Saturday, August 06, 2011

A, Pentecost 8 Proper 14 – Romans 10:13-15,17 “Practising Faith”

Romans 10:13–15, 17 (ESV)

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Faith and worship are connected! One doesn't exist without the other!

Practising the faith is coming into God's presence to confess real sin, acknowledging the reality of the sinful self, thus the need for the real Saviour, and hearing and believing God's word of forgiveness in the absolution through the Saviour.

Practising the faith is hearing the word of God preached; hearing and believing your total need for a Saviour. This is the proclamation of Jesus' death and resurrection for you, the sinner, so your trust grows all the more as you allow your sin and your nature to be daily buried with him in baptism, and raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God. (Colossians 2:12 ESV)

Practising the faith therefore increases faith—as you are drawn further out of yourself; away from trusting your deeds, listening to your own understanding, and believing in your way of life. The faith given in worship comes from God and his word, transforming and conforming your understanding, your deeds, according to his way and will—his life.

Faith and worship are connected! One does not exist without the other! However this can be abused too, when one trusts in themselves, allowing faith to be individualistic, personal and exclusive of God and everyone else.

This abuse is often verbally expressed like this, "I don't go to church, but I believe in my heart." When this type of nonsense comes from within us, God challenges us, "What do you actually believe?" Because true saving faith comes from hearing the word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ. Whereas scripture clearly tells us…

…from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (Mark 7:21–23 ESV)

So practising faith is not practising what comes out of us. When you and I do this we practise a faith in ourselves, rather than the "one" true faith which can only come from God and lead us to him. Furthermore, we can stop and ask ourselves, "Where is the glory going here?" If one seeks God and uses "Jesus" sounding language as a means to bring glory to the self, one may as well go and heap burning coals on the head right now, because this faith is spiritually doing just this!

The world is full of this type of self-centred worship, outside and inside, the church. Why? Because all of us are human. All of us yearn to have power and control. We seek our comfort and security from what we own. And with the right to lay these things up for ourselves, we use them as status once we've got them. But the kingdom, the power, and glory are God's, alone! Amen.

Yes they are! Therefore, faith is moulded by what we hear and receive from God. This happens with persistent perseverance and endurance.

You see, all of us seek glory for the self. But the difference between those outside and those inside the church, is those outside are cutting themselves off from the sole source of faith that saves. This also stands as warning and encouragement to those inside the church too. To keep allowing ourselves be brought into the proclaimed presence of God, where we are grafted into his forgiveness. And in turn allow ourselves to be gatherers of God, bringing others back so he might graft them into his forgiveness too.

Paul speaks about the Jews and us, and faith, in Romans eleven.

…if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:17–22 ESV)

Worship is the root of faith. To be in Christ is not the other way around. Faith only every preceded worship for one person. This person was faithful unto death, whereas the rest of us flee every time the going gets tough.

The faithfulness of Jesus Christ sees him alone on a mountain in prayer before the Father. Jesus faithfully prayed, giving up his own divinity, and in doing so acknowledged the kingdom, the power, and the glory as solely our Heavenly Father's.

The faithfulness of Jesus Christ sees him walking on the waters of chaos, saving his church, and those within it who are daily drowning, raising to life you who honestly acknowledge you're sinking in sin.

If you're asking the question: How do I believe? Is my faith of the one true faith? As your pastor I appeal to you on behalf of the Great Shepherd of our souls, to keep on keeping on in Christ! To endure in the only good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To persevere in the hearing of God's word, the forgiveness of sins, your grafting into the nourishing sap of salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. (Psalm 85:8–13 ESV)

Faith comes from listening to God, receiving his peace. Jesus meets you with his ever-present love and faithfulness in his word and sacraments. God's glory continues to shine on Jesus' righteousness which can give you peace.

In faithfulness to the Father, and to you, Jesus was crucified and buried. On the third day the Faithfulness of God was raised, spring up from the ground, and the Father looks upon those who trust Jesus as their righteousness.

Walk in the ways of the Lord, allow his righteousness to be your forgiveness. Allow endurance in the things which give life and salvation; the word which puts to death sin and daily raises you to life eternal. The Lord gives what is good, to those who willing receive the word of God. God will gather into his harvest. His holy land will yield its increase!

All glory to the Father, all glory to the Son, all glory to the holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.