Posts Tagged ‘Believe’


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is an absolute requirement for coming to God, for pleasing Him. What sort of faith allows us to please Him?

We quote Hebrews 11:1 as a general definition of faith, but Romans 4:3 sheds more pertinent light on what sort of faith it takes to please God.

Romans 4:3 “What does scripture say? ‘Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God'” (The New Testament: A Translation by William Barclay).

Abraham’s “act of faith” was to believe the words of God. Simply, faith is believing what God says. That belief, that faith, is what pleases God, putting us in a position to have a right relationship with Him. Even in our human relationships, trust in what a person says is foundational.

Trust is never simply an intellectual agreement. It is visceral and intangible and always affects our emotions and actions. This is why it is so devastating when a spouse discovers the other has been unfaithful. That trust which had enveloped his or her soul has been destroyed. That trust which gave him or her life had suddenly been exposed to be based on a lie.

Abraham shows us that this belief, this faith is a deep conviction which resides in our core being, effecting our will and our mind, and even our emotions. His great love for his only son was laid aside to show his trust in this great invisible God. His core trust and faith resulted in obedient action. This is why James declared that faith that does not result in works is not true faith at all, for it is useless for LIFE!

(Jas 2:20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Adam and Eve were forced from the Garden because their trust and faith in God had been shallow, and void of works that demonstrated their trust in His Word. They decided to live by sight when they chose to disobey and eat the fruit. Their action demonstrated a faith that was not pleasing to God. They believed in God, certainly, just as Satan and his minions. However, when it came to trusting His WORDS and acting upon them, their faith fell short of pleasing God. In fact, their “faith” resulted in their death!

Adam and Eve became the first example of man choosing to walk by sight rather than by faith. Mankind has continued in the footsteps of the first Adam, proving that Adam and Eve’s faithlessness was not an aberration, but a trait inherent in every human heart.

Failure to trust the Word of God, failure to walk by faith resulted in a barrier between themselves and fellowship with God. That broken trust ruined their relationship just as it does a marriage.

Satan is the foremost example of faithlessness (faith that does not please God). Satan believes God exists, but his faith is dead because it does not lead to right actions.

James 2:19-20, from the New Living Translation (NLT), forcefully points out the futility and foolishness of Satan’s faith: “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?”

“Pleasing Faith” Believes and Obeys the Word of God

When confronted with the choice to eat or not eat the fruit, what evidence did Adam and Eve have? All they had were the words of God. Notice the classic definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is the “evidence of things not seen?” God’s words. The rest of the chapter provides examples of men and women who followed God based solely on His Words to them.

Hebrews 11:36-38 list various trials that they went through for their faith. Notice verse 39: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” Even though they did not receive the promise of God, they still believed Him, followed Him, and gave their life for Him, trusting that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.

Consider closely Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son, Isaac. When Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the only evidence things would work out was the word of an unseen God. Abraham could believe God—take Him at His word—or believe all the evidence he could see that the son of promise would die before God fulfilled His promises. Abraham could not “see” what God was going to do. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead. The only “evidence” he had that it all would work out was God’s words—the promises God made to him.

God also needs evidence.

God wanted to know what was in Abraham’s heart. (Genesis 22:12) God said “Now I know what is in your heart.” He knew and recorded for all eternity the “evidence” that Abraham walked by faith, not by sight. Therefore, Abraham became the “Father of Faith” for all who would please God must have faith to believe that He is!

To walk requires action and effort. So even the phrase “walk by faith” demonstrates that living faith requires action and effort. As Hebrews 11:6 declares, “Pleasing Faith” believes that God rewards those who DILIGENTLY seek Him. Our evidence is God’s words. God’s evidence is our actions.

We are just like Abraham. So says Galatians 3:6: “You have exactly the same experience as Abraham. Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God” (William Barclay). Just as Abraham had to choose between believing God and believing the circumstances he could see, God also has to put us into exactly the same position. He must find out what is the true intent of our hearts—the depth of our faith. God needs to “know” that we will trust Him, no matter what.

“Pleasing Faith’s” Source

Where do we get this “pleasing” faith? Ephesians 2:8 answers: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” We cannot work it up—that would be our effort, and Romans 8:8 says that we can never please God in our flesh. Further prove this faith comes from God is the correct application of Galatians 2:20:

(Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul exchanged his life for Christ’s life. Paul was dead, and Christ lived through him. This life of faith was only possible through the faith of Christ! Christ’s faith was Paul’s faith! This is truly an exchanged life!

Consider when God first started working on us. One year we were clueless, the next year things were making sense. We read the Bible and understood it, but more importantly, we believed it. Where did that belief come from? It was, as Ephesians 2:8 says, a gift from God. The real miracle is not that we understood, but rather that we now believed those words we understood. And this happened only because God made it possible.

What was the evidence that we believed those words? We began living by them. Our new works and actions were the evidence of our faith. Just like Abraham, our actions showed our desire to begin a right relationship with God motivated by His gift of faith. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions” (James 2:21-22 NLT).

Are you willing to believe and obey God’s Word?

To test our faith, God’s pattern is to bring us to a point—a brick wall or a Red Sea—that seemingly allows no escape. That is where He can find out what is truly in our hearts—hearts of belief or evil unbelief.

(Heb 3:12)  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Paul had this experience and recorded it for us in II Corinthians 1:8-10:

We should like you, our brothers, to know something of the trouble we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this sense of impending disaster that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from such deadly perils, and it is he who still preserves us. (Phillips translation)

Even though all human hope was lost, God came to the rescue to teach Paul—and us through Paul—that God can be trusted.

“I am God! I can be trusted. . . . I alone am the God who can be trusted” [Isaiah 65:16 (CEV)].

What areas of your life are not “pleasing” to God? What areas of your life are being lived by sight? Is your faith pleasing to God, or is it lifeless?

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What you BELIEVE truly matters:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though they were a very large mammal their throat was very small. The little girl stated Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reiterated a whale could not swallow a human; it was impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

An atheist buys an ancient lamp at an auction, takes it home, and begins to polish it. Suddenly, a genie appears, and says, “I’ll grant you three wishes, Master.” The atheist says, “I wish I could believe in you.” The genie snaps his fingers, and suddenly the atheist believes in him. The atheist says, “Wow. I wish all atheists would believe this.” The genie snaps his fingers again, and suddenly atheists all over the world begin to believe in genies. “What about your third wish?” asks the genie? “Well,” says the atheist, “I wish for a billion dollars.” The genie snaps his fingers for a third time, but nothing happens. “What’s wrong?” asks the atheist. The genie shrugs and says, “Just because you believe in me, doesn’t necessarily mean that I really exist.”

