Mankind Was Created In God’s Image

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Being created in God’s image (likeness) does not mean we are “little” gods or that we possess His supernatural attributes. God created mankind in His own image to be a reflection of His holy character (personality). We have the ability to reflect His character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 5:6). Mankind was a unique creation of God that was set apart from the rest of the created beings. God gave man the authority (rule) over all other living creatures that He created (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:5-8). God has the ultimate rule over all things but He has delegated this authority to man.

God’s Purpose For Man

God’s purpose for mankind is that we honor, serve, and fellowship with Him. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). Adam and Eve were the first man and woman that God created. At the time of creation, man was perfect in nature, reflecting God’s character. A perfect harmony existed between God and man because Adam and Eve honored God by obeying His commands (Genesis 2:16-17). In our world today, the image (likeness) of God in man is not clear. The reflection of God’s character is dim.

What happened to destroy this perfect relationship? What went wrong?
Why do we need salvation?

Man’s Problem: Sin

God commanded Adam and Eve not to “eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). When they disobeyed God and ate from the tree (Genesis 3:1-7), sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). Adam and Eve’s sin passed to the entire human race, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is rebellion against God. It is breaking God’s law, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is individual acts of doing what God has told us not to do or not doing what God has commanded us to do. Sin is not limited to our actions but it includes what we think or say (Matthew 5:21-48). Sin can also refer to a general human condition. The perfect nature of mankind from creation no longer exists. We inherited a sinful nature from Adam and we are born with it.

Is sin serious? Does sin have consequences? Does sin hinder our salvation?

Sin’s Penalty: Death

God’s holiness demands a penalty for man’s sin, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). The consequence (result) of sin is death. The Bible teaches that death resulting from sin separates a person from God. Spiritual death separates a person from the life of God, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Spiritual death begins at birth, man is born with a sinful nature, and continues to sin throughout life until physical death. Physical death occurs when a person’s soul separates from his or her body (Hebrews 9:27). Eternal death separates a person, both soul and body, from God forever in Hell (Revelation 20:15). Hell is a “place of torment” (Luke 16:28b), it is a “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).

How can we have eternal life and avoid damnation in Hell? Can we receive God's salvation by being a good person?

Religion: Good Works

Are you a good person? Do you believe in God? Do you go to church?
Many people try to satisfy God’s judgment and attempt to gain or earn eternal life many different ways. They think they are going to heaven based on a system of belief (religion) or a moral code. We will examine some common misconceptions.

Man says, “I believe in God."
The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (James 2:19). Believing that God exists is a good start but that alone will not get a person into heaven. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21).

Man says, “I am a good person and I do good deeds (help others, sacrifice time and effort, donate money to church/charity).”
The Bible says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6a). Giving of time and money and helping others are “good” things to do but they will not save us from eternal death in Hell. Remember that we were all born with a sinful nature so it is not what we do but who we are (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Man says, “I go to church, worship God and take place in religious ceremonies (traditions).”
The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Going to church and taking part in religious ceremonies or ordinances (i.e. communion) again are “good” things but they do not take care of man’s sin problem. Churchgoing folk may even fool a lot of people, including themselves, into thinking they are “good”. On the outside (actions, speech) people may even appear to be Christians but God knows the heart of all men. “He (Jesus) said to them (Pharisees) “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).

Man says, “I am not as bad as so and so nor do I commit major sins (murder, adultery, robbery).”
The Bible says, “Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin” (Proverbs 20:9). God is perfect and therefore all sin is serious in His sight. The Bible teaches that sin is not limited to just actions but also includes thoughts and words. “He (Jesus) went on “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” (Mark 7:20-23).

Man is powerless to save himself from sin’s penalty of death. Our best efforts will not pay the debt of sin demanded from us by a holy and just God.
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24)?  
What is God's plan of salvation?

