Tim Keller | March 22, 2009
In Romans 3 and 4 the Bible tells us exactly what God has done to put things right in Jesus Christ. You can put it in a phrase: we’re justified by faith through the blood of Christ.
We look now at one of those terms: faith. What is this saving faith that connects us to God? Notice that Paul twice contrasts faith with boasting. He tries to throw into relief what saving faith is by contrasting it with this idea of boasting.
Let’s look at this passage under three headings: 1) the spiritual sickness the Bible calls boasting, 2) the antidote to that spiritual sickness, and 3) what it means to take the antidote.
Let’s talk about the idea of being set right with God, not because of anything we do, but because of our trust in Him. This is something Paul explores a lot. It’s about how we often brag about our achievements, our mistakes as humans, and how God fixes these through Jesus. We’ll talk about this in three parts: the problem of bragging, how we can stop, and how we can really make this change stick.
1. The problem with bragging
One big thing the Bible talks about is how bragging can cause a lot of issues, like arguments and conflicts, especially when we think we’re better than others. God wants us to realize that all the good stuff we have is a gift from Him, not something we earned on our own. The Bible warns us not to put down or ignore people who are different from us in their jobs, beliefs, where they’re from, or politics.
2. The cure for bragging
Trust in God, not just following rules, is how we’re set right with Him. This idea comes from the story of Abraham, who trusted God and was considered righteous because of it. The recognition we usually want from our own hard work is actually given to us when we put our trust in Jesus. This shows us why it’s important to find our worth in God’s approval, not in what people think of us. Unlike people’s approval, God’s approval both humbles us and lifts us up, and it’s the only type of recognition that won’t harm or wear out our souls.
3. How to really take the cure
We need to understand how valuable God’s approval is and why we should depend on it more than our own or others’. The story of Abraham in Genesis 15 shows us that being righteous and saved are gifts from God, not something we can earn ourselves. This story is a lot like Jesus’ sacrifice for us, which shows us the freedom and healing we can find when we care more about what God thinks of us than what the world does.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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