Tag: justified by faith

True Faith brings works!

Scripture reading for October 6th: Jeremiah 22, 23, 26, Psalm 77, James 2

Key Scriptures: James 2:18-23 “But 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. You believe that God is One; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 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”–and he was called a friend of God.”

James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church and half-brother of Jesus, was writing to help Jewish believers understand the relationship of faith and works. He carefully explained that true faith will show itself by corresponding works. He used Abraham as an example. Abraham believed God’s promise for a son who would become a nation of people. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham believed the promise, and obeyed God by taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him. He showed his trust by obedience! He was called a ‘friend of God’.

Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I want an active faith that produces good works and pleases You. Thank You for godly examples in Scripture for me to meditate on. Thank You for Your example of perfect obedience, giving Your life for sinners like me!

Jeremiah 23:18 “For who among them (the prophets) has stood in the council of the Lord to see and hear His Word, or who has paid attention to His Word and listened?”

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The curse of the Law!

Scripture reading for September 17th: Galatians 3:8-22

“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:8-9)   The Gospel of salvation by faith is nothing new and unheard of.  God announced this Gospel to Abraham in the form of a promise to the nations:  “All nations will be blessed through you.” Paul was chosen to lead the outreach to the Gentiles as an apostle.

The false teachers were trying to get these Galatians to keep the Old Testament Law.  Paul told them that all who rely on keeping the law come under a curse because no one is able to keep the law!  The law is not based on faith, but on human effort and works.  Jesus Christ came to redeem men from the curse of the law and failed human effort.  He became a curse for all mankind by taking our sins and dying on a cross.  (Galatians 3:13-14)  By faith in Jesus Christ, all the blessings promised to the Gentiles through Abraham now come to us as a gift of grace.  We only believe and receive the promises!  This is the gospel of salvation by grace though faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord!

Paul next considered two questions about the law.  “What then is the purpose of the law?”  “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?” (Galatians 3: 19,21)  Paul explained that the law was added because of transgressions until the promised “Seed” of Abraham came, Jesus Christ.  The law could only reveal transgressions, not bring righteousness.  It brought a knowledge of sin to all men.  The whole world was then accountable to God for breaking His laws.  It did not oppose the promises of God which were received by faith.  The law demanded works, the promises encouraged faith.

Thank God for His redemption!  We are no longer under the curse of trying to keep the law!  We have been given grace by simply believing in Jesus Christ, Abraham’s Seed.  He took the penalty for our law-breaking by becoming a curse for us, dying on a cruel cross!  We are free from the condemnation of breaking God’s law.  Now in the Spirit, we want to do what the law requires and have the power to do it!

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Justified by faith!

Scripture reading for September 15th: Galatians 2:1-16

After fourteen years, Paul the apostle went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to share his revelation of the gospel with those who had walked with Jesus.  He did this privately so that he could receive correction, if necessary.  This was done in response to a revelation and false teachers who were trying to add some of the Jewish laws to the gospel.

After sharing his gospel with Peter, James, and John, they gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.  (Galatians 2:6-10)  These pillars of the church recognized that God’s grace flowing through Paul towards the Gentiles was the same as Peter’s for the Jews and added nothing to his message, only encouraging Paul to remember the poor.  This encouraged Paul and his traveling companions.  There was wisdom in the elders through the Spirit that kept the Gospel message pure.

However, sometime later, Peter visited Antioch where Paul was a teacher.  “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  but when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:11-13)  Paul was watchful about division and favoritism and noticed Peter drawing back from his usual openness to the Gentiles.  He was living in fear of those Jews who held onto the law and was trying to appease them.

This was causing division so Paul confronted Peter to his face.  “I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?  We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:15-16)  Paul knew that trying to add law to faith would pollute the power of the Gospel and cause division in the church.  The law could not save anyone, only bring condemnation!  Only faith in Jesus Christ would set men free!  Thank God today for justification by faith alone!

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By faith alone!

Scripture reading for July 18th: Romans 4:14-5:2

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  (Romans 5:1-2)

Paul’s great desire was to show his readers that it was by faith that God has justified men and women from Abraham’s time until the present.  Abraham was justified before the law was given.  Abraham simply believed God for a resurrection of his own dead body and for the dead womb of his wife and received the ability to have the promised son.  Abraham’s and Sarah’s faith was in God’s ability to fulfill what He had promised them!  (Romans 4:21)  The result was the birth of Isaac at an age when they were beyond the ability to have children!  God’s power resurrected their bodies and their faith was credited to them as righteousness.

In the same way, God is still crediting righteousness to those who believe.  “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25)  It was never by works or religious activities that anyone was justified.

What does it mean to be ‘justified’?  This word means to be made righteous after being guilty of sin.  It is impossible for any man because all men are sinners by nature.  Sin twists the soul and brings death to our relationship with God.  As it is impossible for a dead man to raise himself back to life, so it is impossible for a twisted sinner to restore a relationship with God on his own.  If man could do it through some religion or good works, he could boast of special ability.  (Romans 4:1-2)

But God took the initiative by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to come as a man and live a sinless life.  He then willingly offered His Son in our place, paying the price for our sins.  By our faith in Christ’s sacrifice, sin’s sentence of death is removed  through God’s gracious gift to us!  Praise the Lord!

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Justified by faith, not law!

Scripture reading for September 15th: Galatians 2:1-16

After fourteen years, Paul the apostle went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to share his revelation of the Gospel with those who had walked with Jesus.  He did this privately so that he could receive correction, if necessary.  This was done in response to a revelation and false teachers who were trying to add to his Gospel some of the Jewish laws.

After sharing his Gospel that he preached to the Gentiles with Peter, James, and John, they gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.  (Galatians 2:6-10)  These pillars of the church recognized that God’s grace flowing through Paul towards the Gentiles was the same as Peter’s for the Jews and added nothing to his message, only encouraging Paul to remember the poor.  This encouraged Paul and his traveling companions.  There is wisdom in the elders through the Spirit that keeps the Gospel message pure.

However, sometime later, Peter visited Antioch where Paul was a teacher.  “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  but when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:11-13)  Paul was watchful about division and favoritism and noticed Peter drawing back from his usual openness to the Gentiles.  He was living in fear of those Jews who held onto the law and was trying to appease them.

This was causing division so Paul confronted Peter to his face.  “I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?  We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:15-16)  Paul knew that trying to add law to faith would pollute the power of the Gospel and cause division in the church.  The law could not save anyone, only bring condemnation!  Only faith in Jesus Christ would set men free!  Thank God today for justification by faith alone!

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