“but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” – John 2:5-6 (NASB)
This season can be distracting, stressful, confusing, and difficult. The message from the world out there does not always deliver what is true. God has revealed Himself in His Word which we call the Bible. In it He has revealed how we should live. ‘First John presents two external tests that demonstrate salvation: doctrinal and moral. The doctrinal test consists of confessing a proper view of Christ and of sin (1:1–4; 1:5–2:2), while the moral test consists of obedience and love (1: 7–11).’1 All this comes from the Lord because He loves us. We are reminded in today’s verse that when we follow the standards God has shown us in His Word His love for us is made complete. If we are willing to let God’s love work in our hearts it will make obedience a part of our lives. So when we learn of something in the Bible that God wants us to do or a principle He wants us to follow, let’s remember that He wants it because He loves us, not because He is a dictator. His promise to us is to make us complete through our faith in Him.
1John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Jn 2:3–6.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)
Our promises found in our passage include one much the same as the words Paul wrote to the Philippian church toward the end of his ministry. This letter to the church at Corinth however, was not written while he was in prison. In these verses Paul was not saying he had absolutely no contact; there is prayer, the indwelling Spirit, and fellowship through the Word. Paul was expressing a strong yearning to be at home with his Lord. We find the Psalmist expressing the same sentiments in Psalm 23. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) There’s no place that we go when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death where God absent from us He is with us. Heaven is where God is. “Surely … I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) So where is the house of the Lord? It’s where God dwells and that is in heaven. The hope of the psalmist was to be absent from the body to be present with the Lord.
Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have also access by faith into this favour in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.– Romans 5:1-2 (DARBY)” Since we have considered these two verses over the past two days, today we look again in a different version of the Bible.
In the fifth chapter of Romans, we’ve already considered the first two verses mining for the promises God has given to us. All who by faith believe that God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to live his live on earth in human flesh. God’s purpose was accomplished when after living a perfect life, without sin, Jesus was sacrificed on the cross while carrying the sins of the world. He paid in full the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Everyone who believes in Him and repents, receives eternal life. So far we have noted two links which secures our eternal future. The Apostle Paul specifies two links securing our salvation; we have peace with God (v.1); we have access to be standing in grace (v.2). Also in verse 2 we find that we have a sure hope of glory. The third link, (v. 2) promises us access and hope, and standing in grace we make our boast in this hope of the glory of God. Our hope will positively not disappoint. It is amazing to recognize that this hope is ours. Proclaiming this hope we will never be ashamed for it is solid true.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” – Romans 5:1 (NASB)
Today’s verse, reveals an awesome promise for all who have by faith believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It’s awesome because it gives us assurance of forgiveness. That’s important is because itis the foundation to our security in Christ Jesus. “Therefore having been justified by faith.” That’s the premise: If we have been justified by faith, if we have been declared righteous through faith, in other words, if we have been genuinely saved, then we have laid the necessary foundation and we are held in that relationship eternally. Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God. Now that is a very important thing for us to understand. We have as a present possession peace with God. This is not talking about psychological tranquility. It is not feelings of confidence or well-being. It is not subjective at all. It is not the kind of peace we feel or the kind of peace we experience. It is talking about an actual relationship that can be defined as a relationship of peace. Before justification we had been at war, we had been the enemy of God, we are now at peace.
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21 (ESV)
In the fourth chapter of Romans, we learn about righteousness and how we receive it by faith believing. The example is Abraham who was promised a son and a nation of descendants. Even when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah his wife was 90 well past child bearing age, Abraham believed in this promise of a son. This is our example for today, that we continue trusting and not wander into unbelief when a promise of God seems overdue for fulfillment. It is not. God answers and fulfills the promises in His time. Abraham did not understand how God would keep His promise and give them a son but He always believed that God could and would keep all His promises. That was saving faith and God declared Abraham righteous. In this blog we consider many promises and today our promise is that God is a promise keeper. We too need to believe that God is always able to do what He has promised, even when circumstances, such as Abraham and Sarah’s condition make it seem impossible. Be thankful to God each day and affirm that God will fulfill His promises – be fully convinced that He will.
