Wednesday, March 10, 2010

THE ONLY WAY TO PLEASE GOD: The Seal of the God-pleasing Life

From my childhood, I recall hearing about, “The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” If Good Housekeeping magazine gave a household product this seal that meant it to be worthy of purchase and use. The seal didn’t make it a good product, but recognized that it was. So, God has a seal of approval to indicate the genuineness of our faith. In Romans 4:9-12, Paul speaks to this issue as he describes for us faith’s profession.

9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,
12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

You can profess faith without possessing faith, but you cannot possess faith without professing it. The Scripture teaches that we are not saved by our works; we are not saved by faith plus our works; but we are saved by a faith that works! Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone.

Consider then, THE SYMBOL OF OUR PROFESSION (v.9-11). There came a time when God commanded Abraham to be circumcised as a symbol of the covenant relationship they enjoyed. Abraham was already justified by faith when he and his male household members were circumcised. This was the outer testimony of the inner transformation Abraham had experienced . It did not justify him. It did not add anything to his salvation. It did provide a profession of faith. But, it is faith alone that saves us—never be confused on that point.

There are those who insist faith in Christ alone is not enough. You must believe and be baptized according to the Church of Christ (and by one of their authentic ministers no less). You must believe and keep the Sabbath according to the Seventh Day Adventists (Sunday worship is the mark of the Beast). You must have faith in Christ and keep the sacraments of the church according to Roman Catholicism (if you want to get to Jesus go through His mother). It is the great dividing line between the Gospel and a false gospel; between truth and error. The Reformers taught, “sola fide” salvation by faith alone. That is the gospel truth!

Beyond that, we read of THE STEPS OF OUR PATH (v.12). By no means are we suggesting that a person’s lifestyle is unimportant. Abraham was a faithful servant of the Lord. But, it was a walk of faith! Faith was the root of his righteousness, while his good works were the fruit of his faith. His life is a beacon to summon us to follow the path of faith in our generation as he did in his. If a man is full of faith, then he will be faithful—not in order to be saved, but because he is saved.

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