Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

1 John 4

1 John 4 has the author writing much to us about God and the love that we have because of Him.  He first reminds us of the power we have as children of God.  “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.  As Christ Followers, we are on the winning side.  That’s the outcome of being a child of God.  “Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us”.  If we follow Christ, we must listen to God and the truth of His Word.  It is our guiding light.

John goes on to teach us the importance of love as a sign of being a true Christ Follower.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him”.  Love is the sign post of being a Christ Follower.  We begin with loving God, but it goes much further to loving those in our patch.  We are to love one another because God is love and His love is in us as believers.  It has to come out to those around us.

It really isn’t optional.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another….if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us”.  If we don’t love each other, God won’t be around.  He lives in us when Christ is alive and received as our Savior and Lord.  “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”.  God moves in when we get off the throne of our life and receive His gift of grace.  “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”.  Love is the outcome of faith.

Love is strong.  In fact, it is stronger than fear.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.  If we truly love, we know that it is more powerful than anything we could fear.  God loved us when we didn’t deserve it.  “We love because he first loved us….whoever loves God must also love his brother”.  God loved us way before we even considered loving Him.  And as a result, we need to love not only Him but those in our patch.  God is love.  If God is in us, we must love one another!


1 John 2

1 John 2 has the writer focused on how we should live as Christ Followers.  He begins by telling us that he is “writing these things to you so that you may not sin”.  Here is a truth we need to understand – we don’t have to sin.  Sin is absolutely a choice we make.  And while we know we will sin, it isn’t because we have to or are destined to, but because we are human and prone to making choices that are not aligned with God’s ways.  So it will happen, and God knows that and it’s why Jesus came to earth – to be the way for us to deal with sin through His shed blood.  John reminds us that “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.  We can’t deal with sin on our own, but we don’t have to because Jesus has paid the price.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world”.  Jesus has paid the price.  He was the atoning sacrifice that God sent to pay for sin once and for all through His death on the Cross.  So the question is not whether there is a way to deal with sin, but rather whether we will receive the gift God has offered and come into relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  How do we know if we have?  “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”.  It all boils down to obedience.  If we are truly in relationship with the Savior we are obedient to His ways.

John goes on to make it very clear that if we are saved we will live differently.  “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes”.  One of the outcomes of a saving relationship with Jesus will be love for all.  You can’t say you are His and fail to love.  It is an outcome of being saved.  It is what happens as a result of our sin being forgiven and our future secured.

John also addresses different groups of people where they are.  He writes to them in this way because:

  • “Little children
    • because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake
    • because you know the Father
  • Fathers
    • because you know him who is from the beginning (he says this twice to Fathers)
  • Young men
    • because you have overcome the evil one
    • because you are strong
    • because the word of God abides in you
    • because you have overcome the evil one

These are the realities that each group needs to know and understand.  We need to know, teach and live these truths.

He goes on to remind us that as Christ Followers we need to be set apart from the world we live in.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world”.  We are in the world, but we need to not be of the world.  We have to realize that we are merely passing through, and that we should not put our focus on our desires – stuff, power, pride, etc.  God expects us to live in the world but not be consumed by it.  If we love the world, we cannot love God.  It is that simple!

James 2

James 2 begins with some strong words about how we treat people in our patch.  “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,”  while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become  judges with evil thoughts”?  There is no room for partiality in God’s kingdom.

God expects us to love all people everywhere.  “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it”.  Can we get to heaven and eternity by our own efforts?  James makes it pretty clear that won’t happen.  God only allows us to become perfected when we keep ALL the law.  One failure point disqualifies us from being good enough to be free from it’s conviction.  And how we treat others is definitely one area most if not all of us will fall short.  Treating people with partiality is a sin.  Failing in one area – committing one sin – puts us without entry to eternity with God.  It’s why we need Jesus.