“…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness but that (which is) through faith in Christ. the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith” – Philippians 3:9*
There is a purpose for us to also toss all our self-effort to please God on the refuse heap. This is a warning from the Apostle Paul for any who would think and expect that their own good deeds were in any way a righteousness that counts before God. Such “good works” will never be regarded as true righteousness. We’re to never expect God to accept us into His Kingdom based on how good we have been in life. Those that do will be disappointed. Some receiving this letter by Paul may have been offended by this. Paul says accomplishments which conformed to the Old Testament Law of Moses and the myriad of additional interpretations and traditions built up by the Jewish religious authorities since Moses. Yet it applies to any self-effort to please God and any effort by us to be righteous by following any set of laws. The only righteousness which is through faith in Christ has any value. By faith our hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Only righteousness that is imputed to the us sinners as God’s free gift is how we obtain this righteousness. Not earned, for a gift is never earned.
*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)
“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” – Romans 12:3 (NASB)
We find very little humility practiced in this world. Consider a current trend referred most often as “cancel culture,” (the term first appeared in 2016). Practiced by many who hold their views and attitudes to be the only correct and appropriate opinions while ignoring scientific orders and challenges our creator God’s clear truths found in scripture. There’s a current rampage against beliefs by those who don’t live according to these esteemed values or interpretations of right and wrong. In spite of fear of ostracism from others, this practice of intolerance is not becoming of those for whom Christ, by grace, has chosen, saved, and adopted as children of God. Today’s passage warns us to not practice holding ourselves above others as anyone’s “betters” – better based on the values they hold and demand others to accept and hold. Today’s promise is for each true faith believer who has received an allotment measure of faith from God sufficient to use sound judgement based our faith in God’s word. It’s this exercise which leads believers to recognize that in themselves we are nothing (1Peter 5:5), and will yield in us the fruit of humility without compromise.
“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:22 (ESV)
The last verse in Psalm 33 is a short prayer. This is really a prayer of faith. When we think of God’s love as enduring and never failing, that is faith. We believe that God loves us and always will. The “steadfast love” can also be rendered as “unfailing love” and we can believe that God loves us and always will. Our verse also mentions our hope and of course that is not wishful thinking, it is expectation. When we expect God to show us His love that is also faith. So, in faith, let’s expect God to demonstrate his steadfast love to us. And, let’s expect it to be not a once in a while experience but a lasting all time experience. That’s what it means to have God’s love resting upon us all the time. God’s love is with us all the time, that is a promise God has given to us and we can trust in it with a hope that will not disappoint us – not ever.
“And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours..” Mark 11:22-24 (ESV)
This is Passion Week leading to Easter Sunday. We are considering events that happened in the life of our Lord just before He was arrested, tried illegally, and sentenced by Pilate to die on a cross. It was for us that He allowed all the events to happen. Many events of those few days and much of what Jesus taught that week are recorded in Scripture. Let’s look at one found in the Gospel of Mark. It was Monday morning that Jesus looked for fruit on a fig tree as he left Bethany to go into the City of Jerusalem. There was no fruit so Jesus said there would never again be any fruit on that tree. The next day, Tuesday, as they were passing that way again Peter noticed that the fig tree was all withered from the ground up and amazed he mentioned it. Jesus’ reply teaches the disciples about the power of real faith without doubt. Jesus was anxious to have followers who truly believed in God and who expect God to answer their prayers. Let’s keep his promise and with faith believing pray according to His will expecting God to give us what we ask for.
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8 (NASB)
We all wrestle with doubts. Sometimes, they are proper but some doubts are dangerous. We read yesterday (April 5) that God has wisdom for us and is ready to give it to us without reproach. We are commanded to ask for the wisdom that shows us the way of living for God’s glory. Then, James puts out a serious warning against doubting. Why does he do this? Because when we pray for wisdom our prayers must be offered with confident trust in a sovereign God. Without any doubting. It’s more than merely because of mental indecision but it is rooted in inner moral conflict or distrust in God. If we are one who doubts God’s ability to keep his promise or willingness to provide this wisdom is likened to the stormy, restless sea, buffeted by the waves from the wind and moving back and forth. It is impossible to make progress when our expectations are so far removed from what God has promised. Such action is that of a double-minded person. The literal translation of this Greek expression means having our minds divided between God and the world. Let’s ask in faith and avoid the doubts of the unstable unbeliever.