Tag Archives: call

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:14-17.

What a gem of a chapter is Romans 10!

Paul, in this one chapter, sweeps away all the complicated arguments and explanations about religion, even the religion of the Jews, and reveals the simplicity of the message about Jesus. It’s all about believing – not just giving intellectual assent to, but entrusting oneself to the truth that Jesus is Lord, and He is the way to the Father.

You don’t have to search for Him. He is right here – wherever you are – as close as your breath and the words of your mouth. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. There is no longer any distinction because the door is wide open for anyone who believes in Him to enter the kingdom of God and receive the gift of righteousness and eternal life.

To receive this gift and the assurance of eternal life takes nothing more that listening to  the message about Jesus and believing the good news that He has done everything to clear the way for us to return to the Father and be reconciled and restored to Him as His sons and daughters.

But, in order to receive the message, people have to hear it; and in order to hear it, someone must preach it; and in order to preach it, someone must be sent; and that means all of us. To His disciples Jesus gave the commission: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21.

Who are His disciples? Surely not only those who physically followed Him during the three years of His public ministry? He commissioned them to go and make disciples – followers who would make more disciples, who would make more disciples…right down to today. If you are a follower, the instruction is for you and for me to tell the message so that others can believe and tell the message.

But hearing the message is not enough. How many times did the Israelites hear the message in the Old Testament era? How many times did the Jews hear the message from the lips of Jesus and from the lips of the apostles and the early Christians, yet they still rejected it? Paul prayed for them and grieved over their stubborn unbelief but nothing would persuade the majority of them of the truth that is in the message about Jesus. But while they refuse to believe, there are many millions that have believed and have experienced the truth of the message.

In verse 17 Paul gives us a little gem about faith. What is the origin of faith? It doesn’t just drop out of the sky. Faith must have a foundation, a substance, some truth that generates confidence and gives us something stable to stand on. What is that foundation, that substance upon which we can pin our hope? It’s the message about Jesus. Every time we read or hear something more about Him, our confidence in Him can grow.

Like patience and all the other virtues we long to possess, faith can be cultivated by exposing ourselves to the message. The more we can discover about Jesus, the more we will be able to trust Him, not only with our eternal destiny but with the nitty-gritty of our everyday lives.

There is no one who cannot respond to the message in faith. It takes nothing more than hearing and believing. No ritual, performance, ceremony, offering, sacrifice or even a pastor or counsellor is necessary to facilitate believing. Just believe and Jesus Christ is yours.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Why Does God Sit On His Hands?

WHY DOES GOD SIT ON HIS HANDS?

The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.

‘How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted (Hab. 1: 1-4).

I have chosen this short prophetic book from the Old Testament for our next meditation because it is as relevant for us today as today’s newspaper. In my country I could be reflecting on information from any of our national newspapers.

This short message was not directed at the prophet’s people or the nations round about him. This was his personal encounter with God. From his perspective, things looked pretty bad. In spite of the fact that his people were God’s people, wherever he looked he saw violence and injustice. They were in a covenant relationship with God. They were supposed to obey Him and follow His ways so that they could be a witness to the ungodly people around them that their God was the true God and that He was holy.

But they were no different from the heathen. Why? Because they had abandoned the God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and replaced Him with the vile idol gods of their neighbours. Wherever Habakkuk looked, he saw the effects of their idolatry. His own people were just as evil as the heathen and he could not understand why God allowed them to carry on living wicked lives. Why did He not step in and do something?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? How often I hear the same complaint, not only from God’s people but also from those who don’t even acknowledge Him. “If God is a God of love, why did He allow this, that or the other to happen?” For His own people, the goings on around them is a cause for doubt and fear. For the unbeliever, it’s an excuse to reject His authority and ignore their accountability to Him.

First of all, this way of thinking comes from a misunderstanding of who God is and how He works. People, and even His own people, think that God is some kind of puppeteer who has people on a string and makes them move the way He wants them to move. They forget that God honours the gift He gave humankind when He made the first man – free will – and He never overrides their freedom to choose, not matter what they do.

Secondly, they forget that man chose to overthrow God’s authority over hm. Adam was deceived. He listened to the devil’s insinuation that God was unloving and unfair. The result is the mess the world is in right now. What goes on in the world is not God’s fault – it’s ours. Human wickedness created the chaos without God’s help because we chose to make our own rules, and now the world is ensnared in its own evil ways.

Thirdly, God must follow His own rules. He is perfectly just. He cannot simply step in and arbitrarily change the way people behave. He is not indifferent to their suffering. In fact He has reassured His people again and again that He is always with them. He suffers with them. He grieves over what people do to each other. This is not what He intended the world to be like.

But He can only work through people’s choices.  Does this mean that God is powerless to intervene in an apparently hopeless situation? Is He subject to human beings? What kind of a God is He? How can we have confidence in Him when it seems that man is in charge? What’s the use of praying when God does not hear us or when He sits on His hands and does nothing?

Don’t you love Habakkuk’s honesty? God did! He did not swat him out of existence for questioning Him. He is like that. We are allowed to question Him as long as it not in defiance or disrespect. God always responds to us when we come to Him in humility – remembering that He is God and we are not. Whatever we may think, and however wrong we may be, there is no excuse for losing our holy fear of God or speaking to Him disrespectfully.

Habakkuk was genuinely looking for answers. So was another of God’s righteous people, Job, but God did not answer Job in the way He answered Habbakuk. Job accused God of being unjust and God did not take his accusation lightly. In Habakkuk’s situation, he was puzzled because of God’s seeming indifference to the situation and His inactivity in spite of the prophet’s urgent pleas for help. God wanted him to understand the bigger picture because, as a prophet, he had a job to do – be a spokesman for God to the people. He had to interpret current events in the light of God’s character and ways.

God responded to Habbakuk’s questions with a surprising and disturbing answer – which we shall discuss tomorrow.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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