Saturday, September 22, 2007

Article - The Author and Finisher

The Author and Finisher

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2

What or who is the source of our faith? Some will say that it originates from within. We have all heard the saying, “take a leap of faith” or, “all you need is faith.” Many sincere Christians believe that it is their faith that saved them and will allow them to enjoy Heaven’s eternal glory. The health, wealth and prosperity gospel teaches that we can enjoy great riches and have no problems whatsoever in this world if we have enough faith. Do these beliefs pass the test of scripture? The Bible and life experiences offer a stark contrast to these ideas.

In Hebrews chapter 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to patiently run the race of life. He challenges us to lay aside the weight of trials and tribulations that we encounter daily. He instructs us to put away the sin that hinders our Christian walk. Then, he counsels us to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We are commanded to keep our eyes on the Lord because he is the originator and completer of our faith. Faith does not originate from us but from Jesus Christ!

In Hebrews 11:1 faith is defined as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In the spiritual sense, Paul is teaching us that we have a hope beyond this world and the ability to believe things that we cannot see with our natural eyes because God reveals himself to us. In other words, we believe in God and know that Jesus is our Savior because he has imparted his faith to us.
The Bible teaches that we do not have the ability to understand spiritual things apart from the spirit of God. In John 3:3, Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If faith is the evidence of things not seen, then we must understand our Savior to be teaching that we are given faith when we are born of the Holy Spirit. In verses 5-6 Jesus reiterates this truth. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Hence, faith is from God.

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul writes, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We are saved because of the Lord’s faith. He is the author of our faith. The Bible teaches that we were chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation (beginning) of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The result of this choice is that the elect should stand before the Lord in holiness and without blame. Jesus is not only the author, but the finisher of our faith. When he sacrificed himself on the cross for his people, he did all that was necessary to secure our faith. Therefore, we can run with patience the race that is set before us! It is not our works, but the work of our Redeemer that empowered us with faith.

Critics will argue that if it is not of our faith that saves us, then we have no responsibilities towards God. On the contrary, we should be zealous workers in the Kingdom of God because of the faith he gives us as his children. Paul’s illustration of us running a race provides an excellent example of Christian zeal. Those that have run natural races understand the great effort involved in accomplishing this task. Likewise, the Christian race is challenging and we must approach it with the end in mind. We might run a natural race and not finish due to fatigue, etcetera. But rest assured that as one of God’s children you will finish your spiritual race because of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. It is not our own!

Michael Green, Jr. is pastor of Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church ( in Crestview, FL. Palm Chapel meets every Sunday at 10:30am and Wednesday at 6:00pm. Pastor Green can be contacted at (850) 689-3383 or by email at Pastor Green warmly invites you to come and worship at Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Article - We Have all Fallen Short

We Have all Fallen Short

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; - Romans 3:23

One of the problems of our society today (especially amongst the younger generation) is the tendency for us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. In many educational circles, “self-esteem” has been the mantra. Sadly, this has created a generation of narcissists that think that they are the center of the universe and are accountable to no one. This mentality has also deceived people into thinking that they deserve rewards, accolades and attention regardless of their qualifications or behavior.

Spiritual narcissism has crept into many of our churches. Sound doctrine has been replaced with the idea that we are able to do something to procure our eternal salvation. God-centered theology has been replaced with the philosophy that all men have some degree of goodness within them and only need to be reformed in order to be fit candidates for eternal salvation. Both of these ideas are foreign to the teachings of scripture.

In the above passage, the Apostle Paul writes that we all have fallen short of God’s glory. He teaches the doctrine of total depravity, which means that all of us have failed and deserve nothing more than eternal punishment because of our disobedience of God’s commandments. The short statement, “For all have sinned,” negates any ideas that we have the ability to act in such a way that warrants eternal rewards. The failure to meet God’s glory also destroys any thought of man having any degree of goodness in his/her own nature. Our sins have convicted us. James writes, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (2:10).” If we commit only one sin in our lifetime, we deserve eternal hell as our just punishment. The reality is that we transgress God’s righteous law on a regular basis. All of us are guilty sinners with no hope of reformation!

When we sin, it means that we have missed the mark. The mark that we have missed is the glory of God. Be not mistaken, God will receive his just glory. Scripture teaches us that everything was created to bring glory unto the Lord. But when we sin, we are essentially thumbing our nose at the Creator and saying that his laws and commandments are worthless. We are placing our desires above his direction and therefore coming short of his glory. This is the makeup of all mankind; even God’s elect before being born again of the Spirit.

The sinful, depraved nature of man necessitates redemption from one who is able to fulfill God’s righteous law in order for them to be fit subjects for fellowship with God. In Romans 3:24-25, Paul writes of the work of Jesus that was done in order to save God’s elect from their deserved wrath. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” He redeemed us through his blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross. The one who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We who have sinned and come short of the glory of God have been justified (judged not guilty) before God because of Jesus. It is my prayer that we would meditate upon this monumental doctrine and give credit where credit is due. All praise and glory belongs to the Lord! It is not our work that saves us, but the sovereign power of God almighty. Let us all live humbly before our heavenly father.

Michael Green, Jr. is pastor of Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church ( in Crestview, FL. Palm Chapel meets every Sunday at 10:30am and Wednesday at 6:00pm. Pastor Green can be contacted at (850) 689-3383 or by email at Pastor Green warmly invites you to come and worship at Palm Chapel Primitive Baptist Church.