Trying or Trusting
Pulling On Both Oars
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word “Faith,” and on the other oar the word “Works.” Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.”
So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again—this time the other way around, but still in a circle.
After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, “You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and “faith without works is dead” also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing.”
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1996, c1979).
The reality is that often one of them is elevated above the other and not kept in perspective.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works.
James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead.
How do find this balance? Paul is defining the faith oar - the pendulum has swung towards the works side with a visit from the judaizers. Paul is clarifying the Gospel according to faith.
Three Promises of the Gospel of Faith
1. The Promise of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 1:22 tells us that the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.
Illustration - tasting the samples at Panera Bread
- The Spirit received by faith as a deposit helps me to continue to trust God as I journey through the Christian life.
2. The Promise of Blessing
*Needs to be understood within the context of Genesis 12:6; Genesis 15-17.
*Righteousness came before observing the rite of circumcision.
*Through faith I enter into covenant relationship with Abraham to God - faith is my ticket in.
Illustration - Hayden getting into the local sporting event for free simply because I volunteer to work at it.
3. The Promise of Redemption
*Our inablility to be perfect creates the "cursedness" state in which we live. Romans 3:23.
*We have the Law to expose sin. - Romans 3:9-20
The Law is like an x-ray - it only reveals the damage - it is powerless to heal it.
Illustration - Wayne not being able to accept that all he had to do to experience the loving forgiveness of God was to believe that it was able, available, and just ask for it.
We as Christians have got to get this right. When we become people who are ministering to the lost, we have to accept them just as they are. We have to invest our lives in them and let the Holy Spirit change them. As recipients of grace, we need to be grace givers.