“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’” —Romans 4:1-3
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” —Romans 1:17
One Sunday afternoon many years ago, my wife and I asked our sons what they learned in Sunday School. With great animation they recited what their teacher had humorously said during Sunday School: “Dude, man, you got to have faith!” That has become one of our favorite sayings.
Faith. It is scattered throughout the pages of Scripture. We believe it. We have it. And yet we often struggle to understand exactly what faith is. Since we are called to live by faith, it stands to reason that we should have a working definition to guide us along the way.
Too often, our definition of “faith” becomes so subjective that we lose touch with reality. Christians must be in an interactive relationship with God and their neighbors. This is continually displayed and defined in Scripture. Paul went as far as to state that everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Faith leads to the inward obedience of the heart that provides confidence in our actions. The believer, having faith in God, acts on behalf of the will of God. Faith is naturally connected to what we do (this is why James connects faith to works).
In Romans 4, Paul addressed the need to live a life of faith through the story of Abraham.
Through this story, we understand that the many accomplishments of Abraham were only made possible through his faith. Paul is very clear that for every believer, works come as a natural expression of authentic faith. Abraham’s circumcision was the sign of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. Our actions done in faith have eternal value: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (v.3). That is authentic faith; accepting God’s Word to the same measure that it is put into practice.
When it comes to wrestling with the cultural issues of our day, we need faith.
As God continues to speak to us through the written Word, His Spirit, and the church, we must have a hunger to hear Him and set our hearts to obey His instructions.
May our hunger for God’s Word and His presence increase as our faith continues to grow.
Through faith, God aligns our beliefs with His heart. Faith calls us to believe God. As a result, we are to trust Him and apply His Word with increasing measure and in practical ways in our lives, which include keeping our minds and bodies “from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). We are called to be a people who live by authentic faith—no more and no less than what Abraham experienced. We are called to believe God and His Word as we live in His righteousness.
Prayer for the week: God, today, I choose to live a life of faith. As You speak Your words over me, I will align myself with Your heart. As You affirm Your presence in me, I will apply it in the most practical of ways as your Spirit directs. I agree with Paul’s confession, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Yes, the righteous will live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Jim Thornton is lead pastor of Tulsa Hills Church of the Nazarene in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
Written for Coffee Break.