Keeping the Church Faithful
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #13
"Keeping the Church Faithful"
September 29, 2012
Keeping the Church Faithful
“Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev 14:12.
Faithfulness in the members of the church starts with the Author and Finisher of faith (Heb. 12:2).
God has exercised faith toward humanity in having Jesus die for all men (2 Thess 2:13; Jn 3:16). From the SS teacher’s edition:
“Our salvation resides in the fact that God took the initiative to save the human race. And that means that God is not going to let anyone be lost easily. A person will be lost only because he or she deliberately and persistently refuses to respond to God’s grace.... God is determined to save us as long as we are willing to let Him.”
It is this faithfulness of God that gives us hope, comfort, consolation, and the ability to stand fast in the “good traditions” of the gospel - in word and deed (2 Thess 2:15-17). We should be speaking of the faith of Jesus as we share the gospel. And we should be demonstrating the faith of Jesus in all our relationships.
This is what Paul was doing for the Thessalonians - “We have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.” 2 Thess 3:4 (cf Phil 2:13).
Tradition is mentioned in both 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and Colossians 2:8, but there is a clear distinction between traditions based on the teaching of scripture and those of the world. In modern medicine there is a great push to use “evidence-based” treatment for disease. We could say the same for tradition - we want evidence-based traditions of faith, not doubt. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:1,6.
As Paul’s fellow apostle James indicated, faith is active. Even our modern beggars tacitly recognize this principle. You have seen the signs - Will Work for Food - or something of the sort, though not all appear really willing to work. But a willingness to diligently seek, to exercise faith, is integral to the belief that help is on the way.
For Paul, following Matthew 18 should demonstrate faith in action, a willingness to hold people accountable (even to the point of avoiding their company) without attacking them as enemies. How often do we think it an exercise in faith to warn and exhort as brothers and sisters those who are going astray? Do we express words of confidence that they can and will do better? This is the faith of Jesus applied: “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.”
From A.T. Jones:
"THE just shall live by faith."
Who are the just?—They are only those who are of faith; because men are justified only by faith. For though we all "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," yet we are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
For "to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Those who are of faith, and those alone, are the just in the earth.
Now faith is entire dependence on the word of God, that that word shall accomplish what that word says. "It shall accomplish that which I please." Isa. 55:11.
To be justified by faith, then, is to be justified by entire dependence upon the word of God. The just are those who are of the word of God. This is how men become just.
Men must not only become just by faith,—by dependence upon the word of God,—but being just, we must live by faith. The just man lives in precisely the same way, and by precisely the same thing, that he becomes just.
We become just by faith; faith is entire dependence on the word of God. We, being just, must live by precisely the same thing by which we become just; that is, by entire dependence upon the word of God.
And this is exactly what Jesus said: Man shall live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." When Jesus said that, it is perfectly plain that he simply said, in other words, Man shall live by faith.
There is no other way truly to live than by faith, which is simply living by the word of God. Without faith, without the word of God, men only die.
Indeed, without the word of God everything only dies; for in the beginning everything came by the word of God. The word of God is the origin and life of everything; for, "He spake, and it was."
All things animate and inanimate,—sun, moon, and stars, animals and men,—all are entirely dependent upon the word of God for existence. Only in the case of men, God has bestowed upon them the wondrous gift of choice as to whether they will do so or not. This gift opens the door of faith. And when a man does choose to live by the word of God, which is the only means of life, faith—entire dependence upon the word of God—is the means by which he lays hold on the means of life.
Thus "the just shall live by faith," and thus "whatsoever is not of faith is sin;" which is simply to say, The just must live by the word of God; and whatsoever is not of the word of God is sin.
"We can not have a healthy Christian experience, we can not obey the gospel unto salvation, until the science of faith is better understood; and until more faith is exercised."
"Hast thou faith?" Have the faith of God. Here are they that keep "the faith of Jesus."
(March 7, 1899 ATJ, ARSH 152)
"Such is living faith"
...the faith that comes from the living God; the faith of which Christ is the Author; the faith which comes by the word of God; the faith which brings life and power from God to men, and which works the works of God in him who exercises it; the faith which receives the Holy Spirit that brings the living presence of Jesus Christ to dwell in the heart and manifest Himself still in mortal flesh. This and this alone is living faith. By this Christians live. This is life itself. This is everything. Without this, everything is simply nothing or worse; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
With such faith as this, that is, with true faith, there never can arise any question as to works; for this faith itself works, and he who has it, necessarily works. It is impossible to have this faith and not have works. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 5:6. This faith being a living thing, cannot exist without working. And coming from God, the only works that it can possibly work are the works of God.
Therefore anything that professes to be faith which of itself does not work the salvation of the individual having it, and which then does not work the works of God in him who professes it, is not faith at all, but is a fraud that that individual is passing off upon himself, which brings no grace to the heart, and no power to the life. It is dead, and he is still dead in trespasses and sins, and all his service is only a form without power, and therefore is only a dead formalism.
But on the other hand, the faith which is of God, which comes by the word of God and brings Christ, the living word, to dwell in the heart and shine in the life—this is true faith which through Jesus Christ only lives and works in him who exercises it.
Christ Himself living in us; Christ in you the hope of glory; God with us; God manifest in the flesh now, to-day in our flesh, by the faith of Jesus Christ—this and this only is living faith. For "every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:2-4. Therefore, "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." Jesus said unto them and to us all: "Have the faith of God." Mark 11:22, margin.
A. T. JONES. (January 14, 1895 ATJ, BEST 10)