Faith is more than Brain Activity


I’m starting to read Romans in anticipation of a sermon series in 2019.

Here are some interesting verses on faith:

1:5 – “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…”

  • Paul’s is seeking OBEDIENCE that is from faith.  The ultimate purpose is not faith without obedience, but faith expressed or lived out in obedience.

16:26 – “…according to the command of God, to bring about the obedience of faith…”

  • the 5th verse and the next to last verse form an “inclusio” on the obedience of faith.

4:12 – “…who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…”

  • He does not say “think” or “feel” or “think” but “walk” which is a metaphor throughout scripture for a person’s way of living.  See Psalm 1; Proverbs 3:5,6; Deut. 8:1ff.

6:1-14 – Baptism, Death and Resurrection, Presenting your members to God….all ideas speaking of new life of obedience of faith.

This is Romans, the greatest source of understanding salvation by Faith alone (1:16; 3:23-25; 3:28; 4:1-8; 4:22-25; 5:1; 8:1; 10:5-13).  Yet the idea of obedience, walking a godly path, living a resurrected life, permeates this book from start to finish.

The Reformers spoke of faith as knowledge, then agreement and then trust.  We are on thin ice if we think of faith as only knowledge, only something that happens in the mind.


mustard seedsThe story of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7 makes the point in a variety of ways that the Lord works what is small sometimes.  Gideon’s army was winnowed down from thousands to 300.  so I got thinking, perhaps because I am the pastor of a small church (which is probably close to average for most churches), and made this list of small people or items in the Bible.

  • Word – Gen 1 – unlike myths which had the gods make things out of monsters, etc.
  • Abraham – no land, no nation, one son
  • Jacob, young son and a scoundrel
  • Joseph – called from prison….
  • Moses – act of desperation by his family, sister, failure, goat-herd
  • Joshua and Caleb – 2 of 12 willing to go
  • Jericho – shouting and marching
  • Deborah/Barak – small force
  • Gideon – hidden, reluctant, indecisive, small army       (Vs Samson)
  • Ruth – Moabite widow with no resources
  • Hannah, desperate prayer in a dark time
  • David, youngest son, v Goliath (compare to when he counted his troops)
  • Servant Girl and Naaman
  • Rejoicing and Weeping in Ezra over the size of temple
  • Josiah, boy king
  • Woman who dropped mill stone
  • Jonah – fishermen, fish, gourd
  • Elijah alone?
  • Widow and Elisha
  • Israel v Egypt, Assyria, Babylon
  • Daniel & Friends – captives
  • Jesus – obscure, barn, Nazareth
  • 12 unlikely leaders
  • Boy’s lunch
  • The Lord’s Prayer – few words
  • Faith as a mustard seed
  • Parables of growth: seed, yeast
  • I Corinthians – you were not much
  • Lydia – women met outside for prayer
  • Dorcas – helping the poor
  • Zacchaeus – a wee little man
  • Woman who washed Jesus feet
  • Parable of Pharisee and Sinner
  • Widow’s mite
  • Present at the Cross – crowd was gone
  • Isolation of Jesus at the cross
  • John  – prisoner on a rocky island
  • Paul – prisoner…
  • Church as a Body – foot v head argument

Murmuring in the Tent –

So dear readers, with the holiday season fast approaching – and I am not referring to anything having to do with the NFL – the postings will be sporadic at best.

“Is that a change?” You ask.

Let’s say, even more sporadic.

I am enjoying this work by Alister McGrath.  What is it about British Evangelicals?  Their academics are accessible (maybe it is the importance of reading widely over there that makes them good writers) and their pastors who write are scholarly.  Too often American evangelicals are either academic and irrelevant or too much “how-to” with chest thumping to be of much help.

I am also thinking that the Gospel stories need to be told, not summarized, analyzed, abstracted and alliterated.

I’ve decided that jazz and art classes ought to be added to the seminary curriculum – one needs a strategy of diversion to get to the message sometimes.

and, about that murmmuring….i am not a fan of the cultural mish-mash of Christmas or is it Xmas, but have come to look forward to Advent each year.

Here, for fun is something you can cut up in December to keep your thoughts Advent like, and them make a paper chain. Print this on colored paper and you have art.  Put on some Jazz and you are set.  adventchain.numbered