The Power of a Simple Faith

Good Friday 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Our objective this evening, as we gather, is to focus on and worship Christ. My determination in speaking with you this evening is that we can walk out tonight fully cognisant of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us; but even more than that, my prayer is that we will conclude our gathering this evening, ready to humbly, simply, powerfully move in faith for the glory of God and the good of others.
Our main text tonight is not the crucifixion story, but I think it is a text we should read through and allow it to frame our main text tonight.
Luke 23:26–46 ESV
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23:26-43
This story has been read, explained, and taught for the last two thousand years, yet we could never begin to understand the depths of love God has for us to allow His Son to experience this on our behalf. This experience of the most gruesome murder and unjust execution fully changed the dynamic of the relationship between God and man. It did not take the cross for God to love people, but the cross was the crux of that love, the outpouring and most beautiful example of love that God has for His children. It was because of love that Christ came, and it was because Christ came that He died; it was because He died that he rose again, and it is because He rose again that we can have everlasting life.
Before we get into our main text, take a few moments to consider the sober nature of the sacrifice of Christ. Dwell on the beatings, the torture, the pain, the death; allow it to humble you, enrage you, make you grateful. Open your heart to the depths of love expressed in the most selfless act ever made.
It’s a simple story and an easy “transaction” to understand - yet, we seem to complicate things and make them out to be more intricate than they really are. I am guilty of this as much as anyone. My devotion (what I do) is often bogged down by my pursuit of doctrine (what I think/believe) - instead, my devotion should be fueled by my doctrine. How many times in your life have the details become more important than the purpose? How many of us have lost sight of the forest for the trees?
Maybe you’re in a different boat tonight. Perhaps you’re in a place where the details don’t matter all that much but the message just doesn’t seem to have the power it needs in your life. I think it’s safe to say that many of us have been there as well.
No matter where you are in your walk with Jesus, the best place to grow and gain understanding is in His Word, and that leads us to our main text tonight.
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I have a few reflections for us as we consider the words of St. Paul the Apostle here in this letter to the church at Corinth. This letter contains an incredible amount of teaching and doctrine to help guide us in how we should think, believe, and live. 1 Corinthians is one of the most preached books in the New Testament because its message to the church at Corinth is so incredibly relatable to the church today.
The message being communicated here can be reflected in many ways, but I’ve chosen three for us on which to concentrate. First, just as Paul, we need to preach, live, and return to a...

A Humble Faith

A humble faith is a faith that approaches God in a worthy manner. When we realize what God has done for us, we cannot help but feel humbled and grateful for Christ and the work on the cross.
Here we echo the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto the point of death, even death on a cross (). This act of humility by Jesus has opened up the gates of heaven and opened up the lines of restoration with God that no other act could have done. Jesus died on a cross for the sin of His people out of humility. If God hadn’t humbled Himself (He didn’t need to because He doesn’t need us to live), we wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy His goodness forever.
Why is it so hard for us to have a humble faith? Because we are naturally stained with sin. From the moment we are conceived, we are imprinted with the desire to survive, please ourselves, and make better a life for ourselves. Pride is the choosing of what’s best for ourselves or what pleases us the most. Jesus was born and lived for the exact opposite reason, yet finds that God is glorified through that sacrifice. So, here, we see our humble faith is rooted in Christ’s humble love.
I love here how Paul explains our next point in verse 2.
1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

A Simple Faith

Deciding to know nothing is a tough thing to do! When the Apostle Paul came to Corinth and began to spread the gospel, he determined that his resumé would have nothing to do with his effectiveness. He humbled himself when he came to the city and presented a simple message. Tonight, we give you the same message - know Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Know the love of God by accepting the gift of salvation through the humble love and saving work of Christ.
In our own lives, we must preach to ourselves that we don’t need to know anything except Jesus. I love the saying that has been passed around a lot.

Jesus + Anything = Nothing (Jesus + Nothing = Everything)

This is really the message that Paul’s trying to communicate and what we want to communicate tonight. Are you burned out on religion or tired of trying to do everything right? Be satisfied with a humble, simple faith to be used by God and blessed for His glory.
When we share the good news of the gospel to others, we should have the same message. We shouldn’t decide to know everything or act like we have all the answers. We ought to be saying to others, I don’t have it all together but I have put my trust in the One who holds it all together - Jesus.
My final question for us tonight is this: where does a humble, simple faith take us?

A Powerful Faith

1 Corinthians 2:3–5 ESV
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Again, Paul here recounts his weakness and lack of wisdom (He probably legitimately felt this way). Here we read that it wasn’t about his speech or wisdom, but about the demonstration fo the Spirit and of power. When we feel a powerful move of God or we get a sense of God’s movement it never has anything to do with our abilities or our goodness, but everything to do with being used by God through humble obedience and simple trust. That obedience and trust unlocks the power of the Spirit of God to do amazing things in and through our lives. It grants us the grace to withstand trials and troubles, it helps us share with others the joy that we have in Christ, and renews our focus on what matters most - Jesus Christ and him crucified.
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