Faith

“If we emphasize faith does that mean we can forget about the law?”  Paul asks at the end of Romans 3.  And then he answers himself:  “Of course not!  In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.”

It seems to me that the first 4 chapters of Romans are primarily about sin, law and faith and the relationship between all three.  And up to now we have learned that we all sin, that the law doesn’t help but instead just makes the sin more obvious and that faith is somehow the answer to it all.  Paul has also introduced the concept of grace/ undeserved favour. In chapter 4 Paul tries to explain faith using Abraham as an example.

First of all it is as well to establish that Abraham was a sinner.  He mistrusted God on at least two occasions we know of and put Sarah in a compromised position, he had a child by his wife’s servant – as well as several other liaisons.  He also committed murder on several occasions – or at least he was involved in war – and would have killed his own son if God hadn’t stopped him.  By the way, it looks like Sarah had had enough after that incident since we don’t see her with him again until she is dead.  You wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to stay with a man who said God told him to kill their son.

But the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”  Abraham, just like us, needed a saviour – a God who forgives sinners.  And it was the trusting relationship with God that enabled God to pass on that forgiveness to him.  There was no way he could be with God, believing God, and not be forgiven since he couldn’t stand before God’s holiness except in a place of forgiveness.

“Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.  Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin!”  as David says.  Another man who needed a saviour.

The death of Jesus looks back as well as forward in its effects.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Part 1)

A couple of blogs back I wrote about the conflation there is in our terminology when referring to the Word of God.  Jesus Christ is the Spirit behind the words, the Power in them and the Way, the Truth and the Life of them.  The words on the pages of the Bible without His presence in them are like a dead body – instead of giving life they produce death (John 6:63, 2 Cor. 3:6).

So we have to hear His Spirit speaking to us when we read His words.  And when we do what wonders can follow!

“For nothing is impossible with God”

“All things are possible to those who believe.”

“Everything that you ask, believing, you will receive.”

“Is there anything too hard for God?”

“If you ask anything in My name, I will give it to you.”

are just a few of the things that He says to us.

But what about something specific?  Is it possible to hear about that?  Well I believe it is and that it is essential we do hear specifically.

When David was going to fight against the Philistines, he clearly heard the tactics he was to use straight from the mouth of God (2 Sam 5:23,24).  On two occasions he heard Him and the tactics were different in both cases (he went directly against them the first time and circled around them the second).  David was an example of someone depending on God on a daily basis and not just someone using a past method that succeeded to do something very similar again the same way.  Had David done the same thing twice, without waiting on God the second time, the results would have no doubt been different.  The first time He heard God, the second time he would have been presumptuous.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  He is not limited to using the same formula time and again.  There is no relationship with God involved in taking a phrase like “By His stripes we are healed” and using it again and again like a mantra.  I’ve seen people do this and I don’t know of any situation where it achieved the results that they were expecting.  Unless someone hears Jesus say that word specifically in relation to a specific situation then no faith will come, just a kind of stubborn, desperate act of the will and flesh.

There is a school of doctrine that emerges in various places in the Christian churches from time to time. It says something along the line of “If you have enough faith then you can always see someone healed.”  I’d ask the question “Faith in what?”  If it is faith in a sentence plucked from the Scripture, even those I’ve quoted above, then I would ask “Did you hear the Holy Spirit say that to you about this situation or did you just take the words without the power in them?”  The truth is that if you have enough faith you will see someone healed or raised from the dead or whatever.  But faith only comes through hearing the Word of God.  We have to hear Him speak the words to us not just read them and think we can apply them like some kind of lotion.

In my next blog we’ll explore this topic further with some real life examples.

Abraham and Isa…

Abraham and Isaac: Father and Son It was a very long trudge up Mt. Moriah as Abraham went to sacrifice his son to his God.  He was thinking about it as he went along.  He knew that it was a common enough thing among the gods of the people’s around him for them to ask […]