True vs. False (XI)
TRUE AND FALSE FAITH AND HOPE
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 2/4/01 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Today is the last sermon in this series on the true versus the false. There's so much more that can be said regarding what the Bible says is true and what the Bible says is false, but I've been thinking about this whole concept of true and false and how many more sermons could be preached on it, and I came to an obvious conclusion: just about every sermon I preach, no matter what subject, is talking about what is true versus what is false. It's a basic part of instruction. So even though we're officially ending the series today, you won't be getting away from sermons on what is true versus what is false. The preacher is supposed to tell forth the truth that is in God's Word, especially the truth of the gospel, and he is supposed to expose the false that is contrary to God's Word, especially the lie of the false gospel. The Bible ITSELF does this. It doesn't just focus on the positive, and it doesn't just focus on the negative. It promotes the truth and exposes the lie. It is what's called a POLEMICAL book. A POLEMIC is something that upholds one thing and condemns what is opposed to it. A good example of a POLEMIC is 1 John, where the apostle over and over says things like 1 John 2:23:
1 John 2: (23) Everyone denying the Son does not have the Father. The [one] confessing the Son also has the Father.
He CONTRASTS the wicked with the righteous. He CONTRASTS the true gospel with the false gospel. When you think of "polemic," think of "pole." Poles are opposites. On a U-shaped magnet, there is a negative pole and a positive pole. When someone says that two people or opinions are "poles apart," he means that they are as diametrically opposed as possible. When someone or something is said to be "polarizing," it means that it is DIVISIVE. It makes people OPPOSE each other. Every true preacher of God should be a POLEMICIST. He should clearly set forth what divides the true from the false. Jesus was a POLEMICIST. He said in Matthew 10:34-36:
Matthew 10: (34) Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) I came to dissever a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a bride from her mother-in-law. (36) And a man's enemies [shall be] those of his [own] house.
These words are quite DIVISIVE, aren't they? Jesus didn't come to bring everybody together. He came to divide. And all who would follow after Jesus are fellow-dividers.
So let's go into true faith and hope versus false faith and hope. Faith and hope are inextricably connected to each other. Let's read Hebrews 11:1:
Hebrews 11: (1) Now faith is [the] essence of things being hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen.
We see here the connection between faith and hope. But what does it mean that faith is the SUBSTANTIATION of things having been hoped? Well, we need to see the other places in the Bible where the Greek word is used. The Greek word is hu-POS-ta-sis. The word comes from hu-PO, which means "under," and HIST-ay-mee, which means "to stand." So hu-POS-ta-sis literally means, "a standing under," or "a support." Let's read some passages that include this word.
2 Corinthians 9:4:
2 Corinthians 9: (4) lest if Macedonians come with me and find you not ready, that we (we do not say you) should be ashamed in this assurance of boasting.
The word there is "assurance."
2 Corinthians 11:17:
2 Corinthians 11: (17) What I speak, I speak not according to [the] Lord, but as in foolishness, in this boldness of boasting.
The word there is "boldness."
Hebrews 3: (14) For we have become partakers of Christ, if truly we hold the beginning of the assurance firm to [the] end;
The word there is "assurance." Now we're getting the meaning, aren't we? The first part of Hebrews 11:1 would be much better translated like this: "Now faith is the ASSURANCE of things having been hoped." That makes it much clearer, doesn't it? Faith is the ASSURANCE of what God's people hoped for. The question arises in theological circles from time to time, "Is assurance of the essence of faith?" Hebrews 11:1 answers that question with a resounding "YES." No assurance, no faith. No faith, no assurance.
Now before we get back to faith, now is a good time to talk about hope. If faith is the ASSURANCE of things HOPED for, then what is HOPE, and what IS it that is HOPED for? The two Greek words translated "hope" in the New Testament are the noun el-PEECE and the verb el-PID-zo. The noun means "expectation," and the verb means "to expect." And what is it that is expected? Let's turn to some passages that use the noun.
