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Description: Faith is Manifested in Brotherly Love
Faith is Manifested in Brotherly Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Please turn to Colossians 1:4 as I’d like to remind you of the verse that we are dealing with today.
Obviously I’ll only be dealing with a little of it. “Because we have heard of your faith in Christ
Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.” That’s it — “your faith in Christ Jesus” is
the little part of the verse we will be talking about. It’s in connection with that that we are
reading these verses in John 5. It’s part of what faith in Christ Jesus means.
John 5:17-47, “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, and I am working.’ This was why
the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God
his own Father, making himself equal with God.” Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the
Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does,
that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is
doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises
the dead and give them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one,
but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the son, even as they honor the Father. He
who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he
who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment,
but has passed from death to life.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of
the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has
granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment,
because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the
tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and
those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek
not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not
true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me
is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I
receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and
you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony this I have is greater than
that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I
am doing, bear me witness that the father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne
witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; and you do not have
his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. You search the scriptures,
because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet
you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that
you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive
me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory
from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall
accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed
Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will
you believe my words?”
You can tell yourself even though those words are familiar to you that there is a whole attitude in
that chapter there where Jesus is very clearly drawing them into the same experience he has with his
Father. He’s concerned with their relationship with him as he is with his relationship with his
Father. That’s what faith in Christ is. I bring it up now so that you will see the value of these
readings and be able to think it through. The verse we are studying has Paul rejoicing and thanking
them because of their faith in Christ Jesus.
It’s so easy to drift right in to the common, shallow, light interpretation to that phrase. “Faith
in Christ” — Oh, yeah, I have faith in Christ. You’re saved by faith in Christ. By faith in Christ
I am justified.” Wesley puts it very well, “Faith is not just a speculative rational thing, a cold
lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head but a disposition of the heart.” [John Wesley’s
Teachings, Volume 2: Christ and Salvation] It seems that is one of the great weaknesses in our
present day and has been for generations.
Faith in Christ is so often interpreted just as Wesley says “a speculative rational thing, a cold
lifeless assent; a train of ideas in the head” and not as it is outlined here in this chapter — a
disposition of the heart. A relationship with Jesus that is close, deep and intimate and is daily
and continuous. It is what governs your life. So often it is expressed here is the secret — if
you’re not sure whether something is right or wrong — think; what would Jesus do? Dear love us;
bless our dear stupid hearts, we think that is deep. We say that’s it.
Of course if you examine it, all it is is a speculative rational thing. It’s an assent. It’s saying
I remember the kind of life Jesus lived now would he do that. I couldn’t imagine him doing that. So
I won’t do that. It’s purely a human thing; purely a psychological inference, an intellectual
assent. It is not a thing that comes from the heart. Of course we are busy, whether we are aborting
or not aborting; whether we are supporting this subject or that subject. We are playing on that
level of the mind; of the intellect and of ideas. Nothing touching the heart of the spirit. No
touching of the spirit; just on that level below it.
I would say the greater part of Christendom in the East and West is that. Most things come down to
that. It’s the old forensic gospel: we should die for our sins, Jesus died for us, and so we don’t
need to die. It’s that. It’s that building on that whatever emotion you can. Of course in today’s
world building on it with whatever political view you think it supports. There’s little of the heart
of Christ; little of the heart of God in it. Of course when you read chapters like this in John you
realize Jesus is not saying to you, “Here this is what you have to believe. If you believe this
you’ll have eternal life. Believe this little thing and you’ll have eternal life.” He’s saying this
is the relationship I have with my Father and you will have this relationship with me, therefore you
will be a part of our relationship. So we will all be one together.
It will be a heartfelt, deep attitude that is brought about by his Spirit in us. When you talk about
faith in Christ you are talking about something deeper. I came across an old commentary some years
ago. Actually I was struck by it because it was such a beautiful set of books. We might have it in
our library. It’s by Gill. He comments on this verse in Colossians, “We have heard of your faith in
Christ Jesus.” He says, “This expresses the matter of their thankfulness or what it was they gave
thanks to God for — their faith in Christ. By which is meant not only their hearty assent to the
whole doctrine of faith concerning the person, offices and grace of Christ; their soundness and
steadfastness in it and their sincere, constant confession of it but the grace of faith in them; the
operation of Spirit of God in their souls which had not Moses or any other man but Christ for its
object; by which they looked unto him as their Savior, went onto him as such, ventured on him,
committed on to him, leaned and relied upon him; that grace which comes from him has him as its
author and publisher and returns unto him and lives on him.
