FAITH: To Live By

Romans 4:20-21 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, (21) fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

How lovely. This is the faith (confidence) the justified LIVE by. God can give us a strong faith (thru the word of Christ, by the Spirit) in God, that He can deliver on His promises (which flow from Christ, the Amen!). This is the faith that glorifies God. This is the faith wherein we are sanctified.

SLIPPING: Need Chains?

Where the Gospel “seems” to lose traction – failing to “improve” our lives – we are apt to apply the chains of the Law in some form.

However, the believer’s traction, in whatever degree God causes it, is never apart from the Gospel itself.  In our beholding the person and work of Christ, the treads of the Gospel grip upon our lives, causing our minds and hearts to genuinely love God and neighbor.

The treads of the Spirit leave the marks of the Gospel.  So, let’s hang those Law-chains where they belong…upon the Cross.

BELIEF: Hard work!

As believers, we all stand by grace answering the hardest call…”believe and be-living!”

What we experience when moving away from grace is not liberty, but the bonds of legality, whether formally or practically.  (Yes, licentiousness is a form of legalism.)  Where we are not overcome by the abundance of His life-giving love…we are apt to be found attempting to build ourselves up into His image.

Idolatry is banished only in the light of God’s glory beheld in the face of Jesus Christ.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you!

RIGHTEOUS: Trying to be?

I came across this recently in Piper’s book entitled Think.  In principle, this seems to apply quite well to believers, particularly as we struggle to live under grace and not the Law.

In relation to Rom.10.2-3…

“They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” 

Piper writes:

Here is the root of their suicidal zeal for God.  In all their thinking about God and his righteousness, they missed the main point – that it is a free gift for faith.  When they seek to establish their own righteousness, they are not submitting to the righteousness of God.  In fact, their effort to establish their own righteousness is rebellion and insubordination against the righteousness of God.  This is why they are not saved.

But you can hear the zealous kinsmen of Paul cry out in defense: “Wait a minute!  You do us entirely wrong.  It is precisely our efforts to establish righteousness in our lives that is our submission to God’s righteousness.  What else would subjection to God’s righteousness look like, except the zeal to establish righteousness in our lives so that it come into conformity to God’s righteousness?  What would you want us to do – be indifferent to whether we are righteous or not?”

But Paul says that when you live this way – when you labor to show yourself righteous so that God will accept you – you are not submitting to God’s righteousness; you are in rebellion against God.  Why?  Because God’s righteousness is a gift of free and sovereign grace, not a merited attainment by human effort – or even a Spirit-wrought performance of relative success in holiness (sanctification).  And since it is always and entirely a free gift, submission to it means receiving righteousness as a gift.

The way that gift comes is described in Rom.10.4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  All of God’s law was leading to Christ for righteousness for all who believe.  By faith we receive Christ.  And in Christ we have the righteousness of God.  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor.5.21). This is what they were ignorant of, and therefore, Paul says, they had a zeal for God and were not saved.

…Paul’s kinsmen needed to see that the righteousness of God that they lacked was a free gift of that same grace.  It comes only through union with Christ by faith.  And when it comes, it brings in its train the power to love (Rom.13.8; Gal.5.6).

REALITY: Grasping it with both Faith and Reason

The following are notes based upon a Ken Samples lecture, which can be listened to here:  Dangerous Ideas (part 4)

NOTES on Making Sense of Reality from a Christian Perspective – Compatibility of Faith and Reason

1)      Ultimate Metaphysical Question:

  1. Why is there “something” instead of nothing?
    1. Why does anything exist?

2)      The existence of God is the best explanation of reality.

  1. A cumulative argument is sufficient
    1. Being more plausible, credible, and reasonable
    2. Having ‘explanatory power’
    3. Not arguing for certainty, but plausibility
  2. We believe that to make sense of the world “faith” is essential
    1. Denial is a willful choice
      1. Fool: suppresses the truth
    2. Atheism requires a great faith
      1. They too have to bear the burden of proof, in explaining God’s alleged nonexistence in light of reality

3)      Reason does not cause faith, but reason supports faith

  1. Reason = general revelation
  2. Faith = special revelation
    1. The latter is in itself reasoning, but more particularly on the basis of special revelation and divine intervention
    2. The former reveals that it is epistemologically and morally inexcusable to reject a biblical faith; particularly that it would be irresponsible to do so without giving due consideration to the true nature of reality and how well a Christian faith coincides with it.

