“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
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.