pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Righteousness

Reading: Romans 4: 17-25

Verse Twenty: “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God”.

Paul connects back to the Old Testament today and recounts the faith of Abraham. Paul refers to the story in Genesis 17 where God promises to make Abraham and Sarah into a great nation. Despite being ninety-nine and ninety years old, they “in hope believed” what God promised. Paul writes that Abraham “faced the fact that his body was good as dead” and chose the possibility of God. Yes, he did question and doubt a bit – the Genesis passage tells us they laughed at first – but in the end, “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God”. Abraham chose to be “fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised”. We know from hindsight that Abraham does go on to be the father of many nations.

Within this story we too can have hope for our faith. We see that our God keeps His promise even if we question or doubt or laugh or take a little time to rachet up our faith. This is because the promise is based on God’s power and love, not on ours. Abraham shows faith in spite of the seemingly impossible of his context. Deep down, he knew that anything was possible with God. We also trust into this fact. Abraham chose to believe and chose to live into this promise from God. Even though we may wrestle and question and doubt now and then, we too are called to choose to believe. We are not perfect, God is. In the end, we must come to trust into our relationship with God and to believe that God can do anything in our lives as well.

For Paul, righteousness comes through Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “for all who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord”, God will credit us as righteous. Jesus not only died for our sins but was also “raised to life for our justification”. For us, this means that Jesus makes us right before God. He washes away our sin and makes us holy and pure before God. When we falter, when we stumble, Jesus is there to pick us up and to return us to a place of right standing before God.

In Deuteronomy God said, “I will never leave or forsake you”. This too is a promise. It is a no matter what promise. This promise is carried out today through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Through the Spirit, Jesus remains ever by our side. Like the Father, the Son keeps the promise for us. Thanks be to God for the power and presence of Jesus, our righteousness.


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One Man

Reading: Romans 5: 12-19

In today’s reading, we have the first Adam and the second Adam, Jesus Christ.  In both Adam and Christ we are all connected together.  By all, I mean all people – not just Christians.  The choices that Adam and Jesus made affects all people, not just believers.

Adam chose to sin and through that sin death entered the world.  In this one act of disobedience, Adam brought death to humanity.  We will all one day die as a part of this earthly existence.  Whether or not you believe in God or in Jesus, one day death will come.  Death comes not just to our human bodies.  Sin also brings death to our relationships, to our dreams, to our connection to God.  All of humanity shares in these realities.  Adam’s choice brought sin into the world.  In turn, sin brings condemnation and death.

Christ made a different choice.  Christ’s choice was also made by one man, but in obedience to God.  Through Christ’s decision, true life entered the world.  It is not the earthly life we now experience but the glimpse of eternal life that all who call on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will one day experience.  Verse nineteen reads, “Through the obedience of the one man many will be made righteous”.  Jesus, in His obedience, paid the price of our sin and instead of condemnation, God now offers us justification.  Through the body and blood of Jesus, we can be made whole again, righteous in God’s sight, because Jesus washes away our sins.

Just as Adam’s choice affected all of humanity, so too does Christ’s choice.  We also know from Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.  We know from all four Gospels that Jesus always operated from the place of love.  Jesus’ love was extended to all people – to tax collectors, to prostitutes, to Pharisees, to lepers, to any and all who came to Him.  In the same way, Jesus offers eternal life to us all.  To me, a sinner.  To you, a sinner.  To all.  It is a free gift, generously given to one and to all.  Thank you Lord Jesus for this amazing love.


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Peace, Justification, Mercy

Reading: Romans 5: 1-2

Our faith brings peace with God, a status of being justified, and an outpouring of His grace.  Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of our life, we are made into a new creation within our new relationship with Him.  Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrated yesterday on Pentecost, we are forever changed.

Instead of living with the fears and worries of the world, we now walk in God’s peace.  We walk here because we know that as a new creation we are a child of God.  We are now in His hands.  Our hope rests secure.

The Spirit of God works in us to justify us or to make us right before God.  Through the act of taking on all of our sins on the cross, Jesus paid the price for those sins.  Justice has been administered so we do not need to live under the weight of our sins.  Because of His blood that was shed, our sins are atoned for.  All we need to do to be justified before God is to repent and to confess our sins.  Then we again can walk in His ways.  We bear no punishment; the price has been paid.  Therefore, once we seek His forgiveness, we are again justified before God.

Through faith in Christ we go one step further: mercy.  Forgiveness says our sins are not held against us.  Mercy says they are forgotten.  This is a big step.  As humans we tend to forgive but not to forget.  But not so with God.  There is no giant Rolodex of our sins in heaven.  Once we repent and confess our sins to God, His mercy kicks in and for God our sins are no more.  This demonstrates the depth of His love for each of us.  Nothing we can do lessens His love for us.  For the peace He brings, for the justified relationship He offers, and for the mercy that makes us pure as new fallen snow, we simply say thanks be to God.