Of Hearts and Mouths – Seeking Saving Faith

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

This week we read from Acts 10 through Acts 18 and also the letters of Galatians and 1&2 Thessalonians.

John Stott’s commentary on the book of Acts is entitled: The Spirit, the Church and the World.

That’s a thoughtful title that captures something of the essence of Acts:  The Spirit, the Church and the World.  Last week we saw how saving faith in Jesus Christ stirred everyone to share their faith.  If Acts shows us anything at all about saving faith, it demonstrates that those with saving faith share their faith.  The great commission of Jesus and the great example of the early church leave us with no room for secret or silent Christianity.  Paul wrote us in Romans 10:8-10 about the gospel: “But what does it say, ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess 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 confess and are saved.”

Remember, this is Romans 10.  Back in Romans 6 you were reminded of your baptism.  Here you are reminded of what Paul calls, “the righteousness that is by faith” see verse 6.  He is depicting the life of those saved by faith here.  These are those that call on the name of the Lord for salvation.  We confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” because we believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.  Now… When we stop confessing, we stop walking in the righteousness that is by faith.  God doesn’t want secret Christians who hide their faith or who do not confess their faith. God expects the saved to say so.  “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”  Fear of God must displace fear of men. The question: “What will others think of me?” must give way to a better question: “What does God think of me?” Love of praise from God must replace love of praise from men.  Fear of God must replace fear of men. Saving faith is shared faith.

How can we imitate the saving faith we read about in scripture?  Are we even willing to try? Do you believe you need to be more bold about sharing your faith as a Christian?  I mean, outside of these walls. Do we as a church need to grow in this?  I do.  And I believe we all do.  I believe we all need to pray for boldness and courage and opportunities to share the gospel and make disciples.  How? It’s true that our example is a key factor in making disciples.  But what kind of example is it if we are silent about our faith?  Is that an example of saving faith?  Paul told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely, persevere in them. If you do you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  (1 Tim. 4:16).  In other words, watch your words and your works.  Watch what you do and watch what you teach.  These are like wings on a bird, it takes both to fly.  It takes both what I do and what I declare for me to be saved and to have any hope of saving others.  Let me stress this again.  It’s not just how you live.  No one comes to Christ without hearing.  There is no faith where the gospel is not heard.  One might argue that there is also no faith where the gospel is not spoken.  When the word of God is replaced by any other message, any other talk, no matter how lofty and noble, no matter how scientific or academic, no matter how entertaining or amusing, when the word of God is not shared, there can be no saving faith.  None.  Zilch. Nada. Zero. Do you agree?  Amen or no?

Where would you put sharing your faith with others on your priority list?  We share a lot of things with others.  We talk to people every day.  How much of your daily conversation with others is about the gospel of Jesus Christ?  What percentage would you guess?  If you were to have a recorder attached to you that recorded every word you spoke and ever conversation you had for one week, what might that reveal about how much you share your faith and confess Jesus Christ as Lord to others?

Psalm 19 ends with this prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

Jesus said, “Man must give an account of every idle word he speaks, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”  Biblically speaking what comes out of our mouths is very important.  It is not cheap.  Just as God hates a lying tongue, I believe God loves and honors a confessing tongue that speaks forth His praises, and declares His word.  God honors those who confess their sins too.  What kind of talk displeases God?  Can our silence also displease God?  Surely there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.  But let’s get this straight.  When we do speak, how often does God receive praise?

Let’s look at our Bibles.  Look with me at Acts 12:21-24.  Herod visited Ceasarea and made a royal appearance to speak to the people.  They praised Herod as if he were a god and not a man.  Verse 23 says that Herod did not give praise to God.  In other words, Herod simply didn’t say anything about their worship of himself.  It cost him his life.  Josephus, another historian tells about this occasion as well.  This happened. His bowels were eaten by worms and killed him.  But what happened with the word of God?  It continued to increase and spread. What might have happened to Herod if he had only responded in the fear of God instead of basking in the praise of men?

Go with me to Acts 14:8-18.  What did Paul and Barnabas do when the people of Lystra wanted to worship them?  How seriously did Barnabas and Paul take their words of worship?  Why?

Our words are more powerful than we realize. Just as how we respond to other’s words is important.  The Bible says, “It is with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  How powerful is that? The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” How important is that?

The saving work of God in this world hangs on words.  God has given you and me the awesome honor and great responsibility to share His word, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, declaring His praises and calling others to follow Him.  Proverbs tells us that the tongue has the power of life and death.  The power of God for the salvation of all men rests in the gospel. Romans 1:16.  I close with these words of Paul from 1 Cor. 1:18-25.  What you just now heard is the Holy Spirit speaking to you and me.  Do you believe?  Will you repent of your sins?  Are you ready to begin a life of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord?  Have you put on Christ in baptism for the forgiveness of your sins and received the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Of Hearts and Mouths – Seeking Saving Faith