REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional – Letter to the Saints

 

While Paul insists we must rely on Jesus for our redemption, James makes it clear that redemption must not stop there; it must be expressed by our actions.

Day 3: Doing the word.

‘For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.’ Rom.2:13

Additional reading: Mt. 7: 21-28; 12:37; Gal.5:6; Jas.1:22-25; 2:14-20.

While delivering His sermon on the mountain, Jesus made a profound statement: ‘‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. ‘‘Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’’ This is instructive — not everyone that says to Me Lord, shall enter the kingdom of God … but those who do the will of God! Therefore, it is possible for a preacher to cast out demons, heal the sick and perform all forms of miracles and yet not have the chance to enter the kingdom of God. Why? ‘And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works’ (2 Cor.2:14-15).

In the light of this, Paul re- echoed saying; ‘For not the hearers (akroates; to listen, a hearer – merely) of the law (nomos; general — regulation, specific of Moses; also of the gospel) are just before God, but the doers (poietes; a performer) of the law shall be justified (dikaioo; to render, i.e. show or regard as just or innocent).’ Law in this particular reference is not in regards to that as handed down by Moses; rather it refers to the gospel — the New Testament, which contains the will of God as referred by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-22. Therefore, merely hearing the word without a corresponding action amounts to nothing, but when we hear the word and act (perform) on the word in faith, then, we shall be declared innocent.

In a similar vein, James in his epistle said: ‘But be ye doers of the word, and  not hearers only, deceiving your own selves … But who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.’ The man who will be blessed according to James is not the one who merely hears the word for this man deceives himself, but the one that performs the word –– brings the word to manifestation.

Speaking further he said: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ But this you would say; is a clear contradiction of Paul’s teaching. Not at all, Paul said that we are saved by grace and not by works — our personal effort, i.e. our salvation is not based on our obedience to the law or regulations, but on our reliance (faith) on Jesus to save. What then do we do having been saved? Do we sit back with legs crossed in front of a television set, or read newspapers cover to cover all day long doing nothing with the grace of Jesus invested in us? God forbid! We must work to show the reality of the word of God. While Paul insists we must rely on Jesus for our redemption, James makes it clear that redemption must not stop there; it must be expressed by our actions.

Now, this is what James is saying: if you say you have faith, yet you do not make it a lifestyle, then, it is useless. If you say you have faith and you cannot act it out in giving, then, it amounts to nothing. Faith, therefore, is an expression of your firm believe, trust or reliance in God and His word. And faith is always expressed out of love for God and mankind. The one who is a doer of the word therefore, is one who hears the word and acts it out in faith through love like Abraham and Rahab the harlot. Read this: ‘Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? So, we can conclude that what justifies one is not faith alone, for faith alone is dead, but the doing the word, which is an expression of our confidence, reliance in God, and His word towards God Himself and mankind in love.

Meditation: If indeed I am a doer of the word, when was the last time I acted out the word of God through giving not of necessity but cheerfully? Do I give to be recognised by men or rewarded by God?

Prayer: May Your true character of giving be formed in me; that I may give freely and willingly as You did. May I not be a mere hearer of Your word, but in love, let Your word be seen in me. Amen.

 

REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional – Letter to the Saints

 

… if you say you have faith, yet you do not make it a lifestyle, then, it is useless

Day 3: Doing the word.

‘For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.’ Rom.2:13

Additional reading: Mt. 7: 21-28; 12:37; Gal.5:6; Jas.1:22-25; 2:14-20.

While delivering His sermon on the mountain, Jesus made a profound statement: ‘‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. ‘‘Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’’ This is instructive — not everyone that says to Me Lord, shall enter the kingdom of God … but those who do the will of God! Therefore, it is possible for a preacher to cast out demons, heal the sick and perform all forms of miracles and yet not have the chance to enter the kingdom of God. Why? ‘And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works’ (2 Cor.2:14-15).

