Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The doorknob of faith

Image result for doorknobs
Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake

What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ?  As the Apostle Paul begins his great letter to the church at Rome, the mark of genuine saving faith is demonstrated by the willingness to live out God's word.  When you see that phrase "obedience of faith", that little word "of" tells us that there is a relationship between "obedience" and "faith".  The relationship in this verse is that of a specific effect arising from a particular cause.  The effect in this case is obedience - willingness to follow Jesus Christ in what He says in His word.  So what is the cause?  Faith. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone unto a walk of faith that is never to be alone - but rather accompanied by works flowing from faith.

Faith is the doorknob of the Gospel that God points me to enter into a saving relationship with Him
The idea of "faith" being described by the great Apostle Paul is that of "saving faith". Faith in the original language refers to "firm persuasion" or "trust" in the truth of a matter. Ephesians 2:8-9 describes this saving faith as a gift that is expressed as a prompt response on our part to the voice of Jesus calling us to Himself by the Word of God. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 describes what takes place at saving faith:

"Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior."

Passages such as Psalm 19:7, Romans 10:17 and James 1:18 detail how faith occurs by the agency of God's word.  

To illustrate this point, we could liken God's grace brought to me by the Holy Spirit as the setting up of a doorway  - a doorway called "grace through Jesus Christ". The Holy Spirit points out to me in my sinful condition that there is a doorknob on that door called "faith". He informs me that unless I turn the doorknob of faith, I cannot enter into salvation. 

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:23 "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed."  Adherence to morality or clinging onto one's self-made righteousness will not gain access into salvation. At our home we have a door through which we gain entry into the house. If we have groceries or some other item in our arms, we have to lay such items down to use the doorknob. If we don't "let go" of what we have, we'll be stuck outside. 

Once the Holy Spirit shows me the door marked "grace through Jesus Christ" with its doorknob marked "faith", the response necessary to turn the doorknob is left to me. Letting go of one's self-confidence, self-righteousness and plain-old reliance on self is involved in saving faith. Once I act in response to His working and turn the knob of faith, I immediately begin participating in the very life of God (2 Peter 1:3-4). What God then does is take the doorknob of faith and places it in my hand. 

From the moment of saving faith, every opportunity will be presented to me whether I will follow through in obedience to God or try to go at it on my on strength. As long as I apply the doorknob of faith, which God tells me is now mine to use and develop, I can walk through any doorway of challenge, opportunity and trial that stands on God's ordained pathway of Christian growth. 

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