Matters of Faith: Flawed but Favored

By Reverend J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv

‭‭Acts 26:17-18 NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”

Pencils come with erasers and white-out was developed to correct errors from ink pens. A profound thought crossed my mind while reading an obituary of a faithful Christian; even though we make errors in our lives, we have an eraser who can white-out our sin-stains and give us a new beginning. In biblical terms, it’s called grace.

In this chapter of Acts, Paul is standing before King Agrippa, explaining his call to ministry and his experience on the Damascus Road. He is quoting Jesus, telling the king how he was sent to the Gentiles. He tells him that he was chosen to be the one to open the eyes of the Gentiles and lead them out of the darkness and into the marvelous light. He was chosen to be the one who would deliver them from the power and the grip of Satan. What I like most is that he was commissioned by Christ to go to the Gentiles to let them know that they would be forgiven for their sins and be in line to receive an inheritance in glory. They were given favor.

It wasn’t because they were born into a Jewish family, or that they had lived pure and holy lives, or because they were good people. No! They were going to be given favor and an inheritance if they believed in Christ. Don’t miss that. It’s not based on works or deeds or birthright, but rather, it is based on faith and faith alone. These flawed people would be favored and given an eternal inheritance for no other reason than that they believe in the one who called Paul on the Damascus road. They were flawed but they were favored.

Paul’s dialogue with King Agrippa exposes his own flaws. He says that he had been a part of the strictest sect in the Jewish faith and engaged in the most persecutory campaign against followers of Christ. In his own words Paul says, “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities” (Acts ‭26:9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬). Paul was seriously flawed.

Paul’s flaws, which are a matter of fact, were not the determining factor for the favor he received. If favor could have been earned, it would have taken Paul another lifetime to outwork all the flaws he had in his life. But favor is not gained by works or by a person’s ability to live a righteous life.

According to Paul, favor is a gift that is given to anyone who believes in Christ. I don’t know about you, but that fact makes me smile. The Lord values me, not because I’ve been good, but because I believe.

Pastor Aaron Rogers (not the football player) says of God’s favor in his book, What Every Christian Ought Know Day by Day, “He does not love us because we’re valuable, we are valuable because He loves us” (p. 45). We might be flawed, but we are favored.

God Bless +++

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial &. Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen by phone” at 626-226-1448. Be sure to Friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook and email us at Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The Book here.

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