Acts 24: (15) having hope toward God, which these themselves also admit, [of] a resurrection being about to be of [the] dead, both of just and unjust ones.
This is a hope of the resurrection.
Acts 26: (6) And now for [the] hope of the promise having been made by God to the fathers, I stand being judged;
This is a hope of God's promise.
Romans 5: (1) Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God.
Here we see faith, hope, and peace. The hope is of the glory of God.
Galatians 5: (5) For we through [the] Spirit eagerly wait for [the] hope of righteousness out of faith.
This is a hope of righteousness in glory.
Colossians 1: (5) because of the hope being laid up for you in Heaven, which you heard before in the Word of the truth of the gospel,
This is a hope of Heaven.
Colossians 1: (18) And He is the Head of the body, the assembly, who is [the] Beginning, [the] First-born out of [the] dead, that He be preeminent in all things; (19) because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him, (20) and through Him making peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things to Himself; through Him, whether the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens. (21) And you then being alienated and hostile in [your] mind by evil works, but now He reconciled (22) in the body of His flesh, through death, to present you holy and without blemish and irreproachable before Him, (23) if indeed you continue in the faith grounded and settled and not being moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard proclaimed in all the creation under Heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister,
This is a hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who reconciled us to Himself through His death.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4:
1 Thessalonians 1: (2) We give thanks to God always concerning you all, making mention of you on our prayers, (3) remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love, and the patience of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before our God and Father, (4) knowing, brothers, having been loved, your election by God.
This is a hope of final glory because of Jesus Christ in light of election.
1 Thessalonians 2:19:
1 Thessalonians 2: (19) For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? [Are] not even you, before our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
This is a hope of glorying in Christ at His coming.
1 Timothy 1:1:
1 Timothy 1: (1) Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ according to a command of God our Savior, even [the] Lord Jesus Christ, [our] Hope,
Here Christ is called our Hope.
Titus 1: (1) Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ according to [the] faith of [the] elect of God and full knowledge of [the] truth according to godliness, (2) on hope of eternal life which the God who does not lie promised before [the] eternal times,
This is a hope of eternal life based on God's promise.
Titus 2: (13) looking for the blessed hope and appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself on our behalf, "that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify a special people for Himself," zealous of good works.
This is a hope of the second coming of Christ who gave Himself up for us and redeemed us.
Titus 3: (7) that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life.
Again, this is the hope of everlasting life in Heaven.
Hebrews 6: (17) In which way, desiring to more fully declare to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel, God interposed by an oath, (18) that through two unchangeable things, in which [it was] not possible [for] God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, those having fled to lay hold on the hope set before [us], (19) which we have as an anchor of the soul, both certain and sure, and entering into the inner [side] of the veil, (20) where Jesus entered as forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.
This again is a hope based on God's promise through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-9:
1 Peter 1: (3) Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He according to His great mercy having regenerated us to a living hope through [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ from [the] dead, (4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in Heaven for you (5) [the ones] in [the] power of God being guarded through faith to a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time; (6) in which you exult; yet a little [while], if need be, grieving in manifold trials, (7) so that the proving of your faith, much more precious than perishing gold, but having been proved through fire, may be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (8) whom having not seen, you love; in whom not yet seeing, but believing, you exult with joy unspeakable and being glorified, (9) obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of [your] souls.
This is a hope of our inheritance in heaven that is kept and guarded in Heaven for us, our final salvation.
These passages make it very clear what hope is and what is hoped FOR and what is hoped IN. Our hope is in the promise of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ! Remember when I talked about God as a promise-keeper? One of the things God promises is to bring every single one of His people to heaven. He promises that He will lose none, and that NONE will pluck them out of His hand. So true hope is the expectation of final glory based on the work of Christ alone. Now let's go back to Hebrews 11:1:
Hebrews 11: (1) Now faith is [the] essence of things being hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen.
