278. Power for us who believe.( Part 1)
'I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know ... his incomparably great power for us who believe.'* (Ephesians 1:18-19)
*What does it mean to believe?* To *believe* (Greek: *pisteuō* means *to trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust will follow*) is not just a *belief* in the existence of God ! *'You believe that there is one God. Good! Even demons believe that - and shudder.'* ( James 2:19) Just a *belief* ( Greek : *pistis* ; the same word used for *faith* ) in the existence of God does not qualify us to receive the power of God, unless we *trust* ( Greek : *pisteuō* ; the same word used for *believe* ) him and actions based on that trust follow. Often we use the words *faith* and *trust* interchangeably, as if they are synonyms but *faith/belief* is the certainty of the existence of God whereas to *trust/believe* is the surety of his goodness . *'Anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.'* ( Hebrews 11:6) Therefore, to have *faith/ belief* in the existence of God, is not to our credit because *'it is the gift of God'* ( Ephesians 2:8) but to *trust/ believe* in God, is to our credit because it is our response to faith. *'Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness.'* ( Genesis 15:6)
*Why was the Spirit promised?*
Like Noah who *'by his faith condemned the world and became heir of the righteouness that comes by faith'* ( Hebrews 11:7), Abraham too became the heir of the world because of righteousness that comes by faith, . *'It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteouness that comes by faith.'* ( Romans 4:13) But how was Abraham and his descendants supposed to take possession of the earth without receiving the power to possess it? Therefore, Abraham was given the promise of the Spirit which Jesus referred to, when he said, *"Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak about ... You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth."* ( Acts 1:4,8) Gentiles too were counted as descendants of Abraham because, *'those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham.'* ( Galatians 3:7-8) When Abraham was told, *"Look up at the heavens and count the stars, if indeed he could count them",* ( Genesis 15:5) he counted us as well ! We now have become his *'descendents as numerous as the sand on the seashore'* (22:17) But the circumcised believers who came along with Peter to Cornelius' house, were astonished on seeing the Gentiles being filled with the Spirit because they thought it was exclusively meant for the Jews - ( Acts 10:44-47). *'He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.'* - ( Galatians 3:14) *'Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring - not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.'* ( Romans 4:16)
*What did Abraham believe?*
Not just in the existence of God, like many of his contemporaries did but he believed in something more profound that others didn't even know! *'He is our Father in the sight of God, in whom he believed - the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.'* -( vs 17) He believed that God could raise Issac from the ashes ( Hebrews 11:19) and he believed that God's promises are as good as done and took God at his word and started speaking the language of faith by calling things that are not as though they were! Therefore to say that we *trust / believe* in God, has its implications because words and actions based on that must follow. When Scripture says that *'incomparably great power is for us who believe',* it doesn't mean power is promised that to those who have *faith/ belief* in the existence of God but will be made available to those whose words and actions prove that they *trust/ believe* in God. Like Abraham, we too believe that God raises the dead and it has become the foundation of our salvation! *'If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.'* ( Romans 10:9-10) Our words and acts of faith will open the door to the miraculous. Amen.