"Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of
God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.
Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy,
joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The
Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you
freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve
everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who
has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to
separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from
fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard
against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough
to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools.
Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without
faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do."
I had a conversation with my nephew earlier today, like I do every time I get a chance to see him. He is in 3rd grade. We talked about many things in just one sitting like his favorite subject in school, movies that he likes, cool dance moves he finds on youtube, and God. I asked him why He loves Jesus. He responded at first saying that he loves Jesus because He made us and the earth. And, because God made our butt, legs, and other necessary body parts (he’s a funny one, this guy). And then He said something that made me stare at him with amazement for awhile.
“…But y’know, I love Jesus because He died for me…because, if He didn’t die, we would all die…..so I try my best..”
“try your best to what?”
“I love Him, so I try my best not to sin…”
…woah. I was blown away by His response.
And that’s EXACTLY what our Christian faith is all about - A RESPONSE. When we recognize all that Christ has done for us on the Cross, we respond with love and adoration for His Name and His will. We, as my nephew has so simply and beautiful put it, try our best to live righteously. We do good because He is good. My nephew understands the message of the Gospel already! He gets it! And it really is that simple - if we love God more than anything in this world than more than anything we will do our best to live for Him - no questions asked. That’s childlike faith.
"I think it interesting, at best - a wonderful privilege - that only when I am physically alone that I am reminded of how loved I am. That only when I am without the physical presence of anyone that I realize I already have all that I need. That’s amazing to me. Only He could offer such freedom. Thank You Christ, my more than enough."
“If you feel that how well you obey is what earns your acceptance towards God than your life will always be dominated firstly by fear, because you’re like “have I done enough? is God okay with me?” and then its going to be dominated by guilt because you know that you haven’t done enough. And then its going to be dominated by despair because you’re going to be looking at somebody who is doing a lot better than you and then you’re going to go into a cycle of pride because you’re gonna get around a bunch of people who you are a lot better than and then that pride is going to lead to condescension because you’re better than everybody else and then that pride ultimately turns to violence. that violence is why religious people commit some of the worse atrocities in the world because it ends up being dominated by self-righteousness. BUT IF YOU UNDERSTAND on the other hand that your acceptance before God cannot be earned but it is GIVEN to you as a GIFT - rather than producing fear, it produces assurance - because you know that it is not dependent on you its dependent upon what Jesus has done on your behalf. Rather than producing pride, it produces humility. I know that God doesn’t approve and accept me because I am fundamentally better than you. I know that God approves and accepts me because of what Christ did for me that I didn’t deserve. And that gives me humility, not arrogance. That humility than leads me to not condescension and violence, it leads me to generosity. I’m not accepted before God because of anything that I have earned but because God in His grace gave me what I couldn’t do for myself. And when I understand that it creates in me a heart that wants to love and serve other people. You see if you are the kind of person that thinks you need to be accepted by God because you obey it WILL produce obedience but underneath the thin veneer of obedience is an eternity of difference. Because that kind of obedience is determined by self-interest, pride, and self-righteousness…but the kind of obedience I’m talking about is motivated by gratitude and love.” - J.D. Greear, God’s Final Word, Christ is Better series