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Where does faith begin? Some people exhort us to just believe in something. Others tell us to believe in ourselves. But where is our faith ultimately suppose to rest. The Word of God places a high emphasis on the need for faith. In fact, Hebrews 11:6, says that “without faith it is impossible to please him” – that is God. Romans14:23 tells us that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Is it really that important then if we have faith or a right faith? It is crucial! For God has also told us that the “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In fact, this verse begins by telling us that it is in the gospel that “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.” Very literally, it is “from faith into faith.” The gospel of Jesus Christ calls each of us to depend on God at every point of our lives and in every circumstance.

Peter also picks up on the importance of faith in the 2 Peter 1:5-10. In verse 10, he challenges us “make your calling and election sure.” He says that we are to do this by holding fast to the “his precious and very great promises” (1:4) and then “to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…” (1:5) Notice that his chain of progression beings with faith.

The Book of Proverbs also emphasizes the need for faith, but it does so in a different way when it says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Therefore, to  have knowledge and wisdom, we must first “fear the LORD”. We must possess a reverential awe that leaves us trembling before the one with whom we will have to do. We must regard the LORD of hosts as HOLY!!!  We  must believe that God is who He has reveal Himself to be in His Word.

“But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13)

“All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

Therefore, if our faith is to be in the proper place, it must be of a proper fear. If we have a right faith, we will recognize God as the supreme and sovereign being over all things. We will trust Him as He has reveal Himself to us in His Word – the Bible. Faith must begin with God not with us. Faith must begin with the Word of God and not with the wisdom of man. So may we all come to tremble at His Word.

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I finished reading the chapter on John Owen in Piper’s book Contending for Our All this last week and it has been tremendous food for thought. Particularly thougts like this: “Our happiness consisteth not in the knowing the things of the gospel, but in the doing of them.” Being of a rather intellectual persuasion it is rather easy for me to get rapped up “in the knowing” rather that “the doing” of the thing of the gospel. Now I don’t intent to imply that what we need is to put more effort into “the doing,” but rather to contend that we need the be more persuaded of the things that we claim to believe.

The last few weeks as I have been doing evangelism downtown, I have found myself using this illustration to demonstrate a proper knowing. Suppose I came into your house and exclaimed, “Your house is on fire!” Now I would suppose that unless you were deaf, you would know what I meant by the statement “Your house is on fire!” You would that it was “house”, a building in which be live. You would know it was “your” house and not anothers that was being considered. And you would know what was meant by it being “on fire”, particularly that it was a danger to your home and your being. Now what good would it do you to know all that if it did not beget in you a proper response. What good did the knowledge serve it it did not move you to flee the fire or call for the fire department? So to our knowledge of God and the gospel is very dangerous indeed if it does not beget a proper response in the us.

Owen understood what so much of fail to sometimes. That it is only when the knowing the Ways of God, produce in us a following of the Ways of God, that we find communion with God. Owen writes,

“When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctine that the mind embraceth – when the evidence and necsessity of the truth abides in us – when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the things abides in our hearts – when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for – then we shall be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men.”

What a challenge this has been to me, to seek God’s grace to impress upon my own heart the reality of the truths that I believe. So that my life would be more than contending for doctrine, but also communining with God. But it should also be noted that this communion with God is derived, not from personal experience, but rather from doctrine. For it is the doctrines of God, who He is and what He has done, that are set for in Scripture that are the grounds upon which we have communion with God.

In order to commune with the Father we must know the Son for it is the Son who makes known the Father (Jn. 8:19). But to know the Son you must have the Spirit, for it is the Spirit of God that testifies to the Son of God. (Jn. 15:26, cf. 1 Cor. 2:11-16). Yet it must be recongnized that the Spirit of God has chosen to record that which is to be known about the Father and the Son in a written form, the scriptures (Jn. 5:39, cf. 2 Pet. 1:21, 1 Pet. 1:10-12). To put it simply: In order to commune with God we must seek to know the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, through the Written Word, the Bible.

And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22)

 When was the last time you stopped to consider the “gracious words” which our Lord has spoken? As I think about what Christ said in the course of his ministry and even more so the sheer magnitude of what might rightly be called the Word of God, grace seems to be the last thing that comes to mind.  I am quick to think of the word of God as being powerful. For it was by the word of God that the world came into being (Gen 1) and it by the Word of Christ that the world is upheld (Heb 1). There is nothing that is or has been or that will be that is not dependent about the word of God for its existence.  I am quick to think of the truthfulness and the authority that His Word carries. As the sovereign ruler of the entire universe, when He speaks He is to be obeyed. In fact, His Word is Truth (Jn 17:17). What God has revealed is truth. There is nothing that can rightly be called truth that does not depend upon the Word of God for its veracity. But to think that His words are gracious, what a wonderful that should be indeed, for the one who was full of truth was also full of grace (Jn 1:14). It is by His gracious words that we behold the glory of the gospel in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4-6). It is by His gracious words that our sins are made known to us and we are warned about the wrath that awaits our disobedience. It is by His gracious words that we come to know the propitiation that He has made for our transgressions. And it is by His gracious words that we are sanctified. So the next time you pick up your Bible and student the Word of God, remember that it is not only Word of Power and of Truth, but also a Word of Grace.