Through Christ's perfect life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection and ongoing work He has become the True Vine. Killed and planted in the grave, He rose and now indwells His people by the Spirit, producing His fruit through them abundantly; 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold - fruit, more fruit and much fruit. In the previous article we looked at how we need to dig down and root ourselves into the rich soil of grace and glory; Christ Himself is our Hope (1Timothy 1:1) and through Him we have the hope of our future, our identity, His promises and His strength.
But how do we obtain and maintain this hope?
Hebrews 11v1 - faith is the substance/assurance of things hoped for, the evidence/conviction of things not seen.
Galatians 5v5 - through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.
These verses tell us that our hope stems from our faith. We are continuing to work through the 5 words below. Now we will deal with faith:
Fruit > Hope > Faith > Grace > Glory
Faith means to trust, to believe, to be persuaded. Biblical faith means to trust that God is and who God is (Hebrews 11v6).
The Character of God
We trust that He is who He tells us He is in His word. We are persuaded that He is good. We are certain that He is truthful. We believe that He is merciful and gracious.
As we read passages such as Galatians 5v22-23 and 1 Corinthians 13v4-8 we are ultimately reading a description of the character of God. We've already mentioned Hebrews 11v6; whoever would draw near to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him". When Abraham prays to God on behalf of Sodom he pleads, "far be it from You to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked!...Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18v25). After Israel sinned at Sinai and broke the covenant they had just signed up to keep, God, in declaring His glory to Moses describes Himself as "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34v6).
We believe that the greatest display of God's character is the life of Christ as He became one of us, lived a life of compassion and laid down His life for us on the cross.
The Attributes of God
We trust that He is able to do what He says He will do in His word. We believe that He is in control. We are persuaded that He is all wise. We have faith that He is eternal. We are certain that He is ever present. Because of His power, wisdom and sovereignty God can't fail to keep His promises. He is able and therefore He is reliable.
We believe that one of the greatest displays of God's power is the resurrection of Christ, displaying His strength over Satan, death and sin.
These first two points of our faith are crucial to the next two. (This is why the first question in the devotional method of The 4Qs is Who is God? And why the second question is What is God Doing? God always acts according to who He is).
The Promises of God
Our hope in His promises comes from our faith in who He is. If we do not trust that God is gracious and that God is able, we will not be able to trust that His promises are sure. We can be persuaded that He will do what He promised He will do if we trust that He is trustworthy in His gracious, faithful character and that He is able to keep His word through His sovereign, powerful attributes. Here's an example of each:
Titus 1v2 - we hope in eternal life because God, who never lies, promised it (Character).
Romans 4v20-21 - Abraham trusted God was able to do what He promised (Attributes).
As we read through the Bible we are constantly reading passages about God being faithful to keep His word:
Joshua 22v4 - the LORD your God has given rest to your brethren, as He promised them.
1 Kings 8v56 - there has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.
Acts 13v23 - From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Saviour; Jesus.
Our faith and hope in the promises of God are powerful motivators for us to live lives of obedience that are pleasing to Him by His grace:
2 Corinthians 7v1 - having these promises [6v17-18], beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body and spirit, completing holiness in the fear of God.
1 John 3v3 - everyone who has this hope [3v2] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
The Commands of God
We trust that His commands are good. We are persuaded that God didn’t forbid certain things because He is a boring kill joy or a cruel taskmaster. But rather,
like the Psalmist, we believe that His commands are delightful, good, pleasant and beneficial
We trust that His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5v3)
We are persuaded that His yoke is easy and His burden is light
We trust that He is a good and kind and wise and fair Master who knows far better than us and has set up wise and good boundaries for us. Like a parent who teaches their child not to run across the road for their safety rather than to spoil their fun, so we trust that God has our wellbeing in mind as He gives us His good commands.
Faith and Hope - Our Root Work
This trusting (faith), gives us confidence (hope). This is our responsibility; to continue to build our faith and hope with the help of the Spirit. We cannot produce fruit, only Christ can. Our glad work is to grow in our trust and confidence in Him and to respond with obedience.
His is the Fruit Work - producing His character in us and through us and His is the Soil Work - being a gracious and glorious God who unites us to Himself. Ours is the Root Work - that middle work of rooting ourselves more and more into that rich soil.
We have spent a bunch (pardon the pun) of articles considering fruit and we have now finished looking at our work - Root Work. We now need to look further into the rich soil that our roots are to grow into; His grace and glory.
Fruit > Hope > Faith > Grace > Glory
Fruit Work - God's Work
The Five God Pleasing Fruits
Root Work - Our Work in Partnership with God
Hope - rooting our confidence in Christ by faith
Faith - trusting in God and responding to His Word
Soil Work - God's Work
Bearing Fruit Series:
Up the Apples and Pears (Christian Fruit, article 1)
Pulling a Martha 1 (Busy but Fruitless, article 2)
Pulling a Martha 2 (Responding to Christ's Love, article 3)
Not Needed, Loved (A True Perspective of Service, article 4)
Wild Grapes and Empty Fig Trees (What our Flesh Produces, article 5)
Plastic Fruit and Bushy Branches (Legalism, Hypocrisy, Pride and Judgement, article 6)
The New and True Vine (Jesus, the only God-pleasing, fruitful human, article 7)
My Hope is Built on Nothingness (How to Abide 1, article 8)
Don't Stop Believing (How to Abide 2, article 9)
Amazing Grace (The Beginning, Middle and End of the Christian Life, article 10)
Thine be the Glory (Why God Does what He Does, article 11)