Showing posts with label Dynamics of Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dynamics of Faith. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

Random Thoughts

Thoughts culled from my random file, gathered from my Twitter tweets, Facebook updates and Instagrams. About faith, divine love, the kingdom of God and new life in Christ. Some have come to me in moments of quiet reflection, some in interaction with others. Offered as “jump starts” for your faith.
  • We do not overcome evil with evil — not even with the lesser of two evils. We overcome evil with good.
  • Do good and leave the results to God who knows how to redeem every situation.
  • The will of God for you and me, in one word: Love — to love and be loved.
  • God is love. The will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven is nothing else but the manifestation of love.
  • Jesus knew how to multiply five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand. He knows how to multiply His body and his blood to feed His people.
  • Wherever the will of God is done on earth as in heaven, there we find the kingdom of God. And there heaven and earth have become one.
  • The glory of God is not found in the will to power but in the will to love. The greatness of God is not found in the ability to take but in the ability to pour Himself out for love.
  • What counts, the apostle Paul said, is faith expressing itself through love. God is love, and faith in God looks like love.
  • Christ did not come to hold us accountable for sin but to set us free from the bondage of sin.
  • Love is unconditional, not co-dependent. Or controlling.
  • The gospel is not a sin management program.
  • The cross was not a management tool for God’s anger issues — and Jesus was not being co-dependent.
  • We are not defined by our faithfulness to God but by God’s faithfulness to us.
  • Father, Son and Holy Spirit, lead us all into the eternal bliss of Your divine fellowship. Amen.
  • We are holy not because of what we do or don’t do but because of whose we are.
  • I desire no other reason for doing good then that God is love and Jesus is Lord.
  • Christ became a human being that we might become our true selves and know real freedom.
  • Christ has irrevocably, inextricably entangled Himself with all humanity — the Incarnation cannot be undone. O Glorious Entanglement that saves the whole world!
  • The Cross was the inevitable consequence of the Incarnation, when He who is infinite life joined Himself to a humanity bent toward death — it could only ever result in Resurrection.
  • Teach me today, Lord Jesus, for You are my proverb and my psalm, my wisdom and my praise. Amen.
  • Christ, the True Light who gives light to everyone, has come into the world. Follow Him.
  • Neither death nor evil nor sin have any purpose, any rightful place in God’s creation. They are imposters, detracting from life and good and wholeness. But their power has been broken at the Cross, where they were shown to be the frauds they are, and they are destined for destruction.
  • Christ is the True Light who gives light to all the world. Look for His light in everyone you meet.
  • Faith in Christ looks like following him.
More random thoughts …

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sowing to the Spirit and Reaping Life
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:7-10)
It is a simple truth, one easily observed in nature and is applicable to life in general, even in the spiritual realm: we reap what we sow. What Paul has in mind here is the contrast between sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit, and he seems to be referring back to chapter 5, concerning the “acts of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.”
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
When Paul speaks of the flesh, he is talking about what we are apart from the Spirit of God. So the “acts of the flesh” are works done apart from the Spirit. It is important to understand that Paul is not addressing people who want to do corrupt things but people who want to do good things: they want to follow the Law of Moses. The history of Old Testament Israel, though, is largely a history of faithlessness and failure to keep the Law. So these are not works of the Law that Paul is describing but works of the flesh failing to keep the Law, for the Law was of absolutely no use against the corrupt ways and desires of the flesh and provided no means for producing what the Law required.

In Romans 7, Paul describes this problem and how easily it leads to desperation. He sums it up this way: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (Romans 7:14). The problem was not the Law but bondage to sin, a problem that affected not only Israel but all of humanity. But God promised that the solution would one day come: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

The good news of the gospel is that, in Jesus Christ that time has arrived. For through Christ, God has not only broken the bondage of sin but has also put a new spirit in us — God’s own Spirit. So in contrast to the works of the flesh, and the inability of the Law in the face of them, Paul offers the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Law of Moses is certainly not against this. Indeed, it is love, particularly, that fulfills the Law (Galatians 5:14). Yet what the Law was helpless to produce in us, God has given the Holy Spirit to bring forth in us.

Back to chapter 6, now, where Paul draws the contrast between sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit and the harvest each one brings. Sow to the flesh and you will reap destruction — ruin, decay, corruption. Sow to the Spirit and you will reap eternal life.

Let’s take a closer look at “eternal life.” We are accustomed to thinking of it as being outside the time frame of history and having very little, if anything, to do with this present world. But the Greek word for “eternal,” aionios, has to do with ages, particularly the age or ages to come. The truth of the gospel is that in the resurrection of Christ, the age to come has broken into this present age and God’s new creation has already begun. “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining,” is how John puts it (1 John 2:8).