Today we will look at one of the greatest verses in the Bible. These Verses hold the Secret of Having a Christian walk that just staggers around or keeps Climbing Upward!

Romans 4:19-22 (KJV) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Beneath the Text:

  • weak (asthenéō) = “without strength, powerless, sick”. Also “to doubt, hesitate, vacillate, as meaning weak or double-minded”. CWSD
  • considered not = “paid no attention to the physical obstacles”
  • staggered not (diakrinō ou) = To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver CWSD

“to judge between two,” thus, “to vacillate between two opinions or decisions.” Abraham did not vacillate between belief and unbelief with respect to his difficulty and the ability of God to meet it. He did not waver. Wuest’s Word Studies

  • promise (epangelia) = “Primarily a legal term denoting a summons or promise to do or give something. Used only of the promises of God” (except one verse) CWSD.
  • unbelief (apistia) = uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. The lack of acknowledgment of Christ; want of confidence in Christ’s power. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise! CWSD
  • strong (endynamoō) = grow stronger and stronger; “inwardly strengthened,” suggesting strength in soul and purpose. Vines “to make strong, endue with strength,” Wuest’s

Hebrews 11:34 (ESV) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

  • faith (pistis) = firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, CWSD

That is, his faith was strengthened in God to meet his impossible difficulty with a miracle. The thought is not here that Abraham’s faith was strengthened so that his physical powers again became equal to bringing children into the world. Isaac was the result of a biological miracle performed by God in answer to Abraham’s faith. The glory would therefore be to God. Wuest

  • being fully persuaded (plērophoreō) = “To fulfill, thoroughly accomplish, equivalent to persuade fully, give full assurance. CWSD
  • able (dynatos) = from dunamis – “strong, powerful”. CWSD

The Point of our Text

Abraham firmly believed in what God promised, because he firmly believed in God’s power. Abraham’s belief in God allowed him to overlook the visible problems to see the power of Him who was invisible. His ability to see and trust the invisible kept him from staggering over the obstacles of doubt that surrounded him. By believing, Abraham climbed to the very heights and gave glory to the Power of God! God declared Abraham righteous because He believed Him!

Faith Is Not The Means By Which We Get God To Work In Our Lives; Faith Is The Means By Which We See His Will For Our Lives!

Unbelief and the Christian Walk

A.  Unbelief is not:

  • Unbelief is not the absence of faith.
  • Unbelief is not a negative state of mind.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual attitude, or state, caused by a want of sufficient evidence.
  • Unbelief is not a state of blank ignorance of God and of his truth.
  • Unbelief is not the state of ignorance of the existence and attributes of God.
  • Unbelief is not disbelief or belief in the opposite of what the Bible says is true.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual state at all.

The Bible represents unbelief as sin; therefore it is not a state of mind, it is a condition of our heart.

B.  Unbelief is:

1.  Unbelief is SIN.

Hebrews 3:12 (ESV) Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

2.  Unbelief is a CHOICE.

Mark 16:14 (ESV) Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

3.  Unbelief is a lack of CONFIDENCE.

Withholding of confidence in one who is worthy of our confidence. Unbelief of the heart darkens one to committing your heart and soul to the will of God. Belief is giving God our confidence, in voluntarily yielding ourselves up to him, confiding in him, trusting in him, casting ourselves upon him, voluntarily receiving his truth, and committing ourselves to him.

UNBELIEF IS AT THE HEART OF OUR LACK OF COMMITMENT TO GOD!

It is hard to love a God with all your heart, soul and strength if you don’t believe Him!

Let’s take a little time to understand unbelief by looking at the New Testament words for doubt and unbelief.

C.   Understanding Doubt & Unbelief

1.  Doubt: Diakrino & Distazo.

To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver.  Being uncertain of what to believe or do.

  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered (diakrino) not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God.
  • James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (diakrino). For he that wavereth (diakrino) is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This doubt comes through giving up one’s conviction of faith based on what one sees or feels.

Mat. 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt (distazo)?

Peter was fine walking on water as long as he focused on Jesus. But as soon as he looked at his surroundings, focusing on the physical, on the wind, and the waves, he was a goner.

2.  Doubt Leads to Unbelief

Doubt, or focusing on circumstances or your own resources, allows unbelief to grow. When unbelief starts to grow, it destroys confidence, makes one uncertain, and builds distrust. Unbelief then leads to further unbelief and finally a hardening of one’s heart!

a.  Apistia

Lacking confidence in the performer, to put no confidence in, to disbelieve; uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise. Apistia is a form of unbelief that often shows a lack of a confidence in God to do what He has promised to doApistia is a choice!

  • Mat. 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief (apistia).
  • Heb. 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (apistia).
  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief (apistia); but was strong in faith giving glory to God.

Apistia can develop into:

b.  apeithéō

Obstinate, rebellious, disobedient; refusal to believe, apathetic. A person who does not allow them self to be persuaded or believe, in fact, he stubbornly disbelieves and is even disobedient.

  • Eph. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (apeithéō).
  • Hebrews 3:7-8 (KJV) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
  • Heb. 4:6 We see they entered not in because of unbelief (apeithéō). (Notice their unbelief in Heb 3 became hardened disobedient unbelief in Heb 4)
  • Heb. 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (apeithéō).

1. Unbelief is the Basis of all Sin

All Sins Come from Unbelief in God’s Word and Promises. Anxiety, misplaced shame, indifference, regret, covetousness, envy, lust, bitterness, impatience, despondency, pride—these are all sprouts from the root of unbelief in the promises of God.

Consider the message of 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

What did Paul mean? Is the love of money behind every sin? Is money on your mind when you sin? I believe that the evils of the world come from a certain kind of heart that loves money.  Now what does it mean to love money? It’s not being like Scrooge McDuck and going into your vault and playing with your money! What is money? Money is simply a symbol that stands for human resources. Money stands for what you can get from man, from man’s resources.

God resources can’t be bought with money! “Ho everyone who thirsts, come to the waters. He who has NO MONEY come buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1).

