Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 14 March 19:
Acts 26:17-20 – “I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me…. that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
The Bible is clear we are saved by faith, not by works or deeds – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9) However, the Bible is also clear that saving faith also produces sanctification and the fruit of good works – “deeds in keeping with their repentance.” As Ephesians 2 continues to state, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Our deeds are not the means to salvation but rather the evidence of our salvation. Martin Luther said, because of our faith, we “freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown [us] such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!”
Paul reminds us that we are justified by faith, but we are also sanctified by faith as we progressively learn to step out in faith and obedience – “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) As the Father conforms us to the image of His Son, Jesus, He calls us to do many things that don’t make sense from the world’s point of view, and this takes faith, faith that is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but which we must employ. Certainly, Paul is a good example for us. Compelled by the love of Christ to spread the Gospel to as many as possible at all cost, his actions were baffling to most – “Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.’ …And Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’” (Acts 26:24, 32)
How far are you willing to go in your faith to love God and others? “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) Are you ready to empty yourself, completely humble yourself, take up the form of a servant, take up your cross, and become obedient unto death? What did Jesus say? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Why was Paul so bold before those who could take his life? He had already died – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) What about you?
– Hebrews 10:38 – “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 Mar 19: With full assurance of your salvation in Christ, ‘perform deeds in keeping with their repentance,’ while proclaiming Christ to as many as possible.