Is faith a work?

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:29

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31

The discussion in the pages of the RFPA Standard Bearer regarding the gospel message seems to be nearly complete and it does appear to me that the controversy was not over the gospel as such, but about the call of the gospel-what the preacher preaches. We all agree that the command must be preached and that this command is different from all others because, if it is said to an elect person, it comes with the power to obey (Psalm 110:3), BUT the response of faith is essential and is granted to every sheep who hear Christ’s voice and thereafter follow him. Faith is granted through the command, and the bond with Christ is made (on God’s side this has already happened by regeneration and on man’s side it is confirmed subsequently by conversion) but God doesn’t believe for man.  From the human standpoint you must believe in him and his work. The issue is not salvation from God’s point of view i.e. regeneration, the issue is how I am saved consciously, and the answer is, by responding in faith, faith granted by Christ himself who is the “one calling forth the faith, through the mouth of the preacher.”  I believe it was rightly stated that, “one cannot know forgiveness or approving love” i.e. be conscious of union with Christ without faith. Faith IS this consciousness. It is the essential activity that the call requires from sinful men AND by this call through it’s own power, because it is the word of Christ, the gift of faith is bequeathed and activity of faith is expressed.

                We don’t want to confuse faith with work though the consensus is that faith is a doing or activity. The jailer and the convicted Jews were commanded to repent and believe, not to do nothing, they had to believe. It is also obedience but does not merit. Is it not easier just to say that believing is a fruit of salvation which salvation comprises regeneration and the bond of faith AND the activity of faith being all graciously given by Christ?

 Canons Head II error 4 is crucial-faith does NOT merit!

Canons of Dort extract

The command to obey the gospel is not law, rather that, like all of Scripture it is part of God’s law/precepts/commandments/statutes (names for Scripture in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119) that convert the soul. It is only like the law in that it is also commanded. We are under Christ’s law.

The contrast has to be kept between faith and good works as the means of salvation but faith as the first step, and good works as subsequent evidence of faith and the fruit of that faith are linked by all being of  grace

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
Both of these verse  inextricably link faith with good works and James says that faith without works is dead! Faith works by love!
  Faith and good works are not two ways of meriting salvation but they are linked in the fact that grace precedes and enables faith and all the subsequent good works of the saved believer. Faith always does work. And when we do get to glory we will only say that we did our duty and  then cast our crowns before the Lord.
 Christ saves us. He saves us objectively and he saves us subjectively. We receive this salvation by faith through which all his imperious life, and what he achieved through his death and  resurrection save us  objectively and subjectively.
When Paul says to the jailer that by believing he shall be saved-perhaps we ought to say that his activity of faith, enabled by the command of the preacher, brought him to the assurance that he was saved (subjective faith). What actually saved him was regeneration by the Holy Spirit that made him cry out, “What must I do?” Subsequently he expressed that faith and was baptized.
Believing in Christ and subsequent good works are examples of Philippians 2:13 in action, both the will to do and the doing are  wrought by Christ and the promise of eternal life for the first and the reward of grace for the second stand firm. This is confessional.


Covenant Consecration (Old and New Testament) 11

Covenant Consecration (Old and New Testament)-particularly marriage.

Sung Psalm 34: 8-14

Read I Peter 3:1-15

We continued our comparing and contrasting covenant consecration in Moses’ day and now.

Ex.21:10   speaks of polygamy or concubinage something that Christ and the apostles absolutely forbid. From the beginning in fact God’s ideal is one man and one woman for life. All Old Testament examples of multiple wives multiplied trouble for all concerned! E.g. Abraham, Jacob, David, Elkanah, Solomon. However lessons that abide include care for other wives (if separated from them) and the necessity of provision for a future wife when considering marriage.

Ex.22:16,17 does fornication mandate marriage now? No, especially not if one is a believer and the other not, but neither if both are-there is no compulsion to marry and no law necessitating a dowry.

Deut. 21:10-14   the taking of a captive wife no longer applies because there are no holy wars/booty.

