Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE WARRANT OF FAITH”

First John 3.23

 

This morning’s message from God’s Word is directed only to those of you who are lost. Nary will a word that I say this morning be directed to any Christian in the room.

On our way to this morning’s text, I want you to turn to First Corinthians 2.14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

At the risk of offending you, I am duty bound to point out that this verse clearly declares that you have no spiritual discernment. Thus, you are completely wrong in your estimation of your powers of discernment. You greatly err in your appraisal of your ability to investigate, to apply, and to understand spiritual truths and principles. This means that you are helpless to address any spiritual issue or problem relating to sin, relating to salvation, or relating to any type of eternal matter.

The reasons for this are twofold: First, you wrongly think you understand and can apply spiritual truths. Why do I say wrongly? Because you are spiritually dead, according to Ephesians 2.1. Someone who is dead in trespasses and sins, cut off from the spiritual life of God in Christ, cannot by means of his limited five senses perceive spiritual reality. Therefore, you see, it does not even make logical sense by your way of thinking for you to be able to grasp the verities and the implications of that which is spiritual, yet you still think you can. How can this be? This can be because, not only are you spiritually dead, you are also deceived, deluded, blinded, and whatever other descriptions you might want to use to describe someone who is cut completely off from reality.

Perhaps your deception is Satanic. Have you ever considered that possibility? Such a thing must be considered, since Second Corinthians 4.3-4 exposes the devil’s work of blinding the unsaved to the truth of the glorious gospel. Read those two verses with me: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

On the other hand, it is possible that your deception is self-inflicted. We all know people who construct their own reality, to shield themselves from unpleasant facts they refuse to acknowledge. Nevertheless, how dangerous it when someone deceives himself about important spiritual issues. Turn now to James 2.19-24:

 

19     Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

20     For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

21     Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22     But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23     For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24     For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

 

This passage describes the process that occurs when a sinner deceives himself. You sit under preaching, and the preaching of the Word seems to have an effect on you, perhaps forcing you to see yourself, as you really are, lost and undone. However, when the preaching is done you go on your way, no longer looking into the mirror of God’s truth, and quickly forgetting what you saw, you return to your self-imposed delusion of pretense.

Of course, the worst possible scenario would be if you were both satanically deceived and self-deceived. This may be likely with those who have heard God’s Word preached repeatedly, but seem to never come to grips with their spiritual condition. Is that your situation, this morning? Are you one who is ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?[1]

Part of the deception that may bind you and hinder you from obeying the gospel, which again is related to you not understanding the gospel as much as you think you do, has to do with what is called the warrant of faith. The warrant of faith has to do with a person’s authorization to believe in Jesus Christ.

Let me explain: I have told you that some sinners come to Christ the first time they hear a clear and compelling presentation of the gospel. Those who do not respond to the gospel are clearly disobedient, and this disobedience results in a hardening of the heart and a searing of the conscience, which makes a person even less receptive to the demands of the gospel in the future. However, what happens to a person who has exhibited the stubbornness and rebelliousness that comes from rejecting the gospel? What are the consequences for that kind of disobedience? Is there no hope for such a person? Can someone like that ever be saved? What should someone do in such a case as that?

This type of situation was addressed by the Savior as He made His way toward Jerusalem for the last time, passing through a region where people had been exposed to not only His ministry, but to John the Baptist’s ministry as well. The people of that region had resisted the free offer of the gospel before. What should they now do, now that the Savior is passing through . . . for the last time?

Luke 13.23-24 contains that portion of the conversation that speaks to the sinner who has heard the message before, but has not yet obeyed the gospel to the saving of his soul. Listen carefully as I read: “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”

Therefore, you see, gospel-rejecters and Christ-resisters are directed to strive. However, to what end is striving commanded? Does striving make a person more qualified to come to Christ? Does striving make a person more worthy to come to Christ? Does striving begin a process that must be carried to a logical conclusion before a sinner can come to Christ? What happens if a sinner refuses to strive?

As you can imagine, things can quickly become complicated. However, we do not do justice to the simplicity of the gospel if we allow complications to overwhelm us. So, to cut through the underbrush of confusion and get to the heart of the matter, turn in your Bible to First John 3.23: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

My text, and the focus of this morning’s message from God’s Word is the first part of the verse: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ . . . .”

