What is the most valuable gift any human has ever given you?
The quarterly takes on the subject of the cross and our faith in God. The apostle Paul was overwhelmed with the graciousness of God in providing the gift of salvation—of oneness with God—free of charge to those willing to trust that it is so.
Much has been written about the cross throughout the ages. One of the most meaningful to me has been John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.” In it, he posits that the cross shows at the same time the depths of man’s fallenness contrasted with the greatness of God’s love. This alone is often enough to prove to honest people that the Bible speaks the truth about humanity, and thus also about the divine.
Read Colossians 1:19-23 and Psalm 85 and answer the following questions:
In Psalm 85, what has God already done for Israel, and for what does the Psalmist still long in this song?
Psalm 85:10 is frequently used to ascribe meaning to the cross of Christ. How might this be so, according to Colossians
Just as much has been written about the cross, the same is true about faith. The quarterly this week returns to Genesis 15:6, describing the faith of Abraham. Paul takes on this subject in Romans 4. Read through that chapter before continuing.
Paul shows himself to be quite a Torah (Law of Moses) scholar here. In writing to the Romans, Paul had to address faith vs. works of the covenant law. In the Roman congregation were Jews who had believed circumcision brought someone into covenant relationship with God. But Paul had a different perspective, and He uses the story Abraham to prove it. First, he notes that Abraham is the father of the Jews and Gentiles alike, but it isn’t because of the patriarch’s “obedience,” but because of His belief in God’s promises. It was this kind of “belief” that made the promises of God a reality in his life. God said he’d have a son in his old age, in spite of the fact it seemed impossible. We know plenty about the humanity of Abraham, his imperfections, fears, and even doubts. But when he believed, God “credited it to him as righteousness.” Faith, then, is the foundation for our righteousness if we’re truly children of Abraham.
Circumcision became a sign of the covenant for Abraham’s descendants. Which came first for Abraham: circumcision or his faith in God’s promises?
How is this fact good news for the Gentiles, and Jews alike? How is Abraham a model of faith for both groups?
Today’s popular culture spends a lot of time on the subject of identity. Some people have chosen to identify with genders or ethnicities into which they were not born. What is in their hearts is what is most important, some say. Apparently the subject of identity is important also to God. In the case of Abraham, God “declares him righteous” even though we know he isn’t.
How can God do this? Isn’t it disingenuous? Or is there something to proclaiming a truth about someone that is yet to be?
What role to emotions have when it comes to accepting God’s promise that He can make us righteous? What if I don’t “feel saved” or “feel forgiven” or “feel righteous”?
If Abraham could trust God to make something new out of his dead body (and then see it happen in real life) then we can have the same faith today in God making something new out of us. We have no reason to doubt. There is plenty of evidence for His work in our lives. He just asks us to trust him implicitly!