Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

7-30-04

Saving Faith




Text: "Thy faith hath saved thee.”-Luke 7:50 and Luke 18:42.


PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Luke 7:36-50; 18:35-43.


Introduction

I am going to do something today I have never done before.  


I usually use only one passage of Scripture for our text.  


But today, there are two stories from Luke’s gospel which illustrate great faith, and I am going to use both of them.  


The first story is about a sinful woman; a prostitute. 


The second is about a poor blind man.  


I am going to begin by reading Luke 7:36-50 from the Living New Testament.  


--READ LUKE 7:36-50--


The poor, blind man’s story is found in Luke 18:35-43.


--READ LUKE 18:35-43--


Today, we will look closely at these two stories, and we will ask just three questions:


First, what was it that saved the two persons in these stories?


Second, what kind of faith was it that saved them?


Third, what does this teach us about faith?


Now, the first question is, “WHAT WAS IT THAT SAVED THESE TWO PEOPLE?”


Let’s look first, at the situation of the woman.  


Her sins had been forgiven, and she was changed.


She became a woman who loved the Savior.  


She loved Him very much, because she had been forgiven very much.  


Can you see with your mind’s eye what this woman did?  


She knelt behind Jesus as He reclined at dinner, and her tears dripped from her eyes and fell on His feet; and then she uses her long hair to wipe His feet.  


Her love for Jesus is what caused her to get so close to Him, and to be so unwavering in her intention to honor Him.  


I believe that out of all those who loved the Savior, this woman, who was a sinner, had the greatest love.  


However, He didn’t say to her, “Thy love hath saved thee.” 


This loving woman should be remembered most for her repentance. 


She was deeply sorry for her sins. 


Her tears were not just sentimental emotion; rather, they rained from a heart that was made pure and sorry for sin.  


She had been a sinner, and she knew it.  


She remembered all of her sins, and she felt that each one deserved a tear.  


And so, she stood there, crying her eyes out, because she had offended her Lord. 


But Jesus didn’t say, “Thy repentance hath saved thee.”  


Her salvation caused her repentance, but her repentance didn’t save her.  


She was a humble woman.  


She came behind the Lord and washed His feet, as though she was a servant, who thought it was a pleasure to serve her Master.  


Her admiration for Him was the highlight of her life. 


She respected Him and treated Him as if He was a king, and she did what has sometimes been done for the royal family by their passionate subjects-she kissed His feet.  


But even though she kissed His feet, He didn’t say, “Thy humility hath saved thee,” and He didn't say, “Thy respect hath saved thee.”  


What she heard Him say was this, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.”


Now, let’s consider the blind man.


This man was well-known for his sincerity.  


He shouted, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”  


He was also noted for his persistence.  


They tried to silence him, but he just shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”  


But Jesus didn’t credit his salvation to his prayers, even though he was persistent and sincere.  


He didn’t say, “Thy prayers have saved thee.”  


Instead, He said, “Thy faith hath saved thee.”  


He knew who Jesus was, so he didn’t call Him Jesus of Nazareth, like the crowd did; he called him, “Son of David.”  


In front of the people who were all around Him, he had the courage to say publicly, that the humble man, dressed in peasants clothing, who was threading his way through the crowd, was none other than the One who was prophesized; the One who would come from the line of David.  


He was convinced that he was the long anticipated Messiah, the King of the Jews, and the Son of David.  


But Jesus didn’t credit his salvation to his knowledge or to his clear understanding that Jesus was the Messiah, but instead he said to him, “Thy faith hath saved thee.”  


So, in both cases they were saved by faith.  


But, why is it, in every case, in every man and woman that is saved, faith is the means of salvation?  


It is because God has the right to choose what ever way of salvation He pleases, and He has chosen that men should be saved, not by their works, but by faith in His Son.  


He has declared that, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."  


There is no exception to this rule, and it will last forever.  


So, if you want to be saved, "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”  


This is the chosen way; follow it, and it leads to heaven; refuse it, and you must perish.  


It was Jesus that saved the blind beggar and it was Jesus that saved the woman who washed His feet with her tears.  


But He didn’t take the credit; instead, He said, “Thy faith hath saved thee.”  


It is by the grace of God, that salvation is even a possibility; and so we can’t boast, even a little bit.


It pleased God to make the means of salvation by faith, and by no other means.


And, that isn’t all. 


Something happens after someone is saved.


He feels grateful to God who has pardoned him. 


Feeling grateful, is only natural.


And, it’s normal for him to hate those things which displease his Savior, and love deeply anything which is pleasing to Him. 


God said in His Word, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”   


But his thinking comes out of his believing.   


If he is right in what he believes, then his understanding will work upon his love and all the other element of his nature, and old things will pass away, all things will become new through the wonderful effect that faith has. 