It is not the design of my sermon to explain this portion of God’s Word. Rather, my sermon will deal with a topic, the warrant of faith. What is this phrase “the warrant of faith”? It is a phrase that refers to the authorization you are given to believe, the right of anyone hearing the gospel to respond to it. My friend, you have every right in the world to believe in Jesus to the saving of your soul because He told you to.

Three things for you to think about this morning, my unsaved friend:

 

First, THE COMMAND TO CHRISTIANS

 

Different versions of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ are recorded in a number of places in the New Testament. Let me review them for you:

In Matthew 28.18-20:

 

18     And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19     Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20     Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

In Mark 16.15-16:

15     And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16     He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

 

In Luke 24.45-47:

45     Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46     And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47     And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

 

Finally, in Acts 1.8:

“. . . ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

 

Please carefully consider each of the passages I have just read. There are several things for you to notice that will be of considerable benefit to you:

First, notice that there are no less than four different versions of the Great Commission, given in four different locations and circumstances. Thus, we are left with the impression that this was something the Lord Jesus Christ not only prepared His disciples to do, but that they had been told over and over again, in a variety of different ways, and under considerably different circumstances, to undertake that important mission.

Second, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded that mission, which we refer to as the Great Commission. That is, He did not suggest His disciples engage in this activity. He did not request that His disciples engage in this activity. This is a directive, a command, an order, given by the One to whom had been given all power in heaven and on earth.

Third, the goal and purpose of the Great Commission is to evangelize, to work to get sinners saved, to engage in compelling the lost to come in that the Father’s house would be full. The result of this evangelistic effort, of course, is the salvation of lost souls, the subsequent baptism of those converts, and their training to do all things whatsoever Christ has commanded.

So you see, my lost friend, the Great Commission was given to Christians (specifically church members if the full truth be told) to reach you with the message that Jesus saves sinners like you from their sins (and perhaps even you), and how that great blessing can be yours. Thus, if you know a Christian who does not work at the Great Commission then you know a profoundly disobedient Christian, a lousy Christian, and maybe even someone who is not really a Christian.

How important is this command to Christians? Though there are some who think we should not obey this command (A pastor friend of mine recently told me that a college student objected to his church’s efforts to evangelize on the university campus, as though there are some places where sinners should not be reached), the example of the apostles serve us well in this regard.

Listen to the response of Simon Peter and John when they were told by the Jewish authorities to discontinue their obedience to the Great Commission and stop evangelizing. I read from Acts 4.18-20:

 

18     And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

19     But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

20     For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

 

Then, when they were apprehended and arraigned again for obeying Christ’s command, they responded this way when warned to stop preaching: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”[2]

Therefore, it should be very clear to you that Christians are commanded by the Savior to evangelize. You may not like it when Christians do what Jesus told us to do, and we may sometimes do it in a manner that you disapprove of. However, our concern is to obey Him, not please or in any way satisfy you.

 

Next, THE COMMAND TO SINNERS

 

Just as I am commanded to preach the gospel, you are commanded to obey the gospel.

Just as Christians are directed by the Lord of glory to spread the gospel, sinners are commanded to submit to the gospel.

Just we are ordered to stand up for Jesus Christ, you are ordered to kneel before Him, to confess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father, and to bow before Him as your Savior and King.

If the gospel is to be preached by Christians, and the goal of the Great Commission is to evangelize and make disciples of Jesus Christ, who do you think the objects of our attention are?

If those who already are disciples of Jesus Christ are to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who do you think are those whose obedience to the gospel is called for? You are correct. You.

Listen to John 1.12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” That does not speak about those who have already received Him, who are already the sons of God, them who already believe on His name. Rather, this verse shows what will happen to those who are presently sinners, but who will receive Him, who will become the sons of God, who will believe on His name.

Remember when Jesus told Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again?”[3] That necessity was not laid upon a believer, but upon an unbeliever. Nicodemus was a man who was religious but lost, but who must needs be born again. Just as certainly, every sinner is commanded to obey the gospel and become a believer in Jesus Christ.

