Sunday, August 26, 2012

Faith That Works

Brad opened the service with a recap of recent messages he's been giving on the themes Jesus alone and Grace alone, and last week's message by Elsa, The Glory of God alone. "The only way to understand grace is through faith," he said, add that someone asked him last week, "how good is good enough?"

So today the message would focus on looking at the meaning of this phrase, "faith alone."

There will be a clean up day the Saturday after Labor Day weekend. A binder with various categories of needs was passed around for helping with Sunday school, Nursery service, a Women's Bible study group that is starting, a Women's retreat and Wednesday night programs. Sign up to participate or help.

Gwen shared that Rally Day is Sept 9 and they will be making dirt pies to help sink home the message "Deepen your roots with us." Gwen is therefore seeking volunteers to make pies. Recipes will be provided.

Signe nee Armstrong stood and said, "I would like to praise God for this church and the new faces here." Signe and Peter were married here in this church forty years ago. She said is is wonderful to see God’s presence in this community and the work that is continuing on.

A time of worship followed, led by Brad. Afterwards tithes and offerings were taken. The Scripture reading today was from John 6:51-58  

Faith That Works

Pastor Brad gave a good sermon that addressed one of the most devisive issues in the history of the church, going back as far as the first disciples. The argument centers on faith. One group takes this position, “That’s true, you can’t earn being saved but we don’t want cheap grace. Saving faith includes the intention of following Jesus as Lord.”

The pushback comes from those who say, “You can’t say that because that add works to faith. No one is saved by works. We’re saved by faith alone. Grace plus nothing is what gets us saved.”

Brad used this morning's message to weigh in on his own opinion here. "If you are asking my opinion, both sides are misled," he said. "The problem with both groups is in the manner in which they define being saved. They focus on the minimum entrance requirements for heaven."

Brad asked, “When did Jesus set this as an option? Heaven is not where you want to be if you want only to do the minimum."

Saving faith is not about minimum entrance requirements. Saving faith is when you put total trust and confidence in God.

Another confusing thing in the matter is this: What is the relationship between faith and works?

Paul in several places cites Abraham as the father of our faith. In Romans 3:28 sums up his position thus, "For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."

James, whose letter affirms a place for works and appears to disagree with Paul said this about Abraham in James 2:23... "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God’s friend."

The nature of faith that matters to God is faith that changes a life.

There is a difference between what I think I believe and what I actually believe. Brad pointed us to the story of Moses. When the plagues were done and Pharaoh gave Moses the go-ahead to lead his people to the Promised Land, the Israelites with one voice said they would follow Moses. But when they reached the Red Sea and were blocked in they complained, “Hey, weren't there enough graves in Egypt to bury us there?”

All too often we're the same. When things get shaky we discover what our real beliefs are.

Our core convictions are demonstrated by our behavior. We show that we believe gravity is real because we do not step off tops of buildings. Our behavior is the real barometer of our beliefs. If we claim to believe something and act differently, it’s apparent that our beliefs are not what we claim.

Martin Luther declared that faith cannot help but do good works. It is as impossible to separate faith from works as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire.

So what do you do when you feel that you don’t trust God enough?

Brad read from Rom 4:1-3 and 16-21.

In the New Testament Abraham has been presented frequently as model of faith. In Genesis 12 God tells him to leave home, that his offspring will be a blessing for the entire human race.

And yet, in the very next chapter we find Abraham lying to Pharaoh to conceal the identity of his wife. Why did you do this thing if he had believed God's initial promise? In Genesis 20 Abraham again fails to trust God.

Brad tells the story of Abraham’s failings but then places this story into context of the day. This story did not depend on the largeness of Abraham’s faith. It depended on God’s promise. It’s better to put a little faith into a great God than great faith in a little God.

It’s not the quality of your faith that saves you. It is the object of your faith that saves you.

There has never been anyone like Jesus, the only worthy object of faith Don’t focus on the quality of your faith. Focus on the object of your faith, Jesus.

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