4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4–6, NKJV)
This is God’s platform of unity for the church of Christ. There is one body, or church, not many churches (denominations) that establish division among believers. There is one Spirit, who leads us and unites us by the gospel truth He revealed, inspired and confirmed. There is one hope reserved in heaven for Christians; not the hope of an idyllic earth for all of humanity (1 Peter 1:3-5). Unity is arranged under the authority of one Lord; Jesus Christ (Acts 2:34-36). Unity is preserved when we do all things by His authority (Colossians 3:17). We do not write or accept creeds to elucidate unity – the faith that was once for all delivered is our sufficient guide (Jude 3). The Great Commission baptism of repentant believers for the remission of sins is the only baptism God recognizes (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38). All other baptisms introduce error and cause division. We have one Father who is in heaven; not many clerical “fathers” on earth (Matthew 23:9). God, our heavenly Father, is sovereign over all things. He pervades and sustains all things. He dwells among His people (Ephesians 2:22). Let us unite on truth. This is the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21).
20 And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (Matthew 9:20–22, NKJV)
The miracles that Jesus worked proved His claim that He is the Messiah (Matt. 9:1-8). Just as the faith of the paralytic and those who helped him produced the forgiveness of sins in Matthew 9:2, Matthew now records for us that Christ’s miracles of healing were, at times, responses to the faith of the infirmed. It was her faith that made her whole. The healing of the soul is what Jesus promises the whole world, through faith in Him (Mk. 16:15-16; Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 6:1-4). Many folks are waiting for a miracle to heal their body’s illness. That is not the promised power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). Its power heals the sin-sick soul. Your body will die and perish. But, your spirit is immortal. Go to Jesus in faith, submitting to His will. He will heal your soul (Matt. 11:28-30).
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8–11, NKJV)
Why is there such resistance to law? The apostle drives to the heart of the matter: People’s sin is exposed by law. Law unmasks our sin. That is its job. The law (command) of God is “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). God’s law is not at fault when we sin against it. We will never be saved by law-keeping, because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). This is why we are not justified by works (of law). We are justified “freely by His grace through the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Do not make the mistake of thinking this nullifies being under law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Law does its work by shining a light on sin. Sinners are called by the gospel to come to Christ to be saved. If you do not like God’s law, is may be that you prefer sin. We urge you to repent of such thinking and living, for it leads to eternal death. The “sound doctrine” of the “glorious gospel” of Christ will save you (Acts 2:37-41).
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1–2, NKJV)
The great grace of God is accessed by faith. Abraham’s faith is prototypical of the faith we must have in order to access grace (Rom. 4). Those who “walk in the steps of the faith” that Abraham had are those who are saved (Rom. 4:12-16). Notably, Abraham’s obedience perfected his faith (Jas. 2:21-24). In the same manner, obedient faith grants access to God’s grace today (Rom. 6:17-18). One greatly errs if he thinks God’s grace overlooks sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it” (Rom. 6:1-2)? Faithful Christians will not develop a careless attitude toward what sin is, or toward what it does. The Holy Spirit warns us not to fall from grace, and persuades us to live by faith by obeying the “perfect law of liberty” (Gal. 5:4; 2 Cor. 5:7; Jas. 1:22-25). Do not falsely conclude that because God’s grace is so great, it will save you in spite of having unrepented sin in your life. That is not the faith of father Abraham. That will never be the faith that accesses and stands in grace.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18, NKJV)
During the confirmation hearing of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders charged Vought with being “hateful,” “Islamophobic,” and “insulting” a billion Muslims because his Christian faith informs his belief that those who do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, are condemned (see today’s verse). Article VI of the U.S. Constitution plainly says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Senator Sanders should know this.) Mr. Vought should not be expected to abandon his faith in order to hold a job in the government. Nor should he be so falsely accused because of his faith. Yet, this outrageous example reminds us that believers will continue to be falsely accused. Jesus said His disciples are blessed when we remain faithful in the face of faithless persecutors (Matt. 5:10-12). “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12–13, NKJV)
The Gentiles were not in a covenant relationship with God through the Law of Moses. Only Israel was under that law, and were the people of the covenant (Deut. 5:2-3). That is why Paul speaks of the Gentiles as “having no hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). This is an apt description of the spiritual status of all who are lost in sin: Aliens, without God, without hope, and without an inheritance (see Eph. 2:1-3). But, “in Christ Jesus” all that changes. In Christ, one has a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3). In Christ, the sinner is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Through faith in Christ Jesus, lost sinners are saved, and become children of God (Gal. 3:26; 4:5-7). The alien sinner comes into a saved relationship with God by putting on Christ, which occurs when the sinner is “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). The blood of Christ – His death for our sins – makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16). It washes away our sins when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 22:16). No longer live without God and without hope. By faith, be baptized into Christ and be saved. “Why are you waiting?” (Acts 22:16)
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39–40, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews had just recited a list of Old Testament people whose faith testified of their righteousness: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and many more unnamed men and women (Heb. 11:3-38). Although they “obtained a good testimony through faith,” they “did not receive the promise” –namely, the promise made to Abraham that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 39; Gen. 22:18). They died in faith, before Christ came (the One to whom the promise was made, and through whom the promise was kept, Gal. 3:16, 19). Now, Christ has come, perfecting or completing their faith (Heb. 11:40). This great cloud of witnesses gathers to compel us to have enduring faith, because we have, in fact, received the promise (Heb. 12:1; Gal. 3:14).These Old Testament examples of faith forcefully influence Christians to remain faithful. They believed God’s promise, endured in their faith, and now are blessed by its fulfillment. Christians, who have the promise in Christ, must not “draw back to perdition,” but have faith “to the saving of the soul.” We must “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 10:39; 12:1).