Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What Is Faith? Part 2 - Jun 3

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

I wanted to expand on my previous post about having a righteous faith. The idea here isn't to impose, as in 'You can't believe in that' or 'You must believe in this'. Rather, it is a helpful guide. At the end of the day, you will choose to believe in whatever you wish. So with little fanfare I present six more pillars of faith (plus the previous four) to make it an even ten. As before, there is no particular order. Each pillar is of equal importance in its own right.

Pillar #5: Faith is Church-Based

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (Acts 9:31)

Thus begins the early church in Israel. There are in fact, two churches a believer takes part in. The first is the local church that a believer attends - hopefully - every Sunday. The second church is the global church. A believer that refuses to love all of their brothers and sisters in Christ is one that does not follow after God. It is not enough just to love Christ: One must also love the body of Christ which is the church.

Pillar #6: Faith is Blood-Based

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
(Romans 3:23-25a)

'All have sinned' means you, me and everybody else. This is one that most stumble over and is no doubt the most contentious pillar of the Christian faith. All these other bloodless gospels are useless. Only through the belief in the shedding of Christ's blood as full atonement for sin are we eternally forgiven.

In my hand no price I bring, simply to the cross I cling!

Pillar #7: Faith is Promise-Based

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
(Hebrews 11:8,10)

We do not whip ourselves into a frenzy and call it 'faith'. That is a false faith. True faith is based on believing on the promises of God, just like Abraham did. We do not believe in them because they make 'sense' - they don't. Nor do we believe in the promises of God because they can be proven - they can't. We believe because God cannot fail and God cannot lie. Science and Reason have a finite limit as to what they can teach us. Beyond that, faith in an infinite God must take precedence.

Pillar #8: A Death-Defying Faith

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

The entire fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians must be read to capture the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith. Whereas an abiding faith is for the here and now, belief in a life everlasting is for the future. For the unsaved, death represents the total obliteration of their identity and separation from all those material things they love. We should not live our lives as if this was it. We have two lives to live, the first is fleeing and perishable, the second eternal and imperishable. What victory we have for those that trust Him!

Pillar #9: A Wisdom-Giving Faith

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalm 111:10)

A God-given wisdom takes the gifts you already have and raises them to the next level. Whereas a transformative faith is general in nature, a wisdom-giving faith is specifically tailored to each individual. A true faith will always favor both the scientist and the artist. Modern science and art owe a tremendous debt to Jewish ethics and the Christian faith. Without it, mankind would be stuck in a fog of superstition and unreality. Sort of like the Muslim world in other words.

Pillar #10: A Sharing Faith

You might recognize this passage:

Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:18-20a)

Ah yes, the Great Commission. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: God means every word of it. My friends, we have the greatest book ever written about the greatest person who ever lived. Why then do we not share this with others? Many try to impress with excessive wordiness or by being argumentative (see above). Instead, just be straightforward and honest in giving your testimony. That's it. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO SAVE THE WORLD! But you can save individuals out of this world. As I've said before, many Christians will lament the fact that they had an internet connection and didn't use it to spread the Good News. This world needs to hear about the peace that only Christ can bring. May God forbid should we fail this duty.

Johnny Cash

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