8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Both grace and faith are gifts from God. Without one of the two salvation does not happen. Good works do not create salvation, but salvation creates good works. Our destiny of good works was created before the foundation of the world, and our salvation activates the good works. The good works we do before our new birth are of little consequence because they, generally speaking, spring up from our own good ideas. Our good ideas are not God’s ideas, just as the destiny we devise for ourselves is not the call of God on our lives. Doing the good works that He plans for us to do is truly, as the French say, la joie de vivre: the joy of living!
We are His workmanship. He planned our lives. He wrote a book about each one of us. We will only be happy when we are doing what we were created by God to do, and we won’t know what that is until we have truly surrendered our lives to the Lord. Get your fingers out of the pie! Stop trying to direct your own life. You are dead to self and alive, truly alive, in Him.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10).
If we allow Jesus to live His life through us, we will obey His desires. He wants us to bless His spiritual family. He calls us His household of faith. The church does not participate well in this calling. It is more profitable to the reputation of a church for them to do humanitarian works than to quietly take care of their own. I’m not being mean. Churches simply succumb to the expectations of a community. Feeding programs for street people draw much approval from the populace, whereas supplying meals for the elderly in the church is hardly noted. If the first church is our example, they shared everything with the believers in their community. They didn’t sell properties so they could feed the atheists, they took care of the members of their church so that everyone was equally blessed. Governments are never going to accomplish a redistribution of wealth. Only those who love Jesus and want to take care of people who are disciples of Christ, only they will come close to that first century church. Every one of us should be thinking of ways we can bless those who bless Jesus.
22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:22–26).
God promised Abraham an enormous blessing. That blessing is ours by faith.
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2, 3).
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? – 6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham (Galatians 3:5–9).
Jesus supplies us with the Spirit and does miracles for and through us. He does this because we have heard the truth about faith, about trust, about confidence in God, and we have believed what we have heard. Abraham is known as the father of faith. He’s also known as the father of the tithe. Those two things God introduced to the earth through Abraham. Faith is the greater of the two as it takes faith to give like the Lord wants us to give.
God put the blessing of faith on the earth to be the source of supply for all things good and wonderful. The law has no life in it and cannot supply supernatural blessings. Only through the blessing that started with Abraham can we receive the Spirit through faith. Because the Lord gave mankind authority over the earth, He must now interact with man through man’s faith.
11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:11, 14).
16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified (Galatians 2:16).
I see so many Christians today who think the only way they are going to get into heaven is if they are good enough, if they go to church often enough, if they do more than their share of good deeds, if they are neat and tidy, if they visit the sick, if they mourn over evil, the list goes on and on. These people think their election is up to them. No. Not at all. It was like that in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament Jesus paid for everything. Let me say that again: JESUS PAID FOR EVERYTHING. He paid for our sins. He paid for our healing. He paid for our prosperity. He guaranteed a fruitful life. He promised food, clothing, and shelter and paid for all of it with His body and His blood. No one could have done more than that, and it took the Son of God to be able to do all that.
Where do we fit into this picture if we don’t have to do anything to earn our way into God’s heart, and to be seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus? What’s our role? The answer is in the Scripture. We are justified, made righteous, blessed, with the highest of blessings because of one thing: our faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe that He actually did pay for it all. We must honor the brutality of His payment and trust Him who paid the price. No mother, no father, no husband, no wife, no child, no friend could possibly achieve for us what Jesus Christ accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you are disqualified (2 Corinthians 13:5).
I examine myself in all kinds of ways. Did I brush my teeth this morning? I can run my tongue over my teeth and quickly conclude the answer. We are constantly in the process of examining ourselves. Did I remember to . . . ? Will I be on time for that meeting . . . ? You can examine your own ways. Why shouldn’t we keep a running tab on whether or not we are in faith? Are we trusting God?
My son says, “I’ve stopped micro-managing God. He has a much better plan for my life than I do. Whatever He brings my way, I throw myself into it 100%. Life is much more fun this way.”
The only way to get disqualified from the faith race (which you only run against yourself) is to deny Christ; tell Jesus to get out of your life and stay out. That is the only unforgiveable sin. I trust that not one of us has disqualified ourselves. And if you have, throw yourself on His Mercy!
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1Corinthians 13:2).
The famous love chapter claims that we can have all faith, the kind of faith that actually moves mountains! Ah! But there’s a catch--it depends on our love walk. Faith works by love. I have to be honest. There are just some people I don’t want to love. So, I have to remind myself that these people are like apples in God’s eyes. He sees them much differently than I do. To Him they are His precious creations in whom He places high, high hopes. If I want to please God, I’d better be thinking about how I can love these people. He doesn’t appreciate it when people don’t love me, and He doesn’t appreciate me when I don’t love His other loved ones. Also, the only factor in life that changes all things is love. I might as well get on with it.
4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5).
Faith is not a testimony to the wisdom of men. We do not place our trust in their words. Our faith is in the power of God activated by the Holy Spirit.
Men rely on their logical mind, yet the mind is not a sufficient medium for decision making. The mind never has enough facts to make good decisions. With what it knows at the moment, the mind decides, but ten minutes later it will change because it has remembered another fact that alters the previous decision, or it mixes the facts to get a better view and loses sight of its original platform.
Studies show that 92% of our decisions are actually made by our emotions and only 8% are made by the mind. Fortunate for us because the emotions have more depth and understanding; however, there is still no wisdom to be gleaned from how or what men decide. Wisdom is the sole property of God. Wisdom is knowing what to do with all the feelings and facts. No human has ever accomplished this high ideal. Wisdom is too lofty for men to claim, but wisdom we need, and God freely offers His.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith--27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen (Romans 16:25-27).
God happens to love faith projects. Some people are so practical, all they want to do is build and design, produce and develop. Others are so creative, all they want to do is explore and imagine, test and try. And God created us with those temperaments, yet He holds in His hands all the things we want to do. He kept a secret back from those with whom He had a covenant in the Olden Times. He kept that secret for us. That secret causes us to lay aside all our temperaments, all our desires, all our plans. That secret is that Christ is in us. He moved in the day we were born again, and through Him we know all things; we can do all things; we can be all things. The Bible is right in saying our righteousness is like filthy rags. Our thoughts, our dreams are shabby in comparison to the Son of the Living God who fills us with absolutely impossible desires and dreams, and yet because He is in us, WE CAN DO THEM!
22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:22, 23).
Have you ever wanted something, and your conscience just gives you fits? You want it, and yet you condemn yourself for wanting it. It is the gift of faith that God gives us that accomplishes what we believe and say. Doubting our own faith projects causes them to fail, as well they should. From the beginning we should talk with the Lord about our faith projects and find out what He wants. He, after all, designed a certain specific destiny for each of us, and we must use our gifts for that destiny and make our faith grow to fulfill that destiny. If we refuse to grow in faith, then we will be weak in our trust in God.
The righteousness of faith uses words. It is words of faith that brings a thing into reality. We believe in our hearts, we trust, and with our mouths we speak words of faith. But first, we find out what God wants, and we put our faith in that!