Sunday, 10 August 2008

Righteousness and Faith - 10 August Wingrave

Matthew 14:22-33 Romans 10:5-15

What does this passage from Romans mean?

Paul’s statements pile one on another – difficult to entangle

To do with righteousness of non-Jews (Gentiles) compared to unbelief of Jews (God’s elect – so why did they disbelieve – this was a problem for Paul)

Is salvation for all?


GENTILES – came to faith effortlessly by believing the proclamation by Paul about Jesus Christ – and thereby will be saved

JEWS – worked diligently to observe Law and so be justified and reckoned by God as righteous – yet have rejected faith in Christ the Messiah as the only means of becoming truly righteous as they cannot be saved through their own efforts alone.

Argument is about

Faith in Christ

Works of the Law

Modern parallel

Those who attend church but do not allow Faith to really change the way they live their lives

Those who may or may not attend church or observe religious practices outwardly, but develop a close and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit in their inner being, as a result of which one can see their whole lives are changed

You cannot know God by

Attending church

Listening to words

Participating in liturgy

Religious observance

That is WORKS

It is a form of righteousness that in the end cannot be effective

It is incomplete

It misses the point

That’s what Paul meant when he said WORKS of the Law is like

Bringing Christ down, or

Raising him from the dead

Only God can do that

We cannot through our own efforts

As Paul says, all we need to do is

Listen to the Word that is near us

On our lips

In our hearts

And believe

This was the simple child-like faith shown by Peter in the miracle story of Walking on Water

His open and trusting acceptance that he could do the seemingly impossible enabled him to do so

When he thought about it – rationalized it – he failed and started to sink

When he sank, he called out “Jesus save me”

Jesus reached out his hand

He did not tell Peter he was doing it all wrong – like a surfer putting his weight in the wrong place and toppling over

He chided Peter for his lack of Faith – not his lack of technique

It was his faith that was missing, and Peter started to fail

It was Faith that got him started when no one else in the boat was prepared to take a step into the unknown

It was Faith that enabled Peter to continue against all the odds

It was a failure of Faith that caused him to doubt

Those in the boat watched and learned

They developed their own faith

It was their reaction “Truly you are the Son of God” that ends the story

Simple child-like trusting faith that believes and not spend too long on the rituals, the right and wrong ways of doing things, the minutiae of theology – the WORKS of the Law in other words.

May we all listen and learn – strive to develop this kind of faith – learnfrom what we have ourselves seen and heard.

No comments: