“A man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” Romans 3:28
Bill Jameson was very popular in his college Bible group. He was the one guy anyone would check with if they had a question regarding the Bible. He seemed to have the ability to answer difficult questions and guide his peers to a better understanding of how to live life as a Christian. And Bill was always confident, assured that he was going in the right direction with his Lord Jesus.
After graduation from Bible College, Bill was soon established in a large church as associate pastor for the youth. His dream come true, he thought. And so it seemed. Bill’s charm and dedication won over all those in the youth group and on staff at the church.
But then his walls of confidence began to crumble little by little. At first no one noticed as his faith seemed to fade, to weaken. Rather than giving Biblical answers to any question, he found himself wondering if the answers were correct. Did he actually believe in justification by faith? What about works?
Bill had friends in corporate positions, friends who worked hard and got just rewards. They questioned Bill’s faith, asking how he expected to get by and get ahead by just having faith in something. Didn’t he have to work hard to earn everything worthwhile? Didn’t Jesus expect Bill to work for greater faith, they asked. Surely he didn’t believe that simple statements of faith would withstand the tests of actual life.
As he weakened, Bill’s testimony faded. Then doubt and fear crept in. He wondered if his faith was real after all. After a few months, Bill resigned his ministry post and told his friends he needed to regain his spiritual balance. He left the church and found a job with a bank, stepping into a junior vice-presidency. Within five years, Bill seldom thought of his earlier faith, consoling himself with his rapid promotions and increased wealth.
On rare occasion he would pour himself a drink and sit down with his once-used reference Bible, thumbing through what must have been his favorite verses since they were highlighted with notations to the side. He wondered if he would ever return to his faith. Maybe after he had saved enough money to retire, he thought, slipping the Bible beneath his magazines on the coffee table.
Romans 5:1-5 Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.
Romans 3:27-28 What happens now to human pride of achievement? There is no more room for it. Why, because failure to keep the Law has killed it? Not at all, but because the whole matter is now on a different plane—believing instead of achieving. We see now that a man is justified before God by the fact of his faith in God’s appointed Savior and not by what he has managed to achieve under the Law.
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our saviour and his love towards man appeared, he saved us—not by virtue of any moral achievements of ours, but by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he gave us so generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. The result is that we are acquitted by his grace, and can look forward to inheriting life for evermore. This is solid truth.
George Muller: “Work with all your might, but never trust in your work. Pray with all your might for the blessing in God, but work at the same time with all diligence, with all patience, with all perseverance. Pray then, and work. Work and pray. And still again pray, and then work. And so on, all the days of your life. The result will surely be abundant blessing. Whether you see much fruit or little fruit, such kind of service will be blessed.”
Photo taken in Romanian church service by David Nelson.