Gospel Faith in the Old Testament
Faith and action go hand in hand. They always have and will until the Lord returns and our faith becomes sight.
By faith, Rahab gave a friendly welcome to the spies and therefore did not perish with the rest of the city of Jericho under the righteous wrath of God.
Rahab’s friendly welcome included a “misdirection” in her explanation to the people sent by the king to look for the spies, hiding the spies, a proclamation that the LORD has given the land to his people and that the fear of Israel had fallen on the city because of what the LORD has done for his people, a proclamation that the LORD is God, and a request that she and her family would be spared when the LORD gave them the land.
Rahab let the spies down by a rope through the window of her house in the city wall and by the pre-arranged plan with the spies, tied a scarlet cord in the window to show Israel who their allies were and to spare from wrath those who were hidden in the room under the covenant made marked with the scarlet cord.
Rahab’s story is a Gospel story and a story of actively conspiring against sin and rebellion to bring the healing of the Kingdom of God.
1. Rahab shows us how faith and repentance save us from wrath
2. Rahab shows us the grace of God to save many through one
Rahab’s work of making peace between Israel and her family shows us a glimpse of the work of Christ to make peace. Rahab served as the means by which her family would be saved by providing the work necessary to save them. This points us to the work of Jesus to provide the work necessary to save us. Rahab’s family can claim nothing except that they are recipients of mercy because the mediation had been done by Rahab and therefore they were spared and taken into the family. Likewise, Jesus goes before us and makes a way for us to come
3. Rahab shows us the work of courageous action to oppose sin, rebellion and evil
Sin is a killer and Father has told us so from the beginning. “The day you eat of it you will die.”
Sin is rebellion. Rebellion is as the sin of divination.
The conquest of Canaan was for the purpose of rescuing God’s people of the cancer of idolatry in order to make a way for the salvation of the nations. This is love expressed in justice at the hand of the Father.
And lest this offend you, fast forward to that day outside the wall of Jerusalem when the Father would execute his Son so that he could save my lousy self and you. No one can ever say Father is not just.
The Lord told us that sin would create devastation and death and the only way to save is through death and the eradication of rebellion, and this is ultimately done through the Gospel’s proclamation and sometimes through the active work of the people of God’s Kingdom to who proclaims by their actions while saying the words.
Mankind, by action and nature, is in active rebellion against Father, Son and Spirit.
The result of sin is that man has propagated innumerable horrors on mankind and often man propagates innumerable horrors on himself under the delusion that sin is satisfying and meets a strong internal need when in fact it is destroying his very soul.
Sin is like a drug. People use illegal drugs because they do some very temporary good things. The only problem is that these things, in deception, are actually destroying the person.
Sin promises what it can’t deliver.
It is not just the job of the Christian to speak what is right; t it is the job of the Christian actively pursue what is right even if it means breaking man’s laws and / or following the spirit of truth rather than the letter of the law.
Somehow and some way Rahab had heard of the work of the Lord, and she believed. Rahab’s belief was not just a mental ascent to the reality of who the only God is and what he can do for her and her family, but Rahab’s belief included theological truth that led to the practice of truth in resisting her home city’s advances to give up God’s people.
Now, I hope to do a better job of taking time to deal with the development of a system of ethics for the Christian based on understanding the truth of Scripture in light of the absence of specific commands when we talk about Bonhoeffer for All Saint’s Day, but today I just want to focus on acting courageously to oppose sin in order to stir Christians’ from the haze of comfort to the awareness of and action against sin.
Just because we don’t live in a third world country or a developing country or among overt pagans does not mean that sin does not abound. In fact, sin just takes on a more “acceptable” hue or we become blinded to the abounding sin around us by being over concerned with the advance of our own comforts or agendas.
I suppose the issue is not what will be die for, but rather what will fight for.
Has anything grabbed you and won’t let you go?
Jesus actively opposes the Pharisee’s perversion of the Sabbath
Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus and his disciples on the Sabbath
Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement
“There was a time when the church was very powerful…. in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society…But the judgment of God is upon the church [today] as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century.”
Bonhoeffer’s deception and active role in seeking Hitler’s assassination
“Bonhoeffer always sought to be brave and to speak the truth, “to confess”, come what may; but at some point merely speaking the truth smacked of cheap grace…Bonhoeffer introduced us in 1935 to the problem of what we today call political resistance. The levels of confession and of resistance could no longer be kept neatly apart. The escalating persecution of the Jews generated an increasingly intolerable situation, especially for Bonhoeffer himself. We now realized that mere confession, no matter how courageous, inescapably meant complicity with the murderers, even though there would always be new acts of refusing to be co-opted and even though we would preach “Christ alone” Sunday after Sunday. During the whole time the Nazi state never considered it necessary to prohibit such preaching. Why should it? Thus we were approaching the borderline between confession and resistance, and if we did not cross this border, our confession was going to be no better than cooperation with the criminals. And so it became clear where the problem lay for the Confessing Church: we were resisting by way of confession, but we were not confessing by way of resistance.”
“Courageous people follow the spirit of truth which sometimes requires them to break the law’s letter and to defy unjust legislation.”
Part of following Jesus is the ability and willingness to call evil evil. But that’s just the start: we are to despise evil and act against it.”
Some Characteristics of Gospel Courage:
1. Know the God of the Bible from Genesis to Exodus
A. Process the hard passages of the Bible and see how Father acts toward sin and do the same
2. Reject Passivity
A. Never allow yourself to think that someone else will do it. If you are aware of the need, then it
could be Spirit leading you to act.
B. Don’t tell “pastor” about your desire and expect him to fulfill your call. We are not Catholic.
Pastor does not have extra “mojo”. You have the same “mojo”, so go and do what is right.
3. Don’t squelch anger at the ravages of sin, rather express righteous anger righteously
A. Nehemiah 13:25
4. Don’t avoid fighting, rather be willing to fight for right
If taken to the gallows because of the Gospel, then we go willingly and rejoice in the grace to go home. This does not mean that we are to allow sin and evil to ravage humanity passively.
5. Do something
A. Start a work
B. Advocate for a work already started
C. Begin to do the work others have pioneered before you
D. Give money and other needed resources
E. Be present to worship with God’s people and be able to hear the Spirit’s nudge
F. Be in fellowship with Christians in your local church
Big Idea: What are you going to fight for?
1. Discipleship of God’s people
2. Fellowship within the church (this will be a significant fight)
3. Stamping out of pornography among the young men and women of the church
4. Engaging in the advance of the Gospel among UPG’s
5. Local adoption
6. Engaging in the public debate on sensitive and hard issues
7. Running for and winning political office to pull a Wilberforce
8. Sex trafficking and the global slave trade
10. Real evangelism and service to the financially impoverished without making slaves
11. Confronting racism and bridging the gap between races in the church in North America
12. Fighting for the biblical and unique Christian institution of marriage
14. Teach your children to fight for those who can’t or don’t fight for themselves (Most people in history who were world changers were not in the mainstream of normalcy, rather they were on the fringes of the “in” and this gave them empathy and a desire to make a difference. Be careful not to foster elitism by encouraging our kids to just be in the middle of “normal” as defined by our culture.)
We will not be able to do everything. We won’t agree on how to do what we do. Not all agreed with the tact Bonhoeffer chose thinking him too extreme to be working for the Abweher (Nazi intelligence). In fact, because of the clandestine nature of the work, many of his former professors and many friends thought him to be working for Hitler not trying to exterminate Hitler. Many thought he could just go to America and tell the story and encourage the Allies to work harder and faster. Many thought pastors should not be so bold as to seek to kill while ignoring the mass killing of Jews and other “non-desirables” in the Nazi regime.
We can debate Bonhoeffer’s tactic; we can debate King’s theology; we can debate the “truthfulness” of Rahab, but we can never say they did nothing.