“Eternal life” (zoen aionion), then, is the life of the age to come. But since Christ and his resurrection have already entered into this present age, so also has the life he brings. It is available to us now and may be experienced now, for it is not merely a duration of life but, more importantly, a quality of life.

What does this life look like and how may we experience it? It looks like the fruit of the Spirit and it comes forth through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. It is a life of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we sow to the Spirit, we reap the lively fruit of the Spirit. We can think of this fruit as the character of Christ manifesting the life of Christ in us.

How, then, do we sow to the Spirit? It is a matter of trust, of faith. For the fruit is not something we could ever produce in ourselves, otherwise we would be back in the same predicament as Israel was with the Law, trying to live up to a certain standard but without the wherewithal to do so. No, the fruit is the Spirit’s and therefore something only the Holy Spirit can do in us. So we yield ourselves to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit rather than to the flesh, and we do not try to accomplish by Law what can only be done by the Spirit of God.

“The only thing that counts,” says Paul, “is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). Sowing to the Spirit is dependence on God. Yet even that dependence, that faith, must come from God — we receive it as a gift. We can no more work it up within ourselves than we can conjure up love from within ourselves. The nature of the faith that comes from God is that it is energized by the love that is the fruit of the Spirit. That faith and love, then, are the manifestations of the life of the age to come, and by them we do what is good.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Random Thoughts

Thoughts culled from my random file, gathered from my Twitter tweets, Facebook updates and Instagrams. About divine love, relationship with God and new life in Christ. Some have come to me in moments of quiet reflection, some in interaction with others. Offered as “jump starts” for your faith.
  • All humanity is connected, so in joining himself to humanity, Christ joined all humanity to God.
  • Jesus is the light of God who gives life to all and rescues us from our darkness.
  • The Father sends the Holy Spirit to bring forth in us the life of the Son.
  • The Incarnation was not a divine afterthought or merely a necessary solution to a terrible problem. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us because that was God’s desire from the beginning.
  • Faithfulness is faith working through love.
  • Faithfulness is faith lived out over time, turning to God in all weathers and every season.
  • Faith works through love. Love casts out fear.
  • Faith is like a seed. It must be planted before it can grow.
  • Neither faith nor doubt are fickle or fleeting. They are orientations of the heart.
  • When we focus on our faith, how small it seems. When we focus on Jesus, how great our faith becomes.
  • My paradigm is the God who is love and whose grace is far greater than any evil the world could ever produce.
  • God doesn’t distance himself from us because of our sin. He comes near and rescues us from it. So the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • Any time you think the Christian life is something you do for God, you’ve got it all backwards.
  • God is love. If he ceases to be love, even for a moment, he ceases to be God. God is loving in all his ways, always and toward all.
  • What if the love of God is deeper than hell? That changes everything.
  • Today I recklessly pursue the God who is love, whose love relentlessly pursues me.
  • Jesus is the perfect expression of God in human form. If we don’t see God as just like Christ, we are not seeing him as he is.
  • In the Incarnation, God became human so that we might become divine ... but also that we might become truly human.
  • By his love, by his Son, by his Spirit, God makes his enemies his friends.
  • Run wild, King Jesus, through Muslim camps and show them your great love for them. Through dreams and visions may they come to know you. Amen.
  • Today I contemplate my divinity in Christ, his divine life in me. It is a good day.
  • Christ in me changes the world.
  • In Jesus the Messiah, God has joined himself to humanity and broken the power of sin and death.
  • Jesus is the True Light who gives light to everyone in the world. What if today we looked for the light of Christ in each other?
More random thoughts …

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Random Thoughts

Thoughts culled from my random file. About divine love, relationship with God and new life in Christ. Some have come to me in moments of quiet reflection, some in interaction with others. Many have been my tweets and Facebook updates. Some have been my Instagrams. Offered as “jump starts” for your faith.
  • Faith in God is relational, more about trust than certainty.
  • Today I repent of the prides and arrogances I know about ... and ask forgiveness for the ones I have not yet realized.
  • The humility of Christ and His cross exposes evil for what it is: pride against God and one another.
  • Biblical justice is relational, about readiness for community.
  • The justice of God is not about retribution but about restoration to fellowship.
  • The judgment of God does not come to condemn us but to transform us.
  • The cross was not a penalty Christ paid but a victory Christ won.
  • The cross was not the reason for God’s forgiveness but the revelation of God’s forgiveness.
  • In Jesus Christ, God forgives our betrayals, removes our shame and leads us back to holy community with God and one another.
  • In Jesus Christ we become part of the new creation. The whole cosmos cries out for this revelation.
  • What is God showing you about what he wants to do in the world? Pray that!
  • Thank you, Lord, for your healing presence.
  • Forgive me, Lord, for baptizing bitter fear as righteous anger, for being quick to take offense and slow to love. Teach me the strength, gentleness and humility of Christ. Amen.
  • The resurrection of Christ exposes the truth about death: it is a helpless and defeated foe, and cannot stand.
  • The abundantly available grace of God transforms sinners into saints.
  • In Jesus Christ, sins are forgiven, shame is removed and new life begins.
  • Remember today that your blessing is not rooted in your job but in God.
  • Remember today that your significance is not found in your work but in the love God has for you.
  • How deep the love, how wide the mercy, how abundant the grace, how joyful the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • God doesn’t do “pay back.” He does “pay forward” ... and he does it with grace.
  • God is love. Love casts out all shame.
  • There are no boundaries to the grace of God. He is always working for our good.
  • DREAM ~ A communication from a deeper realm, a vignette from the spiritual dimension.
  • We live in between the great things God has already done and the greater harvest yet to come.
  • Don’t worry about your significance in the world. God has already taken care of that. Just go on and live your life in him.
More random thoughts ...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Assurance of “These Things”

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
We must take good account of “these things,” the two words with which 1 John 5:13 begins because it is by means of them that John seeks to offer assurance about eternal life to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a context that precedes, and “these things” connects us to that. The phrase, “that you may know,” is a purpose clause that connects us back to “these things,” which in turn connects us back to the preceding context.

What, then, are the “these things” of which John is speaking? They are the things John has written about in his letter up to this point — from 1 John 1:1 all the way up to 5:12. What are the things he wrote about? For one thing, he wrote about light, and walking in the light: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).

He wrote about not loving the world: “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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

He wrote about a lifestyle of righteousness: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God …” (1 John 3:10). Along with that, he wrote about the imperative of loving one another, not only in word but also in deed: “... nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:10-11). He continues on this theme of love quite extensively:
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (1 John 3:15-24)

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
He also writes about faith in Christ — it is one of the two commandments John says that God has given us:
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:23-24)
Notice that it is not just in keeping the commandment to believe in Christ that we know that God abides in us, but it is also in keeping the commandment of loving one another that we have the assurance of God abiding in us.

First John 5:13 was not written in a vacuum but in a context — “these things” — and the context is about walking in light, living in righteousness and loving one another. These offer assurance that our faith in Christ is real and that eternal life — the divine life of God — really is at work in us.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Help My Unbelief

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Do you trust Christ with your life? Day-to-day, most Christians struggle somewhere along that vast continuum between “Lord, I believe” and “Help my unbelief.” Some days we are doing better at it than other. Other days, we are not doing well at all. But “help my unbelief” is always a good response, one that Lord Jesus does not upbraid but is able to work with. It is an honest answer that reveals that there is a very real relationship with Christ going on, and that it is a relationship of trust, however shaky one’s faith may be.

Is my faith ever at 100%? I doubt it (pun unintentional). However, it is not the size or strength of my faith that counts but, rather, the object of my faith that rescues and redeems me. What is important is that I have entered into relationship with Christ — and He will gladly “help my unbelief.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

Paul and James on the Same Page

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith without works is dead. (James, in James 2:19)
Some have wondered if there is some discrepancy here between Paul and James. Paul says we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. James says that faith without works is dead. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, was all about Paul but could hardly stomach James. Luther infamously called the book of James “a right strawy epistle.”

Faith, not works, is what saves, says Paul. And yet, there are works, and Paul is never very far away from them. In Ephesians 2:9, he declares, “not of works, lest anyone should boast.” But then in verse 10, which invariably follows verse 9, he adds, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Works are not left out of the question. What is left out is boasting — there is never any place for it. No, we are not saved by works. But yes, we are saved for good works. Good works enter the equation not as a means of salvation but as a result of salvation. More importantly, these good works are not our own works but God’s works being produced in us. For we are His workmanship, His new creation in Christ, and the good works He now produces in us reveal Christ in us.

So, for Paul, faith does not leave out works. We can see this again in his letter to the believers of Galatia, in which he is very clear that we are not justified (counted as right with God) by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16). He is very adamant on this point, as we can see again in Galatians 5:4-5.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
If we attempt to be justified by the law and its works, we have fallen away from God’s grace and are alienated from Christ. The only righteousness we can have before God is purely by faith.

And now look at what Paul has to say about this faith in the very next verse: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV). The NKJV has this as “faith working through love.” The only thing that counts, that has any value or is of any use, is faith expressing itself through love. That is the nature of faith in Christ, the kind of faith that justifies us before God — it expresses itself through love. Faith that does not work through love is dead, which is very like what James says.

