The Understanding

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:13-20

Foundations are essential. Their importance cannot be exaggerated. They do more than determine the shape of the building. They determine the strength of the building. When the building is under stress, its foundation must be firm.

The longest sermon of Jesus is in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7. It contrasts the Pharisees’ sayings (the popular Jewish conservatives) with Jesus’ insights (which are God’s insights). Jesus ended his sermon by declaring that people who heard and did what he shared were like a house with a solid foundation. The house was solid because its foundation was solid. The solid foundation rested on a rock. Because of the solid foundation, the house endured extraordinary stress. People endure extraordinary stress when their lives are founded on Jesus’ solid sayings. The difference between enduring and falling in periods of stress is our foundation.

The “rock” on which we can build our solid foundation in order to endure stress is this: faith in God’s accomplishments for us in Jesus Christ. Faith makes any act of obedience meaningful and effective. It is much more than trust in the act. The act can be baptism, benevolence, communion, or any other commanded act. Much more is involved than correct compliance with a commanded act.

What else is involved? Confidence in God’s accomplishments in Jesus Christ! Faithless obedience is powerless. Obedience founded on faith in Jesus Christ is powerful. Because of faith in Jesus, baptism removes sins. Because of faith in Jesus, a gesture of kindness becomes an act God remembers—eternally. Because of faith in Jesus, communion is an act of appreciation that goes far beyond bread and grape juice. Because of faith in Jesus, any obedient act becomes a “thank you” spoken in God’s ear. Because of faith in Jesus, obedient acts declare appreciation to the God of love.

Without faith in what God did and does in Jesus, obedient acts become attempts to manipulate God by seeking to put God in our debt. Humans must obey because we believe. Only because we believe do our acts of obedience become declarations of loving appreciation to the God who does so much for us in Jesus Christ.

When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 15 January, 2009


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