Unbelief, Belief, and Salvation


Sermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- John 4:43-54

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From health crises, to natural disasters, to accidents, to dangers in the world, chances are incredibly high that somewhere, sometime your life will be touched by a crisis. Regardless of our station in life, trouble, sorrow, and death come to all. We often think about what we would do or how we would react. Research shows that people do not typically react as well as they think they will in a crisis. Regardless of how good you are on the crisis coping scale, you can develop good skills and abilities to for coping with disasters and crises.

This passage of Scripture focuses on a physical crisis, that led to a crisis of faith. A crisis can cause you to be drawn toward God, or it can cause you to be drawn away from God. How you respond makes all the difference in the world, and perhaps in your eternity.

Jesus had spent two days in Samaria. His short ministry there was very successful. The Samaritan woman came to faith in Jesus, and many others there came to believe also. This is where we pick up in the Scripture.

God will meet you at your point of need, and He wants you to trust in Him.

When you come to a crisis point. . .

Call out to God. (Unbelief)

Jesus went to Galilee to follow God’s will. Galilee was in the middle of nowhere. He was very popular at this point in His ministry and attracted quite a following. Nazareth was Jesus’ hometown. The people there knew His family. He would perform few miracles there because of their unbelief. Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. It is interesting it says the people welcomed Him in Galilee when He came there. The people were aware of the miracles He had performed in Jerusalem. They likely wanted to see more. Yet their faith was not yet genuine. A short-lived superficial belief in Jesus, is not the same as a serious, long-term commitment to Jesus.

Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, and it is recorded in Matthew and Luke. When the sower scattered the seed, some seed fell along the path, and birds came and ate them up. Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil and they sprang up quickly because the soil wasn’t deep. But when they came up they were scorched, because they had no root. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop- some 100, some 60 and some 30 times what was sown. People with a short-lived superficial belief in Jesus, are like the seeds that fall along the path and the birds eat them up. Or the ones that fall on rocky ground and have no root. What God is looking for, is the good soil, where the seed can fall and take root and produce.

The Galileans initially welcomed Jesus. Just because the Galileans initially welcomed Jesus doesn’t mean they truly accepted Him. They were basically unbelievers who were fascinated by the signs, by the miracles. So Jesus returned to Cana of Galilee, where He turned water into wine in John 2. There was a certain royal official whose son was ill at Capernaum. The man heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee. He went to Jesus and pleaded with Him to come down and heal his son, for he was about to die.

Royal Official- means he was connected to a king or ruler. Perhaps it was Herod Antipas- the wicked man who had married his brother’s wife and put John the Baptist to death. He rushed in a time of crisis, approximately 20 miles from Capernaum where he lived, to Cana of Galilee. He couldn’t even have known when he arrived where Jesus was, if his son was still alive. His reason for coming was a crisis- his son was sick- and at the point of death. He personally sought Jesus out and this was the initial work of God in His life to draw him to Himself.

Maybe he asked around town to find out where Jesus was staying. A crowd of curious onlookers follows him to where Jesus is staying, looking to see a miracle. He was probably fairly well off from a worldly standpoint. But, as someone has said, money can buy a king-sized bed but not sleep, companions but not friends, a house but not a home, books but not wisdom, medicine but not a cure. Jesus recognized the royal official was not really believing in Him, he was just desperate. He doesn’t even answer the cry for help initially.

V48 Jesus told him, unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.

Jesus rebuked the people who were there for their dependence on the miraculous. They were following Jesus as though He was a religious sideshow. On the surface His response to the man, seems like a detached, cold response. It was actually a response of grace. In C.S. Lewis’s biography, Surprised By Joy, he relates how he was brought struggling into the kingdom of God, his eyes looking every which way for an escape. Then he wrote, “The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and his compulsion, is our liberation.”

The man calls out to Jesus again- v49 Sir, the official said to Him, come down before my boy dies!

God often uses crises to cause us to seek Him in ways we would not have otherwise.

When you come to a crisis point. . .

Take God at His Word. (Belief)

Sometimes, we have an idea of what God has to do to solve our problems. The man thought Jesus had to go to Capernaum, to heal his son. So he pleads for mercy. He doesn’t demand Jesus to do anything, or try to buy Him with his money. Jesus’ response?? V50 Go, your son will live.

Jesus drew Him in to the point of belief. The man had nothing to go on but Jesus’ word. He doesn’t get what he asks for, Jesus does not volunteer to go to Capernaum with him. Yet it is a challenge for the official to trust the word of Jesus.

J.C. Ryle- Christ’s Word is as good as His presence. What Christ has said, He is able to do; and what He has undertaken, He will never fail to make good. The sinner who has really reposed his soul on the word of the Lord Jesus, is safe for all eternity. In the things of this world, we say that seeing is believing. But in the things of the Gospel, believing is as good as seeing. (Expository Thoughts On The Gospels)

 Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

This is similar to the OT story in 2 Kings 5. The Army Captain, Naaman, had leprosy. His wife’s servant, an Israelite, told him about Elisha the prophet in Samaria, who could cure him of his leprosy. He was desperate, so he put together a nice reward and sent word to the King of Israel. The King of Israel was not favorable toward him and thought he intended trouble. Elisha heard what Naaman wanted and sent for Naaman. Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. He expected Elisha to come out and call on the Lord and heal him. Elisha didn’t even come out of the house.

He sent his servant out to tell him to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times and his leprosy would be cured. Naaman was furious. But he went anyway and washed himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy and he was clean. He recognized the healing had come from God.

We should take God at His Word-

The Bible is inspired (breathed out) and is the Word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible is sufficient (contains all we need) and is the Word of God.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness.

The Bible is infallible (incapable of error) and is the Word of God.

2 Peter 1:19 We have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it.

Jesus is the Word of God- the logos.

 The Promises of Christ to us in the Word of God are many:

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

John 5:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.

 John 14:23 If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.

 Revelation 22:7 Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.

 V50 The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed. What does the man believe? At a minimum he trusts that there is hope, even if he didn’t exactly understand what it meant. He understands Jesus is telling him his son is not yet dead, and will not die. He makes his way home, most likely very anxiously.

When you come to a crisis point. . .

Believe God in saving faith.  (Salvation)

V51 While he was still going down, his slaves met him saying the boy was alive.

 The servants apparently were pretty amazed at the boy’s condition, and did not want their master to suffer the thought of how his son was, any longer than necessary. Think about it from the servants’ perspective. Their master’s son was very ill. They knew if something didn’t happen quickly the boy would die. Their master hurries to Cana of Galilee, hoping to find Jesus and summon Him to come and heal the boy.

 The boy’s condition continues to go downhill. Hope seems lost Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the fever broke and he starts to get better immediately. The danger is past and the servants recognize the boy will live. As soon as their master comes into view, they rush to him to give him the good news that his son is going to live. The words are remarkably similar to what Jesus has told the father already. Imagine the relief and joy that came over the man that day.

But wait, he suddenly begins to realize there is more to this than the obvious. He asked his servants what time the boy got better. They replied- v52 Yesterday at seven in the morning the fever left him.

 V53 The father realized it was the very hour at which Jesus had told him, Your son will live.

This was a miracle brought about by Jesus speaking only a word! The God who spoke creation into being, can speak and great things happen. His Word is powerful! The man knows there has been a miracle.

V53 Then he himself believed, along with his whole household.

This is a deep, informed belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. The man and his entire househould came to faith in Jesus. Faith is essential, and is the primary focus, not the healing itself, because not everyone receives a healing or a dramatic answer like this. Sometimes God has other reasons for what He does in our lives. If your faith is only based on what Jesus does at a particular moment in life, how is it possible your faith will stand in the challenges of life?

The media billionaire, Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, TBS, and TNT has repeatedly attacked the Christian faith through the years. He has described it as “a religion for losers.”  You may not know that he was not always that way. He shared in an interview with the New Yorker magazine some years back that he was training to be a missionary. But he turned his back on God and Christianity after he watched his younger sister die a slow and painful death as a teenager, from an immune deficiency she had. Ted Turner said, “I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.” This is the problem with temporal faith, it is not saving faith.

The writer John tells us in v54 that this is the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed when He came from Judea to Galilee. It is the second of his selected signs, intended to bring men and women to faith in Jesus as their Savior.

God calls you to come to Him and He will meet you at your point of need. 

God often allows or brings crises, adversity into our lives, that is beyond our ability to handle, to teach us to trust in Him alone. Are you hurting? Are you in a situation that is causing you to feel helpless? God in His grace may be compelling you to come to Him and call out to Him, to trust in His Word, and believe in Him for salvation.