Tag Archives: faith

The Cart Before the Horse

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. 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

Having just read Charles Spurgeon’s sermon entitled All Of Grace I felt extremely humbled by the understanding that all of our salvation comes from God. We are saved with God’s salvation given by God’s grace and received by faith in Jesus Christ. But even that faith is a gift given by God and not made up or reliant on our own works or even our own beliefs.

Think about that for a moment; if God has given you faith in Jesus Christ unto his salvation then whether you’re a creationist or evolutionist, whether you hold to post millennial or pre millennial eschatology then no matter if you’re right or wrong you are saved!

The amount of money you put in collection each week, the amount of time you spend in your quiet time. The work you do for the church and for others, none of it will get you closer to salvation.

As Spurgeon himself puts it from Romans 11:6

If by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Grace demands the freely given gift. If we had to do something, anything at all to receive that grace and the gift it gives then it is no longer a gift given by grace but a wage earned and due. Would (or could) we demand that God must give us his own salvation that was bought at the cost of Jesus blood because of our own works or beliefs? No! God himself must choose, in his own unique wisdom and understanding, the recipients of his own grace, otherwise he would not be God.

Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created in Christ Jesus to do these good works, and check this out; even those works were prepared by God for us to do! We have a salvation entirely of God in which he leads us to do those good works that are equally entirely of him!

What I’ve seen in the way people actually live though (myself included) is putting the cart load of good works and beliefs before the workhorse of God’s salvation by Grace through God’s gift of Faith.

We may hold to the theology of Ephesians 2:8-10 but how does that theology manifest itself in our lives? Herein lies the challenge of Christian living; to live like kingdom people in the world. To be clear that the works and even beliefs that we do and have are subject to the saving faith that God has freely given us in his grace and not the other way around.

How do we do that? By following the best and only example laid down for us. The life and works of Jesus recorded in the gospels contain the attitude and drive that we should seek to emulate. What we find is a life driven by the goal of first giving glory to God then showing his love to everyone else, not to curry favour with God or people but because of God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith.

Atheistic Faith?

This one has been bugging me for a while and having been a Christian from a young age and not recalling a time in my life where God wasn’t a big part of it I’ve no personal experience to draw on here:

Atheism is a belief that there is no god. Presumably the individual has to have some concept or definition of this god that doesn’t exist? Either that or they believe that there are no spiritual beings at all which strikes me as a huge step of faith. It’s a choice to reject the major teachings of almost every established religion throughout history and the beliefs and experiences of billions of people.

If that’s your belief then that’s fine, just stop trying to justify it as a neutral faith position and accept it for what it is. Just as Atheism isn’t a neutral position (I don’t think that such a thing could exist…) neither is secularism. But that’s a rant for another day…

The Dance

And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white as no one on earth could bleach them.
Mark 9:2-3

With no God, no divine creation we’re all the product of blind impersonal forces. What meaning can love have in this kind of world? Love is reduced to a chemical state in the brain.
But with God, more specifically the triune God of Christianity, love finds it’s true meaning and purpose.

If God is a single being then until the creation there could have been no love. Who would be the object of God’s love? Love could not be the essence of God from eternity nor could it be at the heart of the universe.

The Christian God, in three persons is fundamentally a relational God, it is in his very nature to be loving: The Father loves the Son who is in the ‘bosom of the Father’ (John 1:18). Jesus says that the Spirit lives to glorify him (John 16:14). The Son glorifies the Father and the Father glorifies the Son for eternity (John 17:4-5).

To glorify is to honor with praise, admiration, or worship. Timothy Keller in his book ‘The Reason for God‘ describes this internal relationship of God with himself as a dance. If to be self centred is to be static and demand that others orbit around us with praise then…

The life of the trinity is characterised not by self centredness, but by mutually self giving love. When we delight and serve someone else we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we centre on the interests and desires of the other. That creates a dance.
Timothy Keller (The Reason for God)

What the disciples witnessed in Jesus transfiguration was this mutual love that exists within God himself: God the Father glorifying God the Son:

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved son, listen to him”.
Mark 9:7

When God calls on us to worship him it’s not a self centred demand but an invitation to join the dance. This then is the challenge in a self centred world, to emulate our creator and savior God in this dance of love which he has initiated because he first loved us. Don’t love God for what he can give you but for the sake of his glory and beauty make him the centre of your life. Don’t love others for what they can give you, but for the sake of God and his example.

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees
They wouldn’t dance, they wouldn’t follow me
I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me so the dance went on

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame
They ripped, they stripped, they hung me high
Left me there on the cross to die

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body, they thought I was gone
But I am the dance, and the dance goes on

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that will never, never die
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me
I am the Lord of the dance, said he

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he
words by Sydney Carter