NIV Romans 4 18-22…a homemade amplified study using the dictionary. It’s just another way to establish our confidence in Scripture and enhance our own  complete trust or confidence in it.
 Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire
 Faith: complete trust or confidence
 Unbelief: lack of religious belief; an absence of faith.
 Righteousness: being morally right or justifiable.
18 Against all  expectation and desire, Abraham in  expectation and desire believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
19 Without weakening in his  complete trust or confidence, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
20 Yet he did not waver through  lack of religious belief; an absence of  complete trust or confidence regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his  complete trust or confidence and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
22 This is why “it was credited to him as  being morally right or justifiable.
TLB Romans 3:27 Then what can we boast about doing to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. 28 So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.
The mystery of salvation is that giving everything to Christ is really we have “nothing at all” to give. Even our “faith in Christ” is a gift he’s given us. We’re just returning what we’ve been given, a little worse for the wear, so that solves the boasting problem too.
Thank God that he saw something worth saving…be worth the price!
Romans 2:13 Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with him. 14 (Those who are not Jews do not have the law, but when they freely do what the law commands, they are the law for themselves. This is true even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.)
It was only when I pasted these three verses into my digital journal that I noticed the close parenthesis at the end and realized the enclosed explanation was twice as long as the sentence it was clarifying. That simple fact seemed like a Biblical object lesson for me to think about.
Being right with God is more complicated than just knowing what the law is. Obeying the law isn’t a matter of separating the have’s from the have not’s at all. Instead, God makes a connection to what he’s written in the heart. “They [those who do not have the law] show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands.”
The object lesson: “Right with God” is the complicated relationship between being obedient to what the brain knows about the law and the obedience of the heart desiring to freely respond to it.
Romans 1:17 The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, “But those who are right with God will live by faith.” NCV (New Century Version)
“But those who are right with God will live by faith.” That’s the bottom line of belief, beginning to end. Of course we should live by faith. Of course we want to be right with God. Of course, it’s all about faith but what does that mean in day-to-day life? We try so hard to make a right life with God be about what we’ve learned, what we do, how skilled we are and even who we know. Did you notice all the “we’s?” That’s the struggle. It’s hard to avoid inserting yourself into the description of what living a life of faith and being “right with God” looks like.
If you had to come up with a definition of what it means to live by faith, could you? Could you define what faith is in your own words without cliche’s, without inserting what you do or don’t do and even without quoting scriptures? That’s what I’m asking myself as I try to write my definition.
““But those who are right with God will live by faith.”
• With the awareness life will be good, whatever happens
• Knowing having no control isn’t the same as helplessness
• Not needing to know everything about it to be confident in it
• Depending on yet undiscovered reserves of strength
If you try writing your definition of living by faith, please think about adding your results in a comment to me. I’d love to post them.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, [b]weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of [c]sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. NASB
Everything that led up to that day of condemnation so long ago has led you to this day we’ve come to call Good Friday. We get a lot of practice learning about the crucifixion of Christ being the bridge of forgiveness between us and God and between himself and us. There’s a third reality to that sacrifice that’s much harder to wrap our heads around. It was a sacrifice to set us “free from the law of sin and of death… free to believe “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
That’s what what this solemn day is about. The sinless Savior did what no law, priest, pastor or counselor could do. He condemned the sin that our human flesh could so easily use against us and replaced it with his promise that we could be free to walk according to his Spirit. This day the promise of forgiveness became our reality.
Luke 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.
This is our Savior…sweating blood…in anguish…pleading with God to tell him if there’s any other way. This is our Savior completely aware of just how bad it will be to be punished for our sin. This is our Savior who’s repeated concern is still that his disciples “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
It’s heartbreaking to read later in Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The rooster’s crow confirmed the worst…the Lord’s prediction had come true. They’d all fallen away…and Jesus was going to pay for it.
Repent, pray and remember… Jesus paid for you too.
Mark 11:9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
This is probably one of the most familiar Biblical stories associated with the week leading up to Easter Sunday. I’m sure you know it. There was the donkey, a prophetic symbol, the ride of choice for a king coming in peace. The cheering crowd confirming that Jesus’s ministry was spreading and the palm branches were the modern-day equivalent of their rolling out the red carpet for him.
The details of this story in the four Gospels vary a bit but the main idea is the same; Jesus’s determination to begin his final confrontation with sin in the city of peace, Jerusalem. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’ ” Luke 19
Jesus knew exactly what that triumphal entry was really about. The crowd’s Hosannas weren’t at all shouts of praise as I’ve come to think of them. They were cries of it’s literal meaning; “help” or “save, I pray” from people longing for Jesus to prove himself as the conquering Messiah they expected. That conflict between Jesus’s determination and their expectations explains why a short five days later their cries had changed from Hosanna to “crucify him.”
Thank God for this Palm Sunday reminder…sometimes repentance includes surrendering my expectations of how Jesus should prove himself to me and celebrate that he already has. Hosanna!
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
This morning was a perfect object lesson for me. I spent 8 or 9 hours working on this title…Repentance of Gratitude…only to accidentally delete the whole thing as I tried to copy it. Despite my best efforts it was apparently meant just for me to practice what I preach. I hope this reconstruction is just what God had in mind for you to read.
Lent is fast coming to an end and I’m still learning about repentance. It’s easy to reduce it to it’s simplest definition, “being sorry.” Regret is certainly part of repentance but James has led me to another path of thought. What if there’s a another side to repentance that involves our ability to live a good life?
We work so hard in so many ways to live that “good life” that we can hardly escape our sense of entitlement that what we have, even our wisdom and understanding, comes through our own efforts. It’s the sacrifice of that entitlement that becomes the repentance of gratitude for all God has given. Those unplanned surprises and less-than-lovely tasks that happen daily are opportunities to practice “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” That’s what the repentance of gratitude is all about. Those object lessons come every day and last longer than Lent.
“Who is wise and understanding among you?” Remember to practice the repentance of gratitude every day and “show it by [your] good life…”
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of notable political figures being carefully guided through a pressing crowd surrounded by a cadre of secret service agents for their protection. That image came to mind when I read “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” Have you ever considered who your personal cloud of witnesses are; the Biblical secret service agents that have impacted your life…and why? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own list. Here’s mine..
Jesus: because he showed me his love, and that I was worth it.
Solomon: because he connected the passion of human love to the love of God for his people.
David: because he was brave enough to repent even though there were desperate consequences to his sin.
Peter: because there’d never been any doubt in his mind that he would faithfully serve Jesus…until that moment when he heard his own words of denial. Then repentance changed his heart’s focus from service to a deep love.
Paul: because he believed in a power that had nothing to do with his own abilities and ideas. He was faithful, willing and yes…an opinionated messenger that Jesus was the Savior of the most unlikely people…even him.
These Biblical heroes are my secret service detail. They’re the “great cloud of witnesses” that are my examples of a better way to get through the hazards of being human so I “will not grow weary and lose heart” in the name of Jesus.