Have Faith Get Credit

I am reading through Romans and I started thinking about Romans 4:3 which is also Romans 4:22 and Galatians 3:6.

Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

As it should it got me asking the question “what did Abraham believe?” The simplest answer is  God; Abraham believed God. Martin Luther in his commentary on Romans says that “this… must be understood in an absolute and general sense…Abraham was a man who, at all times, was ready to believe God.” In Romans and Galatians Paul is quoting Genesis 15:16 where it says Abraham believed God when God told him he will have a child, but in a much larger sense, Abraham was believing in God to be God.

He was believing that God could be kept to His word and that the things that God said would come to pass would in fact come to pass. Abraham believed God when He told him to leave his land (Gen 12:4). Abraham believed God for a son even though he was old and as good as dead (Rom 4:19). Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if he had to sacrifice him (Heb 11:19). Abraham even believed God when He told him to circumcise himself and his whole household (Gen 17:23). Abraham had faults and failures but his life overall is one that is marked by faith in God.

It is so simple, yet so difficult. Belief is all that is required and it has always been that way. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God” and when we understand that God does not change (Mal 3:6) we can understand that it has always and will always be that way. You might think that Abraham was given righteousness because he followed the Law but no that is not the case as the Law did not come until 430 years later. Maybe it was because Abraham was circumcised but no that was about 10-13 years after Genesis 15. Maybe you might think the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt because they kept the Law and it was due to them to be freed but no the Law was given to them after they believed and crossed the Red Sea. Belief always comes first. At no point has it ever been different. When my wife and I prepared to move to Maine with no money or a place to live it was done because we believed God said go. He provided a place to live for us there but the belief that He was God and good was first.

In his commentary on Galatians for 3:6 Luther says, “To believe in God as Abraham did is to be right with God because faith honors God. Faith says to God: “I believe what you say.”” God wants you right with Him and He has done everything for you to be right with Him. He gave His Son as the penalty for sin so you could enjoy everlasting life, and He raised His Son so that you might live an abundant life. For me I sometimes think “yeah but what if it doesn’t work out?” and to be honest sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe not the way I think maybe not at all. Sometimes bad stuff still happens but you can either dwell in the possibility of the negative or have faith in God that He is God. When you decide to have faith in God it should not be for a thing but in that He is God and He is good. Your faith should be in God not in the benefits of His being God. My daughter does not trust me because I provide things for her although I do. Instead, she trusts me because she knows I have her best interest at heart and I am good (at least in her eyes). Her faith in me is not predicated on the possibility of things, and our faith in God should not be predicated on the possibility of material blessing. We believe because He is God.

When you read the Old Testament you can see that a lot of them did not have a firm grasp on the idea of an afterlife. For most it was not a common idea as it was still being revealed. However, in spite of not having an idea that they could live forever with God they worshiped, obeyed, and served Him because if this life was all they had then He should be trusted in it. How much more should we worship, obey, and serve knowing we will live with Him forever. The joy of receiving Him is the most blessed thing we could ever have, everything else is a bonus.

That is not to say however that we should not believe God for everything. As mentioned Abraham believed God for all those things but it started with faith in God. In believing God to be good and in believing Him to provide we honor Him. We honor God when we believe that He can make a way where this is no way to see. When we place our faith in God to do the impossible we exalt Him above the world, above logic, and above us. When we believe God He pleased.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

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Well then…

I do not know your background, history, family, upbringing, relationship status, income, race, etc.  It would be impossible for me to know this about you.  These are not things I can know.  What I do know is all of these things determine how you view Jesus.  The sum total of your life leaves you with a few things and a view of Jesus is one of these things you come up with.  So I am not going to waste time telling you the way you view God is wrong because it may very well be right.  What I am going to do however is tell you what God thinks about you.

I am not going to talk about religion, or being “spiritual”, or whatever funny term some use when they want to talk about knowing Jesus.  No we’re going to talk about a love affair.  A love affair so scandalous that none other in history can compare to it.  A love affair so beyond what you have ever heard that is shakes the core of many people myself included.

Romans 5:8 says “Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.”  (God’s Word Translation).  This is the love I am talking about.  A love that gave all, that spared nothing, held nothing in reserve.  You may or may not understand that so again “Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.”  God sent His Son to die in your place.  OH MY WORD!  I cannot express how amazing that is.  Maybe it is just because of how much pain I had in my life, maybe it is because of the pain I caused others.  To know that the God of the universe loves me and gave everything so I can live is astounding, and scandalous.  You need to understand I was not raised Christian, I caused pain, cheated and wrong people, I hurt myself regularly to let out the pain I felt, I took pills and smoked pot to lessen the pain.  I used to hurt every day.  I was in agony.  Then I find that God the one true God loves me, and He loves me so much He died so I can live.  This is love, this is real love.

