Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The Prayer of Faith"

Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (2) He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. (3) And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' (4) For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, (5) yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'" (6) And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. (7) And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? (8) I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Prayer to God is a fundamental outgrowth of the restored relationship with Him that is offered through Jesus Christ. Being that salvation comes to our soul not through our effort, nor through others- such as those pretentious flesh bound, would be “vicars” of Christ- we find our very roots, the fetus of our new-found creation, birthed by Christ alone. No New Testament believer in Christ can rightly take the title of “priest” over other believers, a word whose Greek roots mean “sacred”; for Hebrews reveals Jesus Christ stands alone as mediator between God & man (Hebrews 7 provides the instruction that Christ alone is God’s priest to mankind, while1Peter 2:5, Rev. 1:6, & 5:10 has those that Christ has ministered to as priest- turn & minister as a priest of sorts as well- but only to God & only in the sense of servitude). The primary OT role of a priest as a mediator between God & man is entirely absorbed into the Person of Jesus Christ alone.

Fundamentally realize & accept that we could never attain the righteousness that we “must” have to please God (Matt. 5:48) in our own due diligence. No, the “perfect” righteousness demanded of us in order for us to abide with God (or even for Him to abide with us in the form of His Spirit) must be “gifted” to us by Christ. Therefore, our righteousness cannot be tangibly apprehended in the natural realm (Heb. 11:1); this necessitates persistent faith that Christ truly died on that cross so many years ago with the purpose of delivering our souls to the Father by His righteousness alone, & that He lives today, even this very moment, to continually intercede on our behalf (Heb. 7:25, Rom. 8:34, John 17:9). If I could be saved by my own works, I could physically gaze upon those tangible works so near to me & therein find the solace that I am saved. But Scripture tells us instead that our righteousness comes only through Christ, who is unseen, & whose saving work was long ago, therefore requiring unrelenting faith to remain steadfast, not only in prayer, but in every other Kingdom capacity as well…

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- (22) the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God put forward as a propitiation 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. (26) It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This should draw us to Him continually, as the only means for our needs to find their end. The Canaanite woman’s faith would not allow her to leave Christ despite His apparently disparaging remarks (Matt.15:21-28). Understand, her humble persistence is what revealed her faith. This Gentile “dog” demonstrated “great faith” by displaying that she was no whimpering poodle but a tenacious pit bull, refusing to let go until her case was evidently dealt with by the lone “Judge” capable of rendering an effectual decision.

As with the widow in the parable, the Canaanite’s faith is aligned with a dogged persistence in continually, even tenaciously, holding fast to the only One capable of meeting her need. To paraphrase Peter’s response to Christ’s faith testing query in regards to whether he would leave Christ’s side as had so many other disciples- “to whom (else) shall (she) go? (Christ alone has) the words of eternal life, and (she has) believed, and have come to know, that (He is) the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

It was yet another Gentile whose faith Christ held up as exemplary in Matt. 8:5-13, as the Roman centurion spoke of Christ as his superior. As an agent of the occupying Roman government & with Jesus as his subject, he was above Jesus in the visible, earthly hierarchy. But his great faith in Christ as his actual superior was revealed when he told Him that he was not worthy to have Jesus enter his home. Think about the context- here was a ranking officer in the Emperor’s conquering army telling his lowly Jewish vassal that he was “not worthy to have (Him) come under (his) roof”. Then the centurion goes on to describe Christ’s measure of authority in the larger spiritual realm as comparable to his own authority, restricted as it was to the lesser earthly realm. He was essentially assigning Christ the omnipotence of God- having complete dominion over both the physical & spiritual domains, & so demonstrating his belief in Christ’s unseen nature.

Hebrews 11 discusses such blind faith (in regards to our having not yet palpably grasped the fullness of Christ’s righteousness in our present state) by making mention of the patriarchs’ likewise need for faith. The writer recognizes the Christian’s challenge to steadfastly believe in that which he cannot see, but nevertheless presses him onward in this regard with this conclusive statement:

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Luke 11:1-13 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." (2) And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. (3) Give us each day our daily bread, (4) and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." (5) And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, (6) for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; (7) and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? (8) I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. (9) And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (10) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (11) What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; (12) or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (13) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

James 5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

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