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CHRIST - THE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, February 27, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).


George Barna, the pollster, did a national survey. When asked to answer this statement, "Nothing can be known for certain except the things you experience in your own life," 60 per cent of adults agreed, and 71 percent of those under 26 agreed. Barna called this "a self-centered, experiential view of life" (Barna Report, 1992-1993, p. 36).

That poll was taken twelve years ago. From my experience in counselling people, it seems to me that this view is even more prevalent today. The average person I talk to thinks, "Nothing can be known for certain except the things you experience in your own life." This is the very essence of postmodernism. And it is in direct opposition to Biblical Christianity.

"Nothing can be known for certain except the things you experience in your own life." Why, that is the very antithesis of Christianity! It is Satan's lie! It has blinded you to God's truth! It has kept you from salvation! Away with it! Why do I say that?

I. First, because the Bible points to Christ, not to experience.

Look at our text again. Read the whole verse.

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).

Timothy had read the Bible since he was a child. The Apostle Paul told him that the Holy Scriptures give a person wisdom that leads to salvation "through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

So, where does the Bible point you? It does not point you inwardly. It does not point you to an inner experience. It points you outwardly to "faith which is in Christ Jesus." The Bible points you to Christ, not to "experience in your own life."

Many people today make Bible study an end in itself. And I am very much afraid that a good deal of preaching does that also. "We are learning the Bible," you hear them say. And you may ask, "Well, why are you learning it?" There may be a circle of argument, but you will often hear that, in reality, they were learning it merely for the sake of learning it. It's only an intellectual exercise.

It is my personal belief that almost all preaching should be evangelistic. Spurgeon has been faulted for that. Certain people said he preached the gospel too much. I have read Spurgeon by the hour and I don't agree with them. The older I get the more I think he was right. Our preaching should center on Christ and evangelism.

Modern people downgrade the home. They sterilize themselves, abort their babies, and get rid of any children they do produce as quickly as possible. But a Christian home is a place where children are welcome and wanted and cherished. And this is the way a church ought to be - a place that is constantly alive with new converts, lost people coming in, people in various stages, people coming under conviction, going through conversion, growing in Christ. And in a fertile, living church the gospel must constantly be preached. I think this is why the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth,

"I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

There may be some value in examining a church's purpose. But a church should never be purpose driven. It should be gospel driven. It should be driven with the message of Jesus, drenched in bloody sweat at midnight - Jesus, flogged until His skin runs down with gore - Jesus, nailed hand and foot to a Cross - Jesus, risen flesh and bone from the dead - Jesus ascended physically to the right hand of God in Heaven! Jesus Christ should be our purpose! Jesus Christ should be our message!

The very essence of the Bible is evangelistic at its heart and at its core.

"The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"
    (II Timothy 3:15).

In verse after verse, by parable, by type, by history, by epistle, the Bible points to Christ - not to human experience. The purpose of the Bible is not to get you to have a feeling or experience. The purpose of the Bible is to get you to look away from yourself - to Christ!

"Nothing can be known for certain except the things you experience in your own life," says the modern world. But the modern world is wrong about many things and, most of all, it is wrong about this. You can take a drug and have an experience that isn't real at all. You can meditate, and go into a trance, and have an experience that isn't true at all. You can fall on the ground and throw yourself into a frenzy, and have an experience that is far from reality. The Devil can give you plenty of experiences. But

"The holy scriptures…are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).

The Bible points to Jesus Christ, not to your own experiences.

II. Second, Christ points to Himself, not to experience.

Jesus said,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus said,

"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

The object of saving faith is Jesus Christ. When you come to Jesus you are saved. Coming to Him is another way of saying "believe on Him." Jesus said,

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

But this is not validated by your own feelings or experiences.

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) introduced the idea that conversion is a matter of feeling, intuition and experience. To him, saving faith was not directed to an objective Christ revealed by the Bible, but in subjective intuition and feeling about Christ. The thoughts of Schleiermacher came from Romanticism's break with Rationalism.

But our text does not tell us to base our faith on our own feelings, intuition or experience. Instead, it says,

"…the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"
    (II Timothy 3:15).

The Bible points us to Christ. He is not the Christ of our feelings. That's Schleiermacher's Christ! He is the Christ of the Bible. The only real Christ is the Christ of the holy Scriptures. And it is this Christ, the Christ of Scripture, who says,

"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

Christ points us to Himself. You must not look back at yourself to see if your feelings, intuition or experiences are right. You must not look at yourself. You must look away from yourself - to Christ!

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith"
    (Hebrews 12:2).

"Ah, no," says the postmodernist, "nothing can be known for certain except the things I experience in my own life." There you have it, clear and plain. That man refuses to look outside of himself. That man refuses to let the Holy Scriptures point him to the living Christ! That man will not venture on Christ without feeling, without experience.

"But, but," you say, "I must have the right feeling!" I am telling you that you are wrong. You do not need a feeling. You need Christ!

Here is an account in the Gospel of Matthew that shows what I mean. The Disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee. It was night. Jesus came to them, walking on the water. Peter said,

"Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him" (Matthew 14:28-31).

The purpose of that account is not to tell us about walking on water. The purpose is to tell us what faith is. Verse 31 makes that clear. Jesus said, "O thou of little faith…" He didn't say Peter had no faith. He said he had little faith. He had enough faith to get out of the boat and walk a little way toward Jesus. But then he looked at the boisterous wind and he was afraid. He cried out, "Lord, save me." And Jesus "stretched forth his hand, and caught him."

That is an illustration of saving faith. Jesus tells you to come to Him. You start to do it, but fearful thoughts come to you. You think, "I won't do it right! I'll fail! I'm not sure! Lord, save me!" "And Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." And that's the way it is when any sinner comes to Jesus. No one ever said it better than Joseph Hart,

Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.
    ("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Spurgeon said,

Put your soul in His care…Dare to quit all other hopes: venture on Jesus; I say "venture" though there is nothing really venturesome in it, for He is abundantly able to save. Cast yourself simply on Jesus…believe Him, and trust in Him, and you will never be made ashamed…Whether you feel or do not feel, cast yourself upon Him, that He may save you, and He alone (C. H. Spurgeon, Around the Wicket Gate, Christian Focus Publications, 1989 reprint, pp. 26, 38).

A young girl came to Spurgeon in his office and said that she was unsaved. He urged her to come to Jesus. She said, "Oh, sir, pray for me." He said, "I will do nothing of the kind. What can I ask the Lord to do for one who will not trust Him? I see nothing to pray about. If you will believe Him, you shall be saved. If you will not believe Him, I cannot ask Him to invent a new way to gratify your unbelief." Then she said, "I will try to believe," but I told her I would have none of her trying…I urged her to full faith in the once crucified but now ascended Lord…She said, "Oh, sir, I have been looking to my feelings, and this has been my mistake!" (ibid., p. 32). She came to Jesus and was saved. There is no other way.

Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 14:22-31.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Jesus, Only Jesus" (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST - THE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).

I.   The Bible points to Christ, not to experience, I Corinthians 2:2.

II.  Christ points to Himself, not to experience, Matthew 11:28; 
John 6:37; John 3:36; Hebrews 12:2; Matthew 14:28-31.

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