The essence of the message is we do not need anything else other than Jesus. That was the attempt of the false teachers of the 1st Century and that is the attempt of the false teachers of today. They said, “Jesus is fine, but to Jesus let us add a little bit of mysticism. Let us spice up our faith a bit by adding some of the elements which will cause us to move in a mystical direction, a direction which is away from the grounding of the revelation of Jesus we have surely and certainly in the Gospel. Let us keep Jesus, but let us move also and add a bit of asceticism and strict discipline to life, and as we do that and add attention to certain laws, then our spiritual life will be in a fullness and we will gain a wholeness. Let us keep Jesus, but let us add to Him. These other elements, the philosophies of men, let us add and sprinkle in other truth we gain and glean from our observations about life, from certain teachers, and teachings. Let us sprinkle these things in with Jesus.”
But, the Apostle Paul is saying, “In Jesus there is everything and to add to Jesus is to dilute Him and move away from Him. The thing we need to do is not move from Jesus onto something else, but we need to continue to move toward Him because the more we do that the more we will be complete”, and that is the message of Colossians.
Christianity is a team sport. God does not redeem our lives isolated from His new society, but as He reconciles us to Himself individually, He places us in the context of a community. In that community He intends for us to grow, worship, and serve Him and that community, the Scripture tells us, is the local church.
Paul begins this letter by addressing the group of this community, the local church, and he says, in Colossians 1,
2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse…
He is addressing a group. It is true the health of this group rests upon each individual’s connection to Jesus, but at the same time it is our union with Jesus which binds us together with one another into a new society. In Colossians 2, we read,
19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Paul is suggesting we, as a church, a group, a society, and a community, are like a body and each sinew and muscle and every element is supported by each and grows together. No part can grow independent of itself, but the biology of the church is we are to together. The stunting of the growth of one stunts the growth of all and the progress of one brings progress to all.
Our relationship with Jesus is essential to our growth in holiness, but also our relationship with each other is vital to our growth and holiness. We learned that from Colossians 3, a chapter in regard to holiness,
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
The emphasis continues to be on this “togetherness” of the Christian life. As Paul preaches this team element of the Christian life and growth toward Godliness and usefulness in God’s service, he practices what he preaches in these last verses. They reveal Paul modeling for us the depth of connection which is to be the experience of every believer in the local church. But, to be a believer and be a part of the local church without deep relationships within the local church is an anomaly; it is something strange and something not to be. God never intended for you and I to come to church and then leave without having these relationships develop which are deep, lasting, meaningful, purposeful, and strengthening.
Paul never acts as the “lone wolf” in ministry and goes it alone. In fact, in these verses he is going to mention ten different friends. If you read the letter to the Roman church, he is going to mention sixteen different friends. Rather, Paul seeks out friendships and builds his life around them and all smart Christian leaders and servants follow Paul’s example.
Proverbs 27 says,
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
That is God’s design. Is it true we need each other? We are reminded of the essential necessity of God’s design for His church. I remember, as a boy, sometimes going out onto the playground all by myself and there were several things I could do by myself to be entertained. I could climb on the monkey bars. I could get on a swing and begin swinging, but then I came to the teeter-totter. A teeter-totter simply is not fun when there is no one else around. You can sit there and jump, but there is nothing happening unless you have teamwork.
That is the way the church is designed. As a teeter-totter is designed for more than one person to be added, so the church is designed for more than one person in order for it to be effective and be useful. The Apostle Paul certainly reveals that to us through this list of friends. Hebrews 10:25 encourages us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as in the manner of some. Why shouldn’t we? Is it some legalistic standard which tells us we should get to church in order to check the box “We attended church”. No, it is so we might have relationships where we would be encouraging each other and whereby we would be correcting and be corrected by each other and whereby we would grow together in Christ-likeness.
It is our relationship with Christ and in our relationship with other believers in the church which form the core of our Godly influence in this world. The lesser our connection to Christ and the lesser our connection to other believers in church the less our Godly influence will be and the less we will realize the full potential of the joy which will be ours in Christ as we serve God in this world. God calls us to friendships and to deepening them.
I urge you to not merely come to church, but rather to pursue deep, lasting, abiding relationships within the church. In this study we will consider three of the people Paul mentions, expresses his love for, and shares the work with. These three stand out because these three provide for us three separate profiles of the Christian faith. They reveal there are three kinds of Christians in the world today.
