Monday, February 6, 2012

Going Deeper - week of February 5

Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed God and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  This narrator’s comment is the foundation for what it means to be a Christian.  Christian faith is in essence Abraham’s faith.  
Sometimes we make life too complicated.  Last week we read I Corinthians 1, and in verse 18 we read, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”   As followers of Jesus, we need to get to the place where we are operating solely on God’s wisdom and not the wisdom of this world.  This is what it means to have faith (to trust God so much that we believe what He says even though it might sound foolish to others).  
Let me give you an example of what I mean.  A few weeks ago I watched a “YouTube” video of a man who calls himself “The Amazing Atheist”.  In this video, he was criticizing a popular video of a young man entitled “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus”.  His basic argument was that pitting religion vs. Jesus was meaningless because following Jesus is religion.  I think he made a good point, and even though he uses foul language and lots of vulgarity, I think he also makes the point about the foolishness of the message of the cross in the eyes of the world.  At one point in the video he asserts that following Jesus is no different from following him (The Amazing Atheist).  He claims that he could just as readily make the claim that he was the messiah and that people should follow him to be saved.  
He is certainly flawed in his logic.  No one would follow him as messiah because he does not fulfill prophecy, his birth was not accompanied by angels, he can perform no miracles, and if he were to die he would remain in the grave.  Only Jesus, who is the eternal Son of God in human flesh, fulfilled prophecy, had his birth announced by angels, performed great miracles, and rose victoriously from the dead.  So only Jesus is the true messiah and only Jesus is worthy of our trust and faith - because of WHO He is and WHAT He alone has done.
(Read Romans 4:1-25) 
Here the apostle Paul makes the point that Jesus is the savior of all people (not just the circumcised; i.e. Jews), and that salvation in Jesus comes only to those who trust Him in true faith, like Abraham.  Several times in Romans 4 Paul refers to Abraham’s faith being “credited” to him by God as righteousness (v. 3, 9-13, 16, 23-25). 
This is where the “foolishness” of the message of the cross is found. 
Receiving the gracious gift of salvation from God through true faith in Jesus seems foolish to this world.  Those who hear this message without the Holy Spirit communicating it hear it as foolishness.  They think it encourages bad behavior because to them it seems to eliminate consequences to evil acts, and thereby encouraging bad behavior.  
However, when the Holy Spirit communicates the gracious gift of salvation from God through true faith in Jesus it is received gratefully.  So that in faith we receive God’s grace and in gratitude we seek to live in ways that please God.  This is what it means to behold the power of God in salvation and to walk in the faith of Abraham.  

        What do you think?  Have you had times when you wondered yourself or were challenged by others about the "foolishness" of the message of the cross?


  1. as for the "foolishness" of the cross I think 1 john 3 addresses some of this discussion too.
    1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

    4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

    I guess this is why it doesnt encourage bad behavior. I think that line of thinking, that the cross is a "get out of hell free card" only shows to the foolishness of the world view of eternity. Yes Christ died for our sins, but that doesnt mean we can willingly and knowingly sin. If you are walking with Christ you are also growing in the knowledge of Christ, which i think is why John is saying you wont keep on sinning. Not that when you have Christ you wont sin but you wont want to sin.

    1. correction. not that you dont want to sin but you can over come sin.

  2. Good point, autokamper. I think the "foolishness" is related to the fact that we do not have to "do" anything to earn salvation, but that it comes as a gracious gift which we merely "receive" by faith. But you are correct. When God saves us, He continues that good work and carries it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Good thoughts, though, thank you for sharing.