Christ’s Payment
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God hates sin but He loves sinners. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross in our place. Jesus, who is God, became a man and lived the life (without sin) that we cannot live. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21) (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus died the death that we could not die. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We have learned that our best efforts, all of our righteous acts, cannot restore our relationship with God. When Jesus died on the cross, He provided a way for us to have a right relationship with God here on earth and in heaven. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

How can Jesus Christ become your Savior? How do we receive salvation?

Trust In Christ

If you want to enter into a right relationship with God and have eternal life in heaven you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In order to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you must repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone as the only hope of eternal life.

The Bible teaches us that all people “must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21b). When we repent of our sins, God forgives us and wipes our slate clean. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19a). Repentance is more than just asking God for forgiveness, it is also changing our attitude toward sin. We must now live in a way that is pleasing to God.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, it means that you believe that He is the Son of God, who died for you on the cross and rose from the dead. It is a transfer of trust from your own good works or religion to Christ as the only way of salvation. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
What are the results of our salvation?

God’s Promise: Eternal Life
Jesus said in John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” What an awesome promise for those that put their faith in Christ alone! Jesus tells us that the believer: 1) will have eternal life, 2) will not come into God’s judgment (not be condemned), and 3) has passed out of death into life – no longer being separated from God but living with Him forever in heaven. Do you have a desire to have a relationship with God? Will you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today? No matter the time or the place you can pray to God now.
How do you receive God's salvation?

  • Admit that you are a sinner, confess that you have sinned against God and ask Him for forgiveness.
  • Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who died for you on the cross, rose from the dead, and is Lord.
  • Call upon Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior enabling you to turn from sin and to live for Him.
If you made the decision today to trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, we rejoice in your salvation and encourage you to walk with God daily! Pray to God, read the Bible, and join a Bible believing church to spiritually grow in your Christian faith. Share with others the Gospel of Jesus Christ so they too may know of God's love and gift of eternal life. “Then he said to them all: “If anyone could come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).


God’s Attributes

 God is holy. No one compares to God (1 Samuel 2:2; Exodus 15:11).

God is one. He is the only true God. He has revealed himself as a trinity of three persons – the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, each of whom is equally God (Jeremiah 10:10; Isaiah 45:5).

God is eternal. He always has existed and he always will (Psalm 90:2; Revelation 1:8).

God is just. He is our Creator, Sustainer of life and Judge. His justice is perfect (Isaiah 30:18; Psalm 97:2).

God is omniscient. He is all knowing. He knows everything in the past, present and future (Psalm 119:168; Psalm 94:11).

God is omnipresent. He is present in all places at the same time. God is fully aware of everything that happens everywhere. He knows what we do and say and our every thought (Jeremiah 23:24).

God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. He can do all things (Psalm 135:6).

God is sovereign. He is the sole and supreme ruler of the universe (Job 37:23; Daniel 4:35).


"Christian Living"