In the first profile we will look at Tychicus and that profile reveals a faith which thrives. The second profile we will consider is John Mark, or as Mark, as he is called. Mark reveals a faith which struggles and a faith which stumbles. The final profile we will look at is the saddest profile of all, and the saddest name in the list, and that is of Demas and we will consider a faith which fails. We need to ask ourselves, “What kind of faith do I have in the Lord Jesus today?”
The first is Tychicus. This is the most encouraging and there are many like Tychicus in this list. In Verses 7 through 9, we read,
7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
Who is this man Tychicus? He is mentioned five times in the New Testament. His name means “fortunate”. He was really fortunate in life because, as his homeland was Asia, he it seems he came across a young preacher by the name of Paul and he stopped and listened to Paul preach. As he listened to Paul preach, everything in life fell together for him. He heard Paul preaching about a Messiah who had come to this world, who had died upon a cross as a sacrifice for sin. Not only that, but this One called Jesus was buried and He arose the third day with great power. He offers life to everyone who would repent of their sin and come to faith in Him.
When Tychicus heard that message his heart was warmed; he had never heard anything like this before. How fortunate he was to be around at the time Paul was preaching and to hear clearly a message of hope and of life, and then how fortunate it was for him to have the grace of God work in his heart so he would receive this message.
In Acts 20:4, we come across Tychicus for the first time. He is named as one of seven of Paul’s traveling companions as Paul goes about his 3rd Missionary Journey. It appears Tychicus joins this team right after a riot which occurs in Ephesus and this was a riot of mayhem, which was breaking out across the city, in which Christian’s very lives were threatened. A secular leader had to calm the streets down because of the fear murder and the blood of the Christians would flow through the streets.
I don’t know what kind of recruiting tool this is, but apparently this appealed to Tychicus; to join up with a group which was going to have people angry in streets, shouting and screaming, wanting them in prison and ultimately beaten and killed. Tychicus said, “Here I am!”
What we find out about him in this is he is a man of great courage and his faith drove him toward a Godly courage. We have to ask ourselves, “Where is such courage today?”
Recently, a high school student told of a friend who boldly wanted to witness to his peers in the workplace. He went home to talk with his dad, a dad who was a church-going man and a dad who had a testimony of faith in Christ about his desires to tell the Gospel in the workplace. The dad replied, “Son, you should not do that! In this world it is possible you will be accused of harassment if you share the Gospel. If you want to share the Gospel in the workplace, maybe you should be a minister. That is a line of work.” What the dad was telling his son was, “Son, it is too dangerous to be a Gospel witness in the workplace.”
Of course, we understand, when we are at work we are to do the work, but this man was talking about talking to his peers about Christ during the coffee break, before work, and after work. This was a question of a dad who was a Christian man, a church-going man, who stepped back and said, “No, I do not think that is something you should be involved with.”
Why is that? Is it because we have lost Godly courage in the church? I do not believe the dad’s comments were out of the ordinary for the evangelical church, but it is counsel many dads and moms would give to their son or daughter out of fear something will go wrong. It may affect the grade point, the peer relationships, or many other things and those are risks we do not want to take.
Friends, Tychicus was a man who was courageous and in the face of riots breaking out in the city as a result of the Gospel being preached, he said, “Sign me up!” Where is such faith in the world today? We need the faith of this man, Tychicus.
Tychicus travels to Jerusalem with Paul and here Paul is arrested. It is going to be four years from the time Paul is arrested to the time Paul is going to write to the Colossian church. It seems as though Tychicus is with Paul the entire time; through the trial and imprisonment, through the legal proceedings and standing before Agrippa, Festus and Felix, and on the ship as they are traveling from Jerusalem to Rome. The ship is wrecked and it sinks and they are swimming to the shore. He is in Rome where he sees Paul locked up and secured in a Roman prison.
Tychicus endured most of the things Paul endured; threats of every size, days and nights without sleep, hunger, thirst, and a ship wreck, and he did so happily because he loved the Lord Jesus. Tychicus acted as a simple servant, helping Paul in the work of the Gospel and he did so without grumbling, complaining, or quitting. He just faithfully served God along side Paul.