Money is the currency of human resources. So the heart that loves money is a proud, independent heart that places its hopes, pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer. So the love of money is the same as faith in money—belief (trust, confidence, assurance) that money will meet your needs and make you happy. Therefore the love of money, or belief in money, is the flip side of UNBELIEF in the promises of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24—you cannot serve God and money. You can’t trust or believe in God and money.

Belief in one is unbelief in the other. A heart that loves money—banks on money for happiness, believes in money—is at the same time not banking on the promises of God for happiness. So when Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evils, he implies that unbelief in the promises of God is the taproot of every sinful attitude in our heart.

2. Unbelief is Calling God a Liar.

1 John 5:10 (ESV) Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar…

Unbelief, doubt, withholding of confidence, is a practical denial that God is worthy of confidence. You are denying His trustworthiness. What an infinitely awful sin it must be to make God a liar!! If anyone here was to stand up and say God is a liar, I’m sure some of us might grab them and forcibly remove them. We would call that person a blasphemer.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

It is impossible for God to lie. Yet when you doubt God’s word, when you do not believe what God says, you are calling Him a liar. We are to agree to the truth of his promises, and the certainty of their accomplishment.

RC Sproul, Jr. wrote a book titled – Believing God: 12 Scriptural Promises Christians Struggle to Accept

These verses, while promises of God, are not really believed by many Christians.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
  • 1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  • 1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
  • Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV) Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  • Psalms 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Malachi 3:10 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
  • Mark 11:22-24 (ESV) And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
  • Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • John 16:33 (ESV) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 John 3:2 (ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

III. The results of unbelief.

A.   Unbelief produces a heartless religion.

There is only ritual, no satisfying of the soul. If it is not up to God, then it is up to you, and that produces frustration and sorrow. There is no enthusiasm of the heart. Are you filled with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit? Do you wake up with a spontaneous love for God? Then your heart is filled with unbelief.

B.   Unbelief produces a legalistic religion

Unbelief will cause you to do a great many things without regard to God. Unbelief clouds your eyes and heart to seeing God’s will and His glory. Unbelief leads to an obedience that is selfish, and based on getting what you want.

C.   Unbelief produces an religion void of salvation

Belief in God is absolutely essential to knowing God, and knowing His salvation. If someone doesn’t believe in God, what interest is heaven to him? It’s only a selfish interest, lacking any desire to glorify God, or of having fellowship with Him.

D.  Unbelief produces a disobedient heart.

Disobedience of heart to God is always a result of unbelief. Unbelief will lead you to disavow God’s sovereignty, God’s government, and will lead you to do what is in your heart, what you believe is best.

This is the root of sin in man–withholding confidence in God.

E.   Unbelief produces RESTLESSNESS in your Soul.

Now, when you do have no confidence in the promises of God–do not believe that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God”– your are carrying your burdens upon your own back, and you will grow weary.

Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Your unbelief keeps you from resting in Jesus, it keeps you from His yoke, and it keeps you from His faithful promises.

F.   Unbelief results in an absence of peace in your life.

Where there is real faith, although there may be much to disturb and distress the mind, there is deep peace and joy in God, in the midst of it all; but where persons have not peace, real joy, and great satisfaction in God, in his truth, and in his promises, you may know that there is unbelief there.

Just as Paul told the sailors in Acts 27, that despite the furious storm, if they remained in the ship, no lives would be lost. Even in the most furious of storms, Paul had complete peace in the power of God

G.  Unbelief results in bondage to sin

“There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Now, when you are in bondage to any sin, you are under the influence of the world, and are condemned by the law.

I John 5:4 declares “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.”

If you are living in bondage to sin because of unbelief, you are living in a state of condemnation; your own conscience condemns you because of your unbelief.

H.  Unbelief produces Servants and not Sons

By servant, I mean one who serves his master from fear, not love. People who don’t believe see God as someone who must be worshipped, who must be served, or they run the chance of getting on His bad side. There is no love, no anticipation, and no patient waiting upon a loving Father. There is no child-like belief in a loving heavenly Father! They don’t rely on the Father every day; they never ask Him for anything unless they get desperate. They pray, but only out of duty.

Belief will lead you to come before the throne with anticipation, with expectation, for you are a son needing the Father, depending upon the father!

I. Unbelief produces a Worldly Person.

You are given over to a worldly way of thinking and acting. After all it is up to you, because you don’t believe God. You mind earthly things; you don’t layup treasures for heaven. The Word of God is not your constant companion. The Holy Spirit is not your paraclete. No one neglects the Bible if you believe it!

IV. The Power of Believing Faith

Believing Faith Glorifies God!

A.  We glorify God by believing his promises.

Faith . . . honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . .On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him. (Martin Luther, Selections, p. 59)

Trusting God’s Word is the most fundamental way that you can glorify God. You can say “Glory to God” all you want, but if you do not believe His Word, stop wasting your breath! When you believe a promise of God, you honor God’s ability to do what he promised and his willingness to do what he promised and his wisdom to know how to do it.

  • If our goal is to glorify God in all that we do, then we must make it our aim in all that we do to believe the promises of God.

Because it was when Abraham believed the promise of God that God was glorified. John 3:33 (ESV) Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

  • Believing God is like setting your personal seal on God!
  • Sarah received power to conceive:

Hebrews 11:11 (ESV) By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

This is of the nature of faith: “The judging him faithful that promised and agreeing to the truth of his promises. You See and Believe in the Power of God!

1.  It Is Future Oriented

Belief that honors God means banking our hope for happiness on the promises of God. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead…Heb 11:17-19

People who say, “I believe that Christ died for my sins, and that he rose again from the dead,” but then don’t bank their hope on his promises day by day—those people don’t have faith that honors the God who justifies sinners.

  • Paul says, “That is why his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So how did Abraham get justified in God’s sight? Why did God look at this imperfect man and count him as righteous in his sight?
  • Answer: because he believed the promises of God. It was future oriented faith that justified.

Now read on in the application to us. Verses 23–24,

The words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord. Notice! It does not say, “It will be reckoned to us who believe the past historical fact that God raised Jesus from the dead.” As utterly crucial as that is! It says we will be reckoned righteous if we believe in God! Like Abraham believed in God!

You don’t get justified by believing that Jesus died for sinners and rose again. You get justified by resting your hope on the promises that God secured and guaranteed for you through the death and resurrection of his Son.

2.  It Produces Fruit

Abraham became the Father of a multitude. Of many nations! He is the Father of every born again Christian!