Deut. 24:1-5  “if” should be inserted here because we know God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), he only tolerated it among the hard-hearted unbelieving Jews. Jesus forbad this (Matt.19, Matt.5, I Cor.7, Eph.5)

Ex. 20  no adultery is a moral law for all time.

I Peter 3:1-5 emphasizes submission of wife and adorning being inner beauty.

V7 the husband’s calling

Vv8-12 ethics in church

13-17 suffering

18-22 Christ’s suffering, resurrection and ascension

4:1-6 we are no longer to live in lust

Vv7-11 our calling in church

Vv12-19 suffering persecution

5:1-4 calling of elders

Vv5-14 more exhortations.

For further reading:

Consecration of Israel (both O.T. and N.T) 10

The Consecration of Israel (O.T. and N.T.)

Sung Psalm 39:6-13

Reading I Peter 2

We continue our comparison and contrasting of Old Testament Israel and New Testament Israel. Peter’s epistle using multiple borrowed Old Testament phrases shows clearly that New Testament Israel equates with Old Testament Israel, they are ONE church. I Peter 2:9,10 refer to the calling of the Gentiles (formerly in darkness and not a people), now elect, holy, royal and part of a spiritual nation (not a political one). Believers are called strangers and pilgrims, descriptions initially given the fathers of Israel (Abraham, Isaac etc). Strangers is also used of Israel (I Chron. 29:15, Psalm 39:12) because they, like us are different from the ungodly world and are moving forward to a heavenly inheritance (Heb.11:10). Our good works are honest labour, submission to rulers c.f. Ex.22:9,28, office bearers in church and state including man-made laws (c.f. Romans 13:8, and Acts 5:29 and all for the Lord’s sake. The Old Testament had no room for Christian liberty mentioned here because it was detailed legislation but now we have habits or activities that are left up to individual conviction e.g. foods, clothes, sports. The civil laws governing slavery (Ex.21) are quite different from I Peter 2:18-21 and v.v. 22-25 show by Christ’s example how that suffering for doing good is praiseworthy and indeed the cross was the ultimate example of non-retaliation in the face of persecution.

Were miracles all signs?

Can we prove that Christ’s (and the apostles’) miracles had spiritual significance?

Clearly they were all God’s work authenticating his messengers.
Everything Christ and the apostles did was to further the kingdom of God which is spiritual.
Christ came to redeem men and creation.
Everything in creation points to spiritual reality e.g. the sun-the Son, grass and food-the word of God, water and fire-the Holy Spirit, the blue sky-heaven, trees-Christian life etc.
Christ taught in parables using earthly things to teach spiritual truth.
Christ equates physical and spiritual healing e.g. blindness (John 9) where he speaks of physical and spiritual blindness, paralysis (Matt.9)-see below*, death (John 5 and 11) where resurrection of the soul by Christ in this life is equated with physical resurrection of the dead. These miracles were all signs signifying deeper reality. *Christ both healed a man and said his sins were forgiven simultaneously, both healings being God’s prerogative and one signifying the other.
Healing and wholeness are the same Greek word (SOZO- I Peter 2:24).
The huge catch of fish in John 21 pictures the apostles being used to catch men.

Acts 9:23-35

Acts 9:23-35

Further results of Saul’s conversion

After many days, which could have been three years, Paul went up to Jerusalem from Damascus. Galatians 1:17-18 do not necessarily teach that Paul went into the desert of Arabia for three years but it certainly means his base was in Damascus for that period during which during a non-specified time he was given direct revelation from Christ in the wilderness. It is worth noting other figures whose ministry started after time in isolation with God namely Moses, John the Baptist and Christ himself.
The Jews in Damascus resented Paul’s preaching and planned to murder him for the simple reason that totally depraved human beings hate the light (the antithesis) and those who bring the gospel message (John 3:20, 7:7) hence from Abel to Zechariah God’s servants are persecuted or killed by Satan’s minions.
The disciples let Paul down over the wall in Damascus to save his life.
The disciples in Jerusalem were initially afraid of Paul but Barnabas communed with him and related his testimony to them leading to him being accepted into the family.
Paul spoke “in the name of Jesus” which means as Christ’s representative he brought his message of salvation presumably based firmly on Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
The Grecians were Jews from Greece (Acts 6:1) who hated the gospel message.
The disciples transported Paul to the port of Caesarea and then by ship to Tarsus, his home town to prevent him being attacked and possibly murdered. Another reason for his going there was that Christ told him in a vision that he was sending him to the Gentile nations (Acts 22:17-22).
His departure, because he was the pre-eminent persecutor in Jerusalem, meant peace for the church who through their regular teaching and worship were edified and grew (I Tim.2:2).