"And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." -- Acts 11:26. Every opening of the New Testament contains information about Christian living. Only a small portion of scripture pertinent to this subject is included in the text that follows. By no means is the following information meant to represent any official religious doctrine. Any apparent conflicts should be resolved using the Bible as the only authoritative guide.
CHRISTIANS You can be a part of the church that Christ died for, only if you do what the Bible says to be saved. Whether one is a Christian or not depends on whether one has done what God has instructed. Not everyone who calls themselves "Christians" are truly following His instructions (I John 2:3-6). The Bible indicates that a true Christian is one who is a follower of Christ in all things. Those who attempt less are not truly God's children (I John 3:10).
Other terms that the New Testament uses for Christians include:
disciples                         (Acts 11:26)
brethren                          (Col. 1:2, James 1:2)
children of God                   (I John 3:1)
members of the body (the church)  (I Cor. 12:12, Eph.1:22-23)
saints                            (Acts 26:10, Rom. 1:7)
priests                           (Rev. 1:6, I Pet. 2:9)
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God" (I Pet. 2:9-10). Please consider some of the ways Christians are to be different from other people in the world. The "people of God" are to live in the world but to keep unspotted from the world (James 1:27, Rom. 12:2, I Tim. 5:22). "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Col. 1:13).
RIGHTEOUSNESS "For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). Christ expects His followers to be righteous (Matt. 5:6, 10). Righteousness means living rightly. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:3). To be righteous before God requires that we obey ALL of His commands (Luke 1:6). Anything else is self-righteousness. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12). "All unrighteousness is sin" (I John 5:17).
STUDY We must study God's Word so that we may know His will (II Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:11). We also must study to be ready to tell others about the gospel (I Pet. 3:15, Rom. 1:16). We must have a love of the truth (II Thess. 2:10). It is only through study and a devotion to God's Word that we can increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10, Rom. 15:14). Not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of God (Matt. 7:21). We must study the Bible so that we may know His will and do what He expects of us.
FAITHFULNESS God demands an active faith (James 2:14-19, 22; 1:22). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58). We must not let our past sinful lives interfere with our present commitment (Phil. 3:13). God expects Christians to be obedient in everything He commands (II Cor. 2:9). God gave "commandments," not "suggestions." The Christian is expected to be faithful in church attendance (Heb. 10:25). We are told to never stop praying (I Thess. 5:17). "And you ... now He has reconciled ... to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight -- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard" (Col. 1:21-23). It is possible to fall away from God (Heb. 3:12, I Cor. 10:12, Gal. 5:4, Matt. 13:21). We must be "faithful until death to receive the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10, II Tim. 4:7). If we fall from grace, we must "repent and return to righteousness" (Rev. 2:5, Rom. 11:17-24, I John 1:9).
LOVE The greatest commandment is: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mat. 22:37, I Jn 4:19). All God's commandments are summed up in this saying: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Rom. 13:8-10, Gal. 5:14, Matt. 22:39, Col. 3:14). We are expected to love even those who hate us (Matt. 5:43-47, Rom. 12:14). "Strive for peace with all men" (Heb. 12:14, Rom. 12:18). Jesus said, "All men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Christians are to do good to all, but especially to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal. 6:10, Rom. 12:10). Love will cover a multitude of sins and permit us to be forgiving of one another (I Pet. 4:8, Col. 3:13). Let all that you do be done with love (I Cor. 16:14). Husbands and wives are to love one another. Parents are to love their children. God prefers that Christians marry Christians (II Cor. 6:14, I Cor. 7:12-16). God demands that we be faithful to one mate (Matt. 5:31-32). Divorce is not acceptable (Rom. 7:2-3). He does not tolerate sexual immorality (adultery) (I Cor. 6:13, 18). Even lust is condemned (Matt. 5:27-28). Homosexuality is shameful in God's eyes (Rom. 1:26-27, Lev. 18:22). For such sin were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed (Gen. 19:4-9). Christians are not to love worldly things (I John 2:15-17). We are not to love wealth, but are to be content with what we have (Heb. 13:5, I Tim. 6:8-10, I Cor. 4:11, Phil. 4:11, II Cor. 9:8). Love God and He will provide (Matt. 6:33).
SERVICE Our love for others must be in deed and in truth (I John 3:18, I Cor. 13). "Through love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13, Matt. 20:26-27). Christians are to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2). We must also be servants of God (I Pet. 2:16, Rom. 6:16). One way we serve God is to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1, Eph. 5:2). All that we do should be to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31). Jesus Christ came to serve (Matt. 20:28). He taught us by His example.
EXAMPLE Since Christ left us His example, Christians must follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21, Matt. 16:24). When we consider whether something is right or wrong, we should ask ourselves: What would Jesus do in this situation? Where would He go? How would He behave? (etc.) Also, we should follow the examples set by more mature Christians (II Thess. 3:7, 9; I Thess. 1:6, I Cor. 4:16, Phil. 3:17, Heb. 6:12). All Christians are expected to set an example for other Christians in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (I Tim. 4:12, I Thess. 1:7). We must avoid doing things that would cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble (Rom. 14:13-21, I Cor. 8:7-13). A Christian, as described in the New Testament, does not act differently when in different company. As ambassadors for Christ we must also live honorably before the world (II Cor. 5:20, 8:21). Christians must be examples for the sinful and shine as lights in a world of darkness (Phil. 2:15, Eph. 5:8). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16). We must remember that we have been instructed to obey the civil laws (Rom. 13:1-7, Matt. 22:21). Children are going to make up their minds about Jesus based on what they see at home. We must be examples that our children should imitate. It is the Christian home where the world can really see a difference in life. From observing our family life, men and women are going to see the real meaning of Christian conversion. From what they see of how you live as a Christian, they are going to become more interested, or less interested, in this One you call the Christ.
SELF-CONTROL "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23). The most difficult, but most important, thing to control is the tongue (James 3:2-12). One's religion is useless if one's speech is not under control (James 1:26). God has always expected His followers to be honest (truthful) about all things (Ex. 20:16, Prov. 12:17-22, Matt. 5:33-37, Eph. 4:25). Gossip and abusive, insulting language are not to come from Christians (Matt. 5:22, I Tim. 5:13, Titus 3:2, James 4:11). Our speech is to be sound and good (Eph. 4:29, Titus 2:8). Using God's name in any form in vulgarity is clearly forbidden by God's word (Ex. 20:7). A Christian's speech is to be free of profanity and filthy language (Col. 3:8). The Christian is expected to take care of his (or her) body because it is the "temple of God" (I Cor. 3:16-17). With this in mind, as Christians mature they usually understand that it is best to refrain from tobacco, alcohol, over-eating, and other things that may be unhealthful (Eph. 5:18, Rom. 14:21). "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:22, Rom. 12:9). Such things as gambling, pornography, and lewd dancing are, therefore, best avoided by Christians. "Bad company ruins good morals" (I Cor. 15:33).
CONCLUSIONS Christians must examine themselves regularly to see whether they are living as Christians (II Cor. 13:5, I Cor. 9:27). Whatever our task, we should work heartily (Col. 3:23). Do not forget: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). "Put on the whole armor of God" and be prepared to fight "the good fight" (Eph. 6:10-17, II Tim. 4:7). In spite of God's help, many will suffer as Christians (I Pet. 4:16, Acts 14:22, II Tim. 3:12). We must learn to rejoice even in our tribulations (Acts 5:41, Rom. 5:3-5). The Bible describes a Christian as one who is a new creation, having put to death the former sinful self (II Cor. 5:17, Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6:6). Because of our love for and responsibility to God, we strive to follow the New Testament pattern for Christian living. However, because we all sin, we never reach the perfection for which we strive (Rom. 3:23, I John 1:8). If we will follow in Jesus' steps, His blood will continue to cleanse us of sins (I John 1:7, II Cor. 5:7). Nevertheless, we are not saved because of any of these works of righteousness of ours, but through the grace of God (Acts 15:11, Tit. 3:5). Let us please God and "walk worthy of the Lord" (Col. 1:10). Let us be Christians that are known for our righteousness, study, faithfulness, love, service, example, and self-control. "Have no anxiety about anything" (Phil. 4:6). Only as Christians who are striving to serve and please God according to His will can we know and feel "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Phil. 4:7).