Romans 4:16 -That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…

Believing Faith in the promises of God produces what Paul calls the “work of faith.” Two times, once in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and once in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 Paul refers to the “work of faith.” What he means is that there is a dynamic to this kind of faith that always changes the heart (Acts 15:9 (ESV) and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.) and produces the works of love.

The clearest statement of this is Galatians 5:6: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” God was able to give Abraham a Son because He Believed.

What fruit has your belief produced?

Faith is a power. It never leaves the life unchanged. What you place your hope on always governs your life. If you bank your hope on money, if your bank your hope on prestige, if you bank your hope on leisure and comfort, if you bank your hope on power or success, it governs the choices you make and the attitudes you develop.

If you bank your hope on the promises of God every day, it will change the way you think, pray, and act. Belief in the promises of God is the taproot of all righteousness and love. Belief in the promises of God is not a dead and fruitless thing. What you bank on for happiness controls your life.

B.  We Must Battle Unbelief Every Day

Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold on eternal life to which you were called.” Fight against sin by fighting against unbelief in the promises of God. Fight for righteousness and love in your life by fighting to maintain faith in the promises of God. Unbelief requires a conscious decision.

Take warning from those who fell away in unbelief:

  • Some no longer have faith at all (II Thessalonians 3:2).
  • Some have shipwrecked their faith (I Timothy 1:19).
  • Some have left the faith for the doctrines of devils (I Timothy 4:1).
  • Some have denied the faith by not providing for their family (I Timothy 5:8).
  • Some have cast off their first faith (I Timothy 5:12).
  • Some have turned aside after Satan (I Timothy 5:15).
  • Some have erred from the faith for the love of money (I Timothy 6:10, 21).
  • Some are reprobate [disqualified] concerning the faith (II Timothy 3:8).

The saddest example of unbelief comes from the generation of Israelites who failed to reach the Promised Land.

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief”(Hebrews 3:17-19).

Those Israelites were initially saved: they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they were spiritually baptized in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2), and they were led by a pillar of cloud and fire through the wilderness. But they refused to believe when God promised that He would give them the promised land. They looked at their own resources and refused to see God’s.

So we read in Jude 1:5: But then, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 1:5);

As a result, that generation did not reach their final destination of salvation in the Promised Land.

  • “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (II Peter 3:17).
  • “Therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it …Labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:1,11).

How is your Christian walk? Are you stumbling, or are you climbing? Examine your hearts. Is there doubt and unbelief in your life?

  • Does your life have Stability?
  • Are you growing in Christian maturity?
  • Do you seem to stagger in your Christian walk?
  • Is your Christian walk stagnating?
  • Is God producing visible fruit through your life?
  • Do you struggle with doubts and fears?

Are you ready to climb the Mountain, trusting God’s Word? Abraham did with his boy Isaac. Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Come to Jesus, Believe in Him, and He will give you rest!


Something happened to change the life of the human dynamo known as Saul. Sure, he had a dramatic encounter on the road to Damascus. Sure, he saw and heard the risen Jesus Christ. Sure, his eyes were blinded, he was helpless, his pride was desroyed, but was that enough to change the life of this zealot of zealots? In the first seventeen verses of Romans, Paul reveals the foundation of his life, the foundation of what every Christian should know. In these 17 verses are 18 Jewels that should form the foundation of our faith, faith that will keep us strong in the Lord.

Here are the jewels that made up the foundation of Paul’s new life in Jesus Christ:

1.  Paul, Bond-Slave to the King of Kings!

In writing to a church which he had never visited, Paul declares his highest office as bond-slave, (doulos). The case classification is genitive of possession, which means Paul is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. This was obviously a muted reference to those individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” As they considered their position one of honor, so did Paul consider that he was a slave of the King of Kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship. He knew that he was no longer his own man. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he explains: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We are not our own, and Paul was proud of that fact. Instead of seeing Christianity as a system of do’s and don’ts, he saw it as the privilege of privileges. His was a position of honor.

Who you are in life is largely a result of how you see yourself. We tend to value our life on the basis of our job, our possessions, our influence, our friends, our activities. Paul saw his value by Whose he was. He was a servant of the King of Kings. Who are you? When you lay in bed at night, do you fret about your health, the things you need to do, the things you didn’t do? If you are a slave of the King of Kings, you have no rights over tomorrow, over your body, over your job. He has total control. There is no need to fret, no need to worry, no need to be concerned. Only the need to praise Him, draw closer to Him, wait patiently upon Him.

Jewel #1: Focus on Whose We Are

2.  Paul Was an “Apostle Called”

He was a slave first, an apostle second. The adjective comes from the verb kaleō, “to call” in the sense here of “to call to assume an office.” Paul was a called apostle in the sense that God summoned him to that position and placed him in it. Most translations say called to be an apostle, but actually the Greek simply says (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος) “kletos apostolos”, called apostle. Paul heard the call of Christ on the Damascus Road, and in answering that call and seeing His Savior, he was placed as one of Christ’s Apostles. He took the place of the son of perdition-Judas.

Jewel #2: Realize that We are Who We are by Design. We are Never an “Accident”!

So Paul heard the call and answered it with a “YES I WILL!” But what changed this violent, self-possessed Saul into the Apostle Paul who epitomized selfless love and sacrifice for the sake of His King? To become the slave Apostle of the one he admittedly wanted crucified?

3.  Paul Allowed Himself to be “Set Apart” INTO the Gospel of God!

  • But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, Galatians 1:15 (ESV)
  • But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 (ESV)

Paul became a chosen instrument, a chosen vessel for Jesus Christ! Was he forced to comply on the Damascus Road? It may seem that way. Blinded by a strange light, hearing a strange voice-he could have resisted and kept on kicking against the Lord. Or he could have made a profession, but inwardly resented the Jesus. In any case we never would have heard from old Paul again. He would have been a pothole on the pavement of life.

But something happened to this fiery little dynamo. All his training, his intelligence, his passion for the Law and the ways of the Jews melted away when he gazed upon the one whom he had been persecuting. Yes, Paul was made to realize that he had not only been maiming and murdering ‘Christians’, but he had been doing the same to the very Son of God, the Messiah whom he professed to love so much.