We do not know this man had any spectacular gifts. In fact, it seems as though he did not. What did he do? His primary work was being a mailman. He took three important letters, probably the most important letters ever delivered in the course of history. He took a letter to the church at Ephesus. He took a letter to the churches in Colossae. He took a letter to a man by the name of Philemon.
When he takes these letters, he takes them from a Roman prison to these places, so we understand he has to travel through, by foot, a good part of Italy, one sea, Greece, another sea, and then through Asia Minor. This is not easy work. It is not dropping off the mail as you are doing errands, and yet, what did Tychicus do? He said, “Do you want me to deliver this letter? I will do it. If it takes me six months or a year, I am cancelling out the agenda of my life and I am going to deliver this letter to these churches, Paul, for you.”
That is where we come to, in this study, in Colossians 4:7 and following. Tychicus is described in three ways. First, he is described as a “dear brother”, that is to say he is deeply loved by Paul, and as a brother he is a member of the family of faith; that he has placed his faith in Jesus. This is the object of our faith and the most important aspect of our faith. Without having faith in the Living God, through Jesus Christ, who was Lord, Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer such faith is futile and worthless.
He is also a “faithful minister”, that is to say he is dependable. Someone has written the greatest ability is dependability. That is true of Tychicus; he was dependable. When Paul asked him to do something, Paul knew he was going to do it. That was his faith.
Then, Tychicus was a “fellow servant in the Lord”. Paul recognized he was an equal and it was not as though Paul, because he was a leader, somehow stood above and beyond Tychicus, but Paul said, “We are both servants of the same Lord and we are both slaves to this one Master.” Tychicus’ profile reveals a faith which endures.
There are two lessons from which to draw from Tychicus profile. First, God delights in persistent and methodical devotion and faith. In 1 Timothy 6, the Apostle Paul will give this encouragement to us, to Tychicus, and to the church,
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
That is what Tychicus did day-in and day-out. Paul is saying, “Tychicus, remember when you first made that Good Confession, take hold of it everyday. Do not act as though that is something you do in the past and then you get on with the rest of your life. Everyday, grab hold of that good confession, draw it near, and live it out.” Paul goes on to say,
13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…
This kind of life, a life which persists in faith and persists in devotion, and which endures day-in and day-out in loyalty and love unto God and Jesus Christ is the normal Christian life. It may not be the “average” Christian life, if we are taking statistics, but it is the normal Christian life God describes.
A college student, not long ago, came to me with a perplexing issue. He was wondering why it was everyone is drawn to people with dramatic testimonies and so little excitement or zeal is shown toward people with testimonies where they began a Christian life earlier and they continued to walk with God all through their life. He was a bit discouraged by that, because that is how he would have described his life. He asked, “Why is it?” He was wondering if he should have a time in his life where he steps outside of the faith so he could have a testimony of excitement and which people would celebrate?
I gave him an illustration to help him understand the nature of the Christian life. I said, “Imagine you are thirteen years old and you come down with a horrible, debilitating disease and one which robs you of the ability to move about and carry on a healthy, functioning life? It is a disease which robs you of your comfort and everyday you are wracked with pain. You live that way for the next twenty years. At thirty-three years of age, something happens and there is a miracle cure. Do you think it is right for people to jump up and down and say, ‘Praise God!’ and they throw a party? They say, ‘Listen to this story. This is fantastic! For twenty years this person was debilitated and wracked with pain and here is what happened.’
“Let us take another scenario: you are thirteen years of age and you do not a disease. You are healthy, strong, able to go to school, pursue your education, find a career and get a job, and now you are thirty-three. For thirty-three years you have had a healthy life. Are people going to throw a party for you because of that? Probably not! But, which life would you choose?
“Why would anyone in their right mind choose to have twenty years of wasted, painful, corrupt living? Praise God you have not had that experience, but that does not make the joy in the goodness of God any less.”
Friend, I want to encourage you to remember Tychicus for his faithful, persevering, loyal, consistent, enduring, and authentic service to God. I want you to know it is possible to live a steadfast life unto God, but we need not because we have seen so many people stumble, fail, and fall away, we believe that has to happen to us also. It need not happen and it is a great joy for it not to happen. Consider Tychicus who came to faith in Christ and what happened from that day on; he walked with God and at the end of his life what is there? There is great reward and great joy because the grace of God allowed him to walk.