Building Christian Character on Faith
It has ever been God's will that we be like Him in nature and character; thus, all of the commandments, both in the Old and New Testaments, are designed to reveal His character.  When His people obey those commandments in faith, they become increasingly like Him. God says repeatedly, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."  In other words, "Be like Me."

In my last article, I suggested from the context of 2 Peter 1:1-11 that in building Christian character, we partake of the "divine nature."  In this article, I want to show that we build Christian character on the foundation of faith.  You remember Paul says faith is the "substance" (or foundation) of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).  After saying we must share in the "divine nature", Peter says, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7).  Scholars say the word "add" is better translated "supply".  You are to supply "in your faith" all the traits of Christian character.

Faith is the basis of all the Christian characteristics.  It is the root from which all the qualities of Christian character spring.  James Hastings remarked, "All true morality is born of spirituality, and all complete morality is born of the spirituality created and maintained by Christian faith."  The Christian life is begun, continued, and consummated by faith.  We are saved by faith; we walk by faith; and some day, we shall receive the end of our faith (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:9).

True faith is related to the Person of Christ

In building on faith, we first must see that faith is related to a Person -- Jesus Christ.  As faith in Christ is the means of receiving God's grace in building Christian character.  It is faith in Christ that makes a Christian, and it is faith in Christ that makes it possible to live like a Christian.  It is Christ who gives us spiritual victory, but our access to this victory is through our faith in Him.  Paul says, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).  But John reminds us, "... And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1 John 5:4).  Faith has been compared to the coupling between a powerful train engine and the cars it pulls.  Our link with Christ is faith; take away the link, and the power ceases.

The apostle Paul, whose faith in Christ was strong and abiding, recognized the source of all spiritual power is God.  He knew his labors with the Lord were simply the cooperation of his faith with the power of divine grace.  He says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

What are the characteristics of faith?

What are the characteristics of a faith that make possible the successful development of Christian character?

First, there must be the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).  No child of God can possibly be even remotely concerned with the building of Christian character unless he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is the Lord and Master over his life.  Jesus is the way to Christian character and the truth about Christian character, and His life is Christian character itself.

Second, the faith that brings spiritual victory in Christ must be a personal faith.  It cannot be a faith imposed by one person upon another.  Nothing worthwhile is accomplished by getting people to accept Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God blindly.  Parents must certainly bring up their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4), but the faith that is meaningful to those children must be a faith that truly is theirs personally.  Each one must weigh the evidence and make up his mind for himself.  It's not just "Faith of Our Fathers," as the song goes, it must be "faith of our own."

Third, true faith is trust in Jesus.  It must be more than belief in the reality of Jesus' deity and power; it must be the means of depending on Him -- trusting in Him for the power to develop Christian character.  One's trust must not be in self, but in Jesus. D.I. Moody wrote: "In what do you trust?  Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; trust in money, and you may have it taken away from you; trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded."

One who truly trusts in the Lord for power to supply in his faith the graces of Christian living, looks to Him as the sole means of making such living possible.  He views himself as the clay and Jesus as the potter.  Thus, his constant prayer is, "Lord, mold me and make me after thy will."  Because he depends on the power of God through Christ for the development of Christian character, he enjoys a full, rich prayer life.  In prayer, he humbly admits that he is weak and God is strong.  Prayer proves trust.  Prayer declares that "God is able."  He is able to make all grace to abound toward us (2 Corinthians 9:8).  He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).  So we will pray always (Ephesians 6:18).  We will pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  A Christian will pray for wisdom to understand the true meaning of the Christian qualities, and he will pray for power to make them real in his life.  James advises, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

In the early days when civilization was moving westward, a lone traveler came to the banks of the Mississippi River in the twilight, but the road ended at the water's edge, and there was no bridge.  It was bitterly cold; and, rather than face the prospect of spending the night without shelter, the man went down on his hands and knees and began trembling as he crossed the frozen surface, thinking any moment he might fall through.  He was about halfway across when he heard the sound of singing, mingled with the clap of iron horseshoes on the frozen surface of the river.  Looking back over his shoulder, the traveler, to his amazement, saw a four-horse team pulling a big load of logs.  Where he had been creeping with fear, one who knew the strength of the ice came along with a mighty load, singing.  Many a Christian creeps trembling out on God's promises, where another, stronger in faith, goes singing through life upheld by the same Word.  God can help us to be and do all these things; but it takes true faith, which is trust in and dependence upon Him.