We can’t begin to fathom what the Holy Spirit was doing in those three days after his experience on the road to Damascus. But whatever it was, when Saul gave his life to Jesus Christ, he was changed completely. He was a new man, he was set apart no longer to just Jehovah. He was set apart into the GOSPEL of GOD! (ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ (aphōrismenos eis euangelion Theo).

Jewel #3: Realize we are Set Apart Into God’s Gospel

The word for set apart [aphōrismenos (aphorizmo)] pictures marking an area with boundaries, with a wall or fence. The Gospel of God is a natural divider of man. It will be the divider in the end times. Jesus told his disciples “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous” Matthew 13:49 (ESV). You may think that what you believe does not matter to God. Your sincerity is what is important. No that is a Lie of Satan. You must believe “INTO THE GOSPEL”.  Your belief separates you from the world, from Satan or it will separate you from God and all of His goodness. Your UNBELIEF separates you from the GOOD SAYING of GOD. Your UNBELIEF separates you from all that is good from God. Your BELIEF brings you into His presence, into His sweetness.

Are you living as though you were separated INTO God?

4.  Paul Realized that the Gospel IS God!

Separated into not “the”, not “a”, but simply separated into Gospel of God. Normally Paul puts a little article in front of Gospel (as we’ll see in verse 9 and 16)

Here Paul’s emphasis is not on the specific proclamation of the life of Jesus, but in the Gospel representing the QUALITY of God Himself. This is a key point to consider if you are a converted Jew wondering about how the Gospel relates to the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In this one statement Paul reveals to Jew and Gentile alike that the Gospel is God, His good saying, His Goodness, His character, His Life. The Gospel is not just a collection of really pithy teachings from an untrained rabbi who suffered a martyr’s death. The Gospel is God. The same way you speak of God is the same way you speak of Gospel. They are one and the same! The Gospel is God’s eú (good, well), and aggéllō, (to proclaim, tell), or “good proclamation”. We have come to say “Good News” but originally it referred to the good message of God.

Paul was telling the Jews and the Gentiles in Rome that the Gospel is the Message of God. It is His “Good Message”. The Gospel reveals the character and the quality of Jehovah God. You cannot separate the two.

Just as the Jews enjoyed the “Covenantal Blessing” of Jehovah, the message now is that through the “Covenantal Relationship” of Jesus Christ, we not only enjoy God’s Blessing, but we enjoy God’s Presence, God’s Life, God’s Power, God’s Indwelling, God’s Favor, God’s Never Failing Love. And what is so Great about this Message is that it is all ours because of Jesus Christ. There is NOTHING we do to earn any of it. Just as the Jews enjoyed God’s Blessing by birth, so do we enjoy God’s Everything by belief and life yielding faith in Jesus Christ! We enjoy so much more than the Jews, for our is not just a “blessed life”, Our is a “New Life”, and indeed, it is an “Abundant Life!”

The Gospel of God is eternal, and one day this world will hear it proclaimed from heaven:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with Gospel Eternal to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Revelation 14:6-7 (ESV)

Jewel #4: The Gospel Reveals the Eternal God INTO our Lives.

If we are separated into God’s Gospel, God becomes the indweller and the possessor of our souls.

NOTE: Paul Answered the Call and was Set Apart because he found a Greater POWER than himself.

I believe the main reason that Paul gave his life to Jesus Christ is that he discovered that Christ’s power was greater than his own. Paul saw himself as a winner. He was determined to be on the winning side. He was the most determined, disciplined, zealous Pharisee in the entire  Jewish kingdom. No one possessed his passion for the Law. He could not tolerate these ‘Christians’! He was determined to wipe them from the face of the earth.

When he met Jesus Christ, he surrendered, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He knew it was foolish to keep kicking against the goads. Christ was the conqueror, the victor, and Paul realized that. I believe he reveals the reason he became set apart in verse 16, when he declares this Gospel to be the Power (dunamis) of GOD for salvation. If you know anything about the power of sin, and of satan, and of death, they don’t begin to compare with the Power of the Gospel of God!

The Hope of Tiger Woods in Buddhism

As much as I admired Tiger Woods and his public confession on Friday, when he said he was returning to his Buddhist roots, I realized that there would be no salvation for Tiger Woods. He is doomed to repeat his mistakes, because Buddhism is a religion of self-enlightenment. There is no God, no judgment, no sin in Buddhism. Buddhists do not owe allegiance to a supernatural being. There is no Savior in Buddhism. All a Buddhist can do is seek refuge in the Buddha as a guide, but not seek to be purified in the Buddha. The Buddha does not have the power to wash away sins. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

Tiger by sheer will power may turn his life around. Yet he knows nothing of the Power of God. I believe that if Paul had wanted to learn golf, he had enough discipline and will power to be the greatest golfer of his time. Yet even this mighty dynamo of a man knew that he had met his match when he came face to face with the Power of God’s Gospel.

  1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day.
  2. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.
  3. No savior concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others
  4. A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student.
  5. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

5. Paul Saw the Gospel as the Promise of God

God’s Eternal Gospel has been promised from the very heart of God since time began. The blood runs through every chapter of the Old Testament. The prophets told of His coming in with 360 separate prophecies. They were all written over 500 years prior to Jesus birth. Jesus Christ was very God and very Man, born at the exact time in history to fulfill the Word of God! Satan could do nothing to stop Him, delay Him, thwart Him. God’s purpose established before time began came to fruition and there was nothing that could stop it.  You may be thinking that Jesus was just a good man, maybe even a truly great man, but if He has not shaken you to the core of your being, you are a dead man, because only Jesus Christ has the Power of God unto YOUR salvation. You may be like JOCO JOE, content with what you have and who you are, but if you are not Jesus Christ’s, then you are a dead man, you are nothing.

Jewel #5: God Fulfills His Promises, for He cannot lie.

6.  Paul Knew the Power of the Resurrection

Paul says that Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God in POWER when God Raised Him from the dead! That’s right! Jesus is alive! We are not talking Elvis here. We are talking the real deal! Jesus Christ lives and rules at the Right Hand of God almighty. Paul himself could testify to the reality of Jesus resurrection. I’m sure that when Jesus spoke to him on the Damascus Road, he flashed back to Stephen, looking to the right hand of God as the stones came crashing upon him. I know he could hear Stephen’s voice as if it was yesterday: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 (ESV)

Jewel #6: Meditate each day on the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assure yourself that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, declared to be so by the very power of the Resurrection. Meditate on the fact that He reigns today at the right hand of His Father. Meditate on the fact that he ever lives to make intercession for you. Meditate that as the Son of God, what He says matters. His Name is above every other name. He will one day rule the nations, He will be the supreme judge of all nations, and yes, you and me. Jesus tells us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one, no matter who you are, no matter what you have, can get to the Father unless Jesus is your Savior!

vs 5,6: “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,”

7.  Paul Knew that he had Received Grace with his Apostleship.

Paul “lambano” received both grace and his apostleship at the same time. He received them the second he said Lord, and the scales fell from his eyes. The second he said yes to Jesus Christ, he received his office of apostle and the grace to fulfill those responsibilities. God never leaves his children floundering. He never calls them without a purpose and without power to accomplish that purpose.