Acts 9:32-35

The healing of Aeneas and groundwork for spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Peter it seems systematically went to the villages and towns around Jerusalem obeying the apostolic injunction to be witnesses in Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8).
Lydda or Lod was about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The palsy or paralysis of Aeneas with which he had been afflicted for eight years could have been a stroke or spinal problem or result of a fall making his legs useless. It was clearly incurable (compare man at pool John 5:4).
The symbolic significance of this illness (disability) was that he was impotent which reflects depraved mankind’s impotence regarding salvation (Rom.5:8, John 6:44).
Peter attributed the healing directly to Jesus Christ and indeed was used to heal him in his name.
Peter told him to make his bed because he was not going to need it the rest of that day!
We believe there was a turning of many to the Lord through Peter’s preaching rather than the miracle because it is the word of God that saves men.

Next study (DV) Saturday June 8th 8pm

Consecration of Israel (9)

Psalm 119:105-112

Reading I Peter 1:10-25

Consecration of Israel (God’s people in every age).

In verses 10-12 the Old Testament prophets are said to be taught by the Spirit of the coming Messiah about his future suffering and glory. What was revealed to them they wrote down as inspired Scripture which signified coming reality. Their writings were Christology and soteriology. Their searching was also signified by the cherubim placed over the ark looking at the mercy seat where the blood was sprinkled (see Num.7:89). Here Christ spoke to Moses. Angels long to look into the reality of redemption which they will never experience!

Holiness in Old Testament times was the keeping of a mixture of ceremonial and moral laws e.g. Leviticus which included foods, bodily issues, sexuality and marriage. Today holiness is obedience to God’s word, killing former lusts and hoping for the second coming.

Verses 18-21 concentrate on the covenant blood of the Lamb signified by the O.T. animal sacrifices. In contrast to perishable metals Christ’s blood is eternally efficacious, incorruptible and precious.

In thy presence is fullness of joy.

Stephen Charnock describes God’s pure actuality and absolute  and blessed fullness of being in reference to the believers’ future state of glory.

“The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages, as it was at first. God is eternal, and eternity knows no change; there will then be the fullest possession without any decay in the object enjoyed. There can be nothing past, nothing future; time neither adds to it, nor detracts from it; that infinite fulness of perfection which flourisheth in him now, will flourish eternally, without any discoloring of it in the least, by those innumerable ages that shall run to eternity, much less any despoiling him of them: ‘He is the same in his endless duration’ (Psalm 102:27). As God is, so will the eternity of him be, without succession, without division; the fulness of joy will be always present; without past to be thought of with regret for being gone; without future to be expected with tormenting desires. When we enjoy God, we enjoy him in his eternity without any flux; an entire possession of all together, without the passing away of pleasures that may be wished to return, or expectation of future joys which might be desired to hasten. Time is fluid, but eternity is stable; and after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; he will be so far from ceasing to flow, that he will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of himself in glory to the creature. God, therefore, as sitting upon his throne of grace, and acting according to his covenant, is like a jasper-stone, which is of a green color, a color always delightful (Rev. 4:3); because God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; he will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God: be is not a cistern, but a fountain, wherein water is always living, and never putrefies.” ~ Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Volume 1, 298-299.

From “Philosphy of the Cross” website of Dr. Marco Barone

Marco and Paula Barone