A New Year’s Reflection

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17 ESV)

We hear in today’s modern pop-psychology and, as well as, in much of the self-help genre in both secular (and unfortunately) Christian book stores that in order to be prosperous or happy or upright we need to think more positively about ourselves, that all we need is a little more faith in ourselves. This attitude is usually most noticeable during the New Year: our culture “resolves” to live better; we resolve to live our lives empowered to live upright. “Upright” is defined by exercise, eating right, losing weight, reading more books and a little less television…etc. The problem is that we quickly burn out, and lose power to keep the standards that we have created. One reason is that we lack the mental focus, the desire, and the will to be upright. In biblical terms, we simply lack faith.

Of course mature Christians and astutely pious students of the Bible (which are one and the same) know that… that is the problem: that is, the object of our faith is misapplied. The object of faith—that is, our mental focus, desire, and will—ought to never be ourselves! We are too weak of a crutch to depend upon! Biblical faith is never focused on the power of the human will and desire, but on God’s power, that is, the power of God to save us. Our help always comes from the Lord!  God helps us in Christ, we who are totally helpless in saving ourselves from spiritual death, from the wrath of God, from meaninglessness and purposelessness. In one sense God always saves us from ourselves. God never helps those who help themselves! When we help ourselves (self-righteousness) we make our lives, our human condition worse.  This is why Paul proclaims proudly that he (Paul) is not ashamed but proud of God’s Gospel which is God’s own power (and only power) able to save us. All one must do is believe, have faith in God’s power to change us in the only way that really counts. The result of salvation is being right with God or upright with God. Salvation is not a promise of wealth, health, and happiness as preached by today’s false prophets.” Salvation is not a “this-worldly salvation” (though we can be saved now in this world). Salvation is an “other-worldly salvation.” Salvation is not spatio-temporal. Salvation transcends our space-time continuum. No doubt God the Father through Christ will on the Lord’s Day break into space and time to bring heaven to earth, a total transformation of the heavens and the earth with our Lord’s second coming to resurrect those whom are dead in Christ. But, for now, God spiritually saves us by making us right with Him (righteous) in and through Christ’s active and passive obedience/righteousness. We receive this gift through faith. God gives this gift by grace. This great salvation empowers us to live for God as salt and light and as witnesses to this great salvation to our corrupt generation.

In conclusion, during this New Year may all of us resolve to refuse to focus on ourselves, but wholly on God’s power, His power to continually change us!  All we must do, day-in and day-out, is to have faith: that is, to trust and obey and focus our minds on God’s great salvation to daily renew our minds or as Paul says: “The just shall live by faith!”  May we too live by faith.

Soli Deo Gloria

Carl

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