Life And Death Faith
What are the things that are so true, so deeply held in your own heart and mind and conscience, so much of a conviction that you are willing to pattern your life and, if need be, to die for them?
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and you and I are back together again looking at the Word of God. I’m so grateful for these times that we can spend together. I look forward to them. It’s like an oasis for me. I don’t know how to describe it to you, but you know we all have our share of needs and problems as people who live in this kind of a world. And I’m not any different from any of the rest of us.
So that there are a lot of different concerns that nibble around the edges of my mind as the days go by, not to say worry. Worry is a sin, but, boy, do I get concerned. But you know something? When it’s time to do a broadcast, open the Word of God, turn on the tape recorder, set the big white timer here in front of me and set that going, look into God’s Word. It’s like an oasis. It’s like the troubles of the world and the concerns that have been plaguing me and everything else just drops away. And it’s just a delight to be with you and the Word of God. I like that, don’t you? Well, I hope you enjoy these times together.
Well, we’re looking at 2 Peter chapter 3, and Peter has been saying now everything is going to be burned up this whole world, the things that we know and the things for which men fight and give their very lives will be gone, and anything that will be left would be that of eternal value. So, he said in verse 11 of chapter 3, that’s where we’ve been working, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation,” and that’s our word lifestyle, “holy lifestyle and godliness.”
Well, we talked about a holy lifestyle and then we got to talking about godliness, the last time or two that we got together, you remember? Godliness is the miracle of God walking in your shoes; the presence of God, the quality of God in everyday life. You as a believer showing by what you really are that God is real. Godliness is something you work at. 1 Timothy 4:7, “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” Godliness is profitable not only in this life but in that which is to come.
A million years from now you and I will meet together on the corner of Glory Street and Hallelujah Avenue yonder in God’s heaven and we’ll be talking about something, but it won’t be about cars and model T’s and houses and cups and saucers, and so on. What we’ll be talking about will be things that have eternal value. That’s the only thing that’ll last– godliness. Now godliness is related to what the Bible calls doctrine, and doctrine, to over simplify it, is what you really believe. Oftentimes, during the years, I served as president of the college in Briarcliff Manor in New York. I would say to the students, “Make a list of the things for which you would be willing to be shot dead at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning. Make a list of those things.” You’ll find it’s a very short list and may grow shorter as you think about it. But when the list has been completed, you will find that that’s something not only worth dying for but something worth living for.
The really important matter is that you really believe. I often use a kind of a made-up situation. As an illustration on this, here’s a boy that’s been caught breaking and entering. You’re his friend, you know him to be a first offender, you want to do the best you can for him. You go to the judge and intercede, the judge gives him a youthful offender status and puts him on probation for six months. And he’s remanded unofficially at least to your custody. You’re supposed to keep an eye on him, which you try to do. Tragically, however, before too long the boy is back in jail. What’s the charge? Breaking and entering. Well, you talk to him and you say “Now, why did you do that. You’re a burglar. Why do you burgle?” There should be a verb “to burgle” because we call people burglars.
Well, anyhow, “Why did you do that?” Well, he said, “It’s my background. It’s my parent’s fault. It’s my upbringing. It’s the fact that we live on the wrong side of town. It’s the fact that we always were poor,” so on and so on and so on.
Now, the real fact of the matter is that what the young man really believed was the cause of his action, what they believe was, if I want it, I go get it no matter to whom it may have belonged. That’s what he really believed. You understand me on that? What you really believe, that’s what the Bible calls doctrine, the things that form the basis of your life’s decision, your lifestyle, your conduct, all that you really decide upon is based upon what you truly believe.
Now, have you decided, beloved, what it is that you really believe? What is it that you would be willing to be shot dead for at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning? What are the things that are so true, so deeply held in your own heart and mind and conscience, so much of a conviction that you are willing to pattern your life and, if need be, to die for them?
This is what we’re talking about. He says, “Godliness, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the doctrine which is according to godliness,” 1 Timothy 6:3. Yes, it’s important and what you really believe will determine your conduct. I’ve driven with people who were chronic chance-takers. It’s not a very pleasant experience for the passenger. But maybe some of you can identify this. You were riding with someone who was a chronic chance-taker. If the light was changing he’d go on through on a hot yellow or maybe a hot red. He say, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter.”
