I Do Not Preach Faith in Jesus, Why?

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” These are the words of Christ. Luke 11:28

The traditional approach to preaching the Gospel is to gin up faith in Jesus. This faith is expressed through a creedal prayer. You know; the sinners prayer. Through this they are forgiven for sin and granted eternal life through the sacrificial death of Jesus.

Jesus constantly preached believe in me or you shall perish. Others have preached the same. But to conclude this is gospel preaching simply causes problems and wasn’t the way of John the Baptist and Jesus. The Kingdom is the context. This helps us understand what we should preach and how.

The context of telling listeners to believe in Jesus was what John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples preached: the Kingdom of God. They described the way of the Kingdom and its likenesses. Then at various times they would comment on believing in Him. Why do you think?

Missing the point of their preaching, we miss how to preach the Gospel ourselves. Remember they preached the Kingdom. They taught what God wanted in the lives of the people. Doing what they taught, required faith that what they were saying was true. You wouldn’t obey if you didn’t believe. They were who they said they were, which gave their word authority. So believing is central but not first. Preaching the Kingdom is first which requires faith to carry out.

Doing what He says presupposes belief. Sometimes we remind the listener why they should trust Christ. But the leading edge of our preaching is the will of God. The need to know what God wants and then why they should believe the message. The Sermon on the Mount and “…the least of these…” scripture in Matt 25:31-46 are a good sampling of Kingdom preaching.

Of course a thorough study of the Gospels will clearly demonstrate the will of God. This is what they preached. Basically, “This is what God wants so do it!” Obedience to this requires trusting who Jesus is; he has authority to command.

Here are the pros and con of preaching faith in Jesus without the Kingdom:

Pro’s

They believe they are forgiven and free of the power of sin and the consequences.

They believe the Holy Spirit resides in them: Counselor and Helper.

They are told it is not by works but faith in Jesus which keeps them from pride and condemnation.

This can launch them into the mystery and mysticism of the faith.

Con’s

They believe they are forgiven when they are not. They are still under the power of sin and its consequences.

They believe the Holy Spirit resides in them when He doesn’t.

They believe they are saved because they believe and are not compelled to obey Christ.

They are free from guilt which rightly should lead them to repentance.

They are launched into a deception that God is leading them when He isn’t.

This is devastating for the individual, the church and the community. We have inadvertently duped many into believing they are heaven bound. They think they are safe from judgment and aren’t. As a result the church looks bad. They profess Christianity with disastrous results in the community. No wonder we sport the black eye of hypocrisy!

My experience of preaching the will of God expressed by Jesus is that it results in guilt of sin and a desire to do right. New people come into church, hear His word and come to me for baptism. They hear and are struck at heart and want to transform. If they are resisting the Lord they know it is the evil that resides in them that refuses and are convicted of sin. Acting in accord with the will of God requires faith. No action; no faith; no salvation! And again, No action; no faith; no salvation!

When one hears the will of God; so loving, so invasive-taking the whole life, partnering with Christ in His way of sacrificial love: they are challenged, enlightened, encouraged, and recognize their condemnation and need of forgiveness.

When I was seven, I recall going to a church for a few months. They picked me up on a little bus. I remember waiting in the morning California sun for the bus and thinking “I do not want to be good now. I like being bad. I’ll be good later.” I believed but did not want to obey. I knew faith required living a new way. How did I know this? It is even obvious to a seven year old.

Are we inadvertently convincing those who disobey but “believe” that they are saved?

For many the concern over this is that of works. But this is a misunderstanding also. The works he spoke of were the religious duties. For the Jew it was the circumcision, ceremonies of cleansing, tithing, sacrifices and celebrations. For the Protestant it is believing the creed and doctrines, baptism, tithing, bible reading, prayer and the like.

The action that God requires cannot be fulfilled by a check list. It is not less that God is requiring in the message of Christ but more. All! He will have nothing less than total commitment and all of your heart.

It is a mission of fulfilling the command to love; to friend and enemy. It is a daily fulfillment of the law of love. You may fail at times but we do not situationally turn it on and off.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” NIV

So who loves Jesus? Who gets revelation from God? Yes, the one who obeys! Obeys what? THe new heart and Spirit of love.

John14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. NIV

And in whom does God reside? Yes the same, those who obey! And what does it say of those who don’t?

These are the words of our Lord!

Jesus’ mission is our mission: Compassion! This is salvation.


14 thoughts on “I Do Not Preach Faith in Jesus, Why?

  1. My hope is that you change your mind about not preaching faith in Jesus. The reason is because the Gospel concerns two things: 1) faith in Jesus Christ AND 2) entering the Kingdom through loving others and obedience to Jesus [Acts 8:12; Acts 20:21].

    Consider Cornelius in Acts 10. The man was doing Kingdom work, yet he was not saved because he had not put his faith in Jesus.

    We know that we are to be pleasing in God’s sight by faith in Jesus, and to practice righteousness as we love others [John 15:2]. Interesting to note that our Father takes away those who are in Christ and do not bear fruit.

    I could go on about faith in Jesus plus pleasing works, but I’m sure you are more than capable of researching this truth yourself. Please preach faith in Jesus. It is necessary.

    1. You need to read the blog, that the essence of faith is reflected in action. Jesus showed us how to live first and we believed and then acted in accord with him.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hi, Cliff –

    I am convinced that your claim that “the essence of faith is reflected in action” is true. Your blog conveyed this message clearly.

    The title of your blog is: “I Do Not Preach Faith in Jesus, Why?” Assuming the title articulates your position, my response is that I hope you change your mind from not preaching faith in Jesus to preaching faith in Jesus. The primary text supporting why you ought to change your mind is found in Acts 10 and Acts 11. This account demonstrates what it takes to have your sins forgiven: faith in Jesus. In Acts 10 and 11, Cornelius was told by an angel that Peter would tell him “words by which you and all your household would be saved” Acts 11:14. The words that Peter gave Cornelius are found in Acts 10:34-44. Please note that Peter said nothing to Cornelius about how to live, which is in contrast to your claim, “Jesus showed us how to live first and we believed and then acted in accord with him”.

    In Acts 10:1-2, we learn that Cornelius was a “devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always”. Yet, interestingly, despite the fact that he was living righteously (something that even Peter noticed about Cornelius, in Acts 10:34-35), Cornelius was still not saved. Cornelius was living a life in accordance with Jesus’ teachings, which you would identify as the essence of faith. Yet, again, Cornelius was still not saved.

    Cornelius’ salvation came after Peter first explained to him that the word God sent to those in all Judea was “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). This word was preached after the baptism of John was preached (Acts 10:37). The specific message preached after John’s baptism was in five parts. The first, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). The second, Jesus did these things “both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on tree (Acts 10:39). The third, God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day of His death and showed Him openly, though not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to the Apostles who ate and drank with Him after Jesus got out of the grave (Acts 10:40-41). The fourth, Jesus commanded the Apostles to preach to the people, and to testify that Jesus was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). The fifth, all the prophets bear witness that through Jesus’ name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43).

    It was only after hearing the above message that Cornelius was saved through his faith in Jesus. There was no discussion about righteous living. (Cornelius already had that). But, that does not mean that righteous living plays no role in salvation; just read Matthew 25:31-46. THE LEARNING LESSON FROM ALL OF THIS IS THAT WE ARE TO PLACE OUR FAITH IN JESUS. THIS IS WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PREACHED, JUST AS PETER DID WITH CORNELIUS. In addition to that, we demonstrate our faith in Jesus by doing what He said: love God, love others, and put our faith in Him. i.e., righteous, Godly living. So, again, I hope you change your mind.

    Warm Regards.

    1. Yeah, I get where you are coming from.

      It is simple, lack of action proves an absence of faith.

      Hebrews, I John,. John 14 and 15, James and Matt 25….the life of Abraham and the righteousness that comes from faith, all these acted proving there faith.

      It is those who hear and obey have the faith that saves.

      Thanks for your comments.

  3. >”It is simple, lack of action proves an absence of faith.”

    I completely agree.

    ——–

    >”Hebrews, I John,. John 14 and 15, James and Matt 25….the life of Abraham and the righteousness that comes from faith, all these acted proving there faith.”

    I completely agree.

    ———

    >”It is those who hear and obey have the faith that saves.”

    I completely agree.

    Cliff, I completely understand where you are coming from, and I wholeheartedly agree that we can’t just preach faith in Christ! Here is Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We are created in Christ UNTO GOOD WORKS BECAUSE OUR FATHER FORORDAINED US TO WALK IN THOSE GOOD WORKS! In addition, check out Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, BUT HE WHO DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ AND THEN I WILL DECLARE TO THEM, ‘I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS’ “!

    It’s very clear! You cannot be a follower of Jesus and do whatever the hell you want to do! In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said to enter by the narrow gate because the gate is wide and the path is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who go down that road. But, the gate to life is narrow, and the path is hard, and there are few who find it.

    Cliff, I understand where you are coming from about Kingdom living. It is THE ingredient missing from the messages evangelical pastors preach from the pulpits. They need to answer the question: Ok … I’m a Christian … so, now what? The fact that no vision is articulated by pastors or even discussed among fellowships makes living the Christian life difficult in light of the secular onslought in America.

    The vision begins in Genesis with Adam and Eve: take dominion, subdue the earth, be productive, and have children. If you love God, then you’ll keep His commandments. It’s the prime directive! God wants us to participate and enjoy in His creation! I particularly like the having children part, because God is giving sex the big green light. Talk about fun, fun, fun!

    In terms of Kingdom living, I used to wonder what it was like until I read Jesus’ response to the question, “Which is the first commandment of all?” in Mark 12:28. According to Mark 12:28-34, the beginning of Kingdom living is this: understanding that there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. A scribe gave Jesus this explanation, and Jesus told the scribe that he was not far from the Kingdom of God.

    While participating in the prime directive, loving God, loving each other, and placing our faith in God’s Son, we are to share the good news: all authority on heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Therefore, be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and do what Jesus told His disciples to do. HERE IS THE COMPLETE VISION!

    Can you imagine what would happen if Christian families in America started taking dominion, subduing the earth, being productive, having children, and teaching their children about the prime directive? I think we’d be living in a different country (assuming you are an American).

    If you get the chance, please purchase a book called “Family Driven Faith” by Voddie Baucham. That book changed my life.

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