June 26 I Sunday
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” —Romans 1:17
What is faith? Faith is a fairly common word in our Christian vocabulary but it can also be easily misunderstood. Some people have the idea that faith is believing in something we cannot prove, and if we cannot prove it, we need faith. Others have the idea that faith is some kind of mind over matter phenomenon, where if we believe something strongly enough, our belief will have the effect of making it come true.
But in reality, what we believe will never change what is not true. We can believe nonsense with utter conviction, but it will still be nonsense. We can disbelieve truth because we do not like it, but it will still be true. This is why faith is not saying, “Now let us all agree that we want to change something, so let us just believe it is going to change.” Instead, faith is a disposition of trust in an object that allows that object to act on our behalf. By surrendering in faith, we are saying that only God is able. Because God is real and true, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we discover that our salvation has nothing to do with what we do for Him but letting Him do something for us.
Paul asks the churches of Galatia, “did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2). In other words, did they receive the Spirit by keeping the rules, or did they receive the Spirit by faith? The answer is, of course, by faith. But he follows with another question: “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). Paul asks them how, after receiving the Spirit through faith, they could now try to maintain their salvation through human efforts.
If the only explanation for the kind of Christian life we live is simply our strength, our gifts, our abilities and our discipline, that simply makes us religious. The only legitimate explanation for the Christian life is what God is doing in any man, woman, boy or girl. We simply come with empty hands and ask in faith, “Lord, would you please save me, cleanse me, forgive me, send your Holy Spirit to live within me and give me the gift of eternal life.” This is how we live the Christian life well—by surrendering in faith and trusting in Him to act on our behalf.
Prayer: Dear Lord, my faith is in You—the only real and true God. Help me to realize that my salvation is gained not by my humanly efforts but is found by faith in You alone.