Well, here we are in the New Year 2011. Wow, sometimes it is hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday that it was January 1st 2000 and we were all breathing a sigh of relief. The dreaded "millennium bug" was declared dead on arrival. You may recall that there were many people who were convinced it would be a disaster of untold proportions, affecting every aspect of our lives. Some even went so far as to buy years worth of food supplies and even generators for their energy source. It was really a pretty crazy time.
So, you are wondering, why I would be bringing this up? Oh, you weren't? Sorry, maybe it was just me wondering why I was bringing this up. I guess I was just remembering that time, when we not only transitioned into a new year but a new millennium and I thought to myself, why did so many people get so wrapped up in believing that the so called "Y2K" bug was going to bring calamity upon us? Was there evidence that we could look at to be sure what might happen or did we just listen to people that we thought knew a whole lot more than we did? Some so called experts seemed very convincing.
Well, that same question comes to mind for many when they are thinking about God. They want to know if there is any real evidence concerning the existence of God and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, or are most believers just listening to other people who sound convincing. I could turn that around and put the shoe on the other foot. The other night, I was listening to a leader of an atheist organization, who was being interviewed on the most watched cable news show in the country. He said, "Everyone knows that all religions are just a scam." When challenged by the interviewer to support that statement, he could bring no evidence whatsoever. He just indicated that it's a well known fact. Pretty lame, don't you think?
It occurred to me that often, when Christians talk about their faith, many non-believers think we are doing the same thing. They hear people say, "you just have to take it on faith" as if we had no evidence whatsoever to support that faith. Some of our so called spokespeople don't help much. I have heard many Christians being interviewed on national television or radio say things like "I can't really explain this to you, I just believe it." My heart is grieved when the Christian faith is represented so poorly. In order to live a life of faith, we need to have a clearer picture of what faith really is.
Let's begin by defining what the word faith actually means. The Oxford Dictionary defines faith as "complete trust in someone or something." This is important because it points out that faith must have an object. We can put our faith in many things. When you sit down on a chair, you put your faith in two things. One, you believe that the person who built the chair knew what they were doing. Two, you trust that the chair will not break when you sit down. Let me ask you a question. The last time you sat in a chair, had you seen or known the person that built it? I am going to take a wild guess and say the answer is no. Why then did you trust that the chair would hold you and not break? Most likely it is because every time you sat on it before, it was just fine. You based your decision to trust the chair because you had good evidence that it would hold you. Your evidence, however, was not complete. You did not know everything there is to know about the chair. You didn't know who made it and how trustworthy they might be. You didn't know if someone else had done something to the chair that might have damaged it and caused it to break. Again, your evidence was good but not perfect, yet you chose to trust the chair.
This is similar to the person who puts their complete trust in Jesus Christ. We have very good, if not overwhelming evidence of the existence of God and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but we don't have all the answers or understand everything there is to know about God. So we have to come to a conclusion based on what we do know. By the way, with honest historical scholarship, we have an unbelievable amount of accurate information. The Bible has been proven over and over again to be historically and scientifically accurate. There are numerous books and websites you can go to and check it out.*
The dictionary also makes this statement about the word faith, "strong conviction in the doctrines of a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof." I would have to take some exception to that in the case of Christianity. This again might lead someone to believe that there is no proof that leads to faith in Christ. But there is a sense in which the statement is true. Ultimately, we do make a confession of faith based upon spiritual conviction. In fact, we do not come to salvation by just believing the evidence. There has to be a conviction based upon the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
In Matthew 16, Jesus was asking the question, "Who do men say that I am?" After receiving a couple of different answers, He finally asked, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answers in Matt 16:16,"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (ESV) I want you to pay close attention to what Jesus says next. "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 16:17) Now Peter had been around Jesus for about three years. He had seen Jesus perform numerous miracles, not the least of which was walking on the water himself. He had heard Jesus teach and present evidence from the scriptures of who He was. Ultimately though, he had to have the truth revealed to him by God Himself.
Our minds can be filled with knowledge and facts, but true salvation happens when our hearts are changed by the Spirit of God. Just knowing the truth isn't enough. Salvation comes by the grace of God, through faith. (Eph 2:8) Remember, faith is complete
trust in someone or something. We put our complete trust in Jesus Christ for salvation with great evidence, but more importantly by the work of the Holy Spirit revealing Him to us. (Jn 15:26) When this happens, our lives are changed forever and we begin a journey. We can now testify along with the apostle Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20 NIV)
Game Plan: If you have not already done so, ask the Lord to help you put your complete trust in Him. Study the verses in this post and begin looking up other verses that have to do with faith (there are at least 250 of them!)
In the next few post, we are going to look at different aspects of living the Life of Faith. Until then, may God bless you in your journey of living by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, Coach
*For great resources on the accuracy of the Bible, creation vs evolution, life death and resurrection of Jesus, check out these sites: