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Daily Devotion for March 3, 2015
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer to be Reformed
Lord God, I have tried in vain to reform myself, and I have failed. Only you can truly change my heart; and I pray that you will do it, by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Make me your instrument, Holy God. Replace every prideful thought with a psalm, every angry instinct with a prayer of love and forgiveness. Let the sight of me radiate your glory, not mine; let every word that comes from my mouth be music from your harp and every thought in my mind the dove of your Spirit. Inhabit me, infuse me, reform me, that I may live only in Christ, and He in me.
For Each of Us in Our Work
Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and who gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.
For Those Who Die by Human Hand
Holy Christ, who has taught us to forgive our enemies, and promised that as we forgive others, so shall our Father forgive us: I pray for all who have died at the hands of others: Victims of common murder, casualties of war, people chopped down by machete in Rwanda, Muslims stripped and slaughtered by Christian Serbs, people beheaded by Isis, Christians hung on crosses in France. The list of Satan's work is endless and timeless.
I pray for the souls of those who have died, and I pray for the souls of those who have killed. And I pray that those of us left behind can forgive the hardest deed of all to forgive; for the greater the sin we forgive, the greater our love, and the closer we come to you, Lord Christ.
[Is my willingness to forgive as great as that of Christ?]
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Galatians 2:15-17 (DP Bible)
Faith in Christ (Pistis Xristou) (Galatians #17)
15-16 “How can you, a Jew by birth, first act like a Gentile, and then turn around and urge the Gentiles to live like Jews?” I asked him. “You and I were not raised like Gentiles, ignorant of right and wrong, yet we know that following the law of Moses, apart from our faith in Christ Jesus, did not and cannot justify us before God. No flesh will be justified by works under the law. So why hold onto it?”
17 “When we, who were born Jews, preach justification through faith in Christ, we are His representatives. We cannot become servants of sin. If we preach the faith of Christ and then sin, do we not imply that Christ Himself is a servant of sin? This cannot be!”
15 We by nature Jewish and not from sinning Gentiles
16 yet knowing that not is justified man from works of law unless through faith of Jesus Christ qThe meaning of this phrase and its variants is hotly debated by scholars. (It is called the pistis Xristou question.) Three of them are entirely defensible: 1) our faith in Christ (the most theologically sensible), 2) Christ’s own faith (the most grammatically straightforward), 3) faith like that of Christ. There are even several more less obvious, but grammatically possible, meanings. Some reputable current scholars argue (rather convincingly) that the phrase is intentionally ambiguous, so as to convey multiple meanings. , and we in Christ Jesus have believed, that we might be justified by faith of Christ qSee note q above. and not by works of law, since from works of law not will be justified any flesh.
17 And if seeking to be justified in Christ we are found also ourselves sinners, then Christ of sin is servant? It cannot happen.
Notes on the Scripture
Today we need to discuss an issue of Paul's epistles that is unresolved in the highest circles of Christian scholarship. I apologize for a rather dry and technical commentary today, but it is important to a lot of people.
aul uses the expression “faith Christ” time and time again, in his epistles; but because grammatical complexities involving the Greek language, nobody knows exactly what it means fn This is called the pistis Xristou controversy, a transliteration of the Greek “faith Christ”. ! We will look today at the four front-runners: “Faith of Christ”, “faith in Christ”, and “faith like Christ”, and “faith through Christ”.
By far the most common translation in English Bibles is “faith in Christ.” We believe that Christ was the Son of God, who handed himself over to death and defeated it through His resurrection. We place our entire trust in his divinity, his power, his love. We have faith in him. And so, when we read Paul saying that we are justified before God by our faith in Christ, it makes perfect sense to us.
The most grammatically probable meaning, however, is something quite different: the faith of Christ! Christ was fully human. He gave up most of the attributes of his divinity to become human. (Philippians 2:5-8) God did this for a number of different reasons; for example, we know that Jesus suffered in exactly the same way we do. The pain he felt was just as agonizing to him as the pain we would feel. He felt so much fear about his impending crucifixion that he sweated blood. It gives us total confidence that God understands exactly what we face.
But being human, he faced the same temptation that we do, to question our faith. Christ was human, yet his faith was perfect, absolute, unwavering. He went to the cross, not because he had divine knowledge of his resurrection, but because he had faith in the Father. This is the faith of Christ; and because his faith enabled him to suffer the crucifixion, we are heirs to the fruits of his faith.
So, if we say we are justified by the faith of Christ, we emphasize that we can share in Christ's complete and total faith in God, the Father. He became human and yet was sinless, by his faith.
The third possibility, faith like Christ’s, would emphasize that Christ was a leader who showed us by his example how we must become before God. Our faith must imitate his own: absolute to the point of death. Indeed, when he says “take up your cross and follow me,” this is exactly what he is asking or commanding us to do: have faith like his.
The fourth reading, faith through Christ, is also valid, both theologically and grammatically. We will see, in Galatians 3, Paul's assertion that the Law of Moses operated like a prison, to keep us separated from God's promise of redemption by faith. Only when Christ came among us were we able to access this pre-ordained promise of forgiveness; through his faith, the prison of the law was unsealed and we became heirs to the promises of God. We could not have true faith in God, at all, except through Christ.
There is a theory that solves the problem, a theory of “how to read the Bible”: where there is an irreducible and unsolvable ambiguity in the language of the New Testament, we should treat the ambiguity as intentional, and read the phrase as having all reasonably possible meanings, as long as they are not contradictory. So where we see “faith in Christ” in Paul's epistles, we can understand an entire new dimension and depth to the phrase. It means not only the simple placing of faith in Christ, but also, a faith that is like that of Christ, the faith that Christ had and exercised for our benefit, and the freedom from the law by a faith made possible through Christ.