Introduction

The Kingdom of God is a family affair; people come into the Kingdom by adoption, i.e., being born again of water (baptism) and the Spirit (laying on of hands). Obviously, this Truth makes sense because God is our Father in Heaven. Naturally, the people entering the Kingdom of God will be His Sons and Daughters. It is a family affair. God chose those to be in His Kingdom from the beginning of time.

God wants many children in His kingdom, and He says the doorway to enter the kingdom is called faith – not just any faith but faith in Jesus.

Gal. 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Gal. 4:5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Gal. 4:6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

The question must be asked, why cannot we enter the Kingdom of God by righteousness; just why do we need faith, which indeed requires explanation, as well. Is it not better to keep the Ten Commandments? Since we certainly know that Jesus is the Messiah and we keep the Commandments, why do we need faith as well? What has faith got to do it?

However, faith is very important. Now John says, this is the love of God that we keep His Commandments. Why not just keep the commandments? Why do we have to add faith? What is this faith thing that we need to have? Why not just do it, that is, keep the Commandments and do what is right? Why do we have to do more then obey the Commandments?

1John 5:1 ¶ Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.

1John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

1John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Actually, there are reasons why faith precedes righteousness, major reasons.

Fit in with a Group

Let us imagine that a person is living in ancient Israel, and all the people at that time were following the Ten Commandments. One of the things that people do is go along with the people around them; they try to fit in with the group. The people are keeping the Commandments; so this person keeps the Commandments, as well, in order to fit in with the group. This person becomes part of the society. There is a great desire in most people to act in the same way as everyone else – be like everyone else and fit in. This person, then, would be motivated toward keeping the Commandments because those around him do, and the person would not want to be seen as someone who is an outsider or a person on the fringe of the society. For people who find it important to be an integral part of society will be highly motivated to follow the mores of the group. For them, society or the group is what they hold as paramount in life.

The reason certain people find a need to fit in with a group, and the whole of its characteristics, is found in sociology. People in the group form a triangle with the leader, exhibiting all or almost all of the characteristics of the group, at the top. Most of the members of the group, who exhibit large amounts of the characteristics of the group, fill in the triangle. And a few people in the group, who exhibit very few of the characteristics of the group, are found in the outer corners of the triangle of the group, just barely in the group. Most in the group prefer to be among those who fit the profile of the group. All have a need to belong, be it at the fringe or at or near the top.

In psychology, we learned that people’s moral state often depends on, not intrinsic faith, but by those around them who are observing their behavior. If they are alone and nobody is watching them, their dedication to righteousness is quite weak and they are likely to do something wrong as long as nobody finds out about it. Psychologists call these people immature, shallow in faith and needing time to learn how to control their behavior from within.

A society, like Israel, has the characteristic, either learned or developed, of adherence to God’s Word and Law, the Ten Commandments. Like ancient Israel, there are religious groups who adhere to a particular religious philosophy instituted by a particular leader. This leader would find himself at the apex of the sociological triangle; others would fill in the triangle because they agree strongly with the leader’s philosophy; and a few remain in the group even though they only slightly agree with the leader’s philosophy. We might call such a religious group the Kool-Aid church. Every Protestant group and the Catholic Church fits the paradigm discussed in sociology; the people obey the rules in order to stay within the group. The motivation for remaining within the group is called the reward-punishment syndrome – heaven for obedience and hell for disobedience. How large a factor fear is can only be imagined. Nonetheless, the rules remain a code of behavior in order to get along and remain within the group. Jesus talks about it in the parable of the seeds.

Luke 8:12 “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.

The ones near the road are the ones that would rather belong to society than to God; fitting in is more important than faith in God.

Forced to Keep the Law

Being forced into obedience is not like being in prison or prison camp where a person has to obey the rules applied by the warden or the commandant or will suffer further punishment or perhaps even death. As alluded to above, people feel that it is incumbent upon them to keep the Commandments or they will die, and the fear of death is the motivation for obedience. As we know all people will die, Christians will appear to die but actually will be sleeping, then the resurrection will bring life to believers and possibly a second chance to those who would be resurrected for the purpose of gaining eternal life.

There is a sense of force when a person’s motivation for keeping the Commandments comes from fear of dire consequences, punishments or death. The person says, “I don’t want to die!” These are unlike the very few who say, “I don’t care if I die; I’m going to do what I want to do.” In the case when people feel that they are forced into certain actions by fear, their commitment to a code of conduct has a weak foundation, a fragile grounding.

Having society or a group control behavior and/or letting fear control behavior does not and will not make a person righteous because they are behaving for all the wrong reasons.

The Show-offs

Then there are those who keep the Commandments to show off.