Paul received grace, “charis” or the power of God which he did not deserve and the apostleship or “special commission” to carry out that grace! Paul learned that when God has a job for us to do, it must not be done in our own strength, but it requires the Power of God, His “grace”. This Christian life is no longer up to you. God’s grace is immediate, His commission is at once. That doesn’t mean there is no preparation. As in my case, God’s Grace and calling were immediate. My preparation took thirty years. With Paul and with Jesus, it took 3 years. With Moses it took 40 years. With Joshua it took 40 years. Just because you are not doing what you believe God has called you to do does not mean that you will never do it, or that you have been passed over because of some sin. It just means you may need a longer preparation than others. It means God may have a different path for you. But do not chuck it away and think that God could never use you. God delights in using broken vessels.

Why didn’t God use someone like the Apostle John to preach to the Gentiles? John was with Jesus the whole way. He never forsook him. He was beloved. He had his place, but it was ministering to the Jewish converts. God needed someone special to undertake the ministry to the Gentiles. God needed someone who was broken, who, because of his brokenness, would be willing to experience all that Paul suffered, and then say bring it on God! I will gladly suffer more! Anything, that I might know this blessed Jesus more! Let me know the ‘fellowship of His sufferings!’

Jewel #7: Realize that God Never Leaves His Children Powerless, but will Always Empower you to Accomplish His Calling upon Your Life!

8.   Paul Realized that Obedience and Faith are Eternally Intertwined.

Paul was joyful to experience any suffering for the sake of one thing – to bring about obedience by faith for the sake of Jesus Christ. As Wuest says: Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith. “it always refers to the faith which obeys God’s will…specifically subjection to the saving will of God revealed in Christ and referred to as obedience to the truth (1 Pet. 1:22); obedience of faith (in this verse and in Rom 16:26), and the unquestioning obedience that is demanded by Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

  • Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22 (ESV)
  • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV

Your faith means your eyes have been opened to see God, to see the truth of His ways, the truth of His Good Word, His Good News. When you truly see God and what He has for you and has done for you, it produces a change-a change in who you obey, who you value, who you listen to. If there was no change, or if God no longer matters to you -you need to do a heart check. Something is wrong. Being a Christian is not a 3 hour proposition. Being a Christian is a 24/7 deal. It results in a new willingness to OBEY GOD! Faith and Obedience are eternal.

Jewel #8: Obedience to God Flows from our Faith in Who He is and That His Word is Truth.

Without God’s Gospel possessing our heart,  our good works are as filthy rags of self-righteousness. Obedience flows from a heart possessed of the vision of a living Son of God! Our faith results in becoming the “called” of Jesus Christ. Paul says these Roman saints were “the called of Jesus Christ.” Genitive of possession, “belonging to Jesus Christ.” Denney says, “They belonged to Him because they have heard and obeyed the gospel.”

9.  Paul Realizes We are God’s “Beloved Saints”

Paul addresses his letter “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” The word is in the plural, “loved-ones of God,” and the word “God” is without the article, so it really should be translated “God’s loved-ones”. In addition to being beloved by God, we are “saints by way of call”, (kletos hagios). We are set apart ones because we heard and answered the call of God. Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, and set apart into the Gospel, so we who have answered His call are set apart into GOD. Hagios means holy, or sacred, and we are called to be sacred unto God. GOD LIVES IN US. We are immediately His when we are born again.  He immediately marks us with His seal, setting us apart.

That is why Paul can declare us to be “God’s loved ones!” You may come from a horrible background. You may have experience horrible pain and injustice, even from close family members. I have news for you-YOU ARE GOD”S LOVED ONE! Cry on His shoulders, wait for His touch. Remind Him you are sacred to Him, and trust in His provision for your life.

Jewel #9: No matter your Sin or your Sorrows, you are God’s Loved One, Set Apart as Sacred unto Him by His Call!

10.  Paul Knew the Way to Grace and Peace

Paul blesses his readers with the prayer for God’s Grace and Peace. But he reminds them that grace and peace are impossible unless they are form God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. In this simple greeting Paul reveals that we will never know and experience God’s Grace (power) unless we depend upon Him as a child does his father. He is our Father God.

He also reveals we will never know true Peace unless we know Jesus Christ as our LORD! Jesus told His disciples these things that in HIM they might have peace. In the world there will have troubles and tribulations, but be of good courage (courage in the face of danger), for Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered this world. (cf John 16:33)

Jewel #10: Grace and Peace Come to us as we Know God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord!

Do you feel God’s power in your daily life? Have you experienced bucket loads of His grace falling on you as a gentle rain? Then perhaps you do not know Him as your Father. Perhaps you are trying to live your life on your own, when daily you need to come to Him as your Father, and confess your need for Him, even for your daily bread.

Do you have Peace in your life? Do you pillow your head amidst the storms and heartache of life and yet smile yourself to sleep? DO you lie there basking in the warm glow of God’s presence and power? Then perhaps you know not Jesus Christ as your LORD! Perhaps you are looking to yourself and your own resources, and that is causing you to fret and worry! Go to sleep at night saying Jesus You are Lord, and soon your heart will know His peace.

  • Grace Is Power Where There Is Weakness
  • Peace Is Courage In The Face Of Danger and Despair

11.  Paul Knew that only Through Jesus do we have Access to God!

Paul declared “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you! One thing will become clear as we spend time in Romans: Paul knew that regardless of how righteous anyone may think they are, none of us can go directly to God to offer anything, not even thanksgiving! We must go through our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have no standing before God outside of Jesus Christ! That is why it is so important that we come to God though the righteousness that we have IN JESUS CHRIST! That is why we pray though His blood and by His Name! Paul revealed the reason why in 1 Timothy 2:25: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.

