Fuel for our Faith: Promise not Purpose
As followers of Jesus, we need to know our God-given purpose. Jesus gave us the command to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). As a result, we want to live and work in a way that advances the gospel in the world. But, knowing our purpose is not enough. The Christian life is ultimately fueled by a promise, not a purpose. In other words, we first need to understand the promise of God before we can rightly live out the purpose God has given us.
…To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness… (Romans 4:4-5)
Knowing our purpose without having a promise to hold on to is not good news. It is the opposite. It is bondage. Thankfully, God has given us good news, the good news that Jesus is our representative. He lived the perfect life we could not live, and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He rose from the dead after three days, and today serves as our advocate before God. Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, we have been given a promise: trust Jesus alone for salvation, and you will have forgiveness of all our sin and eternal life.
Faith is believing the gospel and the promise that comes with it: you are made right with God because of Jesus, not what you do. Faith is “resting” in the completed work of Jesus for you, and not “working” to earn favor with God on your own. Speaking of faith, Martin Luther put it this way: “We do nothing in this matter [of salvation]; we give nothing to God but simply receive and allow someone else to work in us – that is, God.”
One of the great paradoxes of the Christian life is accepting that “resting” in what Jesus has done for us leads to joyful “working” for him. When we accept the promises of God by faith, they fuel how we live out the purposes of God. We must LIVE the gospel. We must ADVANCE the gospel. But we can do neither of these things if we fail to truly KNOW the gospel.