I am finding that I really want to rush ahead. I don't like this about myself. I really want to be able to sit back patiently and wait for God to move in His perfect timing.
Because I know that His timing really is perfect.
Because I know that His way really is best.
Because I know that there is a way that seems right to me that in the end goes very badly.
And yet, my flesh is constantly trying to plan the next step, create the next phase in an opportunity that doesn't even belong to me. My head knows that God has this all planned out and that His plan is infinitely better than mine. My flesh on the other hand is pretty sure that I've got this and I don't need any help, even from God. I find that I am constantly battling myself to remain patient and wait on God's timing and His plan to manifest itself.
I realize that God is using this to point out another area of my life that I need to relinquish completely to Him and I am praying that He continues to prune me in that way..
In the meantime, I guess I will just wait.....patiently....or at least wait.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, -- Hebrews 5:12
In both passages there is a moving (or lack of moving) away from childish immaturity towards maturity. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is laying out what maturity looks like, at least in part. It does not lie in spiritual gifts, but in doing everything with a Christ-like, sacrificial love. What I find especially interesting is in what Paul indicates in Hebrews to be the foundation that must be laid before maturity can be attained.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. -- Hebrews 6:1-2
According to Paul, the foundation that maturity is built upon is the "elementary doctrine of Christ". He goes on to point out specifics of that doctrine, including repentance from dead works, faith toward God, resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment. That sound familiar to anyone? That in a nutshell is the gospel message. Paul is saying, at least in part, that a solid understanding of the doctrines involved with the gospel is the foundation that must be laid in order for the believer to progress to maturity in Christ. So, the depravity of man, justification, penal substitution, election: these are all foundational doctrines that must be in place in order for us to progress to maturity.
If that is the case, why do so many churches shy away from teaching them? I think we have gotten things backwards. Too often, we relegate these basic doctrines to the arena of seminary or specialty classes offered to those who are "mature enough" to understand them. Then we teach concepts like loving your neighbors and enemies as to everyone as though they are basic, simple ideas.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is the product of leaving childish things behind and progressing to maturity. In Hebrews he says that can only be done if we first have a foundation based on the doctrines of Christ. People cannot love the way God calls them to unless they first understand the gospel and most of our people have a very narrow, short sided, and incomplete understanding of the gospel because we won't teach them those things until they mature.
There is a way that seems right to man..........
There are several Greek words used in the New Testament that are translated as love in English. Of them all, agape is the love that is most removed from emotions and most attached to the will. Agape love reveals itself not in how we feel, but in what we do.
These are the characteristics of agape love according to Paul:
- does not envy
- does not boast
- not arrogant
- not rude
- not selfish
- not irritable
- not resentful
- loves truth
- believes the best of people
- hopes for the best things
- endures all things without bitterness
- Love marks us as disciples of Christ - John 13:35
- Love marks us as having passed from darkness to light - 1 John 3:14
- Love marks us as having been born of God - 1 John 4:7
- God is love - 1 John 4:16
- Love give us confidence in the day of judgment - 1 John 4:17
- Love casts out fear - 1 John 4:18
- Love is the greatest quality of the disciple - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
Everything God does is for His glory. From the hardening of Pharoah's heart to our very salvation, nothing and no one exists whose purpose and destiny is not to glorify the King of the universe. Soli Deo gloria helps us to understand why God chose to save us the way He did. The method behind the madness is to ensure that we cannot steal God's glory when we meditate on our salvation. God did it by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. We are kept out of the equation so that God receives the glory and praise for the work of the cross.
This is the great purpose of God, to be glorified as He deserves. He will work all things out according to His good pleasure in a way that brings Him praise.
Today I will be looking at the 4th of the Five Solas. To this point I have discussed Sola Scriptura (part 2), Solus Christus, and Sola Gratia. Today I will look at the doctrine of sola fide, or "by faith alone".
We learned that scripture teaches us that salvation comes through the grace of Christ alone. No other person, system, or mechanism can achieve for us eternal salvation. It is only available through the person of Jesus Christ and His grace. The question then becomes "How do we become partakers of Christ's grace?". What is the mechanism through which saving grace becomes accessible to us?
The biblical answer to that question is faith and only faith. Consider again Paul's words to the church in Ephesus.
