Whatcha Gonna Do?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 8, 2015 1 comments
by Logan Ames

As a child, I was a huge fan of the wrestler Hulk Hogan. My dad took my brother and I to live events, my friends and I got together to watch the big matches, and my parents even bought me a sleeveless t-shirt with the word “Hulkamania” on the front of it that I could rip off just like the “Hulkster” did. My friends even gave me the nickname “Hulk Logan." One of my childhood hero’s many popular lines was, “Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you!” He might even throw in an occasional “brother” on the end of it. Either way, this line was used to show everyone that the Hulkster meant business! Whether you were prepared or not, Hulk Hogan was coming for you and it was time to decide how you were going to handle it.

Two weeks ago, I saw a movie in which virtually the same question was asked, but in a very different and more serious way. The current movie “Do You Believe?” asks the obvious title question to roughly a dozen main characters, but the questions don’t end there. The more important follow-up question to those who say “yes” to the first one is, “Then what are you going to do about it?” You see, while we are not required to DO anything to receive grace through faith, our faith must lead to change. It must have an effect on our actions, or as the brother of Jesus puts it, “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26b).

The Apostle Paul spent the first few chapters in Romans convincing his readers that all mankind is wicked and in need of a savior, that Jesus is that Savior, and that we receive salvation and justification before God through the same faith that Abraham displayed when he believed God could do everything he promised, even when circumstances appeared to show otherwise. In Romans 5:1-11, he now begins to address what that faith looks like in the lives of those who believe.

First, he writes about the peace that we have WITH God (v. 1). It’s not just peace on this earth or peace that passes all understanding, it’s peace between us and God. This means that because we have been justified through faith in the blood of Jesus, we have been reconciled to God and no longer need to fear his wrath. He then declares that we stand in grace and can “boast in the hope of the glory of God” (v. 2). We can’t boast in ourselves anymore because we’ve already come to recognize our failures and our collective need for the Savior. In vv. 3-5, Paul shows one of the main marks of the life of a believer. Followers of Christ have no reason to live to avoid suffering. According to the line that Paul draws, we can only learn perseverance through our “tribulations” (New King James Version), and perseverance then results in the building of character, which gives us hope for the future despite any new challenges we face.

After Paul has explained the reason why the believer has hope no matter what, he briefly explains in vv. 6-8 how God did not wait for us to get our act together to save us. We were still “powerless” in our sins, but God sent Christ to die for us even knowing the majority of the ones he came to save would reject him completely. That is unconditional love. God did this because, as we have explained in previous posts, he had to deal righteously with sin but still desired that we be reconciled to him. Rather than force us to bear the penalty that we deserve for our sins, God took it upon himself in the person of Jesus.

In the final section of the passage, Paul explains that our salvation and justification through the blood of Christ is not just about releasing us from God’s wrath as it relates to death. In vv. 9-11, he declares that it has a huge impact on our earthly lives as well. As he explains, God reconciled us to himself through Jesus’ death while we were still his enemies. So if we have now become his friends within that reconciled relationship, how much more are we saved through Jesus’ life! Even Jesus, who was a man, had to decide that he trusted the Father and what that was going to mean for his life. Matthew 26:39-42 shows that Jesus, being fully human, struggled with knowing that obeying his Father would lead to a torturous death, but he did it anyway and surrendered to the Father’s will. Hebrews 5:8 also tells us that Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered." As we see that Jesus obeyed the Father no matter what that meant, that he submitted to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8), and that he overcame that death by rising from the grave, we have to think about what that means for our lives.

We don’t believe in Jesus simply because he died for us. If that were all that happened, we’d be following a dead man like every other religion in the world. We believe in Jesus because he rose again, as we celebrated this past Sunday, and now lives in us. He not only saved us from death, he also gave us life! And because he lived in this world and faced the temptations and challenges we face, he is our model for how to face our tribulations. Because he was obedient, we can also be obedient no matter the cost. We know that no matter what troubles we face in this world, God is in control and Jesus has already paved the way for us to live out our faith.

So, do you believe? That’s the first question. But it’s not really a head issue. It’s not about intellect. It’s a matter of your heart, your very core. If you truly believe, it must influence every area of your life. God is in control whether you believe it or not, and troubles are going to come in this world whether you follow God or not. But only you can answer whether you truly believe in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and only you can decide what you are going to do about it.

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Charlie said...

I've always said that "Faith requires action as though what you believe is true, even if you don't see the realization of it yet." Logan, you nailed this one. If there is no action, you really don't believe it and it's not faith.