Sunday, April 10, 2016

Faith: An Example

CHRISTIAN: Every single instance of faith has a corresponding act of faith that perfects and completes that instance of faith. For example: If I believe this chair will support my weight and keep me from crashing to the ground, the corresponding act of faith to perfect my faith in the chair is to actually sit down in the chair.

SKEPTIC: Faith has nothing to do with it. The chair was designed to support your weight and keep you from crashing to the ground.

CHRISTIAN: So, if I removed every screw that is holding that chair together, and you had no idea that I had done so, what do you call that thing involved with you trusting the design of the chair and sitting down in it, even though you will end up crashing to the ground?
It is called Faith. It does not matter what the chair was designed for, the design could be poor and when you go to sit in it you end up crashing to the ground. You are trusting in the design of the chair, whether poor or sturdy, which is called Faith.

SKEPTIC: I never thought of it that way before.

CHRISTIAN: Everything we do in life, including one million things we take for granted, are encompassed in instances of faith and the corresponding acts of faith that perfect and complete those instances. If I am going to use the brakes in my car, regardless of their design, or whether or not they are in working order, I am putting faith in them. As soon as I step on the brake, my faith is perfected by my act of faith. If I have faith in the operation of the brake but step on the gas instead, it does nothing for my faith in the brakes.
If I am hanging from a height about to fall, and you say to me, "Let go and I will catch you," it does not matter how much I believe what you just told me if I never let go. In order to perfect and complete that faith in your ability to catch me, I actually have to let go. The moment I do, my faith is perfected because my act of faith is working along side my faith.
When Abraham offered up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord, he was acting in faith. It is this same kind of faith we need for salvation. We need to believe God, trust His word, and act accordingly. Our corresponding act of faith to the instance of faith will perfect and complete that faith, just as it did for Abraham. Works of the Law and Good Deeds are not the same as Faith in Action. We must not confuse the three.
Instance of faith (trusting the chair will support me) + faith in action (sitting down in the chair) = the perfection and completion of that faith.
Instance of faith (trusting the brakes will stop my car) + faith in action (applying the brake) = the perfection and completion of that faith.
Instance of faith (trusting you will catch me when I fall) + faith in action (letting go) = the perfection and completion of that faith.

SKEPTIC: What if you have faith in the chair supporting you, the brakes on your car stopping you, or me catching you, and each one of them fails? Then what do you say about faith?

CHRISTIAN: Even if the chair falls apart underneath me, or the brakes fail to stop my car, I still acted in accordance with my faith placed in them. I may have been let down, and I may be disappointed with the result, but my faith was completed by my act of faith. The outcome has nothing to do with the instance of faith and the act of faith whatsoever one way or the other. Despite the immediate disappointment or let down, genuine faith still trusts that in optimum conditions the chair would support and the brakes would not fail. If one's faith is deterred by unfortunate results, then it was never genuine faith to begin with. If I let go, believing that you would catch me, and you miss by half a foot, my faith was still perfected by my letting go. You may not have caught me, but I believed you would and acted upon that belief. One might argue that it is misplaced. If it was misplaced, it would be foolish to follow through. If I followed through and you caught me, then it was not misplaced. Understand?

SKEPTIC: I think so.

CHRISTIAN: With regard to salvation, there will never be disappointment for the person who has truly believed God, put his/her trust in Him, and responded in repentance and obedience. If I do everything I am supposed to do by faith, I will not be let down in the end. Jesus said, "He who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven will enter heaven" (Matt. 7:21). The author of Hebrews wrote, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6). John the Baptist said, "Bear [evidences] in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8). Call it a love triangle: faith, repentance, obedience. Scripture commands and demands us to be holy: "Be holy because I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16). Faith, obedience, and repentance are all part of holiness. To say all you need is faith is a lie straight from the pit of hell. If we are justified by faith alone, then how does one explain Matthew 7:21? The men in Matthew 7:21-23 clearly had faith, saying, "Lord, Lord." Men can do things in the name of the Lord without being obedient to Him. They can have faith in Him without being obedient to Him. We know this is the case because Jesus says, "Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matt. 7:23). Elsewhere, Scripture states, "Sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). Any theology that attempts a disconnect between faith, repentance, and obedience is wrong.

SKEPTIC: How so?

CHRISTIAN: Would Abraham have been justified if he had refused to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, despite his faith? Would Noah have been justified if he had refused to build the ark, despite his faith? If a lying, thieving, murdering rapist were to make a profession of faith, believing in Jesus, would he be justified by faith alone (only, by itself), even though he continues to lie, steal, rape, and murder? Sola fide, by faith alone, teaches that a man is justified by faith alone without the need or requirement of anything else. True to that definition then, the lying, thieving, murdering rapist would not need to repent or be obedient to God in order to be justified because he has faith—alone. Do you see how contradictory and problematic that is?

SKEPTIC: Yes, I do.

CHRISTIAN: Matthew 7:21 teaches us that only those who obey the will of the Father will enter into heaven. How does one obey the will of the Father? How does one know what the will of the Father is? Read the New Testament. There are hundreds of commands to the Christian that define what a Christian is and how a Christian behaves. None of these are suggestions. Jesus told us that if we truly love Him, we will obey His commandments. When Scripture tells us to do nothing selfishly or conceited, but with humility to esteem others as more important than ourselves, this is a command. When we are told not to look out for our own personal interests, but also for the interests of others, this is a command. When we are told not to let unwholesome words proceed from our mouths, or to speak filthy words or coarse jokes, these are commands. Too many professing Christians out there today either never read their Bibles or they simply ignore what it is they are reading. When Scripture, especially the New Testament, says "Do this," Don't do that," "Be like this," they are imperatives—not suggestions. Why do you suppose Jesus asks, "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the Earth?" (Luke 18:8b)? Could it be because most professing Christians today have no clue what faith is or what it entails?

Genuine faith produces good deeds, but it also produces acts that correspond with whatever that faith is. For Peter, his faith was that he could walk on water, and the equivalent act that corresponded with that faith was for him to step out of the boat. For the woman with the issue of blood, her faith was that touching Jesus' clothes would heal her, and the equivalent act that corresponded with that faith was for her to touch His clothes. If I believe something God has said, there is an equivalent act that corresponds with that belief. The two are inseparable. If I believe that God wants me to feed the poor, then I will feed the poor. Not as a good deed, which it can be, but as the completion and perfection of my belief. God told Noah to build an ark because He was going to flood the world. What did Noah do? Did he build a racecar? Did he build an airplane? No! He believed God and built the ark. His action was equivalent to and corresponded with his faith. The same goes for Abraham, as James illustrates for us. There is more to faith than meets the eye, and more than most professing Christians are willing to admit. True faith acts in accordance with that faith, otherwise it is false faith. A man can say he believes a thousand different things, but his actions will always reveal what it truly is that he believes in his heart. Words mean nothing if actions do not agree with them. Faith is fruitless, useless, dead, and in vain if one's actions do not work with that faith in order to prove that faith. All of Scripture agrees with me.