Jewel #11: Never Think you are Good Enough to Approach God. Always Lean upon Jesus, for We are Accepted “In the Beloved”.

12.  Paul Knew the Key to Having Great Faith

Paul praises the Romans “because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”(verse 8). If you remember, Roman leadership was not very tolerant of religions that believed in any King other than Caesar. They were experiencing persecution. In this Paul reveals a simple truth, faith does not become great when things are easy. Only when our backs are against the wall and we are needing help do we tend to look upward to see God! And that is what faith is-seeing God, the God of Power! The church at Rome had a reputation known throughout the world of faith in God in spite of the unfavorable political environment they were living. In fact, the growing hostility only fanned their numbers and their faith in the Son of God who suffered and died for them. Great faith is not born in times of comfort and ease. It is born in adversity and hardship. When most people shrink back and fall by the wayside, people of great faith keep going strong, because they are relying on Him who has all strength!

Hebrews 11 is all about people of Great Faith. The heroes of our faith were commended for their faith that enabled them to conquer obstacles-obstacles of persecution, death, disappointment, betrayal, heartache, loss of loved ones, loss of homes, possessions. Many of them died without ever seeing that which they hoped for. They died hated by the world, thought to be total losers, and yet see what God thought of them:

And what other examples shall I give? There is simply not time to continue by telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jeptha; of David, Samuel and the prophets. Through their faith these men conquered kingdoms, ruled in justice and proved the truth of God’s promises. They shut the mouths of lions, they quenched the furious blaze of fire, they escaped from death itself. From being weaklings they became strong men and mighty warriors; they routed whole armies of foreigners. Some returned to their womenfolk from certain death, while others were tortured and refused to be ransomed, because they wanted to deserve a more honorable resurrection in the world to come. Others were exposed to the test of public mockery and flogging, and to the torture of being left bound in prison. They were killed by stoning, by being sawn in two; they were tempted by specious promises of release and then were killed with the sword. Many became refugees with nothing but sheepskins or goatskins to cover them. They lost everything and yet were spurned and ill-treated by a world that was too evil to see their worth. They lived as vagrants in the desert, on the mountains, or in caves or holes in the ground. All these won a glowing testimony to their faith, but they did not then and there receive the fulfillment of the promise. God had something better planned for our day, and it was not his plan that they should reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:32-39 (Phillips NT)

Jewel #12: People of Great Faith Live with Eternity in their Heart and God in their Sights.

13.  Paul Knew the Secret of Service to God

Paul declared he served God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The word for serve is latreuō – which is spiritual service, worship. Paul was a very fleshly man, strong-willed, stubborn, passionate, driven. Yet he came to realize that service to God must be spiritual, not fleshly. He will share later on in chapter 8 how we must walk in the Holy Spirit. He says:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8

No one can truly serve God in his flesh. Sure, our flesh is involved, but our motivation and strength must be in our spirit as it is refreshed and strengthened and empowered by God’s Spirit!

Service is nothing more than directed worship. And Jesus said an amazing truth-that to worship God we must do so in spirit and in truth. Paul involves this in his declaration. He serves God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The gospel is the TRUTH, which Jesus told Pilate he came to declare. So Paul confirms what Jesus told the woman at the well, his service was from his spirit and in the truth of the Gospel.

Paul knew all too well that the Priests who served God night and day were not allowed to wear anything that would cause them to sweat (Ezekiel 44:18). Sweat is the curse upon men who must labor to get provisions. When Adam and Eve walked with God they did not sweat. The ground yielded up an abundance of food without effort. Adam could spend hours without getting tired. That is because he labored in his spirit, not in the flesh. His spirit was the driving force of his life. Man was created a living soul controlled by the Spirit. Adam was able to walk with God!

After the fall Adam became flesh. The flesh became the driving force of his life. Sweat was the by-product. Sweat is a reminder that we are fleshly beings, under the curse of sin. Paul realized that if he was to serve God, his service required two things: a strong spirit, and a firm dependence upon the Words of Christ – the Gospel of God’s Son.

Jewel #13: Grow Mighty in Spirit with the Truth of God’s Word.

Because Paul was strong in spirit, he was strong in prayer, praying without ceasing for the Church at Rome. Before the Resurrection, the disciples could not pray for more than an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the Resurrection, they were praying for days until the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost!

Service to God should never be undertaken solely because you had some fantastic emotional experience. You may even be all goose-bumply and teary-eyed when you think about God. That is great, but at some point the goose-bumps will stop and your eyes will dry up. Learn to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Jesus is the truth! Know the Word-Know the Gospel of Jesus! His Word is to be the foundation of your service, not you emotions. Emotions fade, but the Word of God stands forever! It’s great to go to meetings where we get all teary eyed or all pumped up, but grab some Word! Get your heart in the Word of God!

14.  Paul Realized that we Depend upon each other for Strength and Encouragement

Paul told the Romans “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” not because he thought he was holier than they, but so “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. The purpose of the gifts is that they would become established in their Christian character and service. Paul is not trying to set himself above them, but only show his concern for the work of the Gospel. Paul knew this amazing truth about Christians- when one of us grows, we all benefit.

There is no benefit to the church when only the Pastor or a select few people seem to have all the ‘godliness’ in the church. No, Christ wants to fill the whole body with His grace. He wants all of us to grow in Him, because when we do, we benefit each other.

The purpose of the impartation of these gifts was that they might be established both in their Christian character and their service. That establishment was not up to Paul. It is out of Paul’s hands and placed squarely where it belongs – in God’s! It is God who establishes us in Christ. Never rely on man except as an encouragement.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

(God) comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 (ESV)

Jewel #14: We Complete Me! The Mutual Benefit of Growth

Paul quickly mentioned that his desire to see them strengthened was not so much a prideful thing as it was a benefit for him. He says he would be “sumparakaléō”. King James says ‘comforted together with you.’ It means to be strengthened with each other. Christianity is a mutual ministry whereby we are all strengthened as we grow stronger together.

I depend upon you as much as you depend upon me. When you are established I am encouraged and strengthened –  We Complete Me! It is never me completing you!

15.  Paul Knows that Christians are Designed to Bear Fruit

Paul had a world-wide vision. He wished to bear fruit among the citizens of Rome as well as “among other Gentiles.” Jesus said “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. John 15:2. God wants His children to bear fruit. We were saved to do good works, for that is the essence of the Gospel, and the revelation of the nature of God! If we don’t have desire to bear fruit, we won’t. Paul had fruit ever before Him. Every day he sought fruit. Even when he found himself chained up in prison, he was after fruit. Guards, visitors, anyone, all heard about this Jesus!