Faith produces love, and love cleanses the soul, so that the man becomes a new creature. 


I hope you agree that the means of salvation God has chosen shows the great wisdom of God.


Faith saves us just as the mouth saves us from hunger. 


If we are hungry, food is the real cure for our hunger. 


But the food won’t do us any good, unless the mouth eats it first.   


Faith is the soul's mouth, and by faith the hunger of the heart is removed. 


In the Old Testament, we are told about the brazen serpent that saved those Israelites bitten by poisonous snakes.  


When they looked at the brazen serpent lifted up on a pole they were saved from death.  


Christ is also the brazen serpent lifted up; all the healing power is in Him; however, no healing power comes out of the brazen serpent unless you look at it. 


So, the act of looking is considered to be the act that saves. 


Therefore, in the deepest sense it is Christ uplifted who saves; but without looking to him we cannot be saved, so you could say, "There is life in a look," as well as life in the Savior to whom you look. 


Nothing is yours until you get your hands on it. 


Faith is the hand of the soul. 


If you stretch it out, it lays hold of the salvation of Christ, and so by faith we are saved. 


Jesus said, "Thy faith hath saved thee." 


I don’t need to dwell any longer on that point. 


It is self-evident from the text that faith is the great means of salvation.


Now, we can ask the second question, “WHAT KIND OF FAITH WAS IT that saved these people? 


I will mention, first, the similarities between the faith of these two, and then, secondly, the differences.


In the case of the repentant woman and the blind beggar, their faith was placed in Jesus alone. 


The sinful woman came to Him: her tears fell on him; her ointment was for him; her long hair was a towel for His feet.


She loved Him more than anyone. 


He could save her, and He could blot out her sins. 


She believed in Him; that’s why she did what she did. 


It was the same way with that blind man. 


He wasn’t aware of any ceremonies that could be performed by priests, and he had never heard of any medicine which might be given him by physicians. 


His cry was, "Son of David, Son of David." 


He didn’t even notice those around him as he continued to cry out, "Son of David, Son of David." 


"What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" was the Lord's question, and that’s what he wanted to hear, because he knew that if anything were done for him, it must be done by the Son of David. 


It is crucial that our faith rests on Jesus alone. 


If you mix anything with faith in Christ, you will not be changed. 


"None but Jesus, none but Jesus

Can do helpless sinners good."


All true faith is alike in this respect.


The faith of these two was also similar in its admission of unworthiness. 


She stood behind Him, and the tears flowed, because she felt unworthy to come so close to Him.


And what about the beggar's cry, "Have mercy on me?" 


Notice that he does not say he deserves it, neither does he ask for it as a reward. 


But instead, his appeal was for the mercy of God.


I don’t care who you are or what you are, there is always a connection between true faith and a thorough understanding that mercy alone is what saves us. 


Folks, if you come before Christ with your righteousness in your hand, you come without faith; but if you come with faith you must also come asking forgiveness, because true faith always walks hand-in-hand with a deep sense of guilt before the Lord. 


This is true in every case.


The faith of the beggar and the sinful woman was very similar. 


It’s hard for us to appreciate the inner struggles of this woman as she crossed the threshold of Simon's house. 


She probable thought he would throw her out after embarrassing her in front of his guests.  


She imagined he would say something like this to her, “Get out of my house, you immoral woman, how dare you come around good honest men.” 


But, regardless of what happens, she passes through the door, and she comes to where the feet of the Savior are stretched out towards the entrance as he is reclining at the table, and there she stands. 


Simon glared at her.


He thought his look would make her shrivel up, but her love for Christ was too deeply entrenched to be withered away by him. 


It would have been easy for anyone to see he was angry, and was horrified that such a creature was anywhere near him, but she didn’t pay any attention to him. 


Her Lord was there, and she felt safe. 


She wasn’t nervous and she didn’t tremble while Jesus was near.


And, she didn’t return Simon's snooty looks, because her eyes were full of tears. 


And she did not turn away from Jesus to insist on an explanation of his unkindness toward her, because her lips were all engrossed with kissing those dear feet. 


Her Lord was everything to her. 


She overcame her fears through faith in Him, and she held her ground, and did not leave Simon’s house until Jesus dismissed her with "Go in peace."


It was the same with the blind man. 


He said, "Son of David, have mercy on me." 


But, the crowd cried out, "Hush! Why are you in such an uproar, blind beggar? His words are music, so do not interrupt him. Never has any man spoke like he is speaking. How dare you spoil it all for us?” 


But over all their objections the persistent prayer of the blind man went up to God, "Son of David, have mercy upon me," and we know he succeeded. 


All true faith is opposed by one thing or another. 


If your faith has never been tested, you might have a problem, since Satan tests every Child of God. 


Paul wrote, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."   


What he infers is that there must be something to overcome, and that your faith must wage war for its existence.