Faith is obedience.  Thayer defines faith as "a steadfast trust conjoined with obedience."  It should be stressed that true obedience to the will of God must be prompted by faith.  We often sing the beautiful old song "Trust and Obey."  That is the way it should be.  However, some live it differently.  Some seem to sing "Trust and Trust," and others "Obey and Obey."  It takes both trust and obedience.  Any attempt to build Christian character apart from faith will end in defeat.  "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).  The context of this passage illustrates the connection between acceptable obedience and genuine faith.  We call Hebrews eleven the "faith chapter," but it does not teach a "dead faith" (James 2:24).  "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain"; "By faith Noah... prepared an ark for the saving of his household"; "By faith Abraham obeyed" (Hebrews 11:4, 7, 8).  True faith obeys.

It was not the obedience per se of Abel, Noah, and Abraham that pleased God, but rather the obedience that was prompted by faith.  Our text commands that we practice virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, but only in connection with our faith in God (2 Peter 1:1-11).  This kind of faith in Jesus avails in the building of Christian character because it is a "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).  Thus, diligence in the building of Christian character must be focused on faith.

 Although obedience is not the means of producing faith, it is the only means of proving that faith is really alive.  James says, "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.'  Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works" (James 2:18).  A Christian can never prove to the world be a mere verbal affirmation of his faith that he is a follower of Jesus.  It is only when his faith is translated into obedience to the Word of God that his influence will reflect the holiness of Jesus.

Faith means visions, aspiration, and transformation

Faith in Jesus means vision -- the vision of Jesus' perfection.  When we live a life of faith in the Son of God, we live in the presence of moral and spiritual perfection.  When we catch a vision of Jesus, we see the possibility of our lives reflecting the holiness of Him who is the paragon of purity and goodness.

Faith in Jesus means aspiration.  We not only catch a vision of Jesus' perfection, but that vision creates in us a passionate desire to possess it.  We want to be like Him.

Faith in Jesus means transformation.  With this vision of Jesus filling our minds, and the aspiration to be like Him directing our lives, we are changed into the likeness of our spiritual vision and aspiration.  We are transformed into the likeness of Him in whom our faith is grounded.  "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What is the status of your faith?  Do you truly believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God, and that He supplies power for Christian living?  Are you truly dependent upon him for power to build Christian character?  Faith is the answer.


What the Bible Say about 
Christian Values & Christian Living

A list of ten values or principles for living that are emphasized most strongly in the Bible.

The New Testament of the Bible tells of two Kingdoms; The Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God. 

The kingdom of this world is under the influence of Satan (Luke 4:5-6, John 14:30-31, 1 John 5:18-20, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The dominant values of the world include wealth, power, pleasure, revenge, fame, vanity and status. These things are most important to people who perceive no power or purpose beyond themselves. Worldly values promote jealousies, resentments and conflicts among people in accordance with the purposes of Satan (John 8:44, Acts 5:3, Romans 16:17-20, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:25-32, 2 Timothy 2:22-26, 1 John 3:8-10) .

The kingdom of God (also known as the Kingdom of Heaven) is not a geographic location. It exists within the world among those people who put their faith, trust and loyalty in God (Luke 17:20-21). The values of the kingdom of God are often the opposite of worldly values: kindness and respect for all people instead of power; humility instead of status, fame and vanity; honesty and generosity instead of wealth; self-control instead of pleasure; forgiveness instead of revenge. Christian values promote peace and good will among people in accordance with the purposes of God.
These are the things we strive for if we are sincere followers of Christ. We will never achieve perfection in this life, but those people who strive to obey God often find a sense of joy and peace that no worldly rewards can match!