From what we have seen thus far, we can now plainly state what the first half of this verse means: FAITH is the FULL ASSURANCE that what is EXPECTED based on God's PROMISE will HAPPEN! In the second half of the verse, the Greek word for "evidence" is really "conviction." So the second half goes right along with the first. FAITH is the CONVICTION of things not seen. We who are alive and who know Christ have not ever seen God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. We have never seen final glory. Yet we are FULLY ASSURED and are CONVICTED that we will be in final glory, because we KNOW whom we have BELIEVED, and we KNOW that God's promise of salvation, from regeneration to final glory, conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, is SURE AND CERTAIN. This is our HOPE! Praise God!
Now let us see what false faith and hope are. Let's first turn to the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13. Let's go immediately to Christ's explanation of it in verse 18-23:
Matthew 13: (18) Then hear the parable of the sower: (19) Everyone hearing the Word of the kingdom, and not understanding, [then] the evil one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is that sown by the roadside. (20) And that sown on the stony places is this: the [one] hearing the Word, and immediately receiving it with joy, (21) but has no root in himself, but is temporary, and tribulation, or persecution occurring because of the Word, he is at once offended. (22) And that sown into the thorn bushes is this: the [one] hearing the Word, and the anxiety of this age, and the deceit of riches, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful. (23) But that sown on the good ground is this: the [one] hearing the Word, and understanding it, who indeed bears and yields fruit, one truly a hundredfold, and one sixty, and one thirty.
The roadside hearer heard the gospel but didn't understand it. The thorny ground hearer was too consumed with the cares of the world. But take a look at the stony ground hearer in verses 20 and 21. He receives the gospel with JOY when he first hears it! Now during the time he was joyful about the gospel, would this man tell you that he has faith in Jesus? Of course he would. And it even looks for a time like he DOES have faith in Jesus. But what happens to him? His so-called "faith" withers when persecution comes because of the gospel. Here is an example of FALSE FAITH. It believes things about the gospel, but it doesn't believe EVERYTHING about the gospel. It doesn't VALUE the gospel to the point of JUDGING by it. Once the persecution comes, the house shows that it was not built on the rock of Christ but on the sand of self-righteousness. The world comes in and says that his gospel is too harsh and judgmental, and he ends up caving in and agreeing with them. He doesn't want to stir things up. He wants to stay in the same church he's always been in. Turn over to John 12:42-43:
John 12: (42) Still, however, even out of the rulers, many did believe into Him. But because of the Pharisees, they were not confessing, so that they not be put out of the synagogue. (43) For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.
Here is another example of false faith. They believed, but they did not tell the Pharisees that they were lost and their deeds are evil, because they didn't want to get thrown out of church. And why did they do this? Because they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. This belief turned out to be a false belief.
False faith is also seen in James chapter 2. Let's turn over there. Let's read verses 14 to 26:
James 2: (14) My brothers, what [is] the gain if anyone says he has faith, but he does not have works? Is the faith able to save him? (15) But if a brother or a sister is naked and may be lacking in daily food, (16) and any one of you say to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but does not give them the things the body needs, what gain [is it]? (17) So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. (18) But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith out of my works. (19) You believe that God is One. You do well; even the demons believe and shudder. (20) But are you willing to know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? (21) Was not our father Abraham justified by works offering up his son Isaac on the altar? (22) You see that faith worked with his works; and out of the works the faith was made perfected. (23) And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, "And Abraham believed God, and it was counted for righteousness to him;" and he was called, Friend of God. (24) You see, then, that a man is justified out of works, and not out of faith only. (25) But in the same way Rahab the harlot was also justified out of works, having received the messengers, and sending them out by another way. (26) For as the body is dead apart from the spirit, so also faith is dead apart from works.
This clearly shows that someone who says he has faith but has no works to justify, or prove, that his faith is real, does not have true faith. He has false faith. Faith without accompanying works is a false faith. The antinomians will tell us that faith is true faith even without good works. The Bible opposes this deadly error. Faith is ALWAYS accompanied by good works, NO EXCEPTIONS. No good works means false faith.
And, of course, false faith includes belief in a false god. False gods come in many shapes and forms. The false god that is the most prevalent among those who call themselves Christians is the god who sent a christ to die for everyone without exception and who sends people to hell whom he promised he would save in christ.
Now let's go into false hope. Remember that true hope is an expectation that God will fulfill His promise to save His people conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. Of course, it is obvious from our previous polemics, that anyone who does not believe this is lost, and thus has a false hope. There are people who call themselves Christians out there who think that everything is right between them and God and that when they die, they will be ushered into the eternal bliss of heaven. But they will encounter a horrible surprise when they die. Instead of the glory of heaven, they will be put in hell, to suffer the awful torments of fire for eternity. How is it that professing Christians will end up in hell? It is because they did not have a righteousness that equals the perfect righteousness of God. Their hope was really not based on the work of Christ alone; instead, it was based on themselves. They thought that something they did or continued to do or something that the Holy Spirit enabled them to do formed at least some part of the ground of their hope of final glory. They thought that their good works gave them the right to enter into glory. And God will say to them, "Depart, I never knew you." Turn over to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3:
1 Thessalonians 5: (1) But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need [for it] to be written. (2) For you yourselves know accurately that the day of [the] Lord, as a thief in [the] night, so it comes. (3) For when they say, Peace and safety! Then suddenly destruction comes upon them, like the travail to the [one having babe] in womb, and not at all shall they escape.
These people who think they believe in Jesus Christ, who think they have peace and safety, will be destroyed. Why? Their peace and safety is not based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. They think that their faith or their commitment or their perseverance or their earthly stewardship or good deeds will give them peace with God and safety from the wrath of God in hell. Their hope was based on their works. And in that terrible day, their hope will be seen as a false hope. None of them will escape.
Lastly, let's turn to Isaiah 28:14-17:
Isaiah 28: (14) So hear the Word of Jehovah, scornful men, rulers of this people in Jerusalem. (15) Because you have said, We have cut a covenant with death; and, We have made a vision with Sheol, when the overwhelming rod passes through it will not come to us for we have made the lie our refuge, and we have hidden in falsehood. (16) So, the Lord Jehovah says this: Behold, I place in Zion a Stone for a foundation, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation; he who believes shall not hasten. (17) And I will lay justice for a line, and righteousness for a plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of the lie; and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
These false religionists thought they were safe from destruction because they made themselves a refuge. But it was not a true refuge; it was a false refuge. It was a refuge of lies. In verse 16, God shows what the true refuge is. And anyone outside that refuge will be destroyed. The true refuge is the precious Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. All who believe God's promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone shall be saved. They have a hope. They have full assurance and expectation that when the wrath of God against the wicked comes, they will be spared, because they are covered with the garment of the imputed righteousness of Christ. But the false religionists, even those singing and worshiping this morning in churches that claim to come in the name of Christ, are covered with the filthy rags of the righteousness of self. That is their refuge. They may be singing and preaching that Christ is their refuge, but their doctrine shows that they do not believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between heaven and hell. Their refuge is one of lies. And this refuge of lies is their hope. They have a hope of final glory based on their refuge of lies. They are saying to themselves and others, "when the overwhelming rod passes through, it will not come to us." "Peace and safety." Yet in verse 17 we see that God will measure them according to the standard of His justice and righteousness. In His perfect justice, He will condemn to hell all who do not have perfect righteousness. He will expose their refuge as nothing but lies. Their works, their faith, their perseverance, their stewardship, and anything else they believed recommended them to God or entitled them to heaven, will be swept away, and they will be trampled. Praise God. And God will also measure His people according to the standard of His justice and righteousness. In His perfect justice, He will bring to heaven those who DO have a perfect righteousness, those who plead the righteousness of Christ alone as the ground of their salvation, those whose sins have been paid for by the blood of Christ. Praise God.
What is YOUR hope? What is YOUR assurance? Where is YOUR peace? What do YOU believe makes the difference between heaven and hell?
May God cause His Word to go forth. Amen.