And if the speed limits where visibly posted, he would go ahead and roar right on through it with his customary pace of 65 or 70 miles an hour, smiling at you and say, “Well, everybody does that nowadays. Nobody pays any attention to the speed limits.” So, a chronic chance-taker in his driving, he was on a hill and he wanted to get around this lumbering truck and he decided to pass on the hill assuming that nobody would be coming the other way to meet him when he was on the wrong side of the road.
Now, let’s think about this kind of a person. He’s not really a bad sort. To talk with him, he’s pleasant and affable, and to work with him in ordinary life situations, you’ll find him not too bad a person to work with. But when he gets behind the wheel, as I say, he’s this chronic chance-taker. Now why? Because he believes that although there are speed laws and there are traffic laws and there are stop lights that he is exempt. That’s what he believes. He believes it will never happen to him. And he may have to have a sad traffic mishap or a series of citations from the man in the cherry top to convince him otherwise. See, what he really believes is I can get by with it. Doctrine is what you really believe. Well, I guess we’ve walked around that concept.
Now, have you decided? My beloved friend, have you decided what it is that you believe, because your beliefs are related to what the bible calls godliness. What ought we truly to believe?
One, that all people have sinned, you and I and everybody else. Two, that everybody needs to be saved. Three, that nobody can save himself. Four, that Christ only can save you and that he does so freely by his grace when you open your heart to Him and bow before Him as Lord and trust him as savior. And then next, that the Christian life is impossible to live except by the enablement of the Holy Spirit of God who comes in to dwell in the believer. And then that the Word of God is inspired and infallible and without error in the original documents.
Then, that Jesus our blessed Lord keeps all his promises and that one of those promises is that he’s coming again and that that may be soon, so you and I better be ready for him. And that the job that has been given to believers during this time that is called the age of grace is to get the gospel out to everybody everywhere.
These are just a few of things. I just ticked them off quickly as they occurred to my mind. And you people who are Bible students will probably write me and say, “Bob Cook, you omitted this and this and this.” Well, sure I did. You can fill it in for yourself.
What should you believe: the truth about man and his sad condition in sin, the truth about God and his love for sinners, the truth about Jesus and his atoning work on the cross, the truth about the victory that’s available to the believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit so that all could say sin shall not have dominion over you. The truth about the main job of the church, which is the evangelization of the world. The truth about the fact that Jesus will come again and you and I will be taken to be with him. Just a few, not all of the things that you and I should hold to. But if you have this kind of a structure of true belief, my beloved friend, it will make a difference in your decisions. If you believe that Christ could come at any time, you’re going to be careful what you do because you want to be doing something concerning which you won’t be ashamed when He comes.
John the Apostle said, “Now little children abide in him that when he shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” If you truly believed that there is victory over sin through the power and enablement of the Holy Spirit of God who indwells the believer, you’re going to approach the business of temptation and even the chronic things that have been habitually your areas of defeat. You’re going to approach them with an entirely different attitude because you’re referring your need now to the almightiness of the savior whom you trust. What you believe will determine what you do, Alright? Now, it’s the doctrine that is according to godliness; that’s what we’ve been talking about.
Then we come to 2 Peter 1. We already looked at that in connection with out study of 2 Peter, but we go back to it now to remind ourselves that Peter says you can add to your faith godliness. Godliness, 2 Peter 1:6, and you’ll recall that I pointed it out to you that all of our dealings with God and eternal matters are by faith, “Without faith, it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
All of your dealings with God are on the basis of faith. So this matter of adding components to your own personality mix, is done by faith. Godliness, the quality of God in everyday living, so far as you are concerned, can be done by committing yourself to your Lord with the same kind of faith that you used when you trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I want to come back to this momentarily the next time we get together before we leave this area of scripture.
Dear Father, today, may we be godly people, filled with the presence of the Lord whom we adore in Jesus name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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