Posts Tagged ‘Christ alone’

You don’t have to look very hard in the New Testament to find the word ‘faith’—it’s literally everywhere.  In fact, we are assured in Hebrews 11:6 that, without it, it is impossible to please God, which means that it is obviously very important.  However, it has been my experience that Christians often fail to understand the true nature of the faith that God requires of us.  Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  A young boy wakes up on a cold winter morning in a small South Dakota town.  Excitedly, he pulls back the curtains of his bedroom window to reveal a winter wonderland outside, with the first snowfall of the year having blanketed everything in sight.  He throws on his boots, trousers, coat, and scarf and then grabs his bobsled as he makes his way to the freshly frozen lake out behind his house.  He approaches the lake at a full sprint and, without a second thought, throws his sled down onto the ice and jumps, outstretched, on top of it with a squeal of delight.

Scenario 2:  The same young boy awakes on the same snowy morning.  He dons his winter wear, and grabs his sled.  As he approaches the freshly frozen lake behind his house, he notices the tire tracks from his dad’s 2.5 ton pickup truck stretching from the driveway of their home all the way out across the frozen lake to the other side, where his father is gathering a load of fresh firewood for their home.  With confidence, he gleefully runs out onto the ice and begins his fun-filled day of bobsledding.

Now, in both scenarios, the boy had faith in the ice on the lake and its ability to hold him and his sled.  The difference is, the faith exercised in the first scenario was an unjustified or blind faith, as there was no rational reason for the boy to trust that the ice could hold him.  Sure, he believed that it would, but there was no real justification for his belief. However, in the second scenario, the boy was exercising justifiable faith.  That is, he had a very good reason for believing that the ice would hold him and for subsequently acting upon that belief by stepping out onto it.  The tracks, indicating that his father’s much larger and heavier vehicle had successfully been supported by the ice, gave him a logical justification for his assumption that it would also hold him.  That is the same type of faith that God calls us to exercise with regards to trusting Him and His Word.  Consider Romans 1:18-20:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

According to these verses, God has clearly revealed Himself to all mankind such that we are without excuse for denying Him. That is, the ‘tracks’ He has left for us via both His natural and special revelation, not only justify our faith in Him, they demand it.  As such, Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark unknown, but rather, it is a confident step onto a sure foundation of Truth that has been established and revealed by God in such a way that we can know with certainty who He is and that His Word is true.  This is why the Apostle Paul could confidently declare in 2 Timothy 2:12—

 ……nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

The foundation of God is indeed a sure one. It is not shameful to trust in Him—it is shameful not to. May God help us to trust Him more and to build up ourselves on our most holy faith!

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This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

These words thundered from the very mouth of God in Matthew 17:5 when Peter, James, and John beheld the illuminating brilliance of Jesus Christ in His glory, as He was transfigured before them high upon the Mount of Transfiguration.  Imagine how they must have felt as they beheld the Lord of glory communing with Moses and Elijah while they watched, engulfed in radiant white light.  Awestruck and unable to keep silence any longer, Peter exclaims in blissful delight how good it s for them to be there and then…..a big mistake.  He commits the critical error of equating Moses and Elijah with Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, when he suggests that they build three tabernacles–one to honor each of them—on that very spot.  Immediately, a cloud engulfed them all, