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Believing (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2021 3:00 am

Believing (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 9, 2021 3:00 am

Whether we’ve been believers for decades or only recently have come to faith, it’s important to know what we believe. To understand the foundations of our faith, we’re going back to Christian basics on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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To back off and says the main things are the plain thing, but when it comes to our faith. How well do we know those main things are current series Christian basics takes us to the heart of biblical teaching and today on Truth for Life weekend. Alister addresses the need for believers to have a solid grasp on what we believe and why. In a message he calls believing father, we thank you for the immense privilege of being in this place at this time. We thank you that you have plans and purposes for us. Were not here, ragbag of individuals brought together by happenstance but died in the mystery of your purposes and providence. You have brought us together for this time so that help us in the balance of our time as we turn to the Bible and read it as we think about its truth, and as we seek to have you, and apply it to our lives, whether to convince us of our sin, to convict us of our need of a Savior or to establish is in our faith, Lord, to our waiting hearts. We pray for Christ's sake. Amen. Colossians chapter 1 and verse 21 once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior, but now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death, to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. If you continue in your faith established and firm not move from the hold held out in the gospel.

This is the gospel that you hair and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I Paul has become a servant, not sure what to call this I'm not. I don't think it qualifies certainly is an exposition we could call it an introduction in search of an exposition.

I don't want to call it a lecture. Perhaps we could call in an address, maybe we'll just call it a talk but it is what it is and why I say that will become apparent as I go along, but let me begin by trying to take you and your minds eye, at least far away from here and now were going to have to go back three centuries takes us back into the 1600s, where in England. Let's choose 1675 that they will work is now less than 10 years since the great fire of London, which, if you know your history at all, and a visit to the old City of London, you will know that fire started inputting Lane and quickly spread throughout the city and destroyed vast chunks of it, including a significant number of churches. It's the afternoon of Sunday. Sunday afternoon we had lunch and went out walking and we walked down Bishopsgate Street which those of you who are from a business background and a visited Lloyd's of London will know Bishopsgate Street thread needle Street and so on and so some of you have a better grasp of this at least in your imagination. But of course you going to go back three centuries with its overall about even. But as we walked down Bishopsgate Street. We discover a constant flow of people entering a building on the east side of the street and checking it, we discover that there heading for the great Hall of a large hole called Crosby house.

The owner is a man called Sir John Langan and he's a nonconformist. In other words, he's not part of the establishment Church of England intriguingly joined the crowd and enter into this large hole finding ourselves very quickly in a significant number of people that have gathered, and the reason for their gathering on this Sunday afternoon is to learn the basics of the Christian faith. Their teacher is a man by the name of Thomas Watson. He has a colleague in ministry. A an associate, not an assistant and that man's name is Stephen China and together they had become convinced of the absolute necessity of making sure that their congregation was grounded in their Christian faith.

So much so that they determine that the only right and proper approach would be to have them catechized in other words, that they would give them oral instruction that would have a repetitive element and would be sustained in large measure as a result of questions and answers. Both of them agreed to try and set out what they would refer to as a body of divinity. In other words, the information necessary to understand the divine Stephen China died before he completed his by those of you have on your shelves. The existence and attributes of God in these two volumes and to know the richness of them in the density of them will be intrigued to think that this is what he was preparing for those people on Sunday afternoons in Bishopsgate Street his colleague and the one who was largely responsible for Thomas Watson made a far more modest attempted things and produced what became known as a body of divinity in informing his congregation of what he was planning to do on the Sabbath's that were following. He said this catechizing is the best expedient for the grounding and settling of people I fear. One reason why there has been no more good done by preaching has been because the chief heads and articles in religion have not been explained in a catechistic away. Catechizing is laying the foundation to preach and not to catechized is to build without foundation, that he was on and finally says it is my design.

Therefore, with the blessing of God to begin this work of catechizing, the next Sabbath day and I intend every other Sabbath in the afternoon to make it my whole work to lay down the grounds and fundamentals of religion in a catechistic away. If I am hindered in this work by men or taken away by death.

I hope God will raise up some other laborer in the Vin yard among you, that may perfect the work which I am now beginning Sunday afternoon in the mid-17 century.

He regarded it as the Judy of every Christian to be settled in the faith, and he reckoned that the best way to be settled in the faith was for each Christian to be grounded in the faith, and he determined that, in order that they might be grounded in the faith he was going to have to do more than simply preach to them. Exposition really, but he was going to have to show them the way in which the whole story read together now. One of his contemporaries, at least within the century, whose name will be known to some again was the godly Richard Baxter brought up as a lad in Shropshire and eventually had the body of his life's work take place in a place called Kidderminster and interestingly, in that same. A little before Watson reaches his conclusion, we find that Richard Baxter is determining to operate in the same way. He reckoned that his preaching, which he did twice a week, reach for an hour on Sunday and another hour on Thursday and with enormous energy and urgency. He reckoned that his preaching was not enough that a more hands-on strategy was needed to awaken sleeping souls as a pastor Baxter believed that conversion could happen at any age under the most effective way of finding out whether a person needed to be converted was not by public preaching, but by private conversation, he would spend an hour with each family using the Westminster shorter catechism. The apostles Creed Lord's prayer in the 10 Commandments to instruct each person engage his or her spiritual condition every Monday and Thursday. Baxter would start at the one end of the town's assistant would start at the other and together they managed to interview 15 or 16 families a week. A total of 800 families each year. Baxter discover that some people learned more in an hour's conversation that in 10 years of preaching.

He became convinced that personal instruction or catechizing was essential to ensure the salvation of parishioners and thus the reformation of the parish.

It also help people better understand his sermons and enabled him to know who was ready to take the sacraments and where loving discipline was needed as a result of Baxter's one-on-one catechizing he got to know is parishioners so well that he adapted his pastoral care to their widely varying spiritual states and needs rather than simply dividing people into godly and ungodly. He claimed that there were 12 different categories of people in his parish, including those who merely conform to the externals of church membership.

Those who desire to live godly lives but did not yet understand the fundamentals of faith. Those with skeptical tendencies.

Those who rebelled against their pastor and those whose wrongheaded theology was leading them into lawlessness, thanks to his intimate knowledge of his flock. Most of Kidderminster's 2000 adult inhabitants were converted under Baxter's ministry and this town formally infamous for his ignorance and debauchery became a model Christian community tonight. The issue is knowing what we believe as Christians were not thinking out tonight about the nature of belief or the nature of saving faith, we endeavor to do that last time, but rather our emphasis this evening is on the need for every Christian to know what he believes and why he believes it, and that emphasis is not something to be found in 17th-century England amongst the Puritans, but that emphasis is to be found at the very heart of apostolic preaching. It is impossible to go through the letters without finding that again and again.

The apostles are urging upon their leaders readers the absolute necessity of knowing for and why they believe that's why we read from Colossians chapter 1 end and he says and you are in this condition reconciled to God. If by your continuance in the faith, establishing firm, do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Your continuance gives evidence of the fact of your living relationship with God through Christ. But we could easily go back a couple of pages to Ephesians chapter 4 and find Paul making the same emphasis feel Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 11 God the ascended Christ has poured out from heaven, his gifts and he is given some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, and what are they supposed to do well there supposed to prepare God's people for works of service well and what will happen then. Well, the body of Christ may be built up edified is a word you may have in your version. All he could to me is the Greek word being built up strength and secured until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then notice verse 14. Then and only then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. In other words, how is a congregation to hold onto the gospel in their generation when everything wages war against the answer is by being settled in what they believe and being grounded in that truth. As a result of their own personal study and the instruction that they receive. Now I don't want to belabor the point but I have in my notes Romans 16 verse 17 and two Timothy 314. The whole emphasis in these passages is on the basics, or if you like to borrow a phrase of our own.

It is upon the main things many disciplines. Educational disciplines are represented in our congregation this evening and you know that in whatever you do, whether it is an art, or in economics and mathematics in business that there are certain first principles and everything that takes place has to take place in reference to those first principles. If you're a pilot you understand the law of gravity but you also recognize that there is a point at which the law of aerodynamics overturns the law of gravity and propels Artcraft into the air and those essential first principles are the building blocks of every maneuver that you make in the air of every visit decision that you make in response to the circumstances that you face now. In the same way when it comes to Christian faith when it comes to belief, there are certain first principles and whether it is Paul in the passages were referencing or John in first John chapter 2 in verse 24 or Peter in two Peter chapter 3 and verse 16. All of them without exception say to their readers. If you are going to be able to detect that which is fraudulent.

It is essential that you have a solid grasp of first principles and how those first principles than work their way out in the whole body of experiential Christian teaching. Now it should already be obvious to you and this is why I said I don't know what what quite what to call this it should already be obvious to you that to address the core beliefs of Christian faith and one talk is virtually impossible, and I realize this as soon as I began to prepare for the address I said well I could do one of them. Then I said no, that would be the start of a series, and we don't have a series well we have a series but is not that so we can do that but actually what I'm going to give to you now and just run through these there is nothing surprising in them. I anticipate and I hope will be calm if you like something of a core curriculum when it happens on every other Sunday afternoon or where it happens on a Wednesday night or Tuesday night or Thursday morning, but I have it heavy on my heart. As a result not simply of my reading in the past week, but as a result of a lot of things that been going on in my mind to ensure that as long as God gives me strength in my callings with me. We must labor to endeavor that our congregation understands the first principles of Christian doctrine and is able to bring those principles to bear on every aspect of their lives. Last they be swept away if not now, then perhaps in a further subsequent generation and the difficulty in addressing it all is obvious when you take China's attempt to comes the two volumes and Watson. This is dense material here and it goes to some 316 pages. What can I possibly do with so few minutes left to me right now. Let me just outline if you like the content of our curriculum, reminding you that the affirmations of the Christian faith all have to do with the being of God.

We all have to do with eternal truths and the being of God.

God as God and these eternal truths are not available to us by our own uncreated comprehension. In other words, there is no intellectual route to a knowledge of God. We cannot evidentially simply get to God by thinking it out.

God is given signs and indications in our moral being in the nature of creation, and so on. But in all of that general revelation. There is only enough to convince us that we need a God that is not enough to convert us and it is in the special revelation that he gives in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, that such a conversion may take place only when God is pleased to take the initiative and reveal himself.

May we know just what it is and why it is we believe it that happens as we saw last time.

As a result of God using his word and as a result of God working by his spirit case you weren't here last time this draw your attention to the wonderful story of how God worked in the ladies life. Maybe a lady here tonight and you're wondering about the Christian faith. This lady was a prosperous lady. She had a nice home. She had the gift of hospitality and she actually was a worshiper of God or is it up pretty well takes care of her business wonderful hospitality, a worshiper of God a nice place to live. She's all set.

There is nothing more that would be needed no she didn't know the God that she worshiped and when Paul and some of his colleagues arrive at the prayer meeting that they find done by the river. They meet this lady, Lydia, and then Luke tells us, the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message he preached the message the Lord opened her heart. There is no point in running through a list of core Christian beliefs apart from our own discovery of Jesus as Lord and Savior and King.

You don't have to know all of these things to become a Christian, but having become a Christian you cannot nor can I adequately fulfill the responsibilities of Christian life without an experiential grasp of these essential doctrines know it's been well said that it takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian and one of the great dangers that is represented in the study of doctrine is that it is studied in a very lopsided fashion so you go to one church and emphasize one thing and you go somewhere else in the banging on about something else and you you find people to come to Parkside and they always have a certain question.

It's probably a good question, but it you can see them. I can identify them before they even speak they they have a mark about them.

I know this is going to be a King James version? This is going to be one of the one of the other questions. I don't mean that in any unkind or dismissive way but I just overtime the same way when a doctor sees somebody walking.

He says oh here we go again.

This will be a tonsillitis. I'm pretty sure. And of course it is, why does he know that he just has built up a six sense overtime. Well, that's what happens in pastoral ministry as well. And so it is that you need to be in a church where the pastors of the church are urging you, not so much to listen to what they say as to turn to the Bible from which they teach. We can start you off, but even with the best of attempts it's going to involve your own determination. Now it is, then, in these things that we have the anchor for our spiritual life's in the anchor for our intellectual discoveries as well.

Incidentally, intellect is not the key in learning Christian doctrine. Obedience is the key in learning Christian doctrine. You can be a PhD three times over, and a theological nincompoop and you can be a crafter in the Highlands of Scotland with a solid grasp of the Bible you can be noncredentialed in every way. And yet you may be a teacher of the brightest intellects.

Why because it is not about intellectual capacity is about morality is about moral response is about obedience to the truth as it comes to us your listing to Truth for Life. We can Pallister bed with a message today titled believing in a series called Christian basics and as Alister mentioned, we all need to be grounded in the faith, in order to be settled in the faith, knowing what we believe and why we believe it enables us to share God's truth with those who need Jesus, author and evangelist Roger Carswell believes that evangelism is the privilege for everyone whose life is grounded in Christ. He has a burden to reach the lost. He also has a burden to help believers feel more confident about initiating the gospel conversation. He has written a devotional called facing a task unfinished and it's a book that is meant to challenge you to become more proactive in sharing your faith with others, and this is not a how to evangelize book. It's more about prayer book facing the task unfinished is written to help us reflect on what the Bible teaches about evangelism with the devotional that lays out 52 short weekly readings that are designed to bring our focus toward reaching the lost.

This book is intended to be read once a week, along with your regular quiet time each reading includes Scripture brief meditation and the words to a him. There's even a prayer journal on the back of the book where you can record your prayer requests. This book will point you to God's word and prayer, so that you can gain a heart of compassion for the lost and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your efforts.

Learn how you can request your copy of facing a task unfinished. When you click the book image you see in the truth for like mobile app or visit us while you're on the website.

We recommend that you check out our selection of Christ centered resources right now. You'll find a recommended reading list that covers a variety of topics including aging well navigating the challenge of caregiving, finding peace during trials in grieving. We compiled this list of books that we believe are tremendously helpful so that you can know the peace of Christ, even while you're facing challenges facing the loss you find the list of Bob Lapine. Be sure to join us next weekend when Alister concludes his message believing by presenting the main things and the plain things of the Christian faith.

The Bible teaching of Alister bank is furnished by truth for like Learning is for Living

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