Friday, January 08, 2010

Saving Faith

Saving faith has to do with much more than believing in Jesus than in the sense that we use the word believing. The essence of the word, believe or faith in Greek has a wider meaning than in the way we use it.
  • We can believe in Jesus or the boogey-man or the abominable snowman or we can choose not to. This means that we believe that he exists.
  • We can Christianly believe in Jesus by praying a prayer to him. "Jesus I believe that you died for me on the cross and shed your blood to pay for my sins and want you to save me."
  • You can believe someone's opinion whether they are right or wrong. For example, someone tells you they can run the hundred yard dash and if they do it you can say, "I believe you can do that." But, in this case you don't really have to do anything.
  • You can believe what someone tells you that they are going to do. Like when the politicians are trying to get elected they lie and say they are going to lower taxes and you can choose to believe them or not. You can believe that Obama is going to lower taxes but you may not necessarily go out and vote for him or exercise your faith.
The Greek word, pisteuo, is defined in the Vine's Dictionary as:
"to believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence.
Be persuaded of, placing confidence in, reliance upon-not mere credence.

What does credence mean? Well, I just gave you some examples above in how we use the word today. I can give something credence but faith in the Greek sense of the word is something more robust. Why do so many people have a shallow faith? Because they have merely given credence to the fact that Jesus died for their sins on the cross. They haven't let him be the soul thing they are persuaded of and put their reliance on his righteousness and not their own.

But you may say, "I trust only in Christ's righteousness to save me." If that is true, then you will be like the man in the story below:

A tight-rope walker stretched a cable across a deep and wide precipice. He said to the crowd standing around that he was going to walk across the cable without a net or a balancing beam. And he did. Next he said he was going to walk across the precipice with nothing but a wheel-barrow. And he did. Next he said that he was going to walk across the precipice while pushing the wheel-barrow with a 100lb bag of sand. And he did. Next he asked the crowd if they believed that he could carry a person across the precipice. The crowd shouted to the affirmative because they had already seen three seemingly impossible feats formed by the man. To which the man responded, "who wants to volunteer?" No one stepped forward.

Now maybe you're thinking, "if it were Jesus with the wheel-barrow, I certainly would have stepped forward. Or maybe you're thinking, "Jesus doesn't ask us to do any works to be saved. Only faith. Jesus never asks any of his believers to do anything." Maybe you are right. I certainly agree that in this situation, you were not standing there and no it was not Jesus who was asking people to get into the wheelbarrow. But what if there was a fire behind you closing in on you? Would you be more apt to get on? Maybe you would just say, "forget you Jesus, I'm making it across on my own." Many people try that.

Well how about that second question. No, salvation is not by what we do or don't do. It is all of faith and it is also all of God. Eph 2:8-9. But certainly you can see that faith is much more than mere credence can't you?

Let's consider the following scenario:
Jesus is holding the wheel-barrow. There is no other way to get across the precipice except for in the wheel-barrow. Those who try to throw their own ropes end up falling into the gorge and those who try to cross through either balancing or climbing across on the rope are shot down by arrows from flying demons who hover on either side of the rope. Only one person can go across at a time. Jesus says, "all who will, let them come unto me." There is an inescapable fire closing in on your group as you stand before the precipice. What are you going to do? Well, in that case there is nothing left to do but get on and trust in Jesus. That would be faith.

But incredibly, you see most of the people in light of what I just described, knowing the danger knowing their death is approaching, just lounging around and getting drunk. Others are gossipping about you for considering such a crazy choice as getting in the wheel barrow. While others, knowing the risk are getting picked off left and right as they, one by one, try to exalt themselves by going across the precipice on their own. Some take armor with them to try to deflect the blows, but nothing ever works. Sound crazy?

How about this? Before you can get into the wheel-barrow, Jesus tells you, you see these people standing around getting drunk and whispering? You will have to leave them all behind and you will have to leave behind this life that you have there and trust me to take you across the precipice. But, mind you, if you go across with me, you must keep in mind that you are trusting your life to me. Not only that, heaven is not immediately on the other side. You must pass through many tribulations to enter into the kingdom of God. But I will be with you every step of the way. I will never leave you nor forsake you. But as for these who are standing here; their part will be in the lake of fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.

The reality is that in evangelicalism today, the picture is not painted as black as that. In evangelicalism. The picture painted is that, there isn't a fire coming. Jesus is just an entertainer who likes to take bags of sand across precipices and we turn a deaf ear to him. When he says that he can take a person across in the wheel-barrow we are happy and cheer, "hip Hip Hooray!" And the preachers that are standing around there with us are telling us, "You see, Isn't Jesus great? We get all this entertainment and now we are saved because we have placed our faith in Jesus! Isn't that great? Jesus asks us to do nothing but believe! Hallelujah! Pass the port!

Are you believing in Jesus in this way? I urge you to read the Bible and see that your situation is much more dangerous than you could have ever imagined there is much to loose but the reward is certain and the salvation, once entered into is sure.

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