Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Grace In Which We Stand

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)

We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. The eternal theological struggle seems to be the ongoing attempt to answer the questions, "What does God do? What do we do?" In this blog we've looked at different aspects of this relationship between God and man and what I think, personally, is a fruitless attempt to gather all of our theology in a neat little box with a bow on top. We want all the answers. God is just way too big for that. We only really know what He has revealed to us. Thankfully He has revealed a lot to us!

We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. Grace is what He has done for us. Faith is our response to His grace. Access means that we gain entry to something. In this case we gain entry to God's grace by faith. Paul could hardly make it any clearer. By grace, through the finished work of Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to enter into relationship with Him. Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world -- everyone. No sin was left out.

And yet, we have to receive this wonderful gift by faith. A gift that is not received does the recipient no good. We stand in this grace by faith. Grace without faith is like an unopened present. Faith without grace has no leg to stand on. Thanks be to God for the wonderful provision He has made for us in Jesus Christ!

"But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:8-10)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Amazing Rescue

This story is pretty darned incredible and what a great testimony to the Lord and the leading of the Holy Spirit! It's about the little girl who disappeared last week in Florida and how she was found. be sure to watch the video.

The Rescue of Nadia Bloom

Friday, April 9, 2010

They Didn't Believe

"When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:54-58)

These verses open up a conundrum for a lot of believers. Here we have Jesus, back at home, and the outcome of going home is that "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." There's nothing here about His will or His timing. His will is, pretty obviously from scripture, that people would believe Him. His will is that we would put our faith in Him. What happens when we don't? Now that's a big question with scary ramifications.

Mark 6:5 described the situation this way --"Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them." Mark is pretty definitive.

Here's the conundrum. If God is sovereign why could he do no mighty works there? We have the answer -- because of their unbelief.

In Christianity we have a whole host of beliefs about God and what He actually does. They range from God does everything -- He ordains, arranges, and pulls the string on everything to a tacit deism -- He's out there but He doesn't actually do anything anymore. Most Christian's beliefs fall somewhere on a continuum between these two extremes.

We desperately want to figure out how things work. That includes God. There's nothing particularly wrong with that unless we come to a wrong conclusion and think we have all the answers. Thinking you are right when you are not can have some pretty serious ramifications.

What do we know from the Word? We know that God is sovereign, if the definition is correctly applied. He is in charge. He has plans that will ultimately come to fruition. We also know that faith and unbelief do matter in our individual lives. In His hometown Jesus didn't do much because of their unbelief. People argue this a few ways. Some will say that his power depends on our faith but I think, more likely, the correct answer is that we receive from Him by faith. His power was not the issue. Their unbelief was the issue. We see this all the time. We ask angry questions of God and why he let's things happen the way they do. That's another big theological wringer but the short answer is that we live in a fallen world that we surrendered to Satan. God gave Adam authority and he turned around and gave it away. In Christ we get His authority but we have to exercise it. The responsibility is placed on us. That's a hard truth for us to deal with. It is easier to just blame God.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in Matthew 17. The disciples tried to cast a demon out of a young man and could not. This is an interesting story because of the way it connects illness with the demonic, but what is more interesting (to me anyhow) is how this story plays out. The disciples try to help this boy and fail.

This is where we are so much of the time. We throw a prayer up and see what happens. If something good comes of it we assume God said yes, if not, we assume God said no. But what happened here?

The disciples couldn't help the boy. That's where we invariably say that it must not have been God's will. But what happened when God came down the road?

The boy was healed and delivered.

The disciples asked, "How come we couldn't cast it out?" Jesus did not say that it wasn't His will or it wasn't His timing. He simply said that it was because of their unbelief.


That puts a little pressure on me. In his home country we read in Matthew 13 how "they were offended at Him." They knew Jesus back in the day. It wasn't an easy leap to recognize Him for who He really was. But that's just one of many excuses we can come with.

It doesn't really matter what causes unbelief. What matters is that unbelief will keep you from receiving from God. It will render you powerless and ineffective. God will still love you, That won't change at all. You'll just miss out on so many of the good things He has for you.

"Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:24)