In the light of this, Paul re- echoed saying; ‘For not the hearers (akroates; to listen, a hearer – merely) of the law (nomos; general — regulation, specific of Moses; also of the gospel) are just before God, but the doers (poietes; a performer) of the law shall be justified (dikaioo; to render, i.e. show or regard as just or innocent).’ Law in this particular reference is not in regards to that as handed down by Moses; rather it refers to the gospel — the New Testament, which contains the will of God as referred by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-22. Therefore, merely hearing the word without a corresponding action amounts to nothing, but when we hear the word and act (perform) on the word in faith, then, we shall be declared innocent.

In a similar vein, James in his epistle said: ‘But be ye doers of the word, and  not hearers only, deceiving your own selves … But who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.’ The man who will be blessed according to James is not the one who merely hears the word for this man deceives himself, but the one that performs the word –– brings the word to manifestation.

Speaking further he said: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ But this you would say; is a clear contradiction of Paul’s teaching. Not at all, Paul said that we are saved by grace and not by works — our personal effort, i.e. our salvation is not based on our obedience to the law or regulations, but on our reliance (faith) on Jesus to save. What then do we do having been saved? Do we sit back with legs crossed in front of a television set, or read newspapers cover to cover all day long doing nothing with the grace of Jesus invested in us? God forbid! We must work to show the reality of the word of God. While Paul insists we must rely on Jesus for our redemption, James makes it clear that redemption must not stop there; it must be expressed by our actions.

Now, this is what James is saying: if you say you have faith, yet you do not make it a lifestyle, then, it is useless. If you say you have faith and you cannot act it out in giving, then, it amounts to nothing. Faith, therefore, is an expression of your firm believe, trust or reliance in God and His word. And faith is always expressed out of love for God and mankind. The one who is a doer of the word therefore, is one who hears the word and acts it out in faith through love like Abraham and Rahab the harlot. Read this: ‘Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? So, we can conclude that what justifies one is not faith alone, for faith alone is dead, but the doing the word, which is an expression of our confidence, reliance in God, and His word towards God Himself and mankind in love.

Meditation: If indeed I am a doer of the word, when was the last time I acted out the word of God through giving not of necessity but cheerfully? Do I give to be recognised by men or rewarded by God?

Prayer: May Your true character of giving be formed in me; that I may give freely and willingly as You did. May I not be a mere hearer of Your word, but in love, let Your word be seen in me. Amen.

 

REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional – Letter to the Saints. “…Except we mature in one level of faith, we cannot get to another, thus, we are to live daily by faith — trusting Him to provide all our needs by faith and not by our works.”

Day 2: The just shall live by faith.

‘For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.’ Rom. 1:17

Additional reading: Hab.2:4; Rom.3:21-22; 8:12-13; 9:30; 14:13-23; Heb.10:38.

We are saints not as dead men but those made alive by the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit. If we had not believed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ we would not have had redemption, and if Jesus had not redeemed us, then, we would not have been saints. Therefore, having received redemption, we are called to continue living in it —- by faith. Faith, therefore, should be a lifestyle of the redeemed.

So, Paul writing to the Romans said: ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jews first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith’ (Rom.1:16-17). Paul is clear on one issue; the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he is not ashamed of, is the power of God unto salvation — how? If we believe – to everyone that believeth. There is a word that ties or links vv16-17 together in order to make sense, and that is the word FOR…

For (gar; assigning a reason –– used in argument, explanation or intensification;  because, that, even, indeed, therefore, verily) therein (en; primary preposition denoting fixed position —  in place, time, or state, and by implication, instrumentality; in, at, on, upon) is the righteousness (dikaiosyne; equity — of character or act; specifically Christian justification) of God revealed (apokalypto; to take off the cover, i.e. disclose) from (ek, ex; a primary preposition denoting origin — the point whence motion or action proceeds) faith (pistis; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction — of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation) to faith: as it is written, The just (dikaios; equitable – in character or act; by implication innocent, holy — abstractly or relatively:- just, meet, right) shall live (zao; to live; or life, lifetime, live, alive, lively, quick) by (ek, ex; a primary preposition denoting origin —  the point whence motion or action proceeds) faith.’