Now let’s take a look at what James said. In James 2, he is talking about love, particularly as it relates to showing partiality between rich and poor. His readers have played up to the rich but have dishonored the poor. He admonishes them:
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Loving your neighbor as yourself fulfills the law of God. This is the same thing Paul said in Galatians 5:14. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” James’ point is that, if you do not love your neighbor as yourself, you have broken the law just as much as if you committed adultery or murdered someone. His exhortation, then, is to live as those who will be judged by the “law of liberty,” which turns out to be the “law of love,” because it is fulfilled by love. No mercy will be shown to those who have not shown mercy — love — to others.

James continues. In this next section, his concern is still about showing love and mercy, but now he begins talking about it as a matter of faith:
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus 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 without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)
The example he brings is about faith expressing itself through love. It demonstrates no love to say to one who is naked and destitute, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” but give them no help to do so. There is nothing of faith in that because there is nothing of love in it. It is dead. Useless. Counts for nothing. You might as well just bury that thing because it does not do anybody any good, not even you.

The nature of faith is that it works — it expresses itself through love. And now James assesses the kind of faith that cannot be shown without works:
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)
Whatever belief in God the devils may have cannot rightfully be called faith. It has no saving value, or else even the demons would end up well. It is dead. And so it is with faith that does not express itself through works of love.

James then offers Abraham and Rahab as examples of faith expressing itself through works:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:21-26)
See how the faith of Abraham and Rahab expressed itself through their actions. Their actions demonstrated the reality of their faith and in that way completed their faith. But a faith that does not result in works of love is not just incomplete — it is dead. Son, then:
  • “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” — Paul
  • “Faith without works is dead.” — James
James and Paul end up saying the same thing. They may say it in different ways, but they are both on the same page.

(See also, Faith That Expresses Itself Through Love and Faith Without Love is Dead)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Faith is an Ongoing Conversation

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
Faith is not a static moment of belief but an ongoing conversation with God. It is not a single point, a punctiliar moment of assent to some proposition about God. It is a personal relationship with God. And because it is personal, it is dynamic.

The nature of the faith through which we are saved in Ephesians 2:8 is that it is an ongoing and personal relationship with God. It is not an insulated or isolated moment. It may begin in a moment, but then it continues — an ongoing relationship with God in which we entrust ourselves (not just our “sweet by and by”) into His hands.

This does not require that our faith must reach some standard of perfection, however. Few, if any, have ever had such a perfect faith. Even the saints have plenty of moments of doubt and disappointment, and even disobedience. But even in all of that, faith remains and the relationship endures. And God brings us back to Himself.

Abraham dickered with God. Jacob wrestled with God. Moses argued with God. Jonah was angry with God. But it was all faith nonetheless, because they were bringing it to God and putting it all on Him.

The often-seen attempt to reduce faith down to a single saving moment usually makes it a matter of mental assent to some proposition about God, and all that matters is that split-second of belief. Some have protested that this is more than mental assent, that it is “believing God.” But no matter how they explain it, it always ends up sounding like mental assent to a proposition about God, that He did this or will do that.

However, faith is more than a moment of assent. And it is more than a moment of “believing God.” It is trust. The devils believe that there is a God (James 2:9), but that is not nearly the same thing as trusting Him. Faith, on the other hand, is entrusting ourselves — who we are, and our lives as well as our destinies — into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. And remaining there in relationship with Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Faith Without Love is Dead

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” That is what Paul said in his letter to the Jesus believers of Galatia (Galatians 5:6). We are not justified — that is, identified as being in right relationship with God — by performing certain rituals, such as circumcision (which was the issue of the day for the churches in Galatia). No, we are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The nature of faith is that it expresses itself in love, and it turns out that love fulfills the law of God. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).

This is also essentially what James says in his letter to scattered Jewish Christians, though some in the Church have had difficulty seeing it. Martin Luther, champion of “justification by faith” in the days of the Protestant Reformation, thought the letter of James to be “a right strawy epistle.” However, he had gotten so tightly wound up in his own rhetoric that he missed the meaning of James. But see how James speaks about faith:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder. (James 2:14-19 NIV)
In James’ mind, there are two kinds of faith. He draws the contrast between a faith that is alive and one that is dead. You can tell the difference by the action that accompanies it, or does not accompany it. And the accompanying action James has in mind has everything to do with love. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well” (James 2:8).

To be clear, James is not telling us how to be justified before God by our deeds. Nor is he telling us about a sort of faith that justifies us before men that is different from the faith one that justifies us before God. But what he is telling us is something about the nature of the faith that justifies us before God — it is a faith that is accompanying by action. This is very like what Paul taught, as we can see in Galatians 5:6, and also in Ephesians 2:8-10:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
A faith that never goes beyond acknowledging propositions about God or Christ or the cross is a dead faith. Even the demons have that, and it causes them to tremble. But that is not the same thing as trust. A dead faith is devoid of life and is completely useless. The only thing left to do with something that is dead is to bury it. Such is a faith that is without love.