I thought Gill was beginning to hit it. That it isn’t simply a belief in Christ as God’s Son or that
he has worked some forensic deal with God over your sins but it is he himself is the one in whom we
were made. It is in him and with him we were raised up and made part of his Father’s family. Faith
in Christ has the very ‘IN” strongly in there. If you look up ‘in’ and its meaning, the emphasis is
‘not movement but position.’ It’s explaining and describing a position in Christ, really part of
Christ. So faith in Christ is being a part of him.
If you remember the verse in Romans which says you were ‘baptized into Christ.” The word there
implies into or becoming part of him. So faith in Christ is that.
Then the truth that God made real to me as I thought about this this morning — this is a difficult
one to get over to you — I can feel it but how do I express that. “Christ where do you want to put
that book? Do you want to put it on the table?” That attitude would be right. I know it sounds
stupid. But we are in him and he in us. There is no question — if we go into a shop, I don’t trail
the wife along or expect my puppy to follow me — I would ask her, would you like to go into that
shop. That truly is faith in Christ where you would treat Christ as a real person inside you.
I don’t know that would say your mind would be caught between thinking the thing you were
concentrating on and then thinking of him but I think you can exist on two levels. I think your
spirit can be in Christ and yet you can deal with the situation here. My plea is that faith in
Christ is a real sense that Jesus is inside you — that this is his life — that these are his
hands. He is in this, here he is today. He is here in me. He is here in me to bring his Father’s
world under his Father’s will and he is in me and these are his hands. He has a say in this. I’m not
involved in second guessing by asking what would Jesus do with this book. I feel he is there saying,
“I’m here. Why not check with me?”
I think we have grown so used to the other that we miss a lot of the joy of the Savior’s presence in
us. Of course we miss the mass of the freedom from worry and anxiety that his presence in us
brings. Undoubtedly we fall into all kinds of attitudes and tones of voice because we know he is
somewhere here. But we haven’t much time to wonder about what he thinks about the situation. So I
think we miss a lot that our faith includes. We miss a lot in our lives because of it. Of course
the world misses badly his touch. I always think that if I am curt or sharp with Marty or Irene.
It’s really trampling over the one within me who wouldn’t dream of being like that. At that very
moment, because of his love for us, he is endeavoring to soften it and give you the patience and the
forbearance to receive it and still to love me. Of course it isn’t just me. We are all involved in
it in some form.
It does seem to be faith in Christ is more that. That is what faith in Christ is. I do think that’s
why the apostles operated as they did. You often wonder if it was both Peter and John who came to
the gate and the poor man was with hand out and begging. I always wondered if Peter read it in some
book or must have prepared to say that or maybe he just thought how can I get around this guy
without giving him anything. Obviously when he said, “Silver and gold have I none….” it was the
Savior inside him. He had no doubt it wasn’t his hand that was reaching out. He had no doubt that
his hand had no power to heal the man. He had no power to heal the man. It was Jesus in him. That’s
the whole meaning of the resurrection. It’s that the Holy Spirit lived now not only in Jesus but he
lived in these men who believed in his Son and had received their position from him. So Jesus now
lived in them. Faith in Christ means that.
Of course we read in John 15:4, “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by
itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Without me you will
not be able to do anything. So that in a sense is why we have such a powerless Christendom because
there are lots of people going around saying we have faith in Christ but really they don’t have
faith in Christ as the Bible uses it.
I thought it was important for Communion today because that’s what we do. You have to admit it isn’t
harder for the Father to make it clearer. This is my blood and this is my flesh. How much clearer
can you make it to mean? Our faith in Christ means that he is in us and we are in him. In that sense
we can live just as Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life
I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God.” [Galatians 2:20] So I put this
book down — no, not I but Christ. You may say you can’t be holy, holy all the time. No, but it
seems to me the more you can remember what reality is, the more really you will operate yourselves
and the more realistically you will deal with each situation and each other.
Let us pray.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each
of us throughout this day and week. Amen.