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News for Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
July 20: Active Faith
By Gene Nelson
pastor, Russellville Baptist, Russellville

Focal Passage: I Peter 1:14-19, 22-25

During my childhood years, I do not think my parents would have used the word obedient as a definition of my personality. Suffice it to say that “spare the rod, spoil the child” was not a problem my parents had to deal with when it came to me. Unfortunately, obedient is not a word that would define many Christians either. However, when it comes to having an active faith, God’s Word is very clear that faith is most clearly demonstrated though obedience. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Twice Peter speaks of obedience in the selected text. The word here means “attentive compliance or submission.” Throughout the passage Peter shares some issues that must be addressed if one is to be found with an active faith.

First, an active faith is obedient in conduct. Verses 14-17 are a call to holiness. This is not just offered as a challenge, but it is given as a command! Now, it would seem obvious that anyone who has given their heart and life to Jesus Christ would desire to be obedient to the commands of God. However, there is such a thing as willful disobedience; willingly choosing to conform to the ways of the world rather than allowing the Holy Spirit of God to bring transformation. Obedience is a constant choice, and a constant struggle. An active faith is continually seeking to be obedient to the Lord’s call to holiness, and resist the attempts of Satan to get a foothold into a life through the lure and lust of the world.

An active faith is obedient in fear. There must be a continuing reverence for who God is and who He longs to be in the individual’s life. Today, there are many descriptions of God used in society that do not reflect a fearful faith. Television shows will call the God of the universe simply “The Man Upstairs” or “The Big Guy.” These caricatures make God sound like some big ogre who is ready to come down and pounce upon anyone who makes a mistake. Yes, He did come down, but not in anger, but in love. He is the only One who loves everyone so much that He redeems through the “precious blood of Christ.” An active faith lives every day in gratitude and reverence to the God who alone is worthy.

Third, an active faith is obedient in love. Verse 22 calls believers to love one another with a sincere, non-hypocritical love. It is a love for the church that is not motivated by legalism, or politics. I have known some people in church who only attend so they can network in order to promote a business, or attend church to socialize in order to be seen. When these serve as motivation for attendance, a church needs to be careful, because prayer requests can quickly turn into gossip sessions. Active faith demonstrates a sincere, compassionate love from a pure heart.

Finally, an active faith is obedient in speech. Peter speaks of the value and importance of the Word, the incorruptible seed, of the gospel. The word used in these verses for “word” is not “Logos,” which John used in John 1:1 to describe Jesus. No, Peter uses the word “Rhema,” the spoken Word. An active faith is diligent in sharing the spoken Word of the gospel. It is a believer who takes seriously the command of Christ that as they are going through life, the spoken Word of truth naturally flows. There is no corrupt word of profanity or crudeness. There is the readiness of the truth upon the lips, generated from an active faith in the heart.

— Nelson is pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville.

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