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Return of the King - Advent 2016

December 21, 2016 – Established in Faith

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
– Romans 16:25-27

Established by God

These are the final words of the Apostle Paul to the Roman congregation. We might brush it off as a simple concluding praise to God. But that would be a mistake!

As Paul worships God, he recognizes him as the one who is able to “establish us.” God supports us. He sustains us. When we pledge our allegiance to him and his kingdom, we become part of his covenant people. And one of the greatest benefits of being part of that people is the support he provides. When we’re discouraged, he holds us up. When we’re frustrated, he raises us. When we feel like we can’t go on, he imparts strength.

Our God establishes us on the solid ground of the Gospel.

Perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that God planned this from long ago. God began his plan before time began. And through the ages, he’s orchestrated things in such a way that they would all find their fulfillment in one event: the coming of Jesus the Messiah. As Paul wrote to the congregation at Corinth, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in” Christ (See 2 Corinthians 1:20).

But what was the point of it all? Was it merely to save people from hell?

Of course not!

As we remembered yesterday, Christ’s work does not only pertain to life after death. He desires to give abundant life today.

Established in Faith

Having abundant life means living a life of faith. Some have taken the word ‘faith’ and reduced it down to mere agreement with a statement. As if faith is simply saying, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God.’ But notice what Paul says about the Gospel’s purpose. He says that it leads to “obedience of faith.” In other words, faith isn’t just a ‘belief.’ It’s a paradigm. It affects how we speak, what we do, and where we go. It transforms. It produces obedience – works of love.

Think of it this way: If you had faith that you were going to die tomorrow wouldn’t that faith cause you to act differently today? Wouldn’t you spend a little more time with your family or make a few phone calls you’ve been meaning to make? That is genuine faith.

Genuine faith bears fruit.

This is what God is calling us to have through the Gospel. God desires to establish us. But before he can, we must put our faith in him. We need a paradigm shift – an overhaul of our understanding.

And as our faith shifts from focused on ourselves to focused on him, we will be led into obedience. As we increase in faith, we’ll also increase in hope, love, and joy.

May we put all of our faith in him and him alone.

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