1. Worship only God
One day, a religious leader asked Jesus which of the commandments was most important:
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' (NIV, Mark 12:28-30)
The Hebrews of Old Testament times tended to lapse into worship of pagan deities and statues of animals or other objects, but anything that takes the place of our devotion to God becomes an idol or false god, and that is forbidden by the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6). Jesus particularly singled out love of wealth as a false god (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), and other Bible passages mention greed, covetousness, arrogance, gluttony and pride as being equivalent to idolatry.
In today's world, many things compete against God for our devotion. These are some of the things that can become modern-day idolatry if we let them become too important to us:
  • Excessive attention to material things such as houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, physical appearance, entertainment, etc.
  • Pursuit of wealth, power, fame, pleasure or status
  • Excessive devotion to self, job, hobbies, country, ideologies, heroes, leaders, even family
Bible references: 1 Samuel 15:23, Matthew 6:31-34, 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Acts 14:11-15, 1 Corinthians 10:14, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5, Philippians 3:18-19, 1 Timothy 6:6-11, 6:17-20, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Peter 4:1-6

2. Respect all people
After saying "Love the Lord your God" is the most important of the commandments, Jesus continued,
The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV, Mark 12:31)
The English word "love" has many different meanings, but the Greek word, agape, used in the New Testament, is commonly known as "Christian love." It means respect, affection, benevolence, good-will and concern for the welfare of the one loved.
In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made the point that we should extend our Christian love to all people of the world, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction. We must practice that Christian love even toward our enemies! (Matthew 5:43-48)
Jesus' Golden Rule is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." We should not say or do anything unless we can answer "Yes" to the question, "Would I want that said or done to me?" Neither should we fail to do the good things we would expect of others.
Bible references: Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 7:12, 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:31, 10:25-28, John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8-10, 15:1-2, James 2:8

3. Be humble
Humility or being humble is a quality of being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons. Humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony with all persons. It dissipates anger and heals old wounds. It allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God's people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power-seeker (Proverbs 17:7, Matthew 20:20-28).
Bible references: Matthew 5:5-9, 20:25-28, Mark 9:35, 1 Corinthians 10:24, Ephesians 4:1-6, Philippians 2:2-8, 2 Timothy 2:22-25

4. Be honest
Honesty and integrity are held as very important values throughout the Bible, and any deception to gain an advantage or harm another is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) and other Bible passages. Deception may be by false statements, half-truths, innuendo, or failing to tell the whole truth. It is all too common in advertising, business dealings, politics and everyday life. We must strongly resist the temptation to engage in any form of theft, cheating, deception, innuendo, slander or gossip.
Rationalization is a form of self-deception by which we convince ourselves that sinful actions are justified in order to achieve a good result, but this is really just another form of dishonesty (Galatians 6:7-8, James 1:26, 1 John 1:8). Holiness is in living by the commandments, not in achieving an end result (Matthew 4:8-10, 16:26). In Biblical teaching, the ends do not justify the means!
Bible references: Exodus 20:15, Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 16:19-20, 25:13-16, Psalms 15:1-5, 24:3-5, Proverbs 10:9, 11:1, 11:3, 12:22, 16:28, 19:1, 20:10, 24:28, 28:6, 28:20, Isaiah 33:15-16, Zechariah 7:9, Mark 10:19, Luke 3:12-14, 16:10-12, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 2 Corinthians 7:2, 2 Corinthians 8:21, Ephesians 4:25, Philippians 4:8-9, Colossians 3:9, Hebrews 13:18, 1 Peter 2:12, 3:10

5. Live a moral life
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Jesus gave a list of actions that constitute immoral uses of the body: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, arrogance and foolishness. The apostle Paul gave similar lists.
We often think of morality in terms of sexual sins, but according to Jesus, sins such as slander, greed, deceit, and arrogance are equally immoral.
Bible references: Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:27-28, 15:18-19, Mark 7:20-22, 10:11-12, Romans 13:11-14, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:16-26, Ephesians 5:1-7, Colossians 3:5-10, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-9