I say these things because I cannot know what your view of Jesus is.  What I do know is God’s view of you.  God sees you in pain, He sees you cause pain, He sees that you need help.  You are in a hole that you cannot escape from.  So to prove He loves you He comes to you.  I dare you to prove me wrong.  I dare you to honestly and wholeheartedly call out to God and ask Him to make Himself real to you.  If you do, He will show up and shake the foundations of your world.  He wants you to, He has given everything so you can.

So here is the question some are asking, if God loves why is the world so screwed up?  Easy answer because we screw it up.  You can’t blame God because you are a jerk, sorry it does not work that way.  Lets all stop asking about the innocent victim of this crime or that crime for just a second and focus on you.  You cause people pain, you cheat and lie to people, you try really hard but you are not perfect.  I still do these things so lets not pretend OK.  Let’s follow that question all the way through for a minute.

You say if God is love then He should stop the hurting and punish the wicked.  OK we will obviously start with the murders, and rapist, and drug cartels.  But wait where is the line?  Where do we stop and say OK only these offenses need to be punished.  The pain you caused your spouse with the affair you had makes them hurt real bad so you are out.  You lie to get ahead at work causing someone who should have gotten the promotion to get passed over, now they cannot make the money needed to get their child the treatment needed.  You’re out.  So on and so on.  Injustice is injustice and takes many forms.  Trust me you do not want God to give you what you deserve.  You want mercy.  The good news is it is yours for the asking.

Check this out if you do not think this is scandalous enough yet.  This one may blow you away.  God sees everything, but not just everything that is going on right now, He sees everything that happened and everything that will happen.  He is outside of time and a clock or calendar mean nothing.  So here is the thing; God created the world and was speaking it all into existence and said It is Good.  He could still see you, He could see your need for love and a Savior.  At no point was it a shock to Him that you were in pain.  He sees your yesterday today and tomorrow and He saw it before He created anything.  Revelation 13:8 says the Lamb (Jesus) was slain before the foundation of the world.  That means God foresaw your need and was ready for it.  He saw your pain and made a way before you could even call to Him.   He has done everything.  The work, the timing, the planning it was all Him.  He loves you that much.

I don’t know if I can really say anything else about.  I’ll finish with this.  God loves you, and He wants you to love Him.  He will not make you, He will not force Himself on you.  But He has done everything possible to make the relationship work.  All you have to do is accept the invite.

Just a thought,

Mike 

You don’t work there anymore!

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

I was thinking about Romans 6:14 the other day and trying to figure out how to explain that to myself.  Often I read a verse or section of Scripture and really like it but cannot seem to explain it to myself in a way that makes sense.  This is one of those verses for example.  I understand that sin is no longer my master, and I understand I am no longer under the law but why does sin keep bothering me, and why will it not let me alone?  

Have you ever had a job that you were really good at?  I mean one where your employer and co-works were really impressed with you and your performance?  The kind of job that was hard to leave because you knew it so well and they knew you just as well.  I am talking about the kind of job that even after you leave they contact you every once in awhile to ask for help and see if you want to come back.  That is what this is like.  You used to work for sin, it was your boss and you worked hard for your wages.  You would come in early and leave late.  You gave up family time to do what it wanted.  It knew just how to get you motivated and although the job was hard you really enjoyed it at times.  

The Greek word in this verse for master is kurieuó and it means to be lord of, or rule.  The definition goes further and says “properly, to exercise rights over”.  That means sin was your boss and knew it.  When you left it was mad, it was not happy to lose such a great employee.  So like that old job it keeps calling, like that old relationship you should not have had it keeps calling.  Just come back, just come over, lets just connect on Linkedin, lets just connect on Facebook.  Lets just get coffee.  I miss you.  It will pull at your strings, it will push those buttons that have always worked so well because it wants you back.  It wants what it used to have returned to it.  

But and this is the beautiful thing sin does not have rights to you anymore.  You are now under grace.  You are now dead to sin and hidden with Christ in God.  He has purchased you and is now Master over your life.  He now has kurieuó over your life.  You have a new Master and He does not want you playing around with other job opportunities.  He does not want you entertaining other employment options.  He wants you wholly as His own.

How do we fight it though?  You worked for sin for so long it knows how to get at you.  It knows how to entice you back into service.  The answer is simple you must change.  You must embrace the new man you are and learn to walk in Him.  When you walk in the newness you have received sin cannot tempt you with things you have put off.  We must understand the new man we have put on and walk only in it.  Galatians 5:6 says if we walk by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh, what that means is simply if you are doing one you cannot do the other.  Think of it this way you cannot sit and jump at the same time.  If you do one you do not do the other.  Being under grace is the same way; if you are under grace you are not under the law.  You can only serve one master I suggest you chose the one who wants to give you an abundant life.
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