Do you doubt this? Then listen as I quickly read this one demand that is placed upon you: In Acts 16.30, a Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Those two men of God could have said or done anything. However, they correctly delivered to that man only the distilled essence of the necessary means of securing the salvation from sins that can only be found in Jesus Christ. They did not tell him to pray, to strive, to meditate, to plead, to do penance, or anything else besides the one thing that a sinner must do to be saved. In Acts 16.31, they told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

The only necessity to being saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is accomplished, from one perspective by receiving Him, and from another perspective by coming to Him, but they are the same.

You need not pray to be saved.

You need not strive to be saved.

You need only believe in Jesus to be saved.

Those who are told to pray and to strive are those only who have proven that they refuse to believe, and perhaps they will be more willing to believe if they pray and strive.

Is it not clear to any thinking person that if a Christian is commanded to make a disciple of a sinner by the Lord Jesus, then the sinner is commanded by that same Lord Jesus to be made a disciple by the Christian?

If I am commanded to direct you to Christ, you are commanded to respond to my directive. Thus, just as surely as the Great Commission is given to Christians to make disciples for Jesus Christ by bringing them to faith in Christ, then baptizing them, and then training them in the way they should go, so surely should sinners recognize the obligation laid upon you by God to give up your stubborn refusal and submit to the demands of Jesus Christ and obey the gospel.

Is this not the essence of today’s text? First John 3.23, again: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.”

Therefore, you are commanded to believe on the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ. You need no other command, authorization, warrant, or reason for believing in Jesus Christ than that. You have been commanded to believe in Him.

 

Which Brings Me To THE QUALIFICATIONS OF SINNERS

 

By what right does a sinner come to Christ? On what basis does a lost man believe in Jesus Christ? This same question could also be phrased, what is your warrant of faith? By what authority does a sinner believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? I have already told you. You have been commanded.

Now, I know that some will say, “I don’t feel bad enough about my sins to believe.” However, no one feels as though he feels bad enough about his sins. In fact, it is one of the characteristics of being under conviction that a sinner feels as though he does not feel bad enough.

Others say, “I think only the elect can come to Christ, and I don’t know if I am elect.” Still others say, “Only those predestinated will believe, and I don’t know if I am predestinated.” My friend, the only way anyone other than God knows who the elect are or are not is by their willingness to believe in Jesus Christ. The elect do and those who are not elect do not. The same is true of predestination. Therefore, the person who uses election or predestination as an excuse for not believing in Jesus Christ is using just that . . . an excuse, and an invalid one at that.

There are a million and one reasons why sinners refuse to believe in Jesus Christ. The various reasons are so many that it is not possible to deal with each and every objection. Romans 5.8 declares, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Therefore, you are obviously a qualified candidate for conversion, despite any hesitation you may have about coming to Christ.

There is, perhaps, a way to deal with any objections sinners might have in one fell swoop. May I sweep all those objects away with one broom? Revelation 22.17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

The Holy Spirit of God bids you to come to Christ.

The bride of Christ, those of us who are Christians, bid you to come to Christ.

And anyone who hears is authorized to direct you to come to Christ.

My friend, those are legitimate, bona fide offers of salvation. Thus, there is only one qualification to become a Christian, and that is faith, faith in Christ.

 

I am commanded to preach the gospel to you, that Jesus suffered and bled and died on the cross, shedding His blood to atone for sins. And when He rose up on the third day, victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave, He demonstrated that the victory was won and the Father was well pleased with His sacrifice.

That same Savior Who offered Himself has issued a command that the good news be spread far and wide, and that every creature be told. But by the same token, just as His Own have been commissioned to spread the good news, you are commanded to believe the good news.

Do you feel unworthy to believe as you are? You are unworthy (as is every other sinner), but nothing you say or do will make you any more worthy than you are. Thankfully, however, you have a warrant for faith. That is, you are fully authorized to place your faith in Jesus Christ. Not by virtue of how sorry you are for your sins, or how much you have begged God for mercy, or how much Bible you understand. No, your warrant for faith is God’s command that I preach and that you respond.

Therefore, I close with this: You will never be more qualified for faith in Christ than you are right this moment. You will never have a stronger or more forceful directive from God to believe in His Son than you do right now. You will never have a more urgent plea from the Holy Spirit, from the bride, and from those who hear, than you have right now. What is stopping you from believing? Nothing, outside you. So, cast aside the excuses and misconceptions and come to Jesus Christ.



[1] 2 Timothy 3.7

[2] Acts 5.29

[3] John 3.7

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org