June 13, 2010 – Characteristics of a Christian Life – Part 2: Faithful

text: Galatians 2:15-21
click on the link above to read the text at www.biblestudytools.com

Paul says it right up front in this passage – a person is justified through faith in Jesus Christ. The consequence of living by the law is ultimately death because none of us seem to be capable of following the law perfectly. The consequence of a faithful life in Christ is knowing God’s promise of life. Even if we could be made right with God by perfectly following the law, then Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would be meaningless.

Can we then just ignore the law and live as we please, trusting that our faith in Christ will make us right with God? Well, not exactly. You see, the law points to justice, mercy, compassion, love, and peace – the characteristics of God’s reign. Can our lives as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ point to anything less? Faithful living that points to the coming reign of God is the result of – or our response to – faith in Jesus Christ.

The law has an important place in Jewish culture. It defines the people of God as a society and as a community. The law is a perpetual and daily reminder of the Jewish identity as children of God. As Christians, our identity as children of God is defined by church tradition and spiritual discipline, such as worship, prayer, study, and service. Through our faithful practice of spiritual discipline and participation in the life of the church, we grow in our faith and become witnesses to the coming reign of God. Are there spiritual disciplines that you practice daily and perpetually as a reminder of your identity as a child of God?

Grace & Peace, Pastor Rik

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7 Responses to June 13, 2010 – Characteristics of a Christian Life – Part 2: Faithful

  1. LaVerne Jones says:

    Love the blogs!! I believe we need constant reminders to be faithful and walk in the right paths. That is why I believe my church family is so important as a check up on my path. Love to all

  2. Wenda Singer says:

    “Law” meaning the Jewish law, all 619 of them, not being the way to be justified in Christ, but rather by having faith? Guess it’s the early church question about being Jewish before being Christian or not, which you spoke of last Sunday, Rik. By the way, for the life of me, I cannot begin to understand what verse 18 is getting at. Maybe the “film” will be removed from my brain on Sunday morning.

    • God’s Word Translation puts verse 18 this way: “If I rebuild something that I’ve torn down, I admit that I was wrong to tear it down.” Perhaps this wording provides some clarity to that verse.

  3. Cheryl Reynolds says:

    As I read your last paragraph….is James, Chapter 2 about faith and deeds a similar or supporting passage?

    • Absolutely. James offers some balance in the conversation about works and faith. James seems to think that there was too much emphasis on salvation by faith and was looking for some evidence of faith in the life of the community. Funny thing is, Martin Luther once called James the epistle of straw because he thought James put too much importance on good works.

      I think John Wesley would say that we do not earn the gift of salvation through good works, but that good works are our faithful response, having received the gift of salvation by faith. Good works, or spiritual disciplines [Wesley would probably say the means of grace], are a vital part of growing in our faith as we learn to love God and love each other completely.

    • Anna Reager says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      I’m running behind, as always. I’m sure Rik can steer me straight on this, but I Googled the “gospel of straw” comment out of curiosity and found some pretty interesting stuff. The best is from aomin.org – six points on Luther’s gospel of straw. I found point # 4 particularly informative. Rik, please let me know if these guys have any justifiable reason to speak with authority on the subject.


      • I had not encountered James White before this. I am usually I little leery of apologeticists because they are often a little too militant for my taste. You have to approach anything on the web with caution, especially anything written on a blog by someone named Rik.

        Having said that, apart from a rather strong anti-catholic tone, White’s post about Luther’s “gospel of straw” comment is reasonably accurate. If anyone wants to read that post you will find it here. [edit: Actually I just realized that post was written by James Swan, but appears on James White’s website.]

        I hope it is clear that my reference to Luther’s comment was not to criticize or discredit Luther or James, but rather to point to one example of how the church has wrestled with the balance between faith and works over the ages. Perhaps if we were to substitute “means of grace” or “spiritual discipline” for “works” we would see that James, Luther, Wesley, White, and most anyone else I can think of all come out on the same place on this. One of my seminary professors would remind us that ours is a responsible faith – works/means of grace/spiritual discipline is our faithful response to the experience of God’s grace in our lives.

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