Tuesday, February 15, 2005

WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY WHAT KIND OF FAITH?

Posted by Hello


The Bible says that faith justifies. But what kind of faith justifies? Demons believe and tremble, but they still are lost. Others believed and remained lost because they wouldn't confess Jesus (John 12:42; Rom. 10:9,10). Still others believe, but they must repent or turn from sin in order to receive salvation (Acts 3:19). The Hebrew letter, the eleventh chapter, tells a lot about faith. The sixth verse says that "without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. For he who comes to God MUST believe [1] that He is (you must believe in the existence of God), and [2] MUST believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Faith is more than the mental acceptance of God and the gift of His Son. The Hebrew writer says that God "is a rewarder" of those who SEEK Him. Necessary therefore for salvation is the faith activity of seeking Him. Study the graphic above and decide which best depicts the Biblical idea of faith.
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Repentance is Real change beyond believing only

4 comments:

  1. Hi Dan. Interesting blog. I can't help but wonder if you have not considered the facts of God's sovereign election. I think maybe you have not considered that God elected us, and those who seek Him do so because of that fact. Man cannot work for his salvation and if it is the work of us seeking Him that saves us, as it is in your view, then we have no hope.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. You have obviously been thinking a lot about this issue. Let me try to explain what I believe is the Biblical position.

    First, Salvation is a gift. If I do everything that God has called for me to do, unless I do everything perfectly, I must still be saved by God's grace. Because we are none perfect and we all "fall short" of His glory, all of the good things I do cannot merit or earn me salvation. Nothing but my faith in the blood of Christ can satisfy God's righteous demands. So I have no desire to suggest, when speaking of the "obedience of faith", that salvation is any less than 100% a gift from God.

    What about "election"? The biblical doctrine of election is very different than what many people portray it to be. Unless God is a respector of persons, He must offer and truly make available His salvation to "all men." God desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2). We mustn't see this word "all" in a limited way; otherwise, men will go to eternal separation from God without having the slightest chance of eternal life: this is not how God portrays Himself. One of the things I am impressed with is that God made us in His image. He made the first man and woman in His image (Gen.2). He gave them free will to choose right or wrong. God, who is sovereign, respects man's free will. Because this is true, the doctrine of election must be harmonized with this understanding. What does God elect? He elects the manner in which man will be saved. He planned from before the foundation of the world that anyone, "whosoever will", may hear His will, turn from sin, and obey the Gospel and be saved. God's sovereign will is satisfied in that only those who come to Him through the Son will be saved. But he is just and fair in that each man has the right and ability to hear of His plan and respond to it by rejecting or accepting it.

    The real question you may have on your mind is "how do I live the life of faith?" What my graphic portrays is that only an obedient faith is pleasing to God (Rom. 1:6; 16:26). There is no question whatsoever that God is "the only Sovereign." But what does that mean? Does that mean that God is actually moving invisible strings and man only appears to be obedient? If so, we must require that hope, faith, and love be thought of in a conceptually different way than portrayed in the Bible. If my actions are really God's actions, because love is action (1 Cor. 13), then I'm not really loving God because He first loved me. Viewed in this way, God is only causing me to appear to love Him. If sovereignty does not keep intact the free will of man to obey, then to say, "See how that man truly loved God" would not mean anything more than God acted a certain way in that man. If Sovereignty of God did not respect the free will of man, all we would see from the human vantage point would be the actions of God or the lack thereof. It would be more accurate to say, then, "Oh, how beautiful to see God portray obedience through that man." The man's faith and love would no longer be a virtue of the man; but only of God. Seen this way, the evil actions of man would be just as much an indictment against God as against the man doing the evil. This is a touchy issue and we want to be careful that we don't assign evil to God: which I know you are not doing. But the doctrine of "election", as it is portrayed in these modern times, is not helpful to those who want to live in a pleasing manner to the Lord. The person of faith truly wants to "be pleasing to the Lord." That is his want and he owns it. When he gives a glass of water to the thirsty or food to the hungry, that is very pleasing to God. God rewards the man or woman who lives this kind of faith, which is obedient. God is sovereign and His will will be done: we pray this. But it must be done through people who have free will or else it is all a facade, a farce.

    You are right, man cannot work for his salvation, but man must work: faith demands it. Look at it this way. Say you are standing before the cross of Jesus Christ and the blood is streaming down his abused body. He then looks down at you in mercy and says, "this I do for you, go and sin no more." This accurately portrays what Jesus did there on that cross. He died in your stead and only His blood can atone for your sinfulness. But, if you truly believe and have faith in that fact, then you cannot walk away from that scene the same. You must, faith demands it, walk away in repentance having determined to sin no more. It is impossible to separate saving/biblical faith from obedience. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith and works go together.

    Our hope is intact when we understand what God has done for us. When we hope for heaven, and live by faith in the Son of God, obedience is the most natural and godly response to have. An obedient faith pays close attention to the only Sovereign and it trust fully in the gift of God's saving grace.

    (Someday, I may learn to respond with brevity.)

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  3. Hi Dan. Thanks for your response; you have given those with my view of election much to think about. By the way, I think that brevity is relative to the question asked.

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  4. Male and female, created in the image of God.

    Genesis 5:2 "He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created." Male and female, created in the image of God.

    Genesis 1:27 "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

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