The second lesson from Tychicus is: God remembers and rewards quiet acts of service. Tychicus is not a famous man and perhaps this is the first message you have heard on Tychicus’ life, but he led a purposeful life. Friend, you are nothing as small when it is done for Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Tychicus only delivered the letters, but what would we have today if Tychicus is not faithful in his part? We would not have a letter to study and we would not have this grace. Tychicus understood he only had one life to live for his Master and that one life would soon be past. He understood only what he had done for Christ is what would last, and that is how he lived out his life. He lived with Heaven in view.
The second profile is John Mark, a faith which stumbles. We know much of his life as a result of the Book of Acts. In Verse 10 we read,
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Perhaps they had heard the story of John Mark, as a young man, had gone out on a missionary journey with Paul and John Mark’s cousin, Barnabus. Somewhere along the line, for some reason, a reason we do not know, John Mark deserted Paul and Barnabus in this work. Perhaps he was homesick. Perhaps he was fearful of the danger ahead. Perhaps he was reluctant to go the Gentiles, but he left and deserted this endeavor and work. He did so without good reason, and we know that because of the way the Apostle Paul felt about the whole situation. We read in Acts 15, after John Mark deserts the group, Paul and Barnabus finish their missionary journey and they gather together to think about a second missionary trip, and we read,
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Who was right in this, Paul or Barnabus? I believe both were right. Paul was right to be greatly concerned about the mission. The Gospel and the mission is too important to allow it to be a sentimental journey. But, Barnabus is right in wanting to give Mark a second chance.
What do we learn? We learn after this incident, when Paul was so mad at John Mark and upset with him and distressing, he said, “I am not willing to have him as a part of the team.” We learn, now, in Colossians, he is saying, “Mark is here also. I am going to send him to Greece and make sure you receive him.” Paul wants them to know the conflict which was in the past was over in the past and they should not hold that against Mark in any way.
In fact, in 2 Timothy 4, the last letter the Apostle Paul is going to write, Paul tells Timothy,
11 …Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
Reconciliation had taken place in this relationship, but also, John Mark’s faith had been reestablished and rerouted after the stumble.
There are two lessons from Mark’s profile we learn about faith. First, beware of the real danger of stumbling hard as you walk with God in faith. Do not think this is not a danger to you. Keep ever vigilant. We must not grow slack for this is not a hypothetical danger. We know that from the warnings of Scripture and we know that from the real life faith adventure and journeys of the people on the pages of Scripture. We know that from John Mark. John Mark, as he entered upon his first missionary journey would have never thought he would stumble in his faith, become fearful, and desert the team. He would have said, “No, I would never do that”, yet that is what he did.
We know that to be true from an Old Testament character by the name of David. We know that from another New Testament character by the name of Peter. It is believed Peter is one who discipled John Mark because he mentions John Mark in his letter as well. Perhaps there would be no better person to help one who has stumbled in the faith and to get back on their feet and become completely restored than Peter, because Peter himself stumbled and he had Jesus come along side of him at the Sea of Galilee and say to him, “Peter, feed my sheep. Feed my lambs. Get back into the work.”
Proverbs 16 says,
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
I would especially encourage young people, in the zeal of your youth do not imagine your enthusiasm and your zeal takes you past the point of danger, for, as Peter would say, and he well knew, we have an adversary, the Devil, who prowls like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Stay alert! How do you stay alert? Be watchful in prayer, everyday, unto God and depend upon Him. Secondly, I encourage you to acknowledge God in His direction and in His Truth. Open up the Scriptures. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not upon your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Often times that verse is used in a subjective sense and as long we acknowledge God, “Yes, God, I want what you want”, that is what that means. That is not what that means. Do not lean upon your own understanding in the way you think about life, God, truth, direction, and guidance, but rather acknowledge God. How do we do that? We take His revelation and we say, “God, I recognize truth is not found out here. Truth is found here, in your Word, so I am going to study your Word, listening and acknowledging you in the revelation you have given unto me.” In this way, and in this way only, we are able to fend off the assault of the evil one.
The second lesson we learn from John Mark’s profile is to know God restores sinners to the path of blessing. God offers repentance in the midst of stumbling to bring a vitality and to bring about a liveliness to our walk with Him. John Mark is an encouragement to everyone who has failed in the first attempt. John Mark did not just sit around and he did not sulk. He got back into a right relationship with God and then he got back into a service unto God.