James goes on to make clear that faith alone is not what it looks like when one becomes a true Christ Follower.  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him”?  James starts with a question about what salvation really looks like.  And then he goes on to answer it quickly.  “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”.  If we truly have faith and a relationship with Christ – we will be moved to live out that faith through works.

Works are a result of faith, but not really a choice, but rather a result. James uses Abraham as an example of what faith will do in our life.  It comes alive and leaks out through works.  It isn’t something we keep to ourselves. “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed  by his works”. We can’t contain our faith and keep it to ourselves.  It has to come out and bless others.  “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”.  It isn’t that works are part two of a salvation experience with Jesus.  But rather that true faith in our Savior and Lord can’t be contained and held within. It will come out of us.  It is a sign of a true relationship with the Savior. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”.

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 is the faith hall of fame.  This chapter, like none other in the Bible, tells us not only what faith is, but gives us dozens of examples of how people lived out their lives for faith.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”.  Faith is believing and having conviction of what you know to be true.  Faith is needed for what we can’t see and can’t touch.  God cares about our faith. Faith is a belief beyond reason but not in contradiction to reason or against reason.  It is essential for us to receive what God has for our future and eternity.  “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth”.

The writer goes on to give us many examples of faith in this listing.  They all begin with by faith….

  • we understand that the universe was created by the word of God
  • Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous
  • Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death
  • Noah, being warned by God concerning….constructed an ark
  • Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place  that he was to receive as an inheritance
  • Abraham went to live in the land of promise
  • Sarah herself received power to conceive
  • Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac
  • Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau
  • Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph
  • Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones
  • Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents
  • Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter
  • Moses left Egypt
  • Moses kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood
  • the people crossed the Red Sea
  • the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days
  • Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient

What a list of folks who lived out faith on a daily basis.  They set the example for us.  It’s a pretty high bar to achieve.

Does faith matter?  The author makes it pretty clear it absolutely does.  “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”.  The writer to the Hebrews doesn’t say that it is difficult to please God without faith. He says that it is impossible.  This is the basic faith required of anyone who seeks God. We must believe that He is who He says He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. We must believe that God is there, and that He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts.  That’s the key to faith.  To know God and to know He loves us and rewards us for our faith in Him.

But wait, there’s more.  The writer goes on to give us even more examples of those who belong in the faith hall of fame.  “For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight”.  Faith is powerful and has the ability to change the course of history if we live it in our life.  These people demonstrated faith in big ways.  But it is just as powerful in the day to day aspects of life.  Faith is foundational to our success in walking with Jesus!

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4 has Paul warning about what was to come.  “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”.  The Holy Spirit gives Paul a revelation about what will come:

  • The danger of apostasy (some will depart).
  • The danger of deception (deceiving spirits).
  • The danger of false teaching (teachings of demons).

The enemy wants to destroy God’s truth and the way it will happen is by raising up people who will teach something contrary and deceptive.  These false teachers at one point may have believed, but have had their consciences burned to the point they no longer respond.

Paul is clear on how we need to deal with this false information.  “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come”.  Paul cautioned Timothy to keep focused on the Word, not on things that come from man. The greatest effort must be put into God’s Word, not man’s word.  The same work and commitment that others put towards physical exercise should be put toward the pursuit of godliness.  It doesn’t just happen – we have to work toward it.  But it is the promise for the future.

Here is the focus we need to have: “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe”.  Our hope should not be in ourselves and what we think we can do.  God alone should be the source of hope.  He alone is the Savior of all men.  It is Jesus and Him alone.  Clarke says this: “What God intends for ALL, he actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the sins of the world, and tasted death for every man. As all have been purchased by his blood so all may believe; and consequently all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own fault.”

Paul charges Timothy with carrying the torch.  “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers  an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity….Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress”.  Timothy was a young preacher and had to fight for respect.  Paul makes it clear that it is through how he lived that he would earn that.  Our speech, conduct, love, faith, purity – these things let the world around us know who lives in us.  It’s about character and integrity and staying true to God’s Word.  No matter our age, how we live matters and gives us a platform to share the good news of Jesus in our life!

