View from the Pew – An Intentional Faith

What did you learn from last week’s sermon?

Q1: Does God object to inter-racial marriages?

Q2: Does God allow inter-faith marriages (Jew & Christian)?

Q3: God’s Law shows us what?

Q4: God’s Law does what to us?

Q5: Once we are justified (saved), what work are we now supposed to do?

Q6: How does a Christian grow?

Q7: If you make no intentional effort to grow in your faith, what are you, in essence, doing?

Q8: What marks the people of God in all of the ages?

Q9: How did Nehemiah and the Jews work out their faith intentionally?

Q10: Were the Jews trying to get God to save them with the sealed letter?

Q11: Do you have an intentional faith that touches your finances?

Sermon Summary & Answers

Pastor Wilson spent the first 15 minutes of the sermon laying the foundation for today’s text. He wanted us to understand the “state of man” before Christ. Basically,

  1. we can’t be righteous
  2. we can’t understand (what God says)
  3. we don’t seek God (because He means nothing to us)
  4. we intentionally turn away from God (in our arrogance)
  5. we are useless (to God’s plan)
  6. we cannot do any good that actually matters
  7. we have no fear of God
  8. we are storing up eternal punishments for ourselves
  9. we are hopeless and cannot do any works that will fix this

You can read about man’s pitiful state without Christ in Romans 2:5-6, 3:10-12, 3:20, 3:21-24, 3:23

When God gave Moses the Law, it was to show us our sin. We couldn’t see our sin without seeing a contrasting perfection. It was to show us that we can never be good enough to fix personal sin ourselves. The Law only condemns us. The only sin-fixer was Jesus punished on the cross in our (believers) place. That gift of grace for us happened, Amen!

Ephesians 2:8–9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Once God draws us to himself (hearing and believing the Word), we begin a new life with a new fate. We have a new HOPE and a new PEACE that we could never attain on our own. There is no future judgment for us. We are saved by grace through faith. That is the GOSPEL.

“But – – here we are … Christians justified by faith – – yet enduring the struggles and trials of this life – – fighting an enduring battle against our sinful tendencies – – fighting this ‘body of death’ in which we live out our days on the earth. A burden at times – – A challenge.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

It’s these struggles that bring about perseverance, proven character, and a hope that does not disappoint because the love of God gets poured out within us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:3-5). We can actually rejoice in our struggles instead of desperately trying to medicate or talk our way out of them. We know God is doing this for our good (Romans 8:28) – He wants us to GROW IN OUR FAITH.

God’s kind gift helps us put away…

  1. all malice (evil thoughts)
  2. deceit
  3. hypocrisy
  4. envy
  5. slander (ugly gossip).

Wouldn’t you like to be free of these things? It’s in God’s will that a believer should be free – it’s part of the gift. We also refer to this as “working out your salvation.” You are told to do the necessary work after God has saved (justified) you. Peter tells believers (1 Peter 2:1-3) how to do that…read the Word to grow and be intimately connected to the church (God’s people)! You have to be INTENTIONAL about your faith. Paul also calls this “obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). We will never be perfect until we die, but we strive toward obedience by reading His Word.

It’s our job to get cracking on our spiritual education. If we don’t do that requirement by God, then we are presuming on the grace of God, and that is a serious no-no. It’s the pursuit of holiness that marks the people of God in all ages.

“Instead, we lean into that grace, gain confidence through that grace … and, by that grace, seek to live our lives in steadfast commitment to all that God commands of us.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

Now that we are clear on our INTENTIONAL FAITH WORK, let’s drop in on Jerusalem during the Fall of 444BC and see how Nehemiah and the Jews are doing.

The Jews have rejoiced (intentional worship) over the Word of God. They have repented of their sins, and they have re-committed to follow God’s commands. They do this by writing down that commitment and sealing it with all the leader’s names. This isn’t a covenant seeking to gain God’s favor or be saved (justified). This is a reaction to their faith in the powerful, provisional work of God. This is their “working out” of their faith, their intentional faith (a promise). They even went as far as to say, “may God curse us if we fail.”

One of the things the Jews promised to stop doing was allowing their sons and daughters to marry people of other faiths. We still hold to that today. Inter-faith marriages are not permitted by God. This is not to be confused with inter-racial marriage. God does not object to that at all.

At the heart of this written and sealed letter was not the power of the people to obey, it was a declaration of God’s bounty and mercy. To show their faith in God, they said that they would not do trade on the Sabbath (lose money), not plant any crops in the seventh year, and forgive all debts every seventh year – as commanded in the Old Testament. They also pledged to give specific amounts of money to benefit the whole community of faith even though they still paid taxes to Persia. This was a financial intention that really put meat on the bone and said they were ALL IN.

“Christian – – IF YOU HAVE AN INTENTIONAL FAITH THAT DOESN’T TOUCH YOUR FINANCES … your faith is lacking a sound and necessary intention.

If these, God’s children, could pledge with such bountiful generosity to give to the Lord of their finances – – motivated by a provision yet to appear – – HOW MUCH MORE should we who are the faithful – whose faith rests in a provision that has already appeared – – Christ – our sacrifice – – leaving the treasures of heaven behind – – to live and die for us.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

What does your INTENTIONAL FAITH look like?

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Melissa Strautman

Did you find this quiz and sermon summary helpful? Log on to each week for the latest sermon study guide. Jessica will send the link out in the Midweek church emails.

  1. No, not at all
  2. Absolutely not
  3. Our sin
  4. Condemns us
  5. Work out our faith, also known as being “intentional” or “obedient.”
  6. By reading the Word and being intimately connected to the people of God
  7. Presuming on the grace of God. That’s very bad!
  8. The pursuit of holiness
  9. They made a covenant promise to God in writing and sealed it with all of the leader’s names.
  10. No, they were already believers.
  11. Only you know the answer to this.