The writer of Hebrews lists a whole group of people that are extolled for their faithfulness. The whole point I want to make to you is simply this: you are called to FAITHFULNESS, and that faithfulness manifests in many ways. Some of us are called to greater faithfulness in study, some of us are called to greater faithfulness in worship, in prayer, in giving, in serving, in walking the walk. Whatever it is, I can tell you, God desires, God honours and prospers those who remain faithful. God wants faithfulness. It is like the mustard seed – he is not looking for great things from you. The focus of your faith is not on your faith, the focus of your faith is God; which is to say – you don’t have to have ‘great faith’ (to believe, just believe) to do something for God, you simply have to have faithfulness to a great God. You don’t have to have great powers of intellect to just believe…believe – no it is not that. Jesus said if you just have the faithfulness of a mustard seed God can move mountains – because he is faithful.
Faithfulness is needed in times of adversity. I am not a prophet, but I do have a conviction that not only are we entering difficult times, but Read more ›
It is God’s faithfulness that is proclaimed throughout the biblical text. Ps 89 – faithfulness is the chief characteristic of God. Vs.1,2,5,8,14,etc. In Deut 32 he is called El Emunah – the faithful God, without iniquity; he is the rock, his works are perfect. The point is, God shows his faithfulness in all his works. Ps 92:1,2 – ‘love’ here is chesed which refers to God’s grace, but it also can be translated God’s covenant faithfulness. That is why the psalmist says, ‘this is better than life’. If God is not faithful or gracious in your life, you have no life. Where would we be if we served a capricious God, that one day thinks kindly of us and the next day thinks negatively of us? Of all people the most miserable. But his chesed (his covenant loyalty, covenant faithfulness, his grace) is better than life, and the word emunah (faithfulness) is parallel to this word chesed. In vs. 2 the psalmist says, ‘to proclaim your chesed in the morning and your emunah in the night – I’m going to declare how awesome and wonderful you are God, I am going to declare your covenant loyalty in the morning and I am going to praise your faithfulness at night’. Vs. 4 – ‘you make me glad by your deeds O Lord, I sing for joy at the works of your hands’.
How do we know God is faithful? Does he go around saying it all the time? We know God is faithful by Read more ›
What did faith mean to Jesus, what did faith mean to Paul – is it the same thing as belief?
The OT was translated into Greek (some two centuries before Jesus) because many Jews throughout the world were not Hebrew speakers, they were Greek speakers. When the NT was composed, most of it was composed in Greek. The Greek word that was used for this Hebrew word emunah, was the wordpistes or pisteo—and from its culture it tends to mean and to emphasise the intellect. It is a matter of what you believe in – you believe in this, this or this (certain propositions, truths). But the Hebrew wordemunah has belief as a component of it, but it is far more than belief. If you think of faith as just a matter of what I believe (e.g. – I have got to have faith in God means to believe in God) you are missing a very important point.
When the psalmist says ‘the fool says in his heart, there is no God’, he is not talking about an atheist or about someone who doesn’t believe in God – what the psalmist is saying, is Read more ›
James 2:20-22 – I want to speak to you on the subject of perfecting or completing your faith, and I want to do so in the context of you being a part of the congregation or the community of God – which is entirely appropriate to call the community of faith.
I want to speak on just one aspect of this. If we are the congregation (the edah, the community) of God, then should not the chief characteristic of us and of our corporate life be the witness of faith? Should we not be known as the community of faith? I believe we should, and I want to address that. What does it mean to be a person of faith? Hab 2:2-4 – this passage is cited four times in the NT. It is an important pivotal passage – not only in the NT but also in Jewish literature of this period. The rabbis tried to condense the essence of our relationship with God as follows: according to careful calculation there are 613 commandments in the Torah, but at different times the sages would try to condense those by citing other scriptures (from Isaiah; Psalms) to a reduced number that would give the essence of these 613. One reduced them to 50, and another to 18, to 10 and to 3 – but when it was all said and done they reduced all 613 to one text – a text that they say gives the very heart of man’s relationship with God, the very heart of your responsibility. And that text was Hab 2:4 – the just shall live by his faith. So this text is vitally important, not only Read more ›
I want to speak to you on the subject of perfecting or completing your faith, and I want to do so in the context of you being a part of the congregation or the community of God – which is entirely appropriate to call the community of faith. I heard a story that seems appropriate to the subject. A woman visited an attorney and was fed up with her husband and wanted a divorce, and she says to the attorney, ‘I wish to file for a divorce’. He says, ‘do you have grounds’, and she says ‘approximately a quarter of an acre’. He says, ‘no, I mean, do you have a grudge?’ She says, ‘no, but we have a carport’. He thought for a moment and says ‘well, let me ask you this – does your husband beat you up?’ She says, ‘no, I am always the first one up every morning’. Finally and frustrated he says, ‘well, why do you want a divorce?’ She says, ‘my husband doesn’t understand me’. Sometimes we communicate but we don’t really understand what we are saying. I have discovered that that is often the case with the concept of faith. We say a lot about faith – ‘faith in God, faith in Jesus, have faith…have faith’—but we really are not communicating biblically.
I want you to consider what Jesus said in Matthew 16. For the first time he is about to reveal his destiny to his disciples; his going up to Jerusalem to be literally lifted upon a cross. But he enquires of them (as is typical of rabbis – they would begin a discussion by Read more ›
With the approach of spring we have entered the annual cycle of the biblical mo’adim or appointed times of the LORD. Last month we commemorated the mighty redemption that God wrought at Passover – first for Israel in Egypt, and then in Jerusalem for all humanity, with the sacrifice of the paschal Lamb of God.
Presently we are counting the forty-nine days of the Omer (barley sheaf offering, Lev 23:10-11) – in anticipation of the fiftieth day when we will celebrate the Feast of Weeks or Shavu’ot (Pentecost in the New Testament). On this day we joyously remember the awesome revelation of the Torah, written by the Spirit of God and given to the children of Israel at Mt Sinai, joined with the outpouring of that same Spirit upon Jesus’ followers assembled at the House of the LORD on Mt. Zion.
This transition period provides an opportune time to reflect upon some of the lessons that Passover can teach us as followers of the Rabbi from Nazareth, even as we await the empowerment that Read more ›
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:17-20).
Anyone who has ventured to speak and teach in public will be confronted with the fact that people will sometimes misconstrue what is being said or implied. At other times, one’s words will be used by opponents to divine the motives of the teacher. Jesus, no doubt, was aware of these responses. So it should not be surprising that Jesus would inform his listeners about his view on the “Law and the Prophets”, the Torah.
At the outset of his midrash, or interpretation of the Law, Jesus lets his audience know that Read more ›