Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Overcoming by Faith





“. . this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” 
1 John 5:4b

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.


Faith overcomes worldly influences by persuasive God-given influences. Faith gets its power from God through natural revelation (Ps. 19:1-6, Roms. 1:20), the special revelation of the Bible, and God's testimony within man of His reality.

The Greek word for faith comes from the verb to persuade. The classic scriptural illustration is the life of Abraham (Rom 4:11, 12). God persuaded Abraham through challenging circumstances to trust God's promises. Faith that overcomes is faith that trusts enough to be effective. 

Overcoming faith is a mark of the mature disciple and expresses true worship of the Triune God. It trusts without full understanding. The Bible describes faith by the examples of the obedience that faith produces. Abraham did not understand the divine plan, but he believed God and this was credited to him as "righteousness" in Romans 4:3.

Living after the time of Messiah's appearing, we have the added evidence of the Apostolic witness. As the Apostle John writes: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3 NASU).


Related reading: What Abraham Discovered on Mount Moriah; William H. Willimon, On a Wild and Windy Mountain; Two Powerful Words: I Believe

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Discipleship Before Church Growth




Imagine all the time, money and resources that have gone into church growth in the last generation.

Is it naïve to wonder what the world and the church would look like today if all that effort had been invested exclusively in church health instead?

Is it possible that if the church had prioritized health, not as a means to growth, but as an end in itself, we would be in a greater position to represent Jesus to the world?

We’re often told that one of the reasons so many churches remain small is lack of faith. But I wonder… Could it be that the reverse is true? Might our obsession with bigger and bigger churches be rooted in a lack of faith?

Read it all here.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Two Powerful Words: "I Believe"



Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NASU

When Satan tempted Eve, she said: “I believe” to his deceit and “I disbelieve” to God's warning. Her attitude of belief towards God gave her paradise with her husband. When by her actions she said: “I believe” to Satan her home was the desert and her husband became a disinherited, worn-out farmer.

When Adam and Eve said to God: “We’re naked!” God responded by giving them the skins of an animal for clothing. The animal’s life was taken thereby, and became a prototype animals being used as a means of reconciling man to God for the forgiveness of sins and worshiping God. Therefor, the reason Abel’s animal sacrifice was accepted by God, and Cain’s was not. For “. . without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22), because the result of sin is death. Abel learned from their parents, but Cain was self centered and so substituted his works, i.e., fruit of the ground.

In prophetic type, the sacrifice animal was in principal a type of Christ as the Lamb of God. So as a God given type Able was demonstrating faith in Christ and His sacrificial payment for his sins and sin nature. Even the mentioning of the offering of the fat portions was speaking of reliance on the reserve energy of Christ to carry through what was begun in His death to finish the reconciliation started in the sacrificial death.

“I believe!” is the key to receiving God’s mercy to us, and the key to His work being done in us, so that we become “His workmanship.” This faith is not an arbitrary gift of God that appears without our choice. Faith is a God-given gift through the means He makes available to us in Jesus Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith,. .” (Eph 2:8 NKJV). The vehicle of grace, God’s mercy, is personal faith. It is to say to God: “I believe!”

This is revealed as the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 2 Peter 1:4). For as we respond to the stimulus through both the blessings and trials we mature and are transformed (James 1:2-4).

Salvation and transformation by faith comes as we keep our focus on Him by the Holy Spirit’s work: “. . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)

As Hebrews 12:2 describes this responsive sanctifying walk of faith: “. . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” This is the consistent result of saying to God and His promises: “I believe!”

In this way of obedience of faith God’s promises and purposes to and in us will our experience like Paul’s will be:
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-15).

In John 20, we read the account of Doubting Thomas. When Thomas was told that the Lord was alive, he did not believe. Then Jesus appeared to the disciples again and Thomas was there. Jesus told Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We must apply two powerful words that change everything: “I believe!”