God also strengthens his church through the obedience of faith, an expression Paul used to begin this letter and now to conclude to it. It is the obedience to believe the gospel as well as to live it. Or, as one commentator describes it, “obedience always involves faith, and faith always involves obedience.” He who enabled and empowered us to believe so also enables and empowers us to live obedient lives. We shall not be defined by sin and the decay of death but life through the faith God gives: “May we be rich in faith, be strong in faith, live by faith, walk by faith, experience the joy of faith, do the work of faith, hope through faith.” And so, God strengthens his church through the obedience of faith.
Like many catastrophes, the Fall came without warning, but unlike many catastrophes it came with deceptive subtlety. In the midst of the Garden, Satan in the form of a serpent deceived Eve, who sinned by eating the forbidden fruit and shared the temptation with Adam, who ate too. And so fell our ancestors, and the human race, “from their original righteousness and communion with God,” and as a result they “became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all parts and faculties of soul and body,” as our Confession of Faith puts it. In the history of human tragedies, the first was the worst.
And this must inform our evangelism. We cannot make someone believe, even those we love most, but we must be faithful to give the gift of the gospel, praying that the Giver of all good things will give the gift of faith. For, God is glorified through the salvation of his people, and through the gift of the gospel “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isa. 52:10). Amen.
The list of problems facing humanity is myriad. Our very existence has been and continues to be perilous, as we seem bent on self-destruction. Yet, there is one root problem that is the cause of all other problems and common to everyone, the same for those who have gone before us and those who will follow: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
But the faith that God gave Abraham did not falter, as it never will, but grew: “[Abraham] did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do” (Rom. 4:20-21 NET). Therefore, “In hope [Abraham] believed against hope.” Though his circumstances shouted hopelessness, Abraham had hope, not because he looked to himself and his faithfulness but because he looked to the One who promised.
The world is searching for significance, and at this time for an affirmation that there is more to life than mere survival. Let us not point them to the idols of our culture but instead let us point them to Christ. For, only in Christ are we redeemed to do precisely what we were made to do: glorify and enjoy God forever.
When Christians realize that their citizenship is in heaven, they begin acting as responsible citizens of earth. They invest wisely in relationships because they know they’re eternal.
Brothers and sisters, stop living in fear and start praying for souls. Stop consuming all that bad news and start sharing the Good News. Stop critiquing your neighbors’ politics and start telling them about Christ’s kingdom. Because, we have not yet reached the end, so look and “see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
If you have heard the free offer of the gospel and received it, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ; if you trust only in the finished work of Christ, looking not to your righteousness but his alone before God; if you know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and see his presence producing fruit through you; you are one of the few, the chosen, not merely an invited guest but a child of the King.
As much as the demons love the lie of self-help salvation, they hate the gospel truth that “by grace you have been saved through faith.