Satan loves to whisper, after a believer stumbles, like John Mark stumbled. It may take various forms of stumbling. It may be some sin, and I believe John Mark’s sin was a sin of fearfulness and anxiety. Whatever sin it is a believer might stumble into, here is what Satan whispers, “You do not deserve to be restored.” There is a half-truth in that, because the truth of the matter is we do not deserve it, but the question the Gospel asks is, “So what! What bit of goodness do we ever deserve?” God is a gracious God and it is not about whether we deserve any bit of God’s graciousness or goodness, it is about living a life which brings glory to God.
What brings glory to God? Is it a rejection of God’s grace and then restoration, or is it an embrace of God’s grace and restoration? A person who rejects God’s grace continues to push away the glory of God in their self-pity. They believe they are doing something humble when they are doing something which is incredibly proud and arrogant. It is the one who receives God’s grace in the midst of such restoration, and who receives God’s loving kindness and forgiveness, is the one who is humbling themselves before the Lord and readying their lives to be fashioned in such a way to be able to bring glory to God again, even after this public stumbling.
Proverbs 24 tells us,
16 …for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.
Are we a part of the righteous or are we a part of the wicked? God never ever leaves any one of us useless, but we must humble ourselves and we must come to Him to receive grace.
We study these two profiles: a faith which thrives which is a normal Christian life; and a faith which stumbles. That does not have to be anyone’s experience, but if it is, understand, there is a joyful conclusion in which we can be wrapped around and whereby we can connect with the glory of God.
The last is the most serious example of the profiles we are considering and the most grave, and that is Demas. We do not know much about Demas, but we read of him in the following,
14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
There are only three times Demas’ name is used and it is a very sad story. In Philemon, Paul talks about Demas in this way,
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
Then, in 2 Timothy 4, we read one of the saddest verses in all of Scripture. We have read about Demas being a fellow worker, being connected with such great people, doing great things for the Lord, being with Paul, joining the missionary team, going with Paul to Rome as Paul was being imprisoned in Rome, and then we read Paul write to Timothy,
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me…
John Mark had forsaken Paul, but he was reclaimed and restored. Demas forsook Paul and, from what we know from Scripture, he was never ever reclaimed. Demas, at one time, was given the testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Demas, at one time, had set aside his life to serve Jesus Christ. Demas, at one time, took the courageous action of traveling with Paul as a companion for Paul and during his Roman imprisonment.
We are not told exactly what happened. Perhaps Demas enters into the capital city of the known world and he sees the prison cell of Paul and he sees the palace of Caesar. He begins to weigh them out and he realizes his future is in one place or the other. The prison of Paul loses its taste for him and the palace of Caesar begins to bring a charm and an allure. Perhaps, as he entered into Rome he began to make conversation with the Roman philosophers, and I will tell you, false teaching is never innocuous; it is always dangerous for us to listen to with an ear which is open to say, “Maybe there is something to this.”
I do not know if this is true of Demas, but it very possible part of his love for the world is a love for a view of the world Rome presented to him. It was a view which exalted man and made God small verses a view which made God big and made man small.
Perhaps it was one of the many sins, or perhaps it was just the stuff from the style of this world. We do not know, but what we do know is Demas loved this present world. His heart’s affection was no longer bound to Jesus. His heart’s affection was bound to something temporal.
There are two lessons to draw from Demas’ life. First, love of this world leads you away from God. You cannot serve two masters. If your heart’s affections are being drawn to the stuff of this world, the sins of this world, and the story of this world and the reality this world claims to be truth, and the style of this world, your heart is being drawn away from a love for God. It is that simple!
In James 4, the Scripture declares what happens with one who is a friend with this world,
4 …don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
When the Gospel truly comes to a life and to a heart, there is a transformation which takes place and it is a transformation of our affections. The Gospel brings about dramatic change in the things we love, but if there is no change in our affections then we rightly can wonder if the Gospel has touched our life.
Today there is a great lure and a great calling from this world to love it. Jesus spoke in the parable of the soils of a certain seed falling on a certain soil. The seed is the Word of God and the soil is the human heart. He said, “This soil had thorns in it and one of the thorns is the cares of this life, the riches of this life, and the pleasures of this life.” The problem in not in the power of the seed to bring life, but the problem is in the soil as it rests and is rooted in our hearts.