1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 1 has Paul writing to Timothy and urging him to remain in Ephesus to get after those in the church who were teaching doctrine that was false and not aligned with God’s truth.  The foundation of the gospel is this: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”.  It’s all about love – God’s love for mankind, and subsequently our love for one another.  That’s how you can boil down God’s plan – He loved us with unexplainable love that should penetrate our hearts and cause us to love one another the same way.

There is a conflict for some to understand how grace and the law can co-exist.  “Now we know that  the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted”.  The law helps us understand where we fall short.  It makes clear the truth that left to our own efforts to meet God’s standards of holiness and righteousness, we’re going to come up short.  We can’t make it on our own.  That’s where the gospel comes in.  It allows us through grace to be set free from our shortcomings in meeting the law and receive the gift of forgiveness even when we don’t deserve it.

That was Paul’s mission, to tell the world of the amazing love expressed through Christ as God’s grace.  “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”.  Paul was a sinner like all the rest of us, but when he accepted God’s grace through Christ, he was set free from that sin and made righteous through Jesus.  That’s what the gospel is all about.  It’s God’s love providing a future for all of us as sinners, if we receive the gift God offers.

Paul makes clear why Jesus came to this earth as a baby some 2000 years ago.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life”.  Jesus came for one reason – to save sinners.  That’s been God’s plan from the beginning.  He offered His only Son sacrificially on the cross to carry the burden of our sin and offer us mercy and grace through a relationship with Jesus.  That is the only way we can be freed from the penalty of our sin because we certainly will not achieve God’s standard through keeping the law.  Jesus is the only solution to our sin problem.  Have you dealt with the sin in your life?  Thinking God might forget or overlook it is a bad strategy.  Sin will be addressed.  Jesus and the grace God offers through Him, is our answer.  Are you ready?

Philippians 4

Philippians 4 has Paul finishing his letter to the church at Philippi.  He exhorts them to “stand firm thus in the Lord” and to continue on their walk with Christ.  He also addresses an issue in the church as he wraps things up – “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord….I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel”.  People were people back in Paul’s time too.  It seems these two women weren’t getting along so Paul calls them out and asks others to help get them on the same page.  The Body of Christ needs to be unified and working together on God’s agenda, not individuals focused on their own motivations and desires.

Paul goes on to challenge us with a simple statement.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”.  His words begin and end with the same exhortation – REJOICE.  Paul’s message to the Philippians is really focused on joy.  It is all over this letter to the church.  It wasn’t based on circumstances or how wonderful life was.  His joy is about attitude and recognizing who we are and what we have through our relationship with Christ and the confidence that God is truly in control of all things.  Spurgeon wrote “What a gracious God we serve, who makes delight to be a duty, and who commands us to rejoice! Should we not at once be obedient to such a command as this? It is intended that we should be happy”.

Then comes a promise that we need to cling tightly to and allow to rule our lives.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.  Let’s be honest – we all worry.  And we worry about things we have absolutely no control over.  God’s plan is that we recognize that He alone is in control, and that He has it for us.  He knows what we need before we pray, but He still wants us to pray and connect with Him.  But we need to let Him drive and do what He does as God.  He is, we are not, and we’ll never experience peace until we let Him be God of all things in our lives.  We don’t live life alone.  He’s there, He’s got it, and we need to trust Him.

How do we do that?  By focusing our mind on the right things.  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”.  What we think about matters.  We’ll never experience peace if we don’t focus our mind on the things of God.  Paul gives us a great list of things we need to ponder and meditate on daily.  Much of the Christian life comes down to the mind.  Paul set the example and exhorts us to live as he did – filled with God’s peace.  And that means victory in every area.  Paul tells us “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”.  We can too.  We follow the same Jesus with the same power and the same ability to transform our life.  We simply have to follow and obey!

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