Fullness of Faith: Doing & Knowing

June 19, 2018

“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

In the first sixteen verses of this short letter, the Apostle John gives us a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and fullness.

The facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we believe the first fact we have forgiveness; when we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ.

Changing one letter in the word ‘fellowship’ to followship provides the key to John’s prescription for fullness. When you read this letter observe the repetition for emphasis of this concept: we will know that we know when we walk as Jesus walked.

Followship is also a key to the fullness of faith emphasized by Jesus. He made His covenant with the apostles: “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission of Jesus occurred when He commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28: 18-20) A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.

A great claim of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John Chapter 7 when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God. Jesus also proclaimed that we prove that when we do his teachings. (John 7:17)

According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing.  Intellectuals have claimed for a millennium that knowing will lead to doing, but Jesus said, “When you do you will know.”

Are you willing to do that you might know His teaching is the Word of God?

Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011


Don’t Throw Away Your Faith!!

December 1, 2017

“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

As the author of the book of Hebrews continues giving doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he tells them they should not throw away their faith because they need their faith for living. Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing did not know, or had forgotten, that they are also called to live by faith.

He quotes the key verse of the prophecy written by Habakkuk to suffering people. When we are suffering, we especially need to be reminded that God has given us the faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis.

I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering. The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in us when we are living by faith while we are suffering, according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:3-5).

The immediate response of many authentic disciples when we find ourselves in a difficult situation is: “Lord, get me out of here!”  When that doesn’t happen, we are sometimes tempted to throw away our faith.

The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith.  You need your faith to live through your crisis.”

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010


Sharing the Gospel

May 2, 2017

“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…

When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s not that way with us today.

What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms… Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.

When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 23, 24, 38)


Storm Survival: Applied Belief

September 2, 2016

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”  (Matthew 7:26)

Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite disputation question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact that you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing emotional consequences like depression.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people.  He lamented the hard reality that so often today the psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates a patient’s depression without ever getting to the cause of the depression.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?    I believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus will give us the healthiest belief system for living as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge.  According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


Gravy-on-the-Table Faith

November 29, 2014

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27: 13)

As we ponder the definition of faith we often hear it said that believing is seeing.  “When I see it, then I’ll believe it” is the way some put it.  In Psalm 27 David clearly writes that if we believe first, then our believing leads us to the seeing of what we believe.

Biblical faith always has an unseen object.  According to other Scriptures there will always be evidence that the unseen object of our faith exists, but when our faith is biblical faith the object of that faith will be unseen (Hebrews 11:6).  Seeing does not lead to believing because we already have the object of our faith when we see, but believing does lead to seeing according to David and other authors of the Bible.

A rural pastor told his people that when they invited him home for dinner after church he was always hoping they would have southern fried chicken.  If he had no reason to believe that would be the menu he could only hope there would be chicken for dinner.  But when he came into their home if he smelled chicken and then saw from the living room chicken gravy sitting out on the dining room table, those things were the evidence of the object he could not see.  He could now believe with certainty there was chicken in the kitchen and that he would have it for dinner.

David tells us that after the believing that leads to seeing, all we have to do is wait on the Lord until we see the object of our faith.  Are you believing God for something you cannot yet see?

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2013