Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Community of Faith (part 1)

What follows is the beginning of (a revised version of) a message shared at Crossroads on November 2. An audio recording of the message (with prayer and communion) can be listened to by clicking HERE. One of the scriptures read was Romans 1:16-17 (see the end of this post for the Greek). We focused on the end of verse 17, words that are quoted from the Old Testament book Habakkuk. 

"... 'the righteous will live by faith.'" Romans 1:17.

These words tell us that when we simply TRUST God and what GOD has done FOR us in JESUS, we BECOME holy and righteous in the sight of God. Receiving that good news, believing it and trusting it, that is how we are saved. As the rest of Romans 1:16-17 says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'"

When we receive and believe those words we come to faith in Jesus. And there is no other way to be saved! And when you do believe, you become a part of a great world-wide community of faith--faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is something else for us in this passage. You can see that something else by putting an emphasis on the word "LIVE." The righteous shall LIVE by faith.

It's a sad thing when a community of faith in is known mostly for what it says it believes instead of what it does. It's a sad thing when people who are not yet believers say, "Look at that church over there. They believe in Jesus (or whatever it is they believe in)," and that's the primary thing they think about the church.

One of the verses we looked at last month which is really important is: "...All people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

This love, of course, is not a sentimental love or a love that is worried about bruised feelings (though it does not intentionally hurt people). This is active love, practical love, mature love, a kind of love where people are actually doing things to care for one another. It's love in action.

The love we share with one another is what tells people who we believe in! When you and I do practical things for each other, when we care for each other and do what we can to help each other, that is a powerful witness to Jesus Christ. Without that, all people have is what we say--and, if that ever mattered much, it does not today. Words are cheap. All by themselves, words are hot air.

Another verse we looked at last month figures in: "Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from which the whole body [that's you and me if we believe in Jesus], joined and held together… when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:14-15).

To be a community of faith is to be known for what we do -- ESPECIALLY to be known for what we do in our relationships with one another, with brothers and sisters in Christ. That's why, one of the things Jesus was really careful to do was to teach us about caring for one another in very practical ways...  (more in part 2 -- click HERE.)


Here's Greek of Romans 1:16-17 --  Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται, Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται.

Another translation: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, it is God's power to rescue every believer, the Jew first and also the Greek. God's righteousness in it is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written 'The righteous one shall live from faith.'" (Romans 1:16-17)


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