Look at the example James gives. Suppose a brother or sister who is destitute comes along, and someone says, “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” but does absolutely nothing to aid them in their need, even if it is in his power to help. Is that faith? Hardly. The man who does that doesn’t even believe his own words, much less have faith in God.

Faith that is alive and real actually makes a difference in how we live and how we respond. It is accompanied by action. Faith without action is dead. So is faith without love. Yet even love, if there is no accompanying action, is dead.

Paul and James would both point us to the same thing: It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that saves us. But the nature of that faith is that it expresses itself through love and is accompanied by action.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Faith That Expresses Itself Through Love

The apostle Paul has a lot to say about faith in his letter to the Jesus believers of Galatia. He writes to exhort them, and even rebuke them, concerning the gospel. They have tolerated Jewish Christian legalists coming in and teaching that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not enough, but that certain elements of the law such as circumcision are necessary for Gentile converts to be identified as being in right relationship with God. However, Paul is adamant that faith in Christ is not only sufficient but is the only thing that counts.
  • “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
  • “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:16).
  • “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2). The implied answer is that is was by faith.
  • “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:5). Again, the implied answer is that it was by faith.
  • “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
  • “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Galatians 3:8-9).
  • “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘The man who does them shall live by them.’”(Galatians 3:11-12).
  • “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us ... that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).
  • “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:22-26)
So Paul is very clear — and very insistent — that it is not by keeping the law that we are identified as being in right relationship with God. Rather, it is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But now look at what Paul says about the nature of faith, particularly in contrast to the law and circumcision:
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:4-6 NIV)
The contrast here is between trying to justified by the law of Moses, particularly in the matter of circumcision, and being justified by faith. The only thing that counts is faith, and the nature of that faith is that it expresses itself through love.

That is what faith does in our life — it results in love. Love for God and love for others. For by faith in Jesus Christ we are not only reckoned as right with God, but we also receive the Holy Spirit by that same faith. And the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us, is love (Galatians 5:22). That is something the law could never produce in us and yet what perfectly fulfills the law (Galatians 5:14).

The faith in Christ that justifies us is not merely a mental agreement with the facts of who Jesus is or what He has done. That kind of faith is really nothing more than a head fake. But the faith in Christ that justifies us is the faith that expresses itself through God-formed love.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

By a Way You Do Not Know

Moses and the children of Israel were hemmed in. Before them was the Red Sea. Behind them, Pharaoh’s army was closing in. They could see no way out. Only days earlier, they had been filled with hope and rejoicing, but now that had quickly vanished. In Psalm 77, in a direct praise to God, the psalm writer recounts what happened next:
The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
(Psalm 77:18-20)
God did something completely unexpected: He made a path through the great waters of the sea. It was not there before they needed it and it closed in after they passed through it. But just when they needed a way, God made a path for them where they did not even know to look. When they first beheld the sea, all they saw was an impossible situation. But as Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). And the children of Israel walked through the sea on dry land.

Think of Abram. He was the son of an idol maker — a trade completely antithetical to the God of the Bible — and he was getting on in years. But one day God came to him anyway and said, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Then God made wonderful promises to him: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).

So Abram believed and did as the Lord directed, though he had no idea where all this would take place or even how it would take place. After all, he was already 75 years old, and so was his wife, Sarai, who was well past child-bearing years. So what God promised him was impossible, at least from Abram’s point of view. But it came to pass anyway, and from him came a great nation — and a Redeemer — through whom all the families of the earth can now be blessed.

Finally, in the book of Isaiah, God describes how He will bring His people through, by a way they do not know.
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
(Isaiah 42:16)
Our human nature always wants to see the way before us, but God often leads us by ways we do not know, ways we would not recognize or understand even if we could see them. Our part, then, is not to see but to trust. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). God makes a way for us that we could never have imagined, and leads us through.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lessons from Hebrews on the Nature of Faith

Hebrews 11 has often been called the “hall of fame of faith,” because of the litany of Old Testament saints and the dynamic of faith at work in their lives.
  • When Abel “offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews11:4)
  • When Noah “prepared an ark for the saving of his household,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:7)
  • When Abraham “obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:8)
  • When Abraham “dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:9)
  • When Abraham “offered up Isaac, and he who have received the promises offer up his only begotten son,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:17)
  • When Moses became of age and “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:24-26)
  • When Moses “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:27)
  • When Moses “kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them,” was it a matter of faith, or of works? (See Hebrews 11:28)
The answer, of course, is that it was all “by faith.” What does this tell us about the nature of faith?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Faith is Relationship

In the Bible, faith is not merely a belief, it is a relationship. It is not how we respond to a proposition; it is how we respond to a person. That person is God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The author of Hebrews says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Notice, the word, “comes.”

