A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Death in the Pot [See 2 Kings 4:10]

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Php 3:8-9 av)

Saving faith is specific, not general. The faith that saves is not simply the idea that God rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior--even the devil knows that, and even Islamo-fascists think they will be rewarded for killing their religious enemies. Such is not the faith that brings eternal life. It is not by works of righteousness that we are saved, but by the mercy of God.

As a Pharisee, Paul expected to be rewarded for doing the things that God commanded, but when he understood the Gospel and the true sense of the law, he realized that he must abandon that idea completely, because the only righteousness that could justify him before God was a righteousness not his own. This righteousness had nothing to do with the law, but was in Jesus Christ, a righteousness which is received by faith in Christ.

Even this faith is not be be considered any kind of work of obedience. It is certainly our duty to believe that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked for that is everywhere taught in the Bible. This sort of faith, however, is dead and lifeless, and is little better than what the devils believe about God.

Living faith cannot be rooted and gounded in the flesh, or the natural man. As sons of Adam we are dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot bring forth anything alive toward God.

In the passage quoted above, Paul gives the source of this faith: it is the "faith of Christ." It is not faith in general, but faith specifically that has Christ as its object and source. It is by grace that we are saved, through faith, and that not of our own, it is the gift of God. It is grace from beginning to end, so that even the faith which lives, lives in Christ alone, having its origin in God and not in the flesh. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath befoe ordained that we should walk in them>" And, "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Further, "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ."

Hence, living faith is not made living by the works of men, as though the words and works of men could raise the dead. No, only God can make the light shine out of darkness, and call the things that are not into being and life. "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins." Only God can do that. Life must come from Life.

People who are wrong on this point are most likely to be wrong on a great many other things. If the supernatural can only work through the natural, then evolution trumps scripture on the days of creation; drugs and naturalistic therapies will trump the scriptures on the transformation of character, humanistic salesmanship and religious spectaculars will trump the preaching of the cross in evangelism, for men will put their trust in the natural as a means of laying hold on the supernatural, retaining the initiative for themselves. But in spite of the cleverness of men the flesh cannot bring forth life, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh; only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Even the Lord Jesus could not be our savior if He were born of the flesh; He was born of the Spirit, for the Spirit overshadowed Mary and that which was born of her was the Son of God. The flesh can only earn death because of sin; eternal life is the gift of God.

The heart of the Gospel is this, "The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of God." The natural flesh does not clothe itself with deity in order to bring life and salvation, for this transforms Christianity into humanism and we see its destruction everywhere around us. The gospel is this: the Divine Word took upon Himself our flesh, that He might suffer and die, condemning our flesh in His death, so that we by the Spirit might rise with Him in newness of life. A man, even such a man as Nicodemus, must be born again to see the kingdom of God.

Our life springs from His Life. Eternal life does not spring from our flesh no matter how we abuse it and try to subdue it to God. Our life springs rather from the death of the Son of God. It is the preaching of the cross, therefore, that is the power of God unto salvation. I do not live because I die; I live because Jesus died for me. Amen and Amen.

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