One of the Greatest Statements of Faith in All of Scripture

Satan is anything but inept at his work. He does not attack Job in stages allowing Job time to recover after each attack. Instantaneously, Satan destroyed all that Job and his wife possessed. Their pain was excruciating; their loss, unimaginable. Yet Job responds with one of the greatest statements of faith in all of Scripture:

  • “‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (Job 1:21).'”

Job recognizes that God gave him everything and that He was the source of all his blessing. He came into this world with nothing, and he would leave this world with nothing. Anything acquired during his life was by God’s blessing alone. Certainly, he was in great agony yet he acknowledged God’s goodness even in tragedy. Job’s thankfulness characterized his trust and reliance upon the Lord.

Later Job will gives us another gem of faith in response to his wife’s lapse of faith:

  • “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble (Job 2:10)?”

Job’s faith was not a fair weathered faith. He relied on God in good times and in bad times. His was a faith that endures to the end.

May God grant to each of us a faith like this that accepts what God wills as what is best. When He wills sickness, sickness is better than health When He wills weakness, weakness is better than strength. When He wills reproach, reproach is better than honor. When He wills poverty, poverty is better than wealth. When He wills persecution, persecution is better than peace. When He wills valleys, valleys are better than mountaintops. When He wills death, death is better than life. Do we struggle to believe and accept this? We must pray.

Preach the Word

My most recent sermon preached at First Baptist Church of Newberry, Michigan:

July 7, 2013:

Romans 4:23-25 – “But Also For Us”

The Big Idea: What was true of Abraham is true of every person who has ever been or ever will be reconciled to God.

Outline:

1) Written For Us – Romans 4:23-24

2) Delivered For Us – Romans 4:25a

3) Raised For Us – Romans 4:25b

Preach the Word

January 13, 2013

Click below to listen to Sunday’s messages:

Sunday Morning:

 

Psalm 19 – “The Attributes of Scripture” pt. 1

The Big Idea: The divine Scriptures are the utmost treasure and pleasure this world affords.

Sunday Night:

 

Genesis 15:7-21 – “The Abrahamic Covenant: Faith and Assurance”

The Big Idea: Faith doesn’t deny reality. Faith faces the facts – delay, suffering, insurmountable circumstances, even death – but it also faces the fact of God who will accomplish that which he has promised.

The Obedience of Faith

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” – Romans 1:1-5

(NOTE: The following is an excerpt from my sermon “The Gospel of God” preached March 18, 2012)

These six, short verses introduce the book of Romans and are packed with rich truth. Since Paul has never visited the church in Rome he effectively introduces who he is (v. 1) and what he preaches (v. 2-5) to the believers in Rome.

This blog-piece will focus solely on one aspect of “what he preaches,” namely, the phrase found at the end of verse 5, “the obedience that comes from faith.”

I want to point out two things about this phrase…

First, everyone is saved by faith alone in Christ alone.

There is a wicked, false doctrine that has flooded the world, namely, that one can earn their way into heaven by being a good person. That as long as your good outweighs your bad God will let you into heaven. That because you do lots of good things God promises heaven in your future. This is a teaching straight out of hell. The Bible teaches salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.

Romans 1:16-17 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from 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 3:21-22 – “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made know, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

Notice, one is not justified by anything one has done, can do, or ever will do. One is justified by faith in what Jesus did for us. Jesus life and death form one great act of obedience. One is saved by faith in Jesus obedience. All are unrighteous because of disobedience but all of us can be made righteous by faith in God’s obedient Son – Jesus Christ our Lord (v. 4). One is not saved by lots of good works; one is saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Second, faith and obedience are distinct yet inseparable.

Faith and obedience can never be severed just as the sun and light and fire and heat cannot be severed. They go together. Already I have warned against the error of salvation by works but there is another opposite yet equal error of salvation without obedience

I hear many people talk about believing in Jesus but then they live like the Devil. I tell you that is not saving faith. It is not possible to accept Jesus as your Savior without having surrendered to him as Lord. He has been declared to be the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. You can’t divide this person. He is indivisible. One will have all of him or none of him. Saving faith makes one obedience to the Lord Jesus. It doesn’t mean you will live a perfect life – you will struggle – you will still sin – but you will sorrow over it, repent from it, and press on in obedience. Faith and obedience run side by side. They are two sides of the same coin. Paul says he travels the world calling all people to the obedience that comes from faith (v. 5). He doesn’t just preach “believe” – mere knowledge of the facts – nor does he just preach “obey.” He preaches the obedience of faith. They cannot be severed. Where one is lacking, the other will not be found either. Real faith will always lead to real obedience; real obedience comes from faith. True faith always expresses itself in obedience, and genuine obedience always stems from a true and living faith.

