Seeking Jesus First - June 26, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - June 26, 2023
Photo by Carter Baran / Unsplash

What can make obeying God’s word into merely a religious practice?

The absence of grace and faith.

Grace is God’s desire, willingness, authority and power to give everything freely.

Faith is our belief that He has done just that and that we already qualify to freely receive everything through our faith in Jesus and His Word.

If we think that we have to earn what he freely gave, it is no more a free gift.

We know from Roman’s 4 that we are saved and justified by grace and faith and not by the works of the flesh.

We also know by James 2:26 that faith without corresponding action is not faith.

Faith produces its own response to grace, promise and truth.

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.” (Romans 4:1–12, NKJV)

Faith in God and His Word is credited to our account as righteousness - right standing with God.

The grace account is full because of Jesus Christ. We draw down on this account through believing and living by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Faith without corresponding action is not faith.

Fear is faith in reverse Fear often fills the space where faith, hope and love are absent.

If went to church and saw those flimsy plastic chairs. How many of you would feel confident to go ahead and sit? I would be standing. See if I can change your decision by giving you more information. What if right before you came in you had watched a bunch of funny compilation videos of people falling on the ground because the chair broke? What if you looked at them and saw a bunch of little cracks in them? What if they had that brittle look from being in the sun and weather for many years? What if someone smaller than you sat down and one broke right when you came in? Ok, everyone should be standing now.

But what if Jesus walked In the room and said go ahead and sit. I want you to sit. It’s my will for you to sit in that brittle old chair right now. If it breaks, I’ll hold you up. Would you trust the word of Jesus over your own eyes and fears? Yes? Then faith will make you sit. Because faith has corresponding action.

Heb. 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…

Doing something without faith has no “substance” with God - therefore it is merely a religious practice. “…for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23, NKJV)

If I am doing something to earn salvation or the grace of God, then I am probably operating in fear of some kind of deficit with God. Faith in Jesus puts an end to deficits.

Without the pre existence of righteousness, peace and joy which follow faith, hope and love, religious obedience may be categorized as fearful obedience. This kind of obedience was taught in The Old Testament Law. Fear the consequences and obey God. Fear God and obey God. Fearing God was a major focus of The Law. But God has always desired relationship based on love. This is what Jesus gave us with The New Covenant, or after 2000 years, we could just call it The Best Covenant, or The Christ Covenant, or The Living Covenant. Jesus put the focus of His covenant on faith, hope and love - not fear. The focus is on unity with God and a spiritually intimate experiential relationship. God dwells with us and in us by His Holy Spirit.

Sowing Faith reaps righteousness. Sowing Hope reaps peace. Sowing Love reaps joy. All of this produces the kind of loving obedience that every father desires.

Doing something to receive grace is different from doing something because we have received love, grace and faith. We are in grace and we live life from there by faith.

Faith, hope and love are the greatest aspects of our Christian walk because they produce righteousness, peace, joy and everything else we desire and need from our relationship with God.