Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Month: February 2017

What Is Faith?

Have you ever considered the difference between faith and thinking positive? Is faith the opposite of reason? Do we fully understand the meaning of the word?

Christians believe that none of us can earn forgiveness and deliverance from our sins and sorrows. We are taught that we can be saved only by faith. So faith is a very, very important subject. If we believe in God, we should desire to grow in our faith. If we have questions about God, I believe it would be worth our time to come to a basic, practical understanding of the kind of faith that is presented to us in the Bible.

At first glance, faith might seem like a vague, abstract subject. But in fact it is something we exercise every day. In our experience we become persuaded in varying degrees to certain beliefs. We stop at the red traffic light because we believe in the possibility that traffic will likely cross our path. We move forward when the green light comes on because we trust that the vehicles coming from another direction will be stopped by the red light in front of them.

These are not at all absolute certainties, even though we take them for granted every day. One might ask what this has to do with faith in an invisible God? Well, why is it that we expect an invisible force like electricity to energize the starter in a car or the lights in our homes by a simple switch? These things were invented by people who had faith in theories about electricity which are believed to be true, however mysterious.

Some people act upon what is called “blind faith.” This is not the kind of faith that saves anyone. Blind faith could lead someone to trust that a frog could make them wealthy, or that a snail is wiser than us all.

No, while all of our questions might not be answered, God has always provided evidence to His existence, and to His plan for us. Faith as revealed in the Bible is a persuasion based upon certain reasonable facts. We are not talking about the kind of hard evidence that would hold up in a court of law, but evidence that is easily seen by those who look for it!

In my case, the strongest evidence presented to me from childhood was my mother. Without government help, and with very little help from my father, she courageously cared for the three of us children, trusting only in that invisible God who made Himself known to us through her patience, love, guidance, and hard work. The wisdom she was taught from the scriptures imparted into us a stability that our friends in the neighborhood could not quite understand.

From this beginning, the evidence began to mount in my mind of the validity of her faith. Along with the godliness I saw in our friends at church, I also began to see the wonders of the universe and specifically of our own bodies. These only confirmed the words of the Bible that she so often quoted.

After a period of teen-age rebellion and the desire to follow along with the crowd, I eventually returned to the faith that comforted and encouraged me from childhood, and today I am highly motivated to share it with others!

Some today deny the part that the senses play in knowing and believing in God. Why then did He give us minds to reason with and bodies to relate to the world around us? Why then do we have the stories that preserve for us the testimony of eyewitnesses? Because we are His creation, in spirit, soul and body!

Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans 10: 17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (NASB)

For 2,000 years the story of Christ’s teachings, His death, burial, resurrection and ascension has been told, and strangely enough, millions have believed! Perhaps some have simply accepted the church and the doctrines about Christ, but no doubt many have trusted in Him to save them, and have come to know Him personally. This is the faith we are talking about today!

The smallest conviction for the truth about Jesus Christ has the potential to grow into a powerful and living faith. Our greatest heroes of faith all started somewhere. So what evidence have you seen for God’s existence? Are you willing to discover more? All of us have the opportunity to grow in our faith concerning the greatest Person of all time and eternity. All of us can also enjoy the benefits of that abundant Life He has offered us. Let us seek Him together!

The Higher Call

Paul, the early church apostle is probably the most famous Christian who ever lived. His missionary efforts and his powerful literary presentation of the Gospel and of the person of Jesus Christ are generally recognized as combining to become the most influential force in Christian history, after Jesus of course.

And yet Paul himself admitted to serious failures and sins in his past. For many of us, our past experiences have the power to cripple our testimony to the greatness of our God. Paul, however, had a singular focus. There must have been something about his original encounter with Jesus. Christ appeared to Paul in His glorified state, when he was on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians there. This experience definitely changed the course of his life! (Acts chapter 9)

While in prison for his outspoken testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he wrote these words in his letter to the church at Philippi:
Phil 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
NASU

Paul also had much to say of God’s plan of the ages. This plan is alluded to in the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. However, Paul noted that it had been enshrouded in mystery until the coming of Christ into the world. He also explained that the apostles of Christ had been entrusted with this now unveiled mystery.

When observing the intensity of Paul’s passion for His Lord and the message of Good News that burned within his heart, I can’t help but believe that his understanding of God’s plan was another motivating factor in his life and ministry. Furthermore, I must confess that however small the portion of that mystery has been revealed to me personally, it definitely continues to be a powerfully motivating force in my own life!

There is a proverb stating the importance of having a vision. (Proverbs 29:18). The ability to see God’s purpose for His creation and our part in that purpose is empowering. The Word of God is described as a lamp and a light that reveals where we are and where we are going. Christians have long valued the holy scriptures as God’s message to us, and as a means to understanding His will, but how often do we miss the bigger picture? Is it really just about having our good deeds outweigh the bad ones? Is there something like a heavenly score card that determines who wins in the end?

Paul and other New Testament teachers took the time to show us the bigger picture. He narrowed his focus down to one thing, to press forward toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus! The apostle John saw this also, but cautioned to not speculate too much. We only know, he said, that our destiny is to be like Jesus! (1 John 3:1-3)

This fact is clear even from the opening verses of the Bible. God originally made man in His own image and likeness, to rule the earth in His stead. (Genesis 1:26) However something was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Even though they would continue to bear His image in a sense, they lost the relationship with Him which made it possible for His purpose to be completely fulfilled in them.

The rest of history is about recovering our destiny in God through Christ. The Old Testament laws and prophecies all pointed toward what God would do in Christ, Who Himself fully revealed the image and nature of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-3).

The Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647 states that the chief purpose of humanity is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” From the scriptures we learn that Jesus is the first man to fully glorify God, since our history is one of missing the mark and falling short of His glory. (Romans 3:6)

What I am saying is that the source of Paul’s ability to overcome against all odds, persecution, illness, distain and ridicule, was the fact that He was on God’s side. He knew that God was at work in Him to fulfill His purpose! He knew that you and I are a part of God’s plan of the ages! He knew that God was causing all things to work together to fulfill that purpose of conforming us into His image. God will be glorified IN HIS SAINTS! (Romans 8:28,29, 2 Thessalonians 1:10)

Like the apostle John, I am not exactly sure of what that will be like, at the same time, like both Paul and John, I am motivated to pursue it!

1 John 3:2-3:
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
NASU

So where ever you are, God is calling you upward! Hear His calling you personally! Arise from the depths of despair! Arise from the defeat of your circumstances, which are actually designed to reshape you into the victorious person that you already are in Christ!

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