Abraham didn’t just believe in God in general; he believed a specific promise God had made, and he adjusted his life around it.
And because Abraham “was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do it…it was credited to him for righteousness (Romans 4:21-22).”
Tim Keller says, “Saving faith is not believing that God is there. Further, it is not believing in a God who saves. It is believing God when He promises a way of salvation by grace.”
Faith’s object is the promise of God. Faith is believing that God will do what God said He’d do and adjusting your life around that promise.
Paul goes on to make the bridge to us in 4:23-25, “And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”
Just like Abraham believed God WOULD send a son that would bring salvation into the world as he was promised, we believe that Jesus IS that Son.
No…just give them a trillion dollar bill! Jesus would be proud.
Jeff Vanderstelte offers four areas to listen for in every story, frustration and situation, where we can intervene and point people toward Jesus.
- Identity: Who or what shapes their understanding of themselves? Where do they find personal value and worth, instead of God?
- Brokenness: Where are things “different” then they are supposed to be? What are areas of pain, hurt, and frustration? Who or what do they blame instead of sin?
- Redemption: What or who do they look to, to fix the brokenness? What or who makes everything right?
- Hope: What does “right” look like? What would everything look like once everything is fixed?
Peter (in 1 Peter) says that as we live a holy life; as we pursue faith among the Gentiles; as we respond to marriage, authorities, and even suffering in the power of the Gospel, people will be curious. As we shine the light of Christ into darkness of unbelief, people in the darkness will see the light. So at some point, someone will ask about your life and your faith.
Peter tells us to prepare in advance. 1 Peter 3:13-16: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
He gives us some advice on how to do that: make it hopeful, personal, succinct, gentle, and respectful.
A hopeful, personal defense: The defense is of YOUR OWN faith, so it will be personal. It’s not a list of objective facts; it’s about God’s work in you, which gives YOU greater hope than anything else does.
A succint defense: People won’t listen to us for too long. Keep it short and sweet, depending on their interest.
A gracious, respectful defense: Not argumentative. Gentleness and respect asks us to humble ourselves and consider the perspective of the other person. Our ready defense should disply the gospel, even as we declare it. We demonstrate the character of God, even as we stand up for our faith.
One way to declare the gospel is to pray publicly WITH those in our mission field when they have shared a concern that needs divine help. To share the gospel without killing the relationship, prayer is one practically helpful and God-honoring answer. Why? Prayer is perceived as a means of honor. If nothing else, it’s perceived as a thoughtful gesture. Pausing to show concern helps them feel valued.
If praying with someone once is meaningful, following up is even more meaningful.
There are three opportunities common to everyone to declare truth through prayer, even with those who don’t yet believe: 1) Praise and thankgiving; 2) Tragedy and joy; 3) Need and direction.
Prayer isn’t simply a tool for mission. Prayer is an act of obedience, a display of reliance, and a means by which God displays His power. Prayer is vital for Christian life. Prayer is primarily about God, and that fact gives us boldness to pray, no matter who is in our midst.
Don’t invite people to church as much as invite them into your lives. That’s a lot harder to do and takes vulnerability, generosity, and hospitality. It’s easier to keep people at an arm’s length; to invite them to an event instead of dinner; to keep our lives pretty.
The generous outpouring of life on a cross took great sacrifice. But Jesus was willing to disply the ultimate generosity for the sake of others. As we sacrifice (far less than Jesus did), as we bless, serve, spend money and time on others; as we bring the best food, drink, music and “life,” we display gospel generosity. If we invite people into our life let’s show them the time of their lives.