Once more, the faith of these two persons was similar in that they stated their faith openly.


I cannot say that the statement took the same form in both cases, since it didn’t; but both of them made their faith visible to all.


Can you see the Savior as He prepares to eat a meal at Simon’s house, and the weeping woman who comes to Jesus for forgiveness? 


She loves him, and she isn’t ashamed to say so? 


They may criticize her, and they will certainly rake up the old criticisms against her, since she has been a sinner. 


But she doesn’t care what they say or who they are.


She loves her Lord, and she will show it. 


She has brought the ointment and she will anoint his feet, even in the presence of Pharisees, Pharisees who would say, "Is this one of the disciples of Christ? Someone He would brag about! She’ll make a fine subject, for His kingdom! She is a prostitute and a disciple! What’s next, what’s next?" 


She must have known and felt all of it, but still she didn’t conceal her love. 


She loved her Lord, and she would admit it, and so in the house of the Pharisee, she comes forward, and by her actions she says, "I love him.” 


She showed her love with her tears, and by the ointment she used, and with every lock of her hair.


Without saying a word she conveyed eloquently that I am my Lord's and He is mine. 


She acknowledged her faith.


And so did the blind man. 


He did not sit there and say, "I know He is the Son of David, but I must not say it." 


The men and women in the crowd said, some of them mockingly, and others indifferently, "It is Jesus of Nazareth." 


But he could not speak of Jesus that way. 


Instead, he said in a voice that rose high above the noise of the crowd, "Thou Son of David." 


The blind beggar showed great judgment and courage when he proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of David, and then asked for mercy. 


Are there any of you here today who are ashamed of your faith in Christ?


If there is, I am also ashamed of you, and so will Christ be ashamed of you when He returns in glory and all of His holy angels are with him. 


Anyone who is ashamed to say, "I love my Lord," could be an enemy of Christ.  


If you love him, say it. 


Join the army of Christ and come forward and say publicly, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 


The faith of the sinful woman and the blind beggar was the same then in these four ways.


It was set on Christ alone, and it was accompanied with a sense of unworthiness, and it shamelessly showed itself to all comers.


Both of them had a similar faith, but they expressed it differently. 


First, the woman's faith acted like a woman's faith. 


She showed her tender love for Jesus; it’s the affections of women that are so wonderful. 


Her love was intense, womanly love, and she poured it out upon the Savior. 


The man's faith acted like a man's faith in that it contained determination and strength. 


He kept on shouting, "Thou Son of David." 


It would not have been acceptable for the woman's voice to be heard so boldly above the crowd; and it would have seemed out of place for a man's tears to have been falling upon the Savior’s feet. 


You could justify either one, but they would not have been equally acceptable.


But now they are just as appropriate as they are excellent. 


The woman acted like a godly woman should. 


The man, like a godly man. 


Did you notice that the woman acted like a woman who had been a sinner. 


So, what is more appropriate than tears? 


And can you think of a more fitting place for her than at the Savior’s feet? 


She had been a sinner and she acts like a sinner; and the man who had been a beggar acted like a beggar. 


What does a beggar do?


 He shouts for alms? 


Today, we might say that he asks for a handout.


"Son of David," he said, "have mercy on me." 


I would not want to be either the beggar or the repenting woman, because they must have been very self-conscious of their circumstances and the attention given to them. 


Faith works according to the condition, circumstances, sex, or ability of the person in whom it lives, and it should overflow the heart naturally.  


It should never be an artificial thing that we manufacture.


I want to point out that the woman did not speak. 


But, the man was not silent; he spoke; he spoke out, and his words were brilliant. 


I would say though, that the woman's silence spoke as impressively as the man's voice. 


Of the two, I think her tears wetting His feet, and her unbraided hair wiping His feet, was more eloquent than the cry, "Son of David, have mercy on me." 


However, both of them expressed themselves equally well; the silence was best for the woman with her tears, and the speech best for the man with his confident trust in Christ. 


Friends, there is more than one way to serve and to honor Christ.  


Not all of us can be preachers, and I believe that some preachers should not be preachers.  


Sometimes, it is best to just sit still, think about Him and listen for that still small voice of the Holy Spirit.


There was even another difference between the two.   


The woman gave her ointment. 


But, the man did the opposite—he begged. 


There are various ways of showing your love to Christ, which are equally good.


She gave Him her ointment, and her tears, and then she gave Him the use of her hair.  


That showed her faith and love for Him.


But the beggar didn’t give Jesus a thing, because he didn’t have anything to give.  


So he honored the Savior by appealing to His riches and great power. 


I can’t say that either one was better than the other, since I believe that both gave their whole heart, and Jesus doesn't ask any more than that from anyone.  


The thoughts of the woman and the thoughts of the beggar were different too. 


