VIDEO The Mystery of Faith – Ears: Listening to the Word of Christ

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Life is full of mystery. How the brain becomes the mind is a mystery. Love is often a mystery. How human genes carry out their signaling to the body is a mystery. And in the spiritual realm, how does faith rise up in the human heart?

The apostle Paul says clearly: “So then faith comes by hearing…the word of God.” Most modern interpreters suggest that “the word of God” refers to “the message of/concerning Christ.” When Christ’s Gospel and His teachings are embraced by the human heart, faith is the result. But Paul also says we are saved by grace through faith which is “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9). So faith is a gift from God and it is also the result of embracing the message about Christ and His salvation. But how does the gift of God mix with the human response? The experience of salvation is not a science experiment that can be understood in a laboratory. It is a wonderful mystery that can be experienced though not totally understood.

Have you embraced the Gospel of Christ? And thanked God for His gift of faith? Don’t let the day pass without doing both.

The Word generates faith and regenerates us. Joseph Alleine


Sermon on Romans 10:17: “Ears: Listening to the Word of Christ” | Faith Comes by Hearing

Life to the Full

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that communicated a sense of fullness in a time that felt quite empty to so many people. In his now much-loved photo, a bearded old man sits at a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in prayer. On the surface before him there is only a book, spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

Some might say the photograph reveals scarcity. But Enstrom’s point was quite the opposite: Here is a full life, one lived in gratitude, one you and I can experience as well regardless of our circumstances. Jesus announces the good news in John 10: “life . . . to the full” (v. 10). We do a grave disservice to such good news when we equate full with many things. The fullness Jesus speaks of isn’t measured in worldly categories like riches or real estate, but rather a heart, mind, soul, and strength brimming in gratitude that the Good Shepherd gave “his life for the sheep” (v. 11), and cares for us and our daily needs. This is a full life—enjoying relationship with God—that’s possible for every one of us.

By: John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Would you say that right now you’re living “life to the full”? Why or why not? Have you had a tendency to equate full with many things?

Good Shepherd, thank You for laying down Your life for me, one of the sheep. And thank You for Your promise to provide nothing less than the daily bread I need, both literally and figuratively.

Living Clean in a Tainted World

2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 2 Corinthians 7:1

When Adam and Eve listened to Satan in the garden of Eden, the world was invaded by sin, and we’ve been battling it ever since. Over time, our world has become morally and spiritually contaminated.

We’re born physically alive but spiritually dead and in rebellion against the Lord (Eph. 2:1-2). Yet by trusting Jesus as our Savior, we receive a new nature and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This means believers have the power to say no to wrongdoing and yes to godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

With our new identity as children of God, we no longer share the same nature or purpose of unbelievers. Followers of Jesus are called to serve as His ambassadors, spreading knowledge of the Savior and yearning for righteousness. We exchange our own desires for His, admit when we’ve sinned, and ask for His forgiveness. But these values often make little sense to those who don’t know Christ.

Maintaining a godly focus in the world is difficult, but we can find support and encouragement from others who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Intimate friends and trusted advisors will help us stay pointed toward the Son.

Names of God

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” (Genesis 7:16)

Many stirring books have been written on the general subject of the names of God. Most of the names make use of one or two of the three primary names. The first is Elohim, meaning “mighty one.” It is a uni-plural name—plural in form but singular in meaning and verb usage, suggesting the uni-plural nature of the triune Godhead, appearing in most English translations as “God.” It most often is used when worldwide events or attributes are discussed, including creation, judgment, sovereignty, transcendence, and salvation. The second is Jehovah, meaning “the self-existent one,” which appears as “LORD” in English translations. It stresses God’s holiness, nearness, concern for man (especially Israel), hatred of sin, love of sinners, and His revelatory nature and communication. The third is Adonai, a more general term meaning master and used of both men and God. It appears as “Lord” in English Bibles.

For example, the name Elohim, the transcendent, uni-plural Creator God, is appropriately used exclusively in Genesis 1:1–2:4, the account of creation from God’s perspective. Throughout the rest of Genesis 2, the account of creation from man’s perspective, the combination name Jehovah-Elohim is used. Man was at this point without sin, in full accord with his Creator, and experiencing the fullness of His love and communication. The curse, as related in chapter 3, changed things forever, and in chapter 4, Adam and his offspring, painfully aware that their sin has broken God-established relationships, relate better to Jehovah, the Savior. In our text for the day, we see Noah obeying the orders of Elohim, the sovereign judge, to enter the Ark, but Jehovah, the loving Savior, making them secure. JDM

Seek Approval

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

—1 Timothy 5:20

 

I cannot believe in the spirituality of any Christian man who keeps an eye open for the approval of others, whoever they may be. The man after God’s own heart must be dead to the opinion of his friends as well as his enemies. He must be as willing to cross important persons as obscure ones. He must be ready to rebuke his superior as quickly as those who may be beneath him on the ecclesiastical ladder. To reprove one man in order to gain the favor of another is no evidence of moral courage. It is done in the world all the time.

We’ll never be where we should be in our spiritual lives until we are so devoted to Christ that we ask no other approbation than His smile. When we are wholly lost in Him the frantic effort to please men will come to an end. The circle of persons we struggle to please will be narrowed to One. Then we will know true freedom, but not a moment before.   PON141

Lord, does anyone ever really get over the desire to seek the approval of others? That is a battle for which we are totally dependent on You for victory. Help me today to be content with only the smile of Your approval. Amen.

 

A Silent, Holy, Eloquent Witness

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

—Acts 10:44

 

The Holy Spirit is…among us to confirm to the consciences of men the works of Jesus.

There [is] no denying that in His earthly ministry, Jesus was a mighty worker of miracles. He did raise the dead. He did cleanse the leper. He did turn the water into wine. He did feed the multitude with a few pieces of bread.

The Pharisees did not try to deny the miracles He wrought. They could not deny them….You cannot deny a fact that stands and stares you in the face—a fact that you can touch and feel and push around and investigate! The Pharisees simply said: “He does his work in the power of the devil.”

The Holy Spirit came that He might confirm and verify the divine quality of those mighty works of Jesus and prove Him indeed to be the very God who had made the world and who could make it do what He pleased for it to do. EFE028

Let us bear in mind…that the Holy Spirit identifies Himself with the Lord Jesus and that the coming of the Comforter is just the coming of Jesus Himself to the heart. WCC007

 

Adorn the Doctrine

Titus 2:10

Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). To “adorn the doctrine” means that by his daily living the believer will seek to beautify that which is already inherently beautiful.

There are arts which make their own direct appeal to the beholder. The visual arts come under this heading. There are other arts, however, which demand an interpreter. Their beauty cannot be appreciated without one—music, for example. To the musically illiterate, a page of music is a collection of black blobs scattered indiscriminately over rulings of five lines and four spaces, and joined without seeming rhyme or reason to other short upright lines, a jumble of unintelligible markings. If these musical symbols are to live for me as they did in the mind of the composer before he committed them to paper, someone has to bring them to life.

This is the function of the performer. By virtue of his skill he can make the otherwise incomprehensible light up with meaning. When a genuine artist plays the passage in question he recreates it as a thing of beauty and joy. He has adorned the doctrine. By contrast, were I to try to play the same passage you might well tear out your hair and say I was murdering it. We will be agreed that by his capacity or lack of it, a player can enhance or diminish the beauty of a composer’s work.

We have to accept the unwelcome fact that the Christian gospel is to some as meaningless as a page of music to the man who cannot read music. He hasn’t a clue! The Christian faith needs interpreters, and this is where we come in. We can adorn the gospel or disfigure it. By our lifestyle we can make the “doctrine of God our Savior” positively appealing or utterly unlikeable. We can make it or mar it.

The Army Founder, in welcoming the Revised Version of Scripture in 1885, said: “If this revision throws any new light upon the precious volume, I accept it very gratefully. I am interested just now in a further translation. I want to see a new translation of the Bible in the conduct of men and women.”

The character of our witness must be appealingly attractive. Not without reason do the Scriptures speak of “the beauty of holiness.” The beauty of holiness is not a kind of external cosmetic, which is, as the saying goes, only skin deep. But Christian doctrine is adorned by the development of Christ’s own character in the life of the believer.

Frederick Coutts, The Splendor of Holiness