Sermon Starter: A Simple Two-Step

July 1st, 2011
Image © Professor Megan | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

Scriptures for August 7, 2011

Genesis 37: 1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-34

I have to confess, I will never be seen in a dance competition, not even with a celebrity. In college it was popular to do the two-step, but I never did learn how to dance backwards with someone’s hand on the back of my neck. Fortunately for me, God’s two-step is not a dance, but a way of life.

The steps are: confess with your mouth and believe with your heart. Which one comes first? Well, you cannot really confess what you do not believe, so belief surely comes first, but really, both steps are perpetual. You have to continue confessing and believing. What you confess is that Jesus is Lord. That is an external step. Belief that God raised Jesus from the dead is the internal step. Together they make up a life of faith with Christ as the risen Lord of your life. Your confession is what saves you, and your belief is what justifies you. Actually, God does both, but you get the picture.

There is no physical evidence of our salvation, of course, other than a change in our behavior. It is not like earning a black belt where everyone knows what level you are by the color you wear. Anyone can be saved, and no one can be more saved than anyone else. We can only achieve a closer relationship with God and gain knowledge of his will through study and obedience and prayer. No college degree can confer greater salvation. My Master of Divinity degree does not make me holier than my congregation. I’ve known children who have a better grasp on God than some doctors of theology.

However, we must acknowledge the existence of varying levels of faith. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus walked on water and Peter sought confirmation that it was really him, so he asked Jesus to invite him to join him. Apparently if Jesus was asking, Peter trusted Jesus to enable him to obey. Peter walked a bit, lost trust in himself, and panicked. He cried out, “Lord, save me,” meaning save my life, my physical being. He had already trusted his soul to Jesus. He had already confessed Jesus with his mouth and believed in him in his heart.

So why did Jesus say Peter had little faith? Did it mean he was not quite saved? Absolutely not. If Peter lost faith, it was in himself, the same as when he denied Jesus. He tried to trust himself and he failed. That is why Paul put so much emphasis on his two-step process of salvation. It is not for us to save ourselves. We do not create our salvation, we only choose it. We do not earn it, we merely receive it.

comments powered by Disqus