It is not enough to believe that God is. The devil believes in God. As James says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” (James 2:19). The demons have a belief about God, but they have no faith in Him.

Faith is not merely believing that God is. Many people believe that but have no faith. Faith is coming to Him. It is in coming to God that we move from a proposition to a person, from a belief to faith, and enter into a relationship with God.

And that makes all the difference.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Faith Claims in Public

Someone has argued, publicly, that public arguments should not be based on faith claims. Sounds like he was making a public faith claim about public faith claims, in which case his argument is self-defeating.

Faith is an understanding. Faith is a decision one continually makes. Faith is a commitment. Christian faith is enabled by God: Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and no one can confess, apart from the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is Lord. Because of the divine element involved, faith is more than merely a preference. Faith is also more than private, because it affects every area of one’s life, both private and public.

Everything comes down to faith claims because everything comes down to one’s philosophy, worldview, presuppositions or assumptions. Eliminate all faith claims and you eliminate all discussion about anything. It is important, then, to be able to identify what our philosophies, worldviews, presuppositions or assumptions are, to recognize what lens we are looking at the world through and how it might affect how we see.

Our presuppositions are not irrelevant. They are the foundations upon which we build the rest of our thoughts. They are the lens through which we view the world and identify this as “evidence” or that as “fact.” Not all presuppositions, assumptions or philosophies are equal, and they must each be evaluated. And, of course, not everyone will agree on what value is to be given to each. But everyone should be aware of their own presuppositions (actually, the complex of presuppositions they hold), and the nature of those presuppositions as being, ultimately, matters of faith.

I acknowledge my presuppositions as including a faith in the existence of God, that He has revealed Himself in the world and that He has given us revelation of Himself in a holy book. Others do not share those presuppositions but presuppose the opposite. However, if they claim to have knowledge that is not based on revelation, even that begins with presupposition. For example, it is a presupposition that there even is such a knowledge base apart from revelation, or of what that knowledge base consists. These are presuppositions of epistemology (principles of how we know anything).

Every truth claim is essentially a faith claim, a statement of what one believes, for whatever reason, revelatory or non-revelatory, to be true. Every claim to knowledge is likewise a faith claim, a statement of what one believes he knows. The man who is aware of his faith claims (philosophies, presuppositions, etc.) has an advantage over the man who is not.

Let every faith claim, then, come to the table and be analyzed. However, to analyze a faith claim one must first be aware of the faith claim they are bringing. The person I referred to above made a faith claim about faith claims and apparently did not even realize he was doing so. The result, in this case, was the incoherence of making public the faith claim that faith claims have no business being made public.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Activating Your Faith

You can tell a lot about a person’s faith by listening to their words, especially when they are under pressure. A lot of Christians, when difficult situations arise or they experience some sort of need or lack, will start speaking out of worry or fear instead of out of faith. For example, they will worry and complain about the high cost of gas or rising food prices. They speak out their fear instead of saying about it what the Word of God says: My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying ...” (and we usually do worry by speaking it out) “but seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33). Instead of giving voice to our worries, fears and doubts, we should give voice to our faith — to what the Word has to say.

So, for example, when I see gas prices go up (thankfully, they are coming down some, at least for now), instead of letting worry have a word, I say, “My God shall supply all my need, all the gas I need and all the money I need to pay for it.” “God takes care of me in every way.” “I seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things are added unto me.” Sometimes my faith gets so stirred up I start hooting and hollering about how good God is to me. What happened? Instead of speaking in agreement with worry, I was speaking in agreement with the promises of God and His Word.

That’s what I call “activating” your faith — putting it into gear, speaking it out, and by it, putting pressure on whatever is out of alignment with the Word of God and His promises.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Now Faith is Reality

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB)

The NKJV has this as, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of a thing is it’s underlying reality. The interesting thing about the Greek word, hypostasis, which speaks of the underlying state, is that it was sometimes used to refer to a title deed. A title deed signifies possession. So, for example, if you have the title deed to a piece of land, you legally possess the land itself.

Hope is about what we have not yet seen, or what has not yet come into manifestation. But just because we have not yet seen a thing does not mean that there is no reality to it. For example, I may inherit a piece of land that I have never visited before, but that does not make it any less real. And if I possess the title deed, not having yet seen the land does not make it any less mine. The title deed is the proof that that land belongs to me.

