Monday, February 23, 2009

Verse for Us Today

Put on The Whole Armor of God

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perserverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Faith OF His Name

In most, if not all of our Bibles, Acts 3:16 reads something like, “By faith in his name, this man whom you see and know was made strong.” The apostle Peter is here addressing the crowds who have come running. He is talking of the man born lame, for 40 years a beggar at the “Beautiful Gate” who is now walking and leaping and praising God in the temple.  How was all this done? Not by the power or piety of the disciples but by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (3:13).  How was the man healed? By “faith in the name of Jesus” (NIV).  But this is not what the Bible actually says.  In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, we read, “by the faith OF his name.”  What could this mean?  Indeed many times in the Bible we see “faith of...”  The King James Version, cleaving to the original language, furnishes  some examples of this, as in Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:16 and many other places.

To understand what the “faith of the name of Jesus," we need to tell the story of faith.  One of the first times we see the word for “faith” in the Bible is with Abraham.  In Hebrew the word for faith is “emunah."  We read that Abraham “believed in the Lord” (Genesis 15:6).   For me, the word faith gets very confusing.  I have found that the word “solid” is a better translation for the emunah/faith word of the Bible.  We could then say of Abraham, Abraham was “solid” on God.  But with Abraham’s descendants it is not so.  In fact, God says specifically that they are not faithful, not “solid” on God, “they are a perverse generation, sons in which there is no faithfulness” (Deut. 32:20). How does God deal with this faithlessness, this lack of solidity?  We glimpse the answer in Deuteronomy 7:9.  Where we let the banner of faith fall to the ground, God picks it up. The word for faith or solidity is now attached only to God,
“God has caused you to go out with a strong hand, and redeemed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.  Because of this know that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful, the 'solid on you' God.”

But the story of faith does not end here.  Remember David: how he wanted to build a house for God but God says, “No, I will build a house for you.”  And here the word “emunah” is used again, God says that he will be faithful to the house of David, he will be solid on behalf of David’s dynasty (2 Sam. 7:16).  And in David’s prayer we begin to know how glorious this promise is.    David understands that God being “solid” on the side of his dynasty is going to be as big as the Exodus (vs. 23)  The Lord’s being solid behind  David and his seed will mean freedom and rest and peace and life for the people.

But the final scene in the story of faith is yet to come.  The prophet Isaiah has a vision.  He sees that God is indeed going to be solid behind the son of David...and how!  In his vision the son of David, this root of Jesse, is a “root out of dry ground,” a suffering servant (this suffering servant is also the Lord God, but more on that in another article!)but in the midst of his suffering, God will be faithful and loving.   To paraphrase Isaiah 55:3, God promises his people, I will give you the solid (faithful) love that I give to this root of David.   We see the effects of that faithful, “solid” love in Isaiah 53.  This Jewish man of sorrows is beaten but “by his stripes we are healed,” he dies a criminal’s death but God turns that death into something holy, an offering given by God that takes away sin.   This Davidic messiah goes to the grave but God in his love raises him up and promises that he will see his children.  God in his solid
love for the servant declares him to be “in the right” and “making many right.”to paraphrase Isaiah 53:11.  God in his solid, faithful love for his “boy” gives him all wealth, many children, victory.

And isn’t this all exactly what happened to Jesus?  Jesus the Davidic Messiah is saved in the garden, enabled to give that triumphant shout on the cross, triumphant even in the tomb, raised from the dead, exalted at the right hand of the Father.  If this isn’t totally solid love, I don’t know what is!

This is the meaning behind that mysterious phrase in Acts 3.  What has made the lame man walk and leap, is the “solidity” of the name of Jesus.  God has established, solidified the name of Jesus Anointed of Nazareth.  This is clues us in to the meaning whenever we see the mysterious "faith of Jesus," it is the solidity of Jesus, God’s solidly loving up his only begotten son.
Long ago David had prayed, Lord emunah “solidify” or “establish” your name and now God has done it.  Why did David pray this prayer?   Because he knew that where the name of the Lord is established, there is healing and David wants healing and health and life for his people.  In Acts 3 and in our own lives, David’s prayer has been answered.