Sound Faith

The Difference Between Superficial and Sound Faith, and Which Do You Live By?

John 2:23-25

DATE: 8 July, 2007 AM                                                                                                                                                        PLACE: BBC Ballincollig


I.         Introduction (Rom 1:17)


A.      I’m continuing some thoughts this morning on believing God!

B.       The life of the Christian - his decisions, his attitude, his hopes, his goals, his joy, his reactions – are all to be experienced by faith! What a thought!

C.       Not just any kind of faith, but solid faith, sound faith, substantial faith – not superficial faith (Titus 1:13; Psalm 119:80)

D.      Before a person becomes a born again child of God, living by faith is impossible – it is a mystery - a concept that can’t be grasped or understood.

E.       But with the preaching and teaching of God’s word, people come to understand that faith is not a blind stab in the dark, but a carefully calculated act of trust and belief that God knows what He is doing, and will lead you the right way! Once you begin to obey this Bible, and follow its Author (Jesus), you are living by faith.


II.       Background (John 2:23-25)


A.      In John 2:23-25, while Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover He performed miracles that are not recorded in any of the Gospels.  He had turned the water into grape juice in the little village of Cana, but in Jerusalem, whatever He did was not recorded.  But we do see the effect of the miracles. 


1.        Verse 23 tells us—“...many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which he did.”  They were believing because of the miracles. 

2.        But watch verse 24 —“...Jesus did not commit himself unto them.” 


B.       Oh, the people “believed” in Jesus…

C.       But He did not believe in them! 

D.      The people liked Him and followed Him because of the great things He was doing, but they only had a “Superficial Faith.” 

E.       “Superficial” means “being on the surface, or shallow.”  Like those water bugs on the rivers and lakes.

F.       Sound Faith means solid, through and through – real – not fake faith

G.       It is one thing for these people, and for us to respond to a miracle of God, but quite another to commit oneself to Jesus Christ and continue in His word!

H.      Jesus knew these people! He knew they only had “surface” belief – which is a sad and dead way to believe (John 5:42; Matthew 9:24)

I.         In John 8:30-32 we read of a similar incident as Jesus spoke of his impending death on the cross—“As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, [Only] If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” People liked His commitment in the face of death, but they weren’t committed to Him in the face of their OWN death!

J.        Now, only God knows the heart!  1 Samuel 16:7 tells us—“for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. “  And Hebrews 4:12 reminds us—“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

K.      But you and I have a pretty good idea of what is going on inside our hearts! And it would be very wise to make sure how we are believing, and what we are believing is real!

L.       I’d like to preach this morning on, “Sound Faith”  What are the differences between Superficial and Sound, Saving faith?  To know and understand the difference, I need to show you three characteristics of “Saving Faith” to see if we have it or not.

M.     And if you don’t have it, then I implore you today, to get it, and live by it!


III.     Message


A.      Sound Faith is For the Heart Not With Just the Head (John 2:23)


1.        It seems that the “many” who “believed” in His name believed only with the mind, but not with the heart. 

2.        The Bible tells us in James 2:19—“the devils believe and tremble...” but they do not have a saving faith which means to believe from the heart (Romans 10:9-10). 

3.        Notice the “Many” – the fact that MANY believe means NOTHING! God is interested in your heart and not your mind, and not just your actions!

4.        ILLUS: Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-21).

5.        Many make an emotional response to the Word of God, some make an intellectual response to the truths of the Bible (there is so much scientific proof for the Bible) – but most do not come to God in earnest repentance.  


a.        Jesus described these in Luke 8:6, 13 in his parable of the sower—“And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture… They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” 

b.       As someone has noted: “…these hearers had only a superficial knowledge of the word, and hastily made a profession of it, which soon came to nothing”


6.        What is real salvation? What are its characteristics? Real faith is not:


a.        Just a mental conviction. Something thought in the mind

b.       Just believing the fact that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world (John 1:12).

c.        Just believing history that Jesus Christ lived upon the earth as Saviour just as Caesar Augustus lived on the earth as the emperor of Rome.


7.        Belief is essential, but if it is merely in the head and not in the heart then a person will die in their sins and spend eternity in hell despite what they believe. 

8.        Martin Luther said it this way, “Faith is the ‘yes’ of the heart, a conviction on which a person stakes their life.” That’s faith! Not a guess, or a hope!

9.        You must believe and trust God in your HEART, and with all your heart!

10.     Listen to how important your heart is to faith:


a.        Romans 10:9—“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. ” 

b.       The apostle tells us in v10—“for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness…”. Your heart is the INNER you – your soul! It is the part that God so wishes to be loved by!


11.     Isn’t it sad how the world has numbed us from using our hearts anymore?


a.        “Well, I’ll never fall in love again!”

b.       “Well, I’ll never trust anybody any more!”

c.        “Well, I gave up on the Bible because I kept getting hurt” No you didn’t! Not by God – SIN hurts, not Christ!


12.     If you want to live by faith (which everyone should), you need to use your heart, and use it flat out – not just a little bit on a Sunday!


B.       Sound Faith is Believing, Not Just Seeing (John 2:23b)


1.        The “many” that “believed in his name” believed only because of what they saw. 


a.        There was no repentance, surrender, or commitment to obeying Jesus

b.       That is why verse 24 tells us—“But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men”. 

c.        SOUND Faith means resting all on Jesus (1John 5:11-13)


2.        It’s funny how the whole world seems to have to SEE things before they believe anything anymore?

3.        But then again, I do understand


a.        So many frauds out there

b.       So many hustlers

c.        So many crooks out there

d.       So many liars that claim to be the real thing

e.        So many religions, and beliefs


4.        But let me tell you this, faith is something that is acted upon because of the SOURCE of that faith (Matthew 7:24-27)


a.        If your source is a fashion magazine or woman’s magazine, then I have no pity for you!

b.       If your source for truth is the opinion section of the Newspaper, then shame on you

c.        If your source for faith is a prayer book, or a missal, or your priest or your pastor, then you have wasted your faith! None of them are qualified as foundations for faith to rest upon

d.       Only this Bible is worthy of having your faith rest in it!

e.        You don’t rest confidently in the word of the Met Office do you? Or in the world of your TD?

f.         Nor should you rest in the word of ANY man – only the Son of God, proven by the resurrection from the dead!!!!


5.        Two Requirements of Belief:


a.        Surrender. Letting go of your grip on some things…


1)       Losing your sins, to His back, and His beatings! It is trusting in Jesus to take care of our sin problem (Isaiah 1:18). 

2)       Losing your sorrows too! Letting go of them folks!

3)       It means losing your life to Christ - forfeiting it (Lk 9:23-25) this is where the modern world stops dead in their tracks with Jesus:


a)       They will gladly let Jesus die in their place, and take the punishment for their sins, and become separated from God the father on the cross so that they never, ever, ever have to be separated from God

b)       But to get people to gladly let Jesus take over the controls of their lives – well, that just don’t “jive” with people today!

c)       Real, effective faith means more than just casting all your sins and your troubles on Jesus. That’s easy!

d)       It means also casting one’s entire self upon Jesus.  Resting in HIM for hope, happiness, and heaven.  This is what Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer when he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).  They said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31).

e)       Example of Noah and the Ark


(i)       Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to build a big 20 mile wide bucket and have God rain in that bucket, and kill everything in that bucket? But there would have been no faith for Noah to act upon!

(ii)     To have Noah build that ark, meant that Noah and his family had to trust the ark to hold them up, and keep them afloat while the judgment fell around them!

(iii)    They had to surrender to the commands of God, and trust God’s Ark would save them – and it did!


b.       Submission


1)       GOD is the LORD of all this universe – whether people like it or not, and whether people believe it or not, HE IS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH!


a)       The winds and waves obey Him

b)       Donkeys obey Him

c)       Demons obey Him

d)       ONLY MAN finds it hard to obey such an almighty and all loving God! We are an odd thing in this universe aren’t we?


2)       He waits to be the Lord of every heart too! Because if He is not Lord, then Satan is (Acts 26:18), and THAT is a scary scenario!

3)       Who controls your life?


a)       Who decides your attitudes every morning? You? Then there is no faith!

b)       Who decides what you put between your lips, and down your throat? Your appetites? TV Advertising? Your friends? If so, then you have no faith!

c)       Who decides where you go, and what you watch? If you don’t have ANY qualms about going to the pub, and sitting down and not caring about what you watch, then there you have no faith – you just live by impulse, by animal urges!

d)       Who decides who you marry, and whether you even marry at all? Ever think of that?

e)       Who determines where you work? The economy? Then there is no faith!


4)       I believe Jesus has earned the right to be Lord over your life! He did not demand, it, He EARNED that right!


a)       By loving you when you were unlovely

b)       By waiting on you to respond to His gentle prodding

c)       By letting you hurt and mock and spit upon His own children, so that one day you would get saved, and not have to go to hell!


c.        The moment Saul of Tarsus got saved, was the moment that Jesus became Boss, Manager, Commander, Supervisor… LORD of his life

d.       The moment that Simon Peter dropped his nets to follow Jesus was the moment that Jesus became His Lord (Lk 18:28)

e.        The moment that this wicked, depraved, selfish sinner got born again 27 years ago, was the moment that Jesus took over the controls of my life! And I was G:LAD to let Him!


6.        To live by real faith means NOT being in charge of your life, and your emotions and your attitudes and your reactions, but letting the Lord Jesus be in charge of how you react and respond to the events of life!!!


C.       Sound Faith is Commitment, Not Mere Confession (John 2:24,25)


1.        You know what a confession is – it is what comes out of your mouth – and people can be encouraged to say anything, pray anything, and these days, sing anything!

2.        But Sound Faith, real faith is Commitment, Loyalty, Devotion, Steadfastness – not going anywhere (John 6:66-69)

3.        Real Faith is the commitment of a man’s total being and life to Jesus Christ. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:12b—“for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  The person who trusts Jesus trusts Him to take care of his:


a.        SINS (Hebrews 10:17; Psalms 103:12).

b.       SITUATIONS (1 Peter 5:7).

c.        SOUL (John 14:1-3; Titus 2:13-14).

d.       No matter what you may be going through! God’s promises never fail!  What He has promised, He will perform! (Hebrews 10:23).


4.        When we trust Jesus, we:


a.        REST.  We lay ourselves in His hands.  We leave our welfare up to Him (John 10; 15:5).  There is no greater provider than God!

b.       RELY. We lean hard on Him. There’s no greater strength or wisdom

c.        RELINQUISH OUR WAY.  We acknowledge Him in ALL our ways.  We seek His will for our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6).  There is no greater leader, guide, or counsellor than God!


5.        Someone has said, “Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.”—Ramona C. Carroll (Albert M.  Wells, Jr. Inspiring Quotations-Contemporary & Classical. p. 67).


IV.     Application - There are three steps involved in living by faith:


A.      Starts with HEARING (v23) (Romans 10:17).  Faith is limited to believing based upon what you hear from this Bible – everything else is suspect!

B.       Secondly, CONVICTION.  Allowing something to take over how he or she thinks and acts


1.        If you were before a judge and CONVICTED of a crime, the prison officer TAKES OVER your life!

2.        More than mental assent. Just agreeing with God does not automatically lead to action!  Many a person knows that something is true, but does nothing to change his behaviour to match his knowledge!  He agrees to the truth, but does nothing about it!

3.        If you are a sinner, standing before God, and the Holy Spirit CONVICTS you of your sinfulness, you will yield to His control, if you have real faith

4.        ILLUS:  1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that a believer’s body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  And most Christians agree to that fact. Yet many still abuse and desecrate God’s Temple by receiving things in this Temple that shouldn’t be there!


a.        They receive sin into their ears – rock music, gossip

b.       Into their mouths – cigarettes, drugs, drink

c.        Into their eyes – porn, filthy TV soaps and movies

d.       Into their bodies – fornication and adultery


5.        A person may believe and know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, yet not do anything about it, never make a decision to follow Him. This man still does not have faith, the kind of Faith the Bible talks about!


C.       Lastly, COMMITMENT (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37b).  When the New Testament speaks of faith, it speaks of commitment, a personal commitment to the truth! A person who hears the truth must agree that it is true, and then do something about it.  He commits and yields his life to the truth.  The truth becomes part of his very being, a part of his behaviour and life! (2 Cor 5:17).


V.      Conclusion


A.      The life of the Christian - his decisions, his attitude, his hopes, his goals, his joy, his reactions – are all to be experienced by faith! What a thought!

B.       Not just any kind of faith, but solid faith, sound faith, substantial faith – not superficial faith (Titus 1:13; Psalm 119:80)

C.       Before a person becomes a born again child of God, living by faith is impossible – it is a mystery - a concept that can’t be grasped or understood.

D.      But with the preaching and teaching of God’s word, people come to understand that faith is not a blind stab in the dark, but a carefully calculated act of trust and belief that God knows what He is doing, and will lead you the right way! Once you begin to obey this Bible, and follow its Author (Jesus), you are living by faith.

E.       What kind of faith do you have in Christ today?  Is it a “Superficial Faith” or “Saving Faith”?  Surface faith, or Sound faith? A “Superficial Faith” ends in disappointment!  “Saving Faith” leads to Eternal blessing! Sound faith keeps you sane, and secure!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland