Why should we know God's Word?

In our day and age where anti-intellectualism runs rampant in the visible church, it is not surprising to see poll after poll verify what students of scripture have known for many years. The visible church does not know much about the scriptures they profess to believe in. This is sad considering many saints during the Reformation period lost their lives for the sake of being able to read and study God's word. Not to mention the many passages in scripture that speak as such:

Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

The posts on this blog will address essential Biblical doctrines of the Christian faith. You can find much of the background for the posts here. My prayer for these posts is that the people who read them will be encouraged to open their Bibles and not just read a verse or two, but learn them and indeed, be transformed by them. As Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17). This is my prayer as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Faith Alone

Faith Alone

- What is the basis upon which God accepts us into His heavenly kingdom? Is it our faith? Absolutely not.

o Our faith is only the instrument by which we receive the justification whereby we stand before a holy and just God.

§ It is faith ALONE by which we receive justification.

- Scriptural proof:

o Galatians 2:16 - We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

o What are the “works of the law” that Paul is referring to?

§ See Galatians 3:10-11 – In vs 10, after speaking about the works of the law, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26.

· The clear implication is that works of the law equals obeying God’s commandments.

§ After telling us that the righteous shall life by faith and that no one is justified by the law before God in vs 11…

· In vs 12 he makes the point that the law is NOT of faith. (He quotes Leviticus 18:5).

o It is of obligation!

o See also: Romans 3:20-22 & 3:27-4:25

- What about James 2?

o As we have stated previously the word justified has a wide range of meanings.

§ Such is the case in the way James uses the word and the way Paul uses the word.

· Context dictates the precise meaning of the word.

o What is the context? – James 2:18 – Someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

§ James is concerned with the nature of saving faith.

· Although we are justified by faith alone, faith is never alone and will produce fruit for everyone to see.

§ Look at James’s example of Abraham in James 2:21-23, it demonstrates this point.

o James 2:21 – Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

§ When did Abraham offer up Isaac?

· In Genesis 22!

o James 2:22-23 – You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"

§ James is quoting Genesis 15:6, telling us this passage has been fulfilled. Why?

§ Because his works showed he was a righteous man. They justified, vindicated, proved he was righteous.

· This is the context of James 2:24 - You see that a person is justified (vindicated) by works and not by faith alone.

- The word “justified” here clearly does not have to do with a legal declaration by God relating to our sins.

o People who bring this up are desperate to try to prove their false gospel instead of coming to Christ alone, by faith alone.

- Why did God choose faith as the instrument to receive justification instead of love, joy, peace, etc.?

o Dr. Grudem is right on when he says: “Faith is the one attitude of the heart that is the exact opposite of depending on ourselves. When we come to Christ in faith, we essentially say, ‘I give up! I will not depend on myself or my own good works any longer. I know that I can never make myself righteous before God. Therefore, Jesus, I trust you and depend on you completely to give me a righteous standing before God.’ In this way, faith is the opposite of trusting in ourselves, and therefore is the attitude that perfectly fits salvation that depends not at all on our own merit but entirely on God’s free gift of grace.”

- The implications and applications are manifold and marvelous.

o We can be assured we have eternal life, peace with God, zero guilt, no condemnation, and a perfect standing with God based only on faith in Christ.

§ No matter our wretched past, the heinous sins we committed, or even our previous hatred of God.

o If we just place our faith in God he will gladly accept us.

§ That is good news to believe in!

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