Relying on Christís Promises
John 4:50 - 21st Sunday after Trinity - October 20, 2013

Do we want to be strengthened in the true saving faith?

What could possibly be of more value, than the true saving faith, by which we become completely justified before God? What is of more value than being right before God, and being ready to be received by Him on the last day, through the only true and saving faith in Christ? What is of more value?

We become so focused on the value of earthly things. But what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Only he that believes will be saved – saved eternally.

But it’s not just any belief that will do. We can believe in many different things. We can believe in technology, in the power of medicine to save us. But those things will be completely worthless on the last day.

We can believe in Buddha, and Mohamed – but they are dead, and Christ alone is alive forevermore, and promises, “Behold, I make all things new”, granting us that brand new heart and brand new life, in the forgiveness of all our sins.

What good will faith in anyone or anything else do for us, when Christ alone came to deliver us from all our sins, and will come again, to be our judge?

Faith in Christ is absolutely essential. For “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.” Words of comfort those are. In Christ, our sinful past is completely forgiven, and forgotten. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Our slate is completely wiped clean, because He went to the cross, to accomplish all things needful for us to be saved. “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.” Even if the whole world were to condemn us – through faith in Christ, we have His perfect life covering our sins. We are justified by faith, because faith receives all that Christ did to save us. He says, only believe, and thou shalt be saved. He sent us His Spirit, who works through His Word, in our hearts, to give us, and strengthen us in, that true saving faith.

Faith in Christ is absolutely essential because He is the only one who made all things right between us and God. So “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Today Jesus explains what true faith is. True faith is not seeing. “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Jesus says, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Faith that is founded on seeing a great miracle, is really not faith at all. Faith believes in what it cannot see, in what it cannot measure in a lab. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

God’s Word cannot be proven in a lab. We cannot go back thousands of years, and set up video cameras to record Adam and Eve. We cannot put the ark of the covenant under a microscope. We cannot get skin samples from the body Christ. Why? Because His body is not here. He is risen from the dead. There is one thing, and one thing alone we have to cling to for salvation – He promised He would rise. He promised, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” He promised, “I am the resurrection and the life….whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die.”

Jesus met a nobleman, a royal official, an officer. The man came a long ways. Cana is about 20 miles from Capernaum, as the crow flies. But we must consider that Cana is in a mountainous region. There isn’t a perfectly straight road from Cana to Capernaum today, and there certainly wasn’t one back then. The trip was at least 25 miles. On foot, that’s a day’s journey, one way. That’s a long ways to travel when your son is dying.

This nobleman obviously had heard of Jesus - had heard of His great power. But Jesus wasn’t interested in just healing his son’s body. His greater concern was the healing of the soul. Many could certainly try to find fault here with Jesus. “Come on, Jesus, now isn’t the time to be testing this man’s faith. His son only had moments left to live.” But actually, it was the perfect time. True faith isn’t strengthend when things are easy. It is strengthened when things are hard. Ture faith is born in trying, difficult, circumstances.

True faith isn’t about always having a perfect answer for everything. True faith isn’t about always understanding everything perfectly. True faith certainly isn’t about always having everything go the way we think it should. Because even when everything seems to be going wrong, that is when God’s Spirit, through the Word, says, “Believe.”

God promises that He will make all things work together for our good. True faith is about relying on Jesus Christ, and His promises, when we can’t see a thing. When we don’t understand a thing. When we have all but given up, then those are the circumstances in which true faith is born, and strengthened, by God’s Spirit, by His Word. When everything else in life is stripped away, and the only thing left is…. His promise. Jesus says, “Come unto Me. Believe in Me.”“Because I live, ye shall live also.”

This man certainly had some faith, mixed with some definite determination. He set out to find Jesus, and he wasn’t about to give up until Jesus helped his son.

So he came with a certain amount of faith, but Jesus sought to make it stronger - Because he came expecting Christ to grace him, and his household, with His physical presence, to heal his son. Perhaps without even really realizing it, the nobelman was leaning toward the “performance” faith of the Scribes and Pharisees: “show us a sign Jesus. Come on, give us another miracle. Perform for us.”

So Jesus sends him away with nothing that he can see. He sends him away with one thing alone: His word only. Jesus said…. “Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word.”

What other choice did he have? He had nothing else to cling to. Jesus had stripped everything else away. He stripped away his sight. He could not see the Word of Christ being fulfilled. He stripped away his preconceived notions about Jesus being a “performer”. Later, that’s exactly what Herod, his boss, would demand of Jesus, for Jesus to “perform”.

Jesus sent him away, with His Word only: The one thing needful. Words of eternal life. “Your son lives.” And the man believed.

We have come here today believing too, but isn’t it true that Jesus makes our faith stronger, too?

Jesus strips everything else away, and we have nothing else to cling to, but His Word. By all appearances, it will be nothing more than bread and wine on the altar, but Jesus says, He promises - “This is my body, this is my blood, given and shed for the remission of all your sins.” We can’t see it happening. Jesus strips away the “performance” of any miracle that can be seen with the eye, and He says, “Believe in Me. Rely on Me. And you will not be confounded, ashamed. You will not be let down.”

When our last years, when our last moments, approach – we have nothing to cling to, but His promise alone. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” By His Spirit working through that promise, Christ will keep us and strengthen us. He has, and He will. He always has taken care of us, and He always will. Amen.