What I want to focus on today, though, is the time factor. Hope is about the future, about what I fully expect to see even though it has not yet come about. That is the nature of hope. Paul said, “hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).

Hope is future, but faith is now. The author of Hebrews does not use the word “now” as a simple connective, like “so,” “and” or “but.” Rather, he is showing the relationship between the faith we have now and what we expect to see in the future.

These things concern the promises of God, which is the only biblical basis for faith. If God had never promised anything, we would have no reason for expectation. But because God has made certain promises to us, and since He does not lie, we can believe Him and expect to receive from Him everything He promised.

Faith is about believing the promises of God. By faith, we take possession of those promises, even though we have not yet seen them come to pass. Indeed, faith is the reality, the evidence, the proof, that we will see them come to pass. The faith we have now is the reality that connects us to what we expect to see. Faith and hope each do their part until we have seen the full manifestation. And in between is patience.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Love, Law and Faith

The apostle Paul has some interesting things to say about the relationship between love, law and faith. We find these relationships in his letter to the Jesus believers in Galatia.
All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
Someone asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment. He answered,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Love fulfills the law God gave through Moses to Israel. God intended for that law to instruct the people of Israel in how they should live. But it could never produce in them what it instructed — it was never meant to. That is why God promised to cut a new covenant with His people:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah … I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31, 33)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
These two prophecies speak of the same reality. God promised a new heart and a new spirit — His own Spirit — to produce in us what the law of Moses never could. This is fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, who by His faithfulness is the mediator of the new and better covenant, which is cut with His own blood (Hebrews 8:6; Luke 22:20). At Pentecost, just as He promised, God gave us His Spirit, who dwells in us to produce the faithful character of Jesus in us. Paul speaks of it as the “fruit of the Spirit.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Love fulfills the law, but the law could not produce that love in us. Only God can.

What matters now, Paul says, is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The Greek word for “work” is energeo, which is where we get the word “energy.” We might say that faith is energized through love. The word “walk” speaks of a consistent manner of living. Walking in the Spirit is continually yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting Him do His work in us.

If you find that your faith is weak, check how your love is doing. If your love is weak, check how you are doing in your daily walk with God. God is love, and when we yield to His Spirit, we are yielding to the Spirit of Love. As we do, His love will become strong in us and our faith will become powerful and effective.
Faith works through love, and love fulfills the law.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Faith Says Thanks

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it, with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
We should, of course, always have an attitude of thanksgiving toward God, because we have innumerable blessings. (Here’s a little exercise that can lift your spirit at any moment: Think of one thing for which you can give God thanks. Then see if there is not something else that comes to mind to thank Him for. And one more after that. And another after that.)

What I have in mind today, though, is about when to give thanks for the things we have asked of God in prayer. Should we wait until the answer appears before we say, Thank You, Lord? Or would it be presumptuous to thank Him for it before we even see it come to pass? To answer that, let’s take a look at this very important, perhaps even surprising thing Jesus said about prayer:
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)
That’s a pretty wide open statement. Sure, it is qualified by the context: “Therefore” refers back to having faith in God and how to exercise that faith (Mark 11:22-23). And we need to be in proper alignment with God and His purposes. So, for example, a bank robber cannot expect God to answer his prayer for a good wheel man and a clean get away. But when our faith is in God and we are partnering with what He is doing in the world, then this prayer has a lot of latitude.

What I want you to notice in particular is the word “receive.” The Greek word is lambano and means to “take hold of.” It is like when someone offers you a gift and you reach out to take hold of it — you actively receive it. Lambano is used here in the active voice, not the passive. That is, it is something we do, not something we wait to be done for us. Pay attention especially to the tense, because this will help answer the question I have posed. Jesus does not say, “Believe that you will receive” (future tense), but “Believe that you receive” (present tense). The NASB goes so far as to translate it as a present perfect: “Believe that you have received.”

What this means, then, is that when you have faith in God and are walking in proper relationship with Him, you can pray and know that you have received what you have asked of Him. So when you ask, believe that you have received it — that you have laid hold of it — and it will be yours. And if you believe that you have received it, you don’t have to wait until the answer shows up, you can go ahead and give God thanks for it.

Ask for it by faith, receive it by faith, give thanks for it by faith. As one of my friends likes to say, “Hope says, Please. Faith says, Thanks.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keep On It

A few years ago, my brother and I were up in Spartanburg, SC, tending to our grandmother’s affairs. Since we were not from there and were not very familiar with the town, we asked one lady how to get where we needed to be next. She told us to go out to the main road and turn right, and then “you keep on it and keep on it and keep on it.” Then she gave us the name of the road where we were to turn after that, along with a few landmarks to watch for.

