What is Faith

January 20, 2009

Hebrews says that Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But, I’d like to offer another definition. Faith is obedience in action. Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness. Yes, Abraham believed God. But, the important thing is thae he believed God enough to act on it. Abraham actually got up and moved to another place. If Abraham had simply said, “Yeah, I believe you”, but had not followed up with action, would that have been faith?

God calls us to do absurd, rididuclous things. When God sent Moses to Pharoah, he already gave Moses several signs. There was the burning bush, the rod that became a serpent, and Moses’ hand that changed. But Moses still wanted a sign. God told him to go and tell Pharoah, “Let my people go” and when Pharoah refuses, that will be a sign. It’s like God saying go tell the bank to loan you a million dollars because your new idea is going to be the biggest thing ever. But, when they laugh at you and escort you out to the sidewalk, THAT will be a sign unto you that yyou will succeed.
Think of the shepherds who were met by angels and told to go to Bethlehem and find a babe lying in a manger. As if the angels weren’t enough! So what if there was a child lying in a manger of stable outside an inn in an overcrowded city full of people travelling to take a census. That really isn’t any more out of the ordinary than today finding a child left in a dumpster. But, to believe that that child is going to be a King is something altogether awesome.

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Okay, so I don’t post often.  Part of that is because, I like to do a bit of research on topics before I jump into them.  Also, I’m trying to dig into stuff that most Christian know very little about.  And I’ve been literally going through the Bible a chapter at a time covering topics.  My next planned post was going to be on the Table of Nations–but. . .

In my personal Bible study, I’ve really come into something that needs to be talked about more in the Church today.  It’s a topic that most people don’t like to talk about and at most when we talk about it, we skim the surface like a pebble across a pond, not dive into it and plunge its depths.  So, I’m skipping the OT commentary for a while and jumping into the NT.  What I’m talking about is Matthew 7:21-23.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Whoa!  There it is!  Did you catch it?  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven”.  Wow!  That means a lot of people who think they’re saved now, will be sorely disappointed come that Day.

In verse 22, he goes on to say that many will say “‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’  Then, I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.  Away from me you evildoers!”

To be totally honest, this verse has always made me a little uneasy.  I mean, you think you’re saved on that you’re on the Glory Land Way.  Right?  And then boom!  Jesus just pulls the rug right out from under you. 

But, I don’t quite think it works that way, either.  Jesus gives us several points here that we need to take into consideration.

In verse 23, he calls them “evildoers”.  Well, who are evil doers?  The obvious answer is those who do evil.  Those who rebel against the Law and God.  It is possible to go to Church on Sunday and live like hell on Saturday.  Conversely, he says in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”.

So, who’s going to heaven?  The one who does the will of the Father.  That’s right.  So what is the will of the Father?  This doesn’t necessarily mean finding the “will” for your life like whether or not to take that job offer.  No, this is about doing the basic will of God.  Let’s bounce back to the OT for just a second and look at Deut 10:12

12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

The will of God is that we fear Him, we walk in ALL His ways, love Him and serve Him and to observe His commands.

One last thought.  If you go back to Matt 7:15-20, we learn that you can tell a tree by its fruit.  And that every tree that  does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions.  But I do set goals.  This year, I hope to bear more good fruit in my life and I hope you will too.

May God shower his blessings on you

When one considers the fall of man and the whole eating the apple story; it is hard not to get caught up in the curse of Eve. (“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” Gen 3:16b).  Yes this verse has caught the ire of feminists everywhere and been source of every Biblical offense against women.  But, as I have noted in my other posts, the Bible does not condone misogyny.

However, we also cannot blame God for every offense committed in his name or how twisted men use scripture to justify twisted deeds.  I want to use this post to talk a little about true submission.  But first let’s look at something else, shall we.  We all know that Eve took the apple first and brought it to her husband right?  But check this out.  Scripture says: “For just as through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the  one man, the many will be made righteous”.  (Romans 5:19)  Did you cath that the disobedience of one man.  But who took of the fruit first?  So why then is it through the man that sin comes into the world?  What was Adam’s sin?  It was this.  He failed to look after what was given to him.  When God gave Adam dominion over the garden, it wasn’t to kick back and prop his feet up.  No, God made man to work in the garden (Gen 2:5).  But that’s not all.  When God gave Adam dominion,  He was saying “I’m holding you responsible for whatever happens in here”.  And I believe he still says that to men today.

Adam didn’t have to take the fruit.  He could have chased the serpent out of the garden.  He could have told Eve not to do it (And yes, she still could have).  He could have called on the name of the God who walked with him in the cool of the day.  But he chose to do none of this and therein lays Adam’s sin. 

So, what does all of this have to do with submission?  Because when we are in charge, sometimes we have to do the hard thing and to put the good of others ahead of our own desires.  But moreover I wanted to touch on some other scripture teaching on submission. 

First I believe that submission is a unique little word with not one but two opposites.  On one end is subjugation. (don’t bother looking this up in a dictionary) The Bible may say wives submit to your husbands.  But no where does it say husbands subjugate your wives.  If you try to subjugate someone else to your will, you will only succeed in making them and eventually yourself miserable. 

The other opposite of submission is selfishness.  Christ gave himself to us in perfect submission not only to the Father’s will but also to our good.  He could have refused to go to Calvary (and who would blame him).  But he sought our good first.  Which is the heart of submission.

So let’s look at Godly submission

Mark 10:42-43

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”.

Look at Phillippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

And also 1 Peter 5:2-3

“. . . serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”.

So, submission is not just a “woman thing” or the “wife’s job”.  As Christians we are called to submit to one another and to minister unto one another.  If we did this I believe that our marriages would be blissful, our neighbors would hold us in high esteem and the church houses would be packed to overflowing from Sunday to Sunday.

God Revealed in Creation

August 18, 2008

Sorry for the extended hiatus.  But life gets in the way of the important stuff, does it not?

I wanted to continue on the commentary of Genesis with the story of Creation and the Fall of man.  A lot of stuff is something you’ve heard before.  But, I feel most of it bears repeating.

First,  as I’ve heard before the creation story is a great guide for getting organized.  Loot at how God seperates, categorizes and judges. (e.g. “it was good”).

One of the things that has always struck me about this story is that with everything else God did, he spoke into existence.  But with man, that wasn’t good enough.  No, he had to reach out with His hand and do that part.  God has only used His hand a few times in the Bible.  They are:

To make Man

To make Woman

To write the Ten Commandments

The Writing on the Wall (in Daniel)

Moreover, what I see about God and his organization is that he puts the important stuff first. Remember when Christ says, “I go to prepare a place for you. . .”  Well, isn’t that what God did here in Genesis?  He prepared a place first then brought man into the garden.

Also, we have the fall.  Satan tempts Eve then Adam.  I think most people realize here we find the first prophecy of Christ (Gen 3:15) You will bruise his heel but he will crush your head.  ( I love that scene in the Garden of Gethsemane in Passion of the Christ).

But what’s more.  We see what judgment will be like.  (I’m working late so please excuse my lack of references) but I know that the Bible says that its bad enough to give in to sin, but whoa to the man who tempts another.  Adam was judged for his sin; Eve for hers, and for leading her husband astray, and ultimately Satan for his evil.

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