Paul argues that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because therein — right there in that gospel, in nowhere else but the gospel, is the equity of God, God’s fair character towards the Jews revealed, then, to the Greek s and the rest of the world. Therefore, having been declared innocent, right or meet by accepting this gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation by our expression of reliance on Jesus Christ to save us, one thing remains; we are to live our lifetime relying, trusting in God daily for everything, which pertains to us. As we were saved by faith, we are to continue daily in it — our point of entry into salvation ––faith. The righteousness of God is disclosed from one point of faith to another, thus, as we continue to live by faith, God discloses, uncovers more of His faithfulness to us, and so, we in turn mature in our faith walk with God — trusting Him for every detail of our lives. Except we mature in one level of faith, we cannot get to another, thus, we are to live daily by faith — trusting Him to provide all our needs by faith and not by our works.

In view of this, Prophet Habakkuk said: ‘Behold, his soul which is lifted up (aphal; to swell, be elated: – be lifted up, presume) is not upright (yasar; to be straight or even, to make right, right, pleasant, prosperous: – direct, fit, seem good, seem right, please, please well, be right.) in him: but the just (tsaddiyq, sadiq; just, lawful, righteous man) shall live (chayah, haya; to live, to revive, nourish up, be whole) by his faith (emuna emuna; firmness, moral fidelity, stability, steady, truly, truth, verily).’

Whichever testament one may look at, we are to live our lives not presuming that we are nourished or made whole by our efforts, for this does not please God, but to daily trust God to provide our needs –– the just shall live by faith –– this is God’s express command to us — daily trusting Him, as we are nourished by our faith in God.

Meditation: Is my faith in God still at the point of redemption? Do I trust Him well enough to meet all my needs or is my soul lifted up?

Prayer: Teacher me daily LORD to trust You for every detail of my life, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

REAL LIFE expository study devotional – Letter to the Saints

Day 1: You are a Saint.

‘To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Rom.1:7

Additional reading: Ex.19:6; Lev.11:44; Rom.8:27; 1Cor.1: 2-3; Eph.1:1; Phi.4:21-22; Col.1:2.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, saint? Your answer is not farfetched; a title given to some people after they have died because they were considered very holy or good. But is this the biblical understanding of who a saint is? If saints be those who were long dead, why then did Paul refer to the Romans as saints while still alive? Before examining this, it is expedient to understand a few things about the book of the Romans.

Unlike other writings, Paul never addressed specific local problems and in fact, had never visited Rome. Thus, his letter to the church in Rome contained general Christian standards and principles. He took time to argue in logical sequence, sin and its consequences, redemption through faith in Jesus Christ as against the law, God’s plan for Israel, and practical applications as it affects our relationships with one another as members of the body of Christ and those outside the body specifically civil governments.

In his opening, therefore, he did not fail to say who the gospel was all about; ‘Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness (hagiosyne/hagiosune: sacredness, from hagios: an awful thing, sacred – physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated:- most holy one, most holy thing), by the resurrection from the dead.’

The Message Bible puts it in this manner; ‘The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master.’

 To put it straight, Jesus Christ in human nature was the Son of David, but to show that indeed He was the Son of God, thus making Him distinct from other humans, the Spirit of holiness, not the Spirit of man — God’s own Spirit, which is pure and blameless and the Most Holy One had to raise Him from the dead. It is this same Spirit that regenerated us and bears witness with our spirits that we are sons of God.

Therefore, Paul went on to say; ‘By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name: Among whom are ye also the called (kletos; invited, i.e. appointed, or specifically a saint) of Jesus Christ’ (vv 6-7). In like manner, he wrote to the Corinthians church thus; ‘Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified (hagiazo; to make holy, i.e. ceremonially pure or consecrated, to venerate:- hallow, be holy) in Christ Jesus, called (kletos; invited, i.e. appointed, or specifically a saint) to be saints (hagios; an awful thing, sacred – physically pure ,morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated:- most holy one, most holy thing), with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus our Lord, both theirs and ours :’ ( 1Cor.1:2).

 These letters were not written to the dead, but to the living, because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. So, I put it to you that you are a saint – made holy, appointed by God through Jesus Christ, pure and blameless.

Meditation: Have I realized that am a saint as the bible declares me? If a saint, am I consecrated, blameless, pure and holy unto the LORD?

Prayer:  As You have called me and made me holy by Your Spirit; I pray that You grant me strength by that same Spirit to remain consecrated unto You.