Sermon – The Results of Famous Faith: Romans 1:9-12
The Silent Holocron dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday. Since Stephen has been grossly negligent in posting his sermons, the next few will be “catch-up” posts until we get to Romans 1:19-21 or thereabouts, where Stephen is currently located.
Romans 1:9-12: For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Famous Faith Is…
Before we began this series, I preached a sermon on “Faith.” That sermon was preached to introduce you to the concept of faith. In this chapter of Romans, Paul talked about obedient faith in the previous verses. In verse 8, Paul tells us that obedient faith tends to make itself famous. Let’s review what obedient faith, famous faith, looks like. Famous faith is:
- Obedient faith (Romans 1:5)
- Humble faith (James 4:10)
- Faith that trusts God alone (1 Cor. 2:5)
- Mustard seed faith (Matt. 17:14-21)
What does this faith do? In today’s verses, Paul is telling the Christians in Rome what their faith does in his life. If you and I have Famous Faith, what happened in Paul’s life will happen in the lives of other Christians as well!
Famous Faith Causes Prayer.
When we have Famous Faith, other people are led to pray for us (v. 9). One thing I have noticed from looking at prayer lists at different churches, and especially prayer lists in our own church, is that people usually will not pray for people they do not know. We will pray for our friends in church, at work, in school, or in our neighborhoods. We will pray for family members and friends of our families. We usually will never give prayer requests for people outside of our circle of acquaintance.
But what really sticks out to me in these prayer lists is that quite often, we will pray for famous people. We will pray for celebrities – some of you requested prayer for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ baby! Many of you have asked for prayer that some celebrities will be saved. We will pray for politicians. Not a week goes by when one of you asks for prayer for President Bush, the government, elections, or something related to politics. We will definitely pray for athletes! I remember when Cory Lidle, the New York Yankees baseball player, was killed in a plane crash. Some of you asked to pray for him and his family. Some of us actually prayed that the Yankees would recover! We often pray during games for favorable outcomes for “our” teams! We will also pray for famous Christians. Many of you prayed for famous pastors in America. I asked you to pray for SBC president Frank Page this summer and fall. Some of you have requested prayer for your favorite Christian authors. Some of you have asked for prayer for my seminary professors.
But to summarize, we will always pray for celebrities in America. Famous people naturally draw our attention to them. Jesus understood this. That is why the Bible says that Jesus became famous and got more famous as His ministry progressed.
Famous Faith also creates…
Famous Faith creates in other people a desire for fellowship with those who have Famous Faith (v. 10-11a). We naturally want to be around famous people. We all want to hang out with Alex Rodriguez, Peyton Manning, Brian Brohm, Dwayne Wade, George Bush, John Piper, Pastor Tim, Marlee Matlin, Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt, and all these other famous people. In the same way, we want to be around strong, faithful Christians with powerful testimonies. We want to be associated with them. We want to be influenced by their example. We hope that, through them, we can become better Christians. And this is a Biblical idea – Paul once told the Corinthian Christians to copy how he lived (1 Cor. 4:15-17), so that they can learn how to live a life of faithfulness to Jesus.
But I must warn you – we must never substitute living like another Christian for living like Jesus. Other Christians are nothing more than guides on our walk with Christ. They are pointing us towards Jesus, not themselves. If an older Christian advises you or another young Christian to live like them because they are holy, or because they believe all the right things, or because your church is wrong, or for whatever reason, run away! Our duty as Christians is to point young believers to Jesus, not to ourselves. If I ever tell a young Christian to copy me, I must have a goal of showing them how to be like Jesus, not Stephen. If I try to make them a “mini-Stephen,” I have sinned!
And last but not least, Famous Faith brings…
Famous faith creates the desire to encourage others (v. 11b). When we meet a famous actor/actress, we always tell them how good their movie/TV show is. If we were to meet President Bush, we would tell him that we have been praying for him and his administration. If we met our favorite athlete or favorite team, we would tell them how much we enjoy watching them and that we are cheering for them.
In the same way, we always lift up strong Christians with encouragement and prayer. Maybe we write a letter to our favorite author telling them how much we enjoy their books, or how our lives were changed by what they wrote. Maybe we tell our pastor that his message caused us to think about things for the first time. Maybe we give someone the greatest encouragement of all by accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord. When we see Famous Faith, we want it to keep going! We want it to live forever! So we encourage it whenever we can.
Famous faith causes us to want encouragement (v. 12). We feel good when someone famous says something positive to us or teaches us something. I would have been absolutely thrilled if I had met my baseball heroes as a young boy, and they had said positive things about how I played. When my professors said positive things about things I wrote for class, I felt good. I’m sure that when you met your heroes and they said something good and encouraging to you, you were uplifted. In the same way, when strong Christians lift us up, we feel encouraged. We feel as if we are growing, that we are doing something right. And remember, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him! Encouragement brings us that holy satisfaction with God that we need.
Let’s review what we have learned today. If we have Famous Faith…
- Other people will pray for us.
- Other people will want to be around us.
- Other people will encourage us.
- Other people will be encouraged by us.
Famous faith is the bedrock of the church! Without it, a church cannot thrive and grow. God will not be glorified. And Christ most likely will never be preached. And if Jesus is not preached, no one will ever be saved. So, to close I have a question for you:
Do You Have Famous Faith?
I’m going to tell you the same thing I told you last week. If you don’t have Famous Faith, the only place it can be found is in Jesus. Pray today that God will give you the faith to believe that He is the only Savior, and the ability to place your trust in Him as the only way to God. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)”
Don’t wait! Jesus has knocked on your door once with His death on the cross for our sins, and with His resurrection from the dead, He has knocked again, calling all who will believe to repent and place their trust in Him. Don’t ignore His call, only to find yourself at the Day of Judgment having to tell God that you refused to have Famous Faith. If you belong to Him, God can and will change your heart of stone into a heart of flesh, one that can live famously. Come to Him today!