckman, or Billy Sunday or the pastor or the deacon or some missionary. That’s why they get offended and quit. They weren’t looking unto Jesus. You didn’t leave because Jesus offended you. You left because someone else offended you. That proves you weren’t looking unto or coming for Jesus and no amount of arguing will ever change that.

In v.1 he said I’m compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses.
Have you read the list of witnesses in chapter 11. Those are men I would live and die to emulate; good men, just men, men who had the respect of God himself.
And though I am compassed about with so great a cloud, yet am I commanded to look unto Jesus. If you’re running the race looking unto the witnesses you’re liable to run into a cloud.
You can run in the right direction while looking at the people around you and you can run in the right direction while looking at yourself.

In swimming, you're taught a stop-jump. There's a technique whereby when you jump into the water you can avoid sinking your head below the water level so you can maintain visual contact with victim. Otherwise when your head comes back out of the water, you might lose the drowing victim in the horizon or the crowd.

That's how a Christian should run the race, never for a moment losing sight of Jesus.
Of course, he is the saviour but if he wouldn't lose sight of you, you shouldn't lose sight of him.

Jesus creates Adam, then he comes as the last Adam.
He writes the scriptures, then he says “it is written”.
He births you by water and he births you by the Spirit.
You’re crucified with Jesus you’re risen with Jesus.
You sleep in Jesus, you’re brought back with Jesus.
To live is Christ, to die is gain.
You’re present in the body you’re absent from the Lord, you’re absent from the body you’re present with the Lord.
Jesus goes outside the camp and Jesus bids you come along with him.
Jesus reconciles your alienated mind and gives you the mind of Christ.
He is your Saviour and he is your Judge.
The church began with his first coming, the church ends with his second coming.
We are his rib, he is our Head.

He is the cornerstone and the headstone.
He is the foundation and he is the crown.
He is Alpha and Omega.
He is the beginning and the ending.
He is the first and he is the last.
He is the root of David and the offspring of David.
He is the Son of God and he is the Son of Man.

He is the author and finisher of your faith.

Do you know why we do anything? It’s so we can give more pleasure to Jesus. We obey him so we can love him. We worship him so we can please him. We witness, not merely for the sake of saving a sinner’s soul from hell, but that Jesus might have one more person to love and worship him. You pray and read the Bible and listen to preaching so you can grow; not merely so you can get more blessings but that Jesus might get more glory out of you. We seek wisdom so we can serve him better.
We seek knowledge so we can know him better. The be all end all of anything a Christian strives for, is precisely so he can get into a position where he can better worship Jesus Christ.
That’s why prayer is so central to our faith. When you are praying, you are at the height of the Christian faith: the worship God in intimacy, which is greater than worshipping God in service. You’re up there spiritually beholding the face of the Father.

You look unto Jesus in prayer and you look unto him in reading the Bible. How else can you look at the author of your faith in this age?
When you’re reading and praying, you are at the height of the Christian faith. (Forsight insight) That’s why you can boil down 50% of all sermons preached to “read your Bible and pray everyday”.

Now how will he finish our faith?

2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This is how he authors your faith.

1Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

This is how he finishes your faith: sight.
We were the joy that was set before him.
He is the joy that is set before us.

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