Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 28, 2012

Thought for the Week March 4, 2012

We have been discussing grace for a few weeks. Let me summarize by saying that grace is God’s great gift. Because of grace, Jesus took our place on the cross, satisfying forever God’s wrath against mankind for our rebellion, and opened the door for us to be made right in His sight and live with Him forever. As a gift, grace is never earned or deserved, it is only given. In addition to the gift of forgiveness and life, grace provides our new identity (if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation – II Corinthians 5:17). God makes us holy, adopted children, saints, and so much more only by grace. We become what we never could attain to on our own.

With that identity comes God’s power to live in perfect harmony with the person that He says we are. Grace is God’s operative power in us, imparted by the presence of the Holy Spirit, by which we are transformed into the image of His Son – we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18). All of this is free, available, given by grace.

That brings up another fundamental biblical teaching – how does one receive such a wonderful gift? If grace is free and we don’t have to do anything to get it, why doesn’t everyone enjoy the fruit of this gift and everything that comes with it? It must be received and the way it is received is by faith – by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) and we conclude that a man is justified by faith (Romans 8:28). Everywhere you look in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, you’ll find that everything about a relationship with God revolves around faith.

So, how can it be a gift if I must have faith? Isn’t faith something that I do? Not really. Paul tells us that even the faith we use is God’s gift to us. Acting in faith simply means taking God at His Word and living as if what He says is true. In Romans 10:17, Paul tells us that we get faith by listening to what God says in His Word. So we begin with God and His Word. Biblical faith has only one object – God. The Bible is everything God has revealed about Himself and how He relates to creation and man. The Bible declares itself to be true and the standard of all truth.

Faith, then, means finding out what God says about whatever topic or concept and taking it as absolutely true so much that I act like it’s true. For instance: if God says that I am a new creation when I believe in Christ, that my old ways have passed away and everything in my life is now from and related to God Himself, then faith says I accept that and live like I’m new. I no longer have to yield to sin, I can live before God in real acceptance and holiness. Faith means that I can look myself in the mirror and say, “Tom, you are a saint!” I may not look like a saint (or my perception of what a saint should be) and, sometimes, I may not act like a saint, but God says that I am just that through His grace.

Faith means acting like I am being changed into the image of Jesus Christ even if I don’t feel like anything is happening or if I sometimes find the image looks kind of rusty. Acting like what God says I am is not hypocrisy – it is faith. Hypocrisy is acting like something that I really am not, maybe like that old sinner I once was.

The Hebrews writer tells us faith is substance. Even though we can’t see it faith is real. It brings those things we hope for into reality. It is evidence that things we can’t see are there. When you sense God prompting you to believe that shows His Word is true. (See Hebrews 11:1)

Well, let these ideas ruminate for a week and we’ll talk some more about faith. For some extra reading, check out Romans 3:26-31, Galatians 3:2-14, Hebrews 11. Listen to what God says, let it sink into your heart, and believe. Just a thought.

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