Her thoughts were for the most part about the past, and her sins—that’s the reason for her tears. 


The reason she came to Jesus was to be forgiven. 


His thoughts were largely about the present, and he was not as much concerned about his sin as he was about his disability, and so he came with different thoughts. 


He expressed his thoughts in the request he made, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." 


There is a lesson here: Do not, compare your experience with that of another, since God is a God of wonderful variety. 


Before we move on to the third point, I want to briefly give you the overall view of these two people.


Let’s examine this woman first. 


What a strange mix of feelings and actions came from her.


She felt unworthy, and therefore she shed tears, nevertheless she drew very near to Jesus. 


Her acts brought her near to Him and communicated her love to Him; she washed his feet with her tears, she wiped them with the hairs of her head, and meanwhile she kissed them again and again. 


"She has not ceased," said Christ, "to kiss my feet." 


She was ashamed and yet she was bold at the same time. 


She couldn’t bring herself to look the Master in the face, so she approached him from behind; however, she dared to look Simon in his face and to remain in his house even when he ridiculed her. 


I want to add, she was despised by others in the room, but Christ honored her, and made Simon, who despised her, to feel little in her presence. 


I will also add, she was a great sinner, but she was a great saint too. 


Now, look at the man. 


He was blind, but he could see a great deal more than the Pharisees, who said they could see. 


He was blind, however the Spirit of God allowed him to recognized the King of the Universe, and then to declare it. 


He was a beggar, but he had a noble soul, and a strong determination which was not to be put down by those in the crowd or by the apostles. 


He began to cry out to Jesus and he wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted.


He said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." 


He was clear about his needs, and he asked the only person who could supply them. 


And you know what, he expected to receive it.


He felt that he should never have to beg again. 


He was sure his eyes were about to be opened. 


Last but not least, he was grateful for what he received, because we’re told that he followed Jesus down the road, happy and content. 


It’s amazing what wonderful creatures Jesus can make regardless of the physical and spiritual handicaps that people have.


Finally, we need to ask ourselves, WHAT DOES THIS TEACH US ABOUT FAITH? 


It teaches us first of all that faith is all important. 


I pray for you every day; that you will have the faith that saves.


Remember, there are not many things in Scripture that are called precious, but there is the precious blood, and along with it goes the precious faith. 


If you don’t have that, you are lost; if you don’t have that, your eternal destiny will be spent in despair. 


But if you have faith, and even if it is like a grain of mustard seed, you are saved. 


"Thy faith has saved thee."


Something that we need to learn is that the main issue in faith is the person that you believe in. 


Your faith must recognize Him as a person, and must come to Him as a person, and your faith shouldn’t be centered in His teachings only, or his work only, but in Him. 


Remember, He said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 


He is a personal Savior for anyone! 


Are you resting on Him alone? 


Do you believe Him? 


Folks, we do not all show our faith in the same way.  


I must not judge my faith by the standard of the faith of other men. 


Instead, I should ask, “Am I resting in Christ?  Do I believe Him? 


The last thing I want to do is sum up all is this. 


If we have faith in Jesus we are saved, and we ought to talk and act as if there was no question about it. 


Jesus said, "THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE." 


If you have faith in Christ, you can be certain that’s what saved you.


Do not, therefore, go on talking and acting and feeling as if you were not saved. 


I know a congregation of saved people who say every Sunday, "Lord, have mercy upon us, for we are miserable sinners."


But the truth is they are not miserable sinners, and if they are saved, they shouldn’t say such things, because it takes away from Christ’s work, which freed us from the guilt and penalty of sin. 


If they are saved sinners, then they ought to be rejoicing saints. 


It’s a waste for some people to go about asking God to give them the mercy they have already obtained, hoping that one day they will receive what Christ assures them is already theirs. 


They talk to others like it was a legitimate question whether they were saved or not.


Folks, it cannot be a proper question since, "Thy faith has saved thee." 


Can you imagine the poor penitent woman turning around and saying to the Savior, "Lord, I humbly hope that it is true." 


There would have been neither humility nor faith in such a statement. 


Can you imagine that blind man, when Christ said, "Thy faith hath saved thee," saying "I hope that’s the case?" 


Folks, if you have believed, you are saved. 


Do not talk as if you were not 


Folks, if the Lord says something to you by His Word, by His Spirit or when you pray please don’t be suspicious; never doubt his promises, for heaven and earth and hell shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his word shall fail. 


You would not spit in His face if he was here, however your "ifs" and "buts" are an insult to His truth. 


You would not beat Him or whip Him, but your doubts displease him and put Him to shame? 


If He lies, don’t believe him; if he speaks the truth, never doubt him. 


Then you will know, after you cast aside your awful unbelief that your faith has saved you, and you will go in peace, like the forgiven woman and the seeing beggar. 


Amen.


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