Jewel #15: Seek to be that Tree Planted by Streams of Water that Yields its Fruit in its Season, and its Leaf does not Wither.

16.  Paul was the Eager Debtor

Paul exclaimed that he was under obligation(a debtor) both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Romans 1:14-15) The word “debtor” (opheiletēs ) means to owe, to be obligated, to be bound by duty. The Greek is impossible to translate into English, for two ideas are being expressed by Paul. He was a “debtor”…because Christ had done so much for him (saved him) and because Christ had called him to preach (given him a task to do).

This indebtedness was deeply felt by Paul. The idea is that it was intense, unwavering, relentless, powerful. The sense of debt just would not let Paul go. He was compelled to preach the gospel; therefore, he could do nothing else. He was obligated and duty-bound to preach it. He actually felt that he owed the gospel to the world; therefore, if he kept quiet, it would be worse than knowing the cure for the most terrible disease of history and refusing to share it.

He made a contrast between the Greeks and the Barbarians. He meant that he owed the gospel to all nationalities and cultures, to all the peoples of the earth whether civilized or uncivilized, industrialized or primitive, rich or poor.

With Paul it was never half-way. Because of this great debt he owed, he had to give Jesus everything! Paul was an “ALL IN” kind of guy. When he was persecuting the Christian Jews, he did it with all his heart, seeking to put ALL Christians in chains. But now that he was a Christian, he is obliged to preach the Gospel to every man and women, boy and girl on the earth. He wants ALL to be saved!

Jewel #16: Realize you owe Jesus Christ EVERYTHING, so don’t hold anything back, but with Eagerness of Heart Serve Him!

17.  Paul realized the Great Power of the Gospel

Paul knew something that so many of us do not realize. The Gospel that is God’s Good Proclamation is so much more than a ticket to heaven. The Gospel saved us from this evil world. The Gospel is power to Live. The Gospel is power over sin. The Gospel is power over Satan. The Gospel is Power! Power! Power!

We look at the stars and the planets and think of how much power it took to create all this. Yet God’s Word makes an amazing declaration. All of creation was only “finger play” to God! As David declares: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place!”(Psalm 8:3)

Wow! All of creation took only the fingers of God! Yet by comparison, God’s Word declares that when it came to saving you and me from sin, it took nothing less than the mighty arm of God! Isaiah writes: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (when speaking of our salvation)-Isaiah 53:1.

The power that gives us new life, that redeems us, that regenerates us, that makes us a child of God is greater than all the power it took to create the universe! This is such an awesome thought to wrap our brains around!

No wonder Paul was not embarrassed to tell everyone about Jesus Christ. He was possessor of the greatest power in the universe-the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Should we not also be so bold! Do we not possess the same power!

Could this be a glimpse of what he wrote in Ephesians: “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” Ephesians 1:19-20.

Jewel #17: Realize the Great Power that Flows in our Lives through the Gospel of Christ!

Creation cost God very little; redemption cost God His only Son. It took the power of God to transform Saul (the chief persecutor) into Paul (the chief apostle). It takes the power of God to save and transform any sinner. That power is ours everyday to overcome whatever comes our way!

Paul encourages us to see what we have and thereby “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14

Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform lives from the inside out! The gospel can save us, forgive us, & bring us into the family of God!

18.  Paul Knew the Power of Faith

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:1-17 (ESV)

Paul saw that only by possessing the righteousness of God can we be righteousness. There was no way man could earn that righteousness. There was no way man could be righteous. Paul saw that Christ had secured our righteousness through His blood and His death on the cross. Only by belief in the Gospel of Christ can we be made righteous. That belief is the foundation of our faith, which opens our eyes to God and the righteousness He provided for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is born in our belief, and belief is made possible through faith. This righteousness that we have in Jesus Christ is revealed from faith to faith. As we have faith, we believe, and as we believe, we have faith! Trials come our way, doubts may bombard us, but we progress from faith to faith, ever beholding the righteousness we have in Jesus Christ!

We are not just in ourselves! We are made just in Jesus Christ! Those that “believe” in verse 16, are the same ones who live by “faith” in verse 17. The words are basically the same: pisteuo and pistis. They both have the idea of faith, believing, having faith in, trusting in.

It is the same word in Greek, “faith” being the noun form, “believe” the verb. To believe is to have faith, to have faith is to believe.

Jewel #18: We Grow in Faith as We Walk in the Truth. We Walk in the Truth as we grow in Faith. From Faith to Faith

  • Justification is God’s gracious act by which He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ because of the work of Christ on the cross.
  • A righteous standing before God leads to a holy life before men.
  • We are not saved by works or by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that works.

The believer’s righteousness in Christ means that our acceptance & worth before God cannot be earned…but only received. And on this very verse Martin Luther realized that all his efforts to work his way to God had been futile. He found the very righteousness of God granted to him in Christ!

Chose the Power You Will Obey

The Power of God vs The Power of the Individual

The gospel of Rome has long since faded from the scene. No one celebrates the birth or enthronement of a Caesar, as they did in the First Century. Other gospels, too, have come and gone. The gospel of God has outlasted has outlasted them all.

Rival gospels surface in every age and in every place. Each gospel makes an announcement and tells a story. The gospel of the 21st Century declares that the individual is lord. It is nothing new, for man has always tried to stand against God, beginning with the Tower of Babel.

The gospel of the individual is preached to us every day, 24 hours a day, over the airwaves, on the internet, in the workplace, on the campus and in the marketplace. “Don’t worry about what God thinks,” the preachers of our age tell us. “We determined long ago that if he exists at all, somewhere up in heaven, he doesn’t really care about what happens on earth. If he cares at all, don’t you think he wants you to have your own way?”

Nineteenth Century British poet William Ernest Henley wrote these lines from “Invictus”: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

The gospel of God confronts the gospel of the individual, just as it confronted the gospel of Rome.

  • Do You KNOW the Power of the Gospel?
  • Do You KNOW the Power of the New Life in Christ?

The resurrection of Jesus means this: He is Lord, and you are not. Are you willing to make Him your Lord? Are you willing to believe in the Gospel of God which alone is able to save you?