The second lesson of Demas, and the most profound lesson, is this: we need to examine our faith to test its authenticity. If you are to ask anyone, at the writing of Colossians or Philemon, “Is Demas a Christian”, I tell you the answer will be, “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” If you were to ask the Apostle Paul, at the end of the writing of 2 Timothy, “Is Demas a Christian”, I believe he would say, “No, for Demas loved this present world and everyone who loves this world is an enemy of God.”
We read in 1 John 2,
15 …If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
And in 1 John 5, we read,
4 …everyone born of God overcomes the world.
Demas had the world overcome him. I urge you to be careful your faith and your religion is authentic. When I say “authentic” I mean be sure your faith is not hollow, formal, false, counterfeit, and nominal in name only. Be sure it is authentic, inward, solid, substantial, intrinsic, living, and it is lasting.
Observe how often Jesus, in His parables, warned us against an inauthentic faith, a faith which is hollow and which has no benefit to the bearer. Consider the parables of the sower of the weeds, of the nets, of the two sons, of the wedding garments, of the ten virgins, of the talents, of the banquet, of the ten minas, and of the two builders. They all have this one great point in common: they strike at the great difference there is between authentic faith and an unreal faith.
Why did Jesus talk about this so much? It is because the danger for us is grave and the consequences are severe. Consider the woeful examples in Scripture of those who came to give evidence of an inauthentic faith. We think of Judas, one of the Twelve; of Simon Magnus in the Book of Acts. At Samaria, Simon Magnus is said to have believed and yet his heart was not right with God. Consider Demas himself. It is written of the demons, they believe and yet they tremble.
What should we say of these things? Should they not set our hearts to thinking and to trembling a little bit about our own condition? How might you examine yourself?
I will close with an expression of five tests a bishop by the name of J.C. Ryle brings. First, as you examine your faith, test your faith by the place it occupies in your inner-self. Ryle writes, “It is not enough that in your head you may know the truth, ascent to the truth, and believe the truth, and yet be wrong in God’s sight. It is not enough it is on your lips. You may say, ‘Amen’ to the public prayer in church and have nothing more than outward religion. It is not enough that in your feelings you may weep under preaching one day and be lifted to the Third Heaven by a joyous excitement another day, and yet be dead to God. Your religion, if it is authentic and given by the Holy Spirit, must be in your heart. It must hold the reigns. It must sway the affections. It must lead the will. And, it must direct the faith.”
The second test is the test of your attitude toward sin. Do you see sin, and your own sin, as a small thing or as a very deep thing, a thing which is abominable and which God hates; a thing which makes us guilty and a thing which makes us lost? Do we see our sin as that which will eternally ruin us unless something happens? Test your faith, for true, authentic faith understands sin this way.
Third, test your faith in regards to your affections toward Jesus. Religion in name only believes Jesus existed, that He walked this earth, that He performed some miracles, and that He taught certain stories. In the authentic religion which glories in Jesus, everything becomes about Jesus. Jesus is our Deliverer, our Priest, our Friend, He is our Redeemer, He is our God, He is our Savior, and it is everything which moves toward Him. Test your faith in this way to see if it is true of yours.
Fourth, test your faith by the fruit it bears in regards to your life. As a result of your faith, is there genuine repentance and hope and love and humility, a kindness, an unselfishness, a forgiving spirit, a truthfulness, and a patience? Are these things evident?
Lastly, if you wish to know if your faith is authentic, test it by your joy in the resources of God’s grace which He gives. Do you delight in prayer? Do you delight to pick up the Book and say, “God, I want to hear your Word afresh.”
I ask you, is your faith genuine or is it fake?
The longer I pastor, the more concerned I am of whether or not, on Judgment Day, all whom I assume will be there, saved and redeemed, before God and Jesus Christ, really will be. I urge you, as I urge myself, test and examine yourself to see whether or not your faith is genuine and authentic.
We have before us these three men. Tychicus: God gave him grace to endure and Tychicus grabbed onto that grace and he held onto it day-in and day-out. He gave us John Mark and God gave him grace to recover. In the midst of his stumbling, he said, “God, I am not, in pride, going to remain down here, in the darkness of this world. I am going to look back up to You and believe.” And, God gave us Demas, who having loved the present world left the faith, a faith which failed altogether.
The book closes this way,
18 …Grace be with you.
Do you know the grace of Jesus Christ who entered into this world to redeem such a one as yourself and myself? Have you believed in Jesus?