August 1, 2021
What is faith? Is it an action? No! Faith begins without works – (Rom. 4:1-5) -> (Eph. 2:8-9), salvation happens without our work… Many people perceive Christianity as all other religions – we please God in order to earn His acceptance. But the God of the Bible, does not seek us so that we can give Him something, instead, He gives us everything, and salvation in particular (Acts 17:24-28; 20:35 – the principle of the Gospel – it is more blessed to give rather than to receive)… we do not earn salvation, but saving faith is marked by works (Eph. 2:8-9-10).
(James 2:14-26) is very vivid, memorable expression – faith without works is dead. We are used to this phrase as well. But what does it say? That there is such a thing as faith. This is not a fiction – but a real thing. Moreover, this phenomenon can be either alive or dead. This is even more serious… And the indicator of whether there is life or not is the presence of works! This is a very challenging doctrine for two reasons. One by hearing such words, might be tempted to begin to do things, may disqualify himself from salvation at all in the future. The need for grace is eliminated. Another challenge is that this text is revealing our hearts – and there a very eye opening discovery that there is no faith there, since there are no works!
Strengthening the argument on relationships and ministry to one another in the church in the midst of different opinions and practices, the apostle Paul turns to our faith. Faith as а guide to determine how I should behave when there are a lot of different people in the church.
From the context – faith, is trust in God in the difficult issues of Christian liberty leading to the ability not to doubt and have confidence in decisions. Three expressions of faith:
I. Faith is giving up of self (vv. 20-21)
(1 Cor. 8:1-9) faith is (v. 1-2) – limited knowledge, faith is (v. 3) – love for God, (vv. 4-6) faith is a look to God, (v. 8) faith is an unchanging relationship with God, which is not based on my performance, but on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (v. 9) faith is striving not to be a temptation for the neighbor. Faith is the complete absence of pride and self-love (10:24). (v. 10:25) it is a childlike trust in God. It’s ok not to watch conspiracy videos!
In our verses, this is expressed this way:
(v. 20) – we do not destroy the work of God! And the argument is so simple – for the sake of food, do not destroy God’s work (other believers). What is more important, God’s work or what you eat? Example: on the scales: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich or God and His people Faith will give strength to say no!
Example: (1 Cor. 9:1, 6, 14-15) – the apostle Paul uses himself as an example of giving up his freedom for the sake of his neighbor. The question of monetary support! He says that, biblically and based on conscience, he is free to receive money from the church, for his ministry, and he builds a strong argument for it, then he says that he gave up this freedom! Why? This could hinder the Gospel!
(v. 21) – not just food, meat, wine, anything… in other words, anything that tempts a brother. Of course you being strong will say: “Where do we stop?” Could it be that those who are weak in faith will simply take advantage over it, and very quickly everything will follow the lead of the weak. How many years have you been giving up yourself? And on how many issues have you said “no” to yourself for the sake of others? Well, let’s be honest and begin, let’s say, with 100 times for now. Or like Christ in relation to forgiving others – seventy times seven.
II. Faith is the work of conscience (vv. 22-23)
(v. 22) – to strong believers – do not display your freedom! Faith doesn’t do that! Faith does not parade in front of the weak, proclaiming her freedom. When a person had an alcohol addiction, and for him it becomes a serious issue when he comes to church, and hears those free from such addiction making jokes on this issue.
My freedom in the church is not connected only with my conscience, but also with the conscience of others!
In Rome – eating meat was not just a matter of personal conscience, but also of the conscience of others.
2 Questions: 1) Are you sensitive to your conscience? Are you truly, without a doubt, using your freedom to the fullest? 2) Are you sensitive to the conscience of others? After all, Paul attached our personal conscience to the corporate conscience!
(v. 23) – to the weak in faith (v. 1) – faith for these people is not to compromise with their conscience. For example, I was the one who never underlined or highlighted anything in the Bible, and of course, I didn’t write any notes in the margins… I remember when I was introduced to the idea, and saw the benefits of it, I didn’t have to break or violate my conscience, but to readjust it to the new way of working with biblical text.
A person is condemned by God, and it is counted to him as a sin if he eats something, although he does not have faith that it is right.
It is important that people act according to their own conscience and also respect the conscience of others. For example, vaccination. Do not condemn those who were not vaccinated. Those who oppose vaccination, respect the conscience of others. They prayed, and trusting God were vaccinated. This is a matter of conscience!
Faith is a view of God as the source of everything we have, and as a consequence, if it’s absent, then any action is a sin!
I would like to appeal to those who cannot call themselves Christians. Any deed, even the best, without faith in God and complete trust in Him is a sin! God’s standard is different from ours! The only way to do anything pleasing to God is through a living faith!
III. Faith is the path to worship (16:25-27)
There is a very famous story from the book “The Hiding Place”, written by Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian woman who, with her family, hid Jews during the Nazi occupation. She was eventually caught and placed with her sister in the concentration camp near Berlin. They were in Barracks 28… I recently came across this story, looked through several online articles, and the Internet is filled with this story – Corrie ten Boom and fleas. The fact is that she and her sister conducted a Bible study, Bible reading and worship services in their barracks… and if there were to be caught, it might cause the life, or very serious punishment. Once they were reading and reflecting on the text from 1 Thess. 5 which says that we should thank God in all circumstances. And her sister Betsy said that they need to thank God right now… she began to list things that Corrie should thank God for, all the good things that they had, and then Betsy says, an Corrie, we must thank God for the fleas… that was a shock for Corrie; she protested, but her sister reminded her that the passage says that that we must thank God in all circumstances… we must thank God for fleas. It was hard for Corrie to thank God for the fleas, because there were a lot of them, and this horrible thing is not pleasant, huge inconvenience and painful.
After a while they discovered that the reason that the prison guards didn’t go into their barracks was due to those fleas. This allowed them to read the Bible and worship without any hindrance.
People who have a different perspective on secondary issues in life, sometimes may bother you, be inconvenience to you, cause you stress… Why we talk about thanksgiving and praise to God! Some of the manuscripts place the end of ch. 16 at the end of ch. 14. And instead of preaching it once, I decided to cover this passage twice!
We may not always understand why we have different opinions about certain things in church, or the way some people use their freedom in Christ, but if we react correctly, with faith to differences of opinion, this is what should happen – we will be overwhelmed with gratitude and we will worship God!!!!
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