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. -- Ephesians 2:8-9Paul states very clearly in the beginning of this passage that access to God's saving grace is faith. Faith in Christ's work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead provide us access to God's grace. The following verses cement the doctrine of sola fide.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. -- Romans 3:21-31This passage clearly teaches that:
- righteousness is obtained through faith in Jesus (v. 22)
- we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus as our propitiation (v. 25)
- God justifies those who have faith in Jesus (v. 26)
- Works cannot justify us, only faith in Jesus (v. 28)
- God will justify the circumcised and uncircumcised through faith (v. 30)
Scripture, once again, is very clear here. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can one be justified by the grace of God, thereby obtaining right standing before Him. No work of the law can accomplish this for us. Only the sovereign grace of God operating through faith in Christ can save the sinner.
The go to verse in this case is Ephesians 2:8-9.
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.
This is a very clear and straightforward declaration of the cause of salvation. It is by grace we have been saved. It is not a result of works. I think where some people miss the mark a little here is by limiting what "works" are. We tend to think in terms of church attendance, financial giving, good deeds, etc. "Works" really can mean anything we do to try to contribute to God's grace in the process of salvation. If it comes from us, it is a "work".
Below are some other verses that teach sola gratia:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, -- Romans 3:23-24
So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. -- Romans 11:5-6
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. -- Galatians 2:21
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, -- Ephesians 1:7
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - byyou have been saved -- Ephesians 2:5
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, -- 2 Timothy 1:9
so that being justified by hiswe might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. -- Titus 3:7
Solus Christus is the biblical doctrine that salvation comes to man through no other means but Jesus Christ. Scripture is very clear on this issue. Anyone who argues against this doctrine either does not know their bible or does not hold to sola scriptura.
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. -- Acts 4:11-12
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -- John 14:6Both of these scriptures are crystal clear that salvation is found no where else outside of Jesus Christ. The reason for this is simple. Only God Himself can absolve us of our crime of idolatry. He created us for His glory and everyday we steal God glory and try to heap it upon ourselves. Due to God's justness, however, He could not just forgive us for our sins without those sins being punished. Also, no one else could take our punishment for us because God is the one against whom we have sinned. The only way salvation could be found was for God Himself to take our punishment upon Himself and grant to us His righteousness.
Through Christ this is exactly what happened. Christ came in the flesh as one of us and lived perfectly, fulfilling the law which we transgressed. In so doing, upon absorbing our punishment He was able to grant to us His righteousness.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -- 2 Corinthians 5:21Only God in the flesh could accomplish our salvation and only Jesus was God in the flesh. Therefore, salvation can be found in no other person, religious system, or belief. Any doctrine of salvation that does not begin and end with Christ and His cross is not the gospel and can save no one. Only through Christ and His cross can we be saved.
Jesus Himself provides strong support for the sufficiency of scripture on more than one occasion. The account of Jesus' temptation recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 both record Jesus resistance of Satan in the wilderness. If ever there was a person who had the authority to appeal to an authority outside of the scriptures it was Christ. He was, after all the Son of God and the Word made flesh. Yet, even Jesus turns to scripture to refute the lies of His enemy. Even when Satan tested Jesus in regards to his position as God's Son, Jesus refutes him with scripture.
In Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus once again gives support to the idea of the supremacy of scripture over other forms of teaching.
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? "For God said, `HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, `HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.' "But you say, `Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
`THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
`BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "
In the book of Acts we see again the elevation of scripture, this time above the teaching of an apostle of Jesus.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. -- Acts 17:11Even upon receiving instruction from an apostle, in this case Paul, the Bereans still took the teachings they received and examined them to see if they were supported by scripture. Luke says they were "more noble" for doing this than those that just took the teachings at face value.
Combining these scriptures with 2 Timothy 3:16 gives us a very complete teaching that scripture is to be our final and sufficient authority on all things concerning our faith and doctrine. Why is it so important that sola scriptura be upheld? The issue boils down to one of authority. Who has the right to determine matters of our faith and doctrine? How do we discern what is right when different people or institutions tell us contradictory things?
If we do not have an infallible, sufficient source of all things concerning faith and doctrine then we have no assurance that anything concerning God is knowable. If our scriptures are prone to error and mistakes then we can have no hope in anything they teach us including what to do to become right with God. If sola scriptura is not upheld, then there is no hope for any of us in matters concerning our relationship with the God who created anything.
Sola scriptura is the doctrine upon which every other doctrine rests. It is nothing less than the perfect revelation of a perfect God to his imperfect creation.
All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.