6. Be generous with time and money
The Bible tells us to share generously with those in need, and good things will come to us in turn. Each of us has something to offer to someone in need. We can give our money and our time to charity, be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do volunteer work or choose a service-oriented occupation. We may give unselfishly of our time to our spouse, children or parents.
Bible references: Leviticus 19:9-10, 25:35-38, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Proverbs 14:21, 28:27, Isaiah 58:10-11, Matthew 5:42, 6:1-2, 25:31-46, Luke 6:38, 12:33, 21:1-4, Acts 20:35, Romans 12:6-8, 2 Corinthians 9:5-7, Hebrews 13:1-3, 13:15-16, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 1 John 3:17

7. Practice what you preach; don't be a hypocrite
If there was any one group of people that Jesus couldn't stand, it was hypocrites! The Pharisees of Jesus' time were a religious and political party that insisted on very strict observance of Biblical laws on tithing, ritual purity and other matters. At the same time, many of the Pharisees forgot the true spirit and intent of the law and became self-indulgent, self-righteous, snobbish, and greedy. That led Jesus to remarks such as,
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (NIV, Matthew 23:27-28)
It is not the things we say that really matter; it is the things that we do (Matthew 7:15-20). If we claim to be Christians but do not let Jesus' teachings guide our lives, we are nothing but hypocrites.
Bible references: Psalms 50:16-17, Isaiah 29:13-15, Jeremiah 7:1-11, Micah 3:11-12, Matthew 6:1-7, 7:1-5, 7:21-23, 15:7-9, 23:1-33, Luke 20:46-47, Romans 2:21-24, James 1:22-27, 2:14-24, 1 John 1:5-7, 2:3-6, 2:9, 4:19-21

8. Don't be self-righteous
No one is perfect; we are all sinners in one way or another (Romans 3:23). Living a moral life means taking responsibility for controlling our own behavior. If we say or even think we are better than people we consider to be "sinners," we are guilty of the sin of self-righteousness. It is not our right to look down on, criticize, judge, condemn, or try to control other people. Judgment is to be left to God. Jesus said,
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. ( Matthew 7:1-5)
This does not deny the right of governments to maintain law and order and collect taxes. Jesus and other New Testament leaders supported the authority of civil governments (Matthew 22:15-22, Romans 13:1-7).
Bible references: Proverbs 26:12, Isaiah 5:21, Matthew 7:1-5, 9:10-13, 18:10, Luke 6:32-42, 7:36-50, 18:9-14, John 8:1-8, Romans 2:1-4, 3:23, 14:1, 14:10-12, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 13:1-7, 16:14, Galatians 6:1-3, James 2:12-13, 4:11-12, 1 John 1:8

9. Don't hold a grudge
Jesus said there is no place for hatred, holding a grudge, revenge, retaliation or getting even in the life of a Christian:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (NIV, Matthew 5:38-40)
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV, Matthew 5:43-45)
Bearing a grudge and seeking revenge are never appropriate responses to a perceived wrong. A grudge destroys the grudge-holder with bitterness, and revenge only escalates hostilities. Jesus told us we must reconcile with our adversaries, forgive their transgressions, and let go of the anger that may tempt us to commit an act of revenge.
Bible references: Leviticus 19:18, Psalms 37:8-9, Proverbs 10:12, 12:16, 15:1, 15:7, 19:11, 20:22, 24:29, Matthew 5:21-26, 5:43-48, Romans 12:17-21, 1 Corinthians 6:7-8, Ephesians 4:26, 4:31-32, Colossians 3:7-8, James 1:19-20, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:9-11, 4:19-21

10. Forgive others
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NLT, Matthew 6:14-15)
God is merciful and forgives our sins and failings. In the same way, we must be merciful and forgive other people who sin against us or do us harm.
Bible references: Matthew 5:7, 18:21-35, Mark 11:25, Luke 17:3-4, Colossians 3:12-14, Ephesians 4:32