I’m going to keep the Commandments; I’m going to be better than you; I’m not going to work on the Sabbath; I’m going to believe that God is one person, not a Trinity; I’m going to show everybody else how much better I am then they are; I’m going to be special; and I’m going to go to the kingdom. This kind of thinking and behavior takes snobbery to a new dimension. This attitude is not of faith but vanity.

The Goody-goodies

Then there are the “goody – goodies,” whom we all have seen in the classroom and the office. Whatever the teacher or the manager says they are quick to do it exactly right. They do all the homework and do it well; they take work home from the office so they can get more done. In the classroom or the office they always volunteer to answer the questions or do extra work. They hope to gain favor or position by being obsequious.

This also is about vanity or being a sycophantic, not faith.

Circumventors of the Law

Those who are not motivated by faith often look for loopholes in the law or just follow it to the letter. They might say I only have to do this much and no more. For example, when we take this Sabbath from sunset to sunset, we may not have to keep the entire 24 hours because there is a period of time, a civil twilight. God gives us that period if the day is cloudy and we no access to USNO (United States Naval Observatory) or some ox in the ditch prevents beginning or ending on time. However, this period could extend or shorten the day according to the desires of someone wanting to manipulate the Sabbath. These types of people are constantly looking for ways around the Law.

Certain people are just looking to do the minimum; as little as they have to do, just to get by. They are just keeping the letter of the Law instead of the spirit of the Law. They will not steal, but they also find ways not to be generous. They might say that they will only give a very small amount, or they might rationalize by saying these people should work instead of begging; it is better to teach a person to fish than to give them one. While they keep the Commandments, they keep finding ways to water down the Commandments.

Taking this attitude a step further than this type of thinking leads to finding obscure or difficult to understand parts of the Bible that may seem to prove that certain Commandments may have been done away with. For example, to prove Trinity they cite the term is God is one, meaning one as unity not a single individual, like troika. Further they take things out of context to try to prove their nullification of the Commandments, or certain Commandments. For example, they use Paul saying something about not being saved by righteousness. They might ignore the fact that Jesus was to be entombed for three days and three nights and say he was resurrected on Sunday; therefore Sunday should be the day of worship.

Certain text scholars have shown that some scriptures have been modified or added to promote concepts that are unbiblical. As Paul said certain people have gotten into the church, which was unaware of these people’s devious methods to change certain scriptures. This is why he warns people to check all New Testament scriptures against the Old Testament. The virgin birth scriptures are considered spurious and can find no foundation in the Old Testament. Without going into detail, it is hard to believe God would have a son conceived out of wedlock by what people consider a spirit-being which is contrary to His will and Law. This of course makes Jesus a half human in a human body. We would have none of these problems if there were faith.

Faith has a different approach and point of view altogether.

Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Faith must be the motivation. We believe in God, believe God is the Creator; we believe God. And people throughout history have used faith to do great things, not just to be righteous but also to believe in God.

Heb. 11:33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,

Heb. 11:34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Heb. 11:35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;

They trust in God; they implicitly and enthusiastically trust God. They did it out loyalty, one of the highest forms of faith. They did not do the great acts by any of the reasons given above, e.g., being a goody-goody or by following the letter of the law. Noah trusted God and built an ark. Joseph trusted God and revealed information needed by the Pharaoh from dreams God gave him about things that were going to happen in the days of plenty and famine. Abraham trusted God’s promise that he would have a child through whom the promises would come even though Sarah was past bearing age. His faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Because we do things out of trust in God, believing that God is good from an observation of the Creation. We just have to observe the food chain in Creation, how the various animals have particular foods, that in some cases only they eat, carnivores eat meat provided in the Creation and herbivores eat vegetation, again selected and prepared in the Creation. Algae provide oxygen, mostly, in the sea. Furthermore, everything in the Creation points toward man’s good including food, clothing and shelter found in the Creation. Indeed, God provides far more food for all creation than the plants, animals and people need. Books can be written on the subject.

God shows His love, seen in the Creation, so that we can trust Him.

1Pet. 1:21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

So these people had their faith and hope in God, whether it were Noah or Abraham. Jesus also did his great works out of faith (more on this topic in the forthcoming article). Jesus believed what God said, what he would do for mankind would produce great good, like salvation and eternal life.

So, faith is a very powerful and important gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, faith makes believers Sons and Daughters of God by adoption. In fact, doing the Commandments grows out of faith, love and loyalty. We keep the Commandments because God says to do it, and we trust that His Word is for our good. Keeping the Commandments reflects God’s faith in us by our loyalty to Him, who has made us Sons and Daughters by faith.

We believe His word because He loves us. We trust His word because He loves us. The powerful connection between trust and love gives us hope and faith. God’s love, shown in the Creation, overflows to the point where we return His love. All this grows out of faith and trust.

We are His Sons and Daughters because of faith not by the letter of the Law.

Amen.