The Difference Between Faith and Hope – Luther

49-29588_Tin_Plaques_Faith_HopeIs there any difference between faith and hope?  At first glance, this question looks like a no-brainer.  But when you stop and think about it, you begin scratching your head and you go “Hmm, yes and no?”  Well, let’s let Martin Luther help us out here.  Here is what he had to say in response to this question in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians:

The question occurs to us, What difference is there between faith and hope? We find it difficult to see any difference. Faith and hope are so closely linked that they cannot be separated. Still there is a difference between them.

First, hope and faith differ in regard to their sources. Faith originates in the understanding, while hope rises in the will.

Secondly, they differ in regard to their functions. Faith says what is to be done. Faith teaches, describes, directs. Hope exhorts the mind to be strong and courageous.

Thirdly, they differ in regard to their objectives. Faith concentrates on the truth. Hope looks to the goodness of God.

Fourthly, they differ in sequence. Faith is the beginning of life before tribulation. (Hebrews 11.) Hope comes later and is born of tribulation. (Romans 5.)

Fifthly, they differ in regard to their effects. Faith is a judge. It judges errors. Hope is a soldier. It fights against tribulations, the Cross, despondency, despair, and waits for better things to come in the midst of evil.

Without hope, faith cannot endure. On the other hand, hope without faith is blind rashness and arrogance because it lacks knowledge. Before anything else a Christian must have the insight of faith, so that the intellect may know its directions in the day of trouble and the heart may hope for better things. By faith we begin, by hope we continue.

Would you like to interact with Martin Luther?  Please post your comments below.  Blessings in Christ!

Dealing with Death

Death is all around us.  We can’t seem to escape its presence and it won’t go away.  We can wish it did not exist, but we cannot disbelieve it out of existence.  One of the first bits of news that I read this morning, had to do with the horrible crash of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501.  “‘Bodies and Debris’ found in AirAsia search,” the headline said.  The pictures of family members weeping in the pain and anguish caused by this sudden loss of their loved ones are quite heart-wrenching.  AP_airasia_plane_relatives_jef_141229_16x9_992

I also read, a blog post by a woman who is dying of cancer.  Her name is Kara Tippetts, you may have heard of her already.  I have read one or two other posts by her before – quite challenging.  The first time I heard of her was when she wrote a letter to another lady who was also dying of cancer by the name of Brittany Maynard.  Brittany had decided to take her life using medical pills given to her by her doctor(s) in Portland, Oregon.  In the letter, which was entitled, Why We Don’t Have to Be So Afraid of Dying& Suffering That We Choose Suicide, Kara was pleading with Brittany not to do that.  Many others wrote to Brittany but their messages fell on deaf ears.  Brittany went ahead and took her own life on November 1, 2014.  She effectively committed suicide in an attempt to run away from the pain of dying.   Continue reading

Don’t Waste Your Life – Octavius Winslow

Life is too short guys!  Whether you are young or old, read this story and it will do your soul great good for you will be reminded of the fleeting and elusive nature of worldly pursuits on one hand and the permanence and definiteness of the glories of heaven in Christ!  Pass around and keep someone you know (a friend; a son or daughter; a grand-son or grand-daughter; a husband or wife, etc) from wasting his or her life.

The story below comes from Octavious Winslow who lived from 1808-1878 and is entitled “And Then?”Psalm39vs4

A young man, whom he had known as a boy, came to an aged professor of a distinguished continental university, with a face beaming with delight, and informed him that the long and fondly-cherished desire of his heart was at length fulfilled – his parents having given their consent to his studying the profession of the law. As the university presided over by his friend was a distinguished one, he had repaired to its law school, and was resolved to spare no labor or expense in getting through his studies as quickly and ably as possible. In this strain he continued for some time; and when he paused, the old man, who had been listening to him with great patience and kindness, gently said, “Well! and when you have finished your career of study, what do you mean to do then?” “Then I shall take my degree,” answered the young man. “And then?” asked his venerable friend. “And then,” continued the youth, “I shall have a number of difficult and knotty cases to manage: shall attract notice by my eloquence, and wit, and acuteness, and win a great reputation.” “And then?” repeated the holy man. “And then!” replied the youth, “why then there cannot be a question- I shall be promoted to some high office in the state, and I shall become rich.” “And then?” “And then,” pursued the young lawyer, “then I shall live comfortably and honorably in wealth and respect, and look forward to a quiet and happy old age.” “And then?” repeated the old man. “And then,” said the youth, “and then- and then- and then I shall die.” Here his venerable listener lifted up his voice, and again asked, with solemnity and emphasis– “And then?” Whereupon the aspiring student made no answer, but cast down his head, and in silence and thoughtfulness retired. This last “And then?” had pierced his heart like a sword- had darted like a flash of lightning into his soul, and he could not dislodge the impression. The result was, the entire change of his mind and course of his life. Abandoning the study of the law, he entered upon that of divinity, and expended the remainder of his days in the labors of a minister of Christ. 

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).

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Be Killing Sin Or Sin Will Kill You

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:5-11).

Yesterday, the Apostle Paul exhorted us to set our minds on things above and to remember our identity in Christ if we want to become like Christ.  Today, he exhorts us to “put to death…what is earthly…”  In the verses above, he goes on to give us a general (not exhaustive) list of what he is referring to as “earthly.”  Paul gives the strongest warning to the Colossians (and to us) against these sins, namely, “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”  In other words, an unchecked life of sin, a habitual life of sin invites the wrath of God upon itself.  As one theologian has rightly said, habitual sinning is tantamount to “spiritual suicide.”

“Be killing sin, or it will kill you.” John Owen

“Be killing or it will be killing you,” John Owen writes in his book, The Mortification of Sin inspired by Romans 8:13 which reads, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  Even though we have died with Christ and have been raised with Him unto newness of life, the old man still remains in us and seeks to regain control of our lives.  We must constantly be on our guard and fighting against remaining sin.  We are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and “be all the more eager to make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by putting to death the old man so that the life of Christ might be more clearly manifested in us.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for He has not left us to pursue Christlikeness on our own and in our strength.  While verse 12 of Philippians 2 (and other passages like it) rightly urge us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” verse 13 of the same chapter reminds and encourages us that “it is God who is at work in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

The call to pursue a Christlike life demands that we exercise utmost care and utter dependence on the Lord who alone is able to supply us the spiritual resources that we need to battle against sin in our lives.  Praise be to His Holy Name that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).  We have the Holy Spirit living within us and He will fight for us even as we fight with Him against the flesh.  As Paul writes in Galatians 5:16-17, we are to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” 

While the battle against sin still rages, we have the confidence that in Christ our victory is sure for He has conquered the power of sin through His sacrificial death on the cross for us.  Therefore, when we find ourselves to have fallen into sin, we can run back to the Lord pleading for forgiveness with a repentant heart with confidence not in ourselves, but in the Lord Jesus Christ who is our “Advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1).  We can say with Micah in confidence:

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.  I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.  He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication” (Micah 7:8-9)

“Set Your Minds on Things Above”

Continuing from my previous post, I would like to dedicate this and the next couple of posts to examining the practicalities of becoming like Christ as taught in the Scriptures particularly in Colossians 3:1-17.  In this section of Scripture, the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly lays out for us what being like Christ looks like in real day-to-day living.  We will do well to consider his advice and pray for grace to lay it upon our hearts and practice these things in our lives to the glory of our God and Savior through Jesus Christ.   Continue reading

You Really Want to Become Like Christ?

I once heard the following story and found it very interesting.  A man asks the LORD, “What’s a million years to you?”  The LORD answers, “A second.”  The man then asks a follow-up question, “So then, what’s a million dollars to You?”  To which the LORD responded, “A penny.”  With a big smile on his face the man came back with a third question, “LORD, could You please give me a penny?”  The LORD responded “Wait a second!”   Continue reading