Genuine Belief

Gospel of John #24: An exposition of John 8:31-59. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 22, 2011.

The announcer’s voice was clear and distinct, “Don’t be fooled by imitations these are genuine diamels.”  Don’t be fooled by imitations these are genuine fake diamonds!  Or how about, “Get the look and feel of genuine leather for a fraction of the cost.”  It is official, we live in an artificial world.  A world of look a likes, knock offs and imitations.  A superficial world where reality is fast becoming illusion.  Unfortunately this “make believe world” is not limited to commercials and other forms of advertising.  It is not limited to consumer goods it has found its way into every area of life.  We find it in relationships when genuine concern for a friend’s well fare is replaced with an endless pursuit of self-satisfaction.  We find it in marriage when “until death do us part” is replaced with “until I’m no longer happy.”  We find it in church when “dying to self daily” is replaced with “what’s in this for me?”  Bombarded daily with empty promises and meaningless existence there is the cry for something real.  Something genuine.  Nowhere is that need more evident than in the church.

Let me ask you:

  • Do you think perhaps the reason the world does not take the church seriously is because the church isn’t serious?
  • Could the problem be that the church isn’t genuine?
  • Could it be that a superficial faith has resulted in a superficial church?
  • Are you attracted to phonies?
  • Are you drawn to that which is insincere or lacks integrity?

Our text this morning is found in John chapter 8 beginning at verse 31.

Text: John 8:31-59

This is a very interesting passage.  Look up at verse 30.  Praise the Lord!  Mark it down, put it in the books, what a great evangelistic event.  Remember the context?  The Festival of Booths.  Jesus has made two great statements: 1.) If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink and out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.  2.)  I am the light of the world he who follows me will never walk in darkness.

Using the 2 central rituals of Booths Jesus declares himself God!
So much for laying low.
He had begun His march to the cross.
He has just warned of the devastating consequences of unbelief and “many believed in him.”

But look verse 31 and then down at verse 59.
“Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him…so they picked up stones to throw at him.”
The believers where ready to kill him!
What happened?
They didn’t care for the sermon.

I have my share of those who don’t care for my preaching but I’ve not had to dodge any rocks.  What did Jesus say to cause such a reaction?  What was so bad that it caused such a swing in mood?  Let’s work through the text and see if we can find an answer.
It is clear that…

Thesis: The teaching of Jesus does not allow for superficial faith to pass for saving faith.

What we have in this text are those who “believed” and yet did not believe.

They liked the notion of rivers of living water and light that cannot be extinguished but there was no change, no real repentance.  There was belief but not conversion.  Is that possible?  Absolutely look back at John 2:23-24: Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people…

Or consider Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity.”

There are 16 million Southern Baptist less than 5 million in church on any given Sunday.
Trinity over 1200 on the rolls and we’re having a good day when we have 200!

In this text our Lord gives us some of the characteristics of genuine faith.  I want to note three of them.

  1. Genuine believers exhibit an abiding faith.  (8:31-32)
  2. Genuine believers demonstrate true repentance.  (8:32-41)
  3. Genuine believers reflect the character of God.  (8:42-59)
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