My brother and I laughed about that as we drove along, repeating her words, “Keep on it and keep on it and keep on it.” We could see that there were some good reasons for her to emphasize it that way. As we began following her directions, there were many opportunities where we could have turned off the path and gotten ourselves lost. We were also unsure how many miles we would have to go before we reached the proper intersection. And I don’t know about you, but I have often had the sense in such situations that maybe I had gone too far and missed the proper turn, wondering whether I should go back and see or keep moving forward?

Take this as a sort of parable of faith — or more precisely, of faith and patience, because the two go together. We receive a promise from God, by the Word or the Spirit, and we have determined to believe it. But there can be quite some time between faith and fulfillment, between “Amen!” and “There it is!” We may also find that there are things that immediately arise to test it, and many opportunities to turn off the path of what we have been promised.

Abraham certainly experienced this. So did Joseph and Moses and David, not to mention Jesus. In fact, anybody who ever accomplished anything worthwhile by faith has experienced it. But they kept on.

Jesus told a few parables about what it means to keep on.

Like the one about the man who knocked on his neighbor’s door at midnight because he had a friend come to see him and there was no bread to set before him. Though the neighbor was tucked in for the night with his family and did not want to be disturbed, the man stood shamelessly at his door and refused to be turned away — he really needed that bread! (Luke 11:5-8).

Or the parable about the woman who sought justice from a judge who could not have cared less. He tried to turn her away but she would not relent. Finally, just to get her off his back, he gave in and granted her request (Luke 18:2-8).

What if they both had just given up and gone home. He would have had no bread to offer his hungry friend, and she would have had no justice. But they kept on.

Jesus said that those who ask will receive, those who seek will find, and those who knock will have the door opened up to them (Luke 11:10). But the asking and seeking and knocking must be done in faith, not in doubt, and that faith must be persistent.

How long should you persist? Let me answer that with another question: How much do you need the answer? We continue to press in patiently with our faith until we have received what we have asked, found what we have been seeking and the door stands open before us.

In other words, we keep on it. And keep on it. And keep on it. Until we see the promise has been fulfilled.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Storehouse of Faith

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” Jesus said (Matthew 12:34). Then He talked about the storehouse of the heart. If we store up good things in our hearts, that is what will come out; if we store up evil things then evil will come out (v. 35; see What’s In Your Storehouse?). Now, let me show you one reason why this is so important. Consider the words of Jesus in Mark 11:22-25.
Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
See the dynamic of the heart and the mouth, how they word together? If you have faith in God and do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will be done, you words become very powerful, even to the moving of mountains. But notice what must be in your heart in abundance — not just in your heart, but in your heart in abundance? Faith! Yes, it starts like a mustard seed, but like a mustard seed, when you plant it, it grows (see Faith is a Seed). When faith is in your heart in abundance, and your mouth speaks out of the abundance of your heart, that is a powerful combination.

So where does faith come from, and how to you get it into your heart in abundance? Paul said that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). When God speaks, things happen, and God always keeps His Word. When we give our attention to the Word of God, to meditate on it, and when we let it instruct our hearts and change our thinking, the Spirit of God works through that. Faith in God begins to rise up within us. As we continue meditating the Word, faith begins to fill our hearts in abundance. Then, when we speak, and our words are in alignment with the Word of God, they come forth with the force of faith. Things we thought improbable, or even impossible, begin to happen.

But there is also something else that must fill our heart, and that is forgiveness. We must be willing to forgive everyone we have anything against. It is no coincidence that Jesus speaks of forgiveness immediately after He talks about faith-filled words and prayer. No, it is integral to the operation of faith.

When Jesus told Peter and the disciples that they must forgive “seventy times seven,” they said, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:4-5). They realized that real forgiveness requires the power of faith. However, Jesus teaches us that the opposite is also true: powerful faith requires a heart of forgiveness. They must go together. If we do not have the faith to forgive then we do not have the faith to move mountains. Paul tells us that even if we did have faith to move mountains, but do not have love, then we are nothing and our accomplishments are in vain (1 Corinthians 13:2).

This brings us, then, to a third thing we must have in our hearts in abundance: Love. In a religious dispute that was taking place in the first-century Church over a ritual issue, Paul concluded, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

There it is. Faith works through love. That is, faith is activated, energized, made effective, through love. If faith worked without love, we would soon destroy the world. Imagine the debris that would litter the highways as people charged their road rage with the power of faith. No, there must be love if we are to have mountain-moving faith. Indeed, love is the most important. “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three,” Paul said, “But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Out of the storehouse of the heart the mouth speaks. When faith, forgiveness and love fill your heart in abundance, your words will become very powerful. Mountains will move.

What's in your storehouse?

(See also Faith Comes by Hearing and How to Forgive by Faith)