This is the resounding testimony of Scripture:

Acts 26:20 – “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Titus 1:16 – “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

Hebrews 11:8 – “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”

James 2:17 – “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Think of it this way – faith and obedience are like the two parts of salt: Salt is composed of two poisons, sodium and chlorine. If you should take either of the two poisons, you would die. But if you combine them properly, you have sodium chloride, and that is common table salt, without which there is no flavor for food (illustration from Dr. Barnhouse).

Faith and obedience are distinct yet inseparable. I believe that in our effort to guard against salvation by works, as so often happens, the pendulum swung to another equal and opposite error of salvation without obedience. The Bible maintains a balance and so must Christians as we preach the gospel – You are saved by faith alone in Christ alone and that faith bears the fruit of obedience. A working faith, a living faith, a genuine faith produces change in the person’s life. If one’s faith leaves them unchanged, one does not have saving, biblical faith.

Again, the gospel of God that Paul preached and which all Christians are to proclaim to all the nations is that of surrender to the truth about Jesus and surrendering one’s body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is one’s reasonable, spiritual service. The gospel is a message of total unreserved commitment in doctrine and doing, truth and action, orthodoxy and orthopraxy to Jesus Christ our Lord. As Christopher Ash wrote, “The Obedience of faith means bowing the knee in trusting submission to Jesus the Lord, both at the start and all through the Christian life.”

Predestination: A Pillow for your Faith

The following is an excerpt from a sermon I gave last night from 2 Kings 19

King Hezekiah and the kingdom of Judah are at the end of their rope, sapped of all strength:

“This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.” (2 Kings 19:3)

What is the reason for such shame and weakness?

Sennacherib’s army has steamrolled through Judah and has now set up camp around Jerusalem.

This is the same army that has knocked off a great number of other kings and kingdoms as Sennacherib likes to remind people:

Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them: the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, or of Hena or Ivvah?” (2 Kings 19:11-13)

In light of such calamity and distress Hezekiah drops anchor in the storm through prayer (2 Kings 19:14) and God replies through his servant Isaiah saying among other things against Sennacherib:

Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. (2 Kings 19:25)

Long before Sennacherib was ever a blip on the radar screen God had ordained his victories and conquests.

Knowing the true explanation always sucks the pride out of one’s balloon.

In another way, a little predestination cuts arrogance down to size.

Predestination, of course, makes some Christians nervous; they shudder at the mention of the “P” word.

All I can say is – if you don’t want predestination, well then go ahead and live a comfortless life, bite your nails and swallow your tranquilizers watching the evening news.

I however prefer the pillow of predestination…that is, of having a God big enough that he is never surprised by blathering Sennacheribs of this age.

Predestination is the pillow of faith.

It was Joseph’s pillow.

He endured immensely difficult situations because:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.(Gen. 50:20)

It is our pillow also.

Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” In Romans 8:38 Paul says “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How can we “know” and be “convinced” of such things?

The answer is found in Romans 8:29-30 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son…”

Predestination is why we know!

It was Hezekiah’s pillow, Joseph’s pillow, it is our pillow!

God determines the beginning and the end and everything in-between.

God is sovereign working out his perfect will.

Don’t fight predestination.

Let it be the pillow for your faith.

When you lay down tonight in your nice warm beds and put your head on your nice soft pillow say a little prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God for predestination!

True Saving Faith – More Than Fire Insurance

True saving faith is not simply a matter of believing in Christ because you are afraid of going to hell; faith is not simply a matter of avoiding punishment where you do not have any desire to love and enjoy Christ. Rather, true saving faith means that you come to a deep, heartfelt conviction of how precious Christ is, and ‘account all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Philippians 3:8). You come to see Christ as all your salvation and happiness (Colossians 3:1).

True saving faith also means that you love every part of Christ’s salvation – holiness as well as forgiveness of sins. It means that you earnestly desire God to ‘create in you a clean heart and a right spirit’ as well as ‘hide his face from your sins’ (Psalm 51:9-10). Do not be like those who care nothing about Christ at all, except to be delivered from hell. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6)

– Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 51

(HT:  Trinity Church Blog)