“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26) with 4 occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’. Something ‘more’ to the meaning of faith in this ‘thesis’ of Romans. As James Cone would say, “What then is ‘the more’?”
‘Righteousness of God’, found only in Paul— is THE NEW COVENANT. Righteousness. Indwelling of consciousness; eternal; principle; relationship. ‘True Knowledge’ of God’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming power. ‘This Covenant’ is ONLY ‘By Faith— ‘believe that’! When ‘This Knowledge’ comes, the whole world is turned upside down. Struggle emerges as ‘The Way’ of life. In sharp antithesis to hopelessness— Faith is the source of new life; revitalizing all human conditions.
I keep hearing individuals speak (not just outside, but also in Churches) of ‘losing their faith’. In these times of depression, recession however you identify the overwhelming losses (of home; of job; of livelihood; and more) and, unpardonable oppression under which America now causes the masses of her population to seek life; I say, to loose faith IS SUICIDE— walking dead! Faith is ALL that ‘the disinherited’ has. I love the ole school singing, “I’m holding, I’m just holding on. HOLDING! I’m just holding on. Holding on and I won’t let go my faith!” How I long to hear the old songs of our Church tradition that have the ‘staying power’ emanating from them. “The safest place in the whole wide world, is in the WORD (will) of God”. It’s were I live.
This ‘New Covenant’ that Paul was so visionary about in this most powerful ‘Word of God’ has everything to do with the ‘Righteousness of God’. It’s been twisted and twisted to deliver a word based on ‘works’. Faith without works is NOT DEAD. ‘Works IS Law’! “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law…” There is nothing, absolutely nothing at all required to freely receive the grace, the redemption given in faith in a Sovereign God. (Don’t ‘get it next week’— GET IT NOW!)
I delivered the morning message at Payne Chapel and the Text of Acts 19 provided the foundation for the word— Paul speaking to the disciples that he met in Ephesus. Although they had already received the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there was something about them that immediately gave Paul to know that ‘the more’ was just not there. He asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said, “No. We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”. America, (ooops, my bad) Ephesus is a land of ‘Idols’. Paul caused a major riot bringing a ‘new and living’ word— “gods made with hands are not gods.”
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