The Life of Faith

The Christian life has been likened to running in a race. The writer to the Hebrews said,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God ()

On Sunday evenings at Hills Bible Church we are going to spend a number of weeks working our way through . In this great chapter, we see example after example of men and women who are heroes of the faith. The have gone before us running that well worn track of faith.

You are welcome to join us at 6:00 PM Sunday evenings or you can download the message from our website. Below is a video introducing our series.

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And 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. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 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. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 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. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

What is Repentance?

Wrong Way Imagine the horrifying experience of driving on the wrong side of a busy road, and then to be confronted with a sign, “Wrong Way, Go Back”. The sign is designed to warn you of the potential danger ahead and the necessary action to be done so as to avoid the potential harm. Though such a sign may be startling, it is actually very gracious and helpful. Continue reading What is Repentance?

Getting the Gospel Right

Gospel copy

Getting the gospel right is critical.  The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news”. It is good news because it contains the message of God’s salvation to sinful man. It contains the declaration of deliverance from sin. If we are going to get the gospel right, it is essential that we understand the necessary components of the gospel message.

A Right Understanding of God

Who is God? God is the creator of the “heavens and the earth” (), He makes everything in the universe work (), and He rules over the entire universe (). The Bible says that there is one God (Is. 44:6). Though there is only one God, He exists in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (). God is holy in all His perfections () and all humanity owes Him their complete love and obedience.

A Right Understanding of Sin

Sin is any thought or act that does not conform to the Word of God. To sin is to miss the mark of God’s standard and it is the committing of an actual transgression. Every person is a sinner () and every person must be judged and punished by God ().

A Right Understanding of Man

All people are made in the likeness of God (), however this similitude has been marred by sin. All people are sinful () and dead in their trespasses and sins (). For this reason, we are estranged from God (; ) and in need of reconciliation. In our sinful condition we are unable in and of ourselves to earn or obtain salvation. We are in need of a righteousness outside of ourselves ().

A Right Understanding of Christ

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God (; ). At the Divinely appointed time in history, He was sent into the world “born of woman, born under the law” () so as to save sinners (). Jesus Christ is without sin and was a substitute for sinners ().

A Right Understanding of the Cross

The cross has become a religious symbol for many. Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (Acts 2:23). At the cross the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for sins as a substitute for sinners (1 Pet. 3:18). This is how salvation for sinners was secured.

A Right Understanding of Grace

On what basis does God save sinners? The glorious gift of salvation comes to the sinner by grace (). Grace is the undeserved gift of God’s favour and goodness in providing salvation. Such grace is truly amazing.

A Right Understanding of Repentance

Repentance is something that is ignored or redefined by many when it comes to preaching the gospel. Despite such practices, the Word of God remains clear. Repentance was a part of Christ’s preaching (; ) and the apostolic preaching (). Repentance refers to the God given ability to recognise our sin, to detest it and turn from it as we embrace Christ in faith.

A Right Understanding of Faith

Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

A Right Understanding of Works

We cannot be saved by means of our works. In fact, our best works in the sight of God are filthy rags (cf. Is. 64:6). The only works that save a sinner are the works of Jesus Christ. But once an individual embraces the gospel (by faith in Jesus Christ) their life will be followed by works (). These works are the natural outflow of the child of God. In the words of Martin Luther, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

5:1  Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 8:58

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Five Solas

Five_Solas

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (written in Latin) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This historical event was not the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but was a means that started discussions and debates about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church’s indulgences. After a series of events, Luther’s discussion intensified to a declaration of a defence of the gospel.

Continue reading The Five Solas

Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?

 

priorities

 

Christian, what  place does the Lord Jesus Christ have in your life? Many have given a common answer indicating the order of priority, “Christ is first” and then they add, “my family is second, and the church is third”. Now I understand what most people mean they say that, but I want to make an important point. For the Christian, Christ is to be first, second, third and so on. What do I mean by this? Continue reading Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?

Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 1

spiritual-growth2 Back in , Moses gave the Israelites the mandates for their inheritance of the land of Canaan. There were specific things that they were to do. They were to eliminate their enemies () because they opposed the holiness of God. Though these enemies were in the land, they were to remove them. In addition to removing the people, they were to also eliminate all the remnants of ungodliness (). The reason why the Lord commanded this elimination is because His people are holy, chosen, and loved. He said,

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt().

On the basis of their condition before the Lord, they were to remove anything that is not characteristic of this condition. We can use that episode in the history of Israel as a real illustration for what we need to be doing in our spiritual conduct. We are not called to remove any people groups from their nation but we are called – on the basis of our new life – to put to death anything in our lives that is not characteristic of God’s people. We are to remove the spiritual Hittites, Girgashites, Ammorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites in our life. Sin is a wicked thing. In-fact, sin should be considered the believer’s worst enemy. For this reason, our attitude towards sin should be very serious. By God’s Continue reading Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 1

7:1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

7:1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

How to Strengthen your Faith

strength

At times the Christian does get discouraged and become despondent. They have not lost their faith, as this was a divinely given gift. However, their faith can be weakened and therefore in need of strengthening. The child of God at times will have “little faith” () and ought to desire to have a growing faith (cf. ).

Though a believer can have weak faith, it is important to remember that there is a huge difference between weak faith and having no faith at all. Spurgeon notes that “between the very lowest degree of faith and a state of unbelief there is a great gulf. An immeasurable abyss yawns between the man who has even the smallest faith in Christ and the man who has none.” Weak faith is still saving faith, but as a believer we ought to desire to see it increase.

Continue reading How to Strengthen your Faith

31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Why the Right Kind of Faith is Important

rainbow_faith_substance

Do you have faith? Many will answer “yes!” I often hear people talk about having faith. Faith in others, faith in themselves, faith in circumstances, and even faith in nothing! So here is the second and more important question, do you have saving faith? What I mean by that is, does your faith become the means in which you take hold of complete forgiveness of your sins and receive eternal life? In-order for the answer to be “yes” in response to this second question, it must be a kind of faith that is placed exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ. That kind of faith is genuine saving faith – not a mere belief in something.

Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

It is important to note that faith is not something we already have residing in us. It is not as if one has come to their senses and then decide to employ it. Genuine saving faith is actually a gift from God (cf. and ), and with this gift we cling to His Son. Without faith “toward the Lord Jesus” () there is no hope of salvation because He is “the way, the truth and the life” (). Or as Peter said it, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (). Faith is so valuable because of whom it looks to!

What does this mean now for those that are saved? Well, in addition to receiving God’s gracious provision of complete forgiveness and eternal life, saving faith leads us to a life of holiness (cf. and ). Why is the right kind of faith important? It is a matter of one’s eternal future. In my next post, I would like to talk about how a believer can strengthen their faith.

29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints,

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 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. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Who are You? Chosen by the Father

god-chose-you

Who are you?

That is an interesting question and will have all sorts of answers depending on the individual and context. But if I was to ask the more precise question, who are you in the sight of God, this reduces the variety of answers. tells us who the Christian is in the sight of God. Consider what these verses say.

The purpose of this post isn’t to provide a thorough exegetical treatment of this profound passage (though that would be valuable!), but to simply observe three blessings every believer enjoys. These three blessings reveal who the Christian is in the sight of God. The blessings are: chosen, redeemed, and sealed. let us consider the first one.

Chosen
In Paul tells his readers that they are chosen. This act of selection is by God the Father and is the actual choosing of certain individuals to be saved. What a high and humbling thought, that God would choose from among fallen men some to be saved. Unlike the belief that says that God’s looks into the future and chooses those who choose Him, the Scripture teaches that took place before the foundation of the world” (). God’s act of choosing us was not influenced by our works, but was based on His love, mercy and purpose (cf. ). Continue reading Who are You? Chosen by the Father

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—