4)      C.L.E.A.R.

Cosmos: cosmological argument

Life: meaning realities

Ethics: objective, prescriptive realities

Abstractions: ultimate source of conceptions

Religion: sense of the divine

  1. COSMOS
    1. Cosmological Argument
      1. Singular beginning (origin)
      2. Order and elegance
      3. Fine tuning
    2. “Almost everyone believes there was a beginning of the Universe and Time.” Steven Hawking
      1. Matter, Energy, Space, and Time
        1. All have a mysterious origin
    3. Big Bang
      1. Bible: only holy book to address the particular dynamics of this
      2. Universe: 13 Billion years old
      3. Earth: 4 Billion years old
    4. A look into outer space displays an undeniable order
      1. The universe is just the right place for life
      2. Laws of physics do not demand a universe as such as we have.
        1. It doesn’t have to be the way it is to exist
        2. It does have to be the way it is for us to exist
        3. Extremely complex design requires an explanation that is not bound by the laws of physics
  2. LIFE
    1. Meaningful Realities
      1. Human consciousness; free-agency; and meaning
        1. Materialism, etc. cannot give us a plausible explanation for their existence.
  3. ETHICS
    1. Objective, prescriptive ethics
      1. Duties and Human Values
        1. Universally objective law
        2. Murder is always wrong
        3. Moral values are built into reality, our existence
        4. Why is there not absolute moral chaos?
          1. Atheism: Morality is invented, descriptive, and subjective
          2. Nazism could have been considered right, if they won the war!
    2. Problem of Good
      1. Why is there good?
      2. This is equally as important to answer as is the question of ‘why there is evil?’.
  4. ABSTRACTIONS
    1. Numbers; Logic; Propositions
      1. Conceptual realities
        1. Never in your life have you seen a number
          1. “9” is a symbol that represents a notion of nineness
          2. These make life meaningful and intelligible
            1. These come from the mind of God
            2. They are unexplainable on the basis of matter alone
              1. Physicalism; Materialism
  5. RELIGION
    1. Sense of the divine
      1. Awareness of God
      2. Universal religiosity of humanity
        1. Inherent in man
        2. Intuitive awareness
    2. Jesus Christ
      1. Called himself “God”
        1. “I am.”  (Jn.8)
        2. Matchless moral character
          1. In three years…turned the world upside-down
          2. Prolific miracle work
            1. His enemies never denied that He did them!
            2. Messianic prophecies
              1. Fulfilled
            3. Empty tomb
              1. Post-mortem appearances
              2. 500+ witnesses
            4. Paul’s conversion
              1. From Judaism to Christianity
                1. The equivalent of Hitler becoming a Jew!

The Christian faith, based upon the Holy Bible, makes the most sense of life, of reality.

GOSPEL: Moral Living or More on Him

Came across this quote a week ago or so:

“We do tend to reduce the Gospel to moral living and the American way of life. Even those of us in the church act as if God is powerless and we have to do everything for Him.  The early church knew a supernatural God who didn’t always do things the way they thought He ought to.  Maybe we should look to and rely more on Him and less on ourselves.”

LIFE & LIVING: Thru Faith in Christ

Question: “Does the Law serve ‘to correct and discipline’ Christians?”

Answer by St. John’s (abbreviated):


We are God’s children now…and hoping in Him…purifies us;

…believing in his Son Jesus Christ…is obedience.  (1Jn 3:2,3,23)


We live through Him…believing the love that God has for us

…having confidence for the day of judgment

…having no fear in love…for His perfect love casts out fear.

We love because He first loved us in Christ.  (1Jn 4:9,16-19)


We overcome the world, [flesh and devil]…by being born of God.

The victory?  Our faith…believing that Jesus is the Son of God!  (1Jn 5:4-5)

So then:  Whoever has the Son has Life! (1Jn 5:12)

We are from God!  Not as those living under the power of the evil one.  (1Jn 5:19)

My confidence:  Having faith in Christ, we know ourselves to be alive toward God and neighbor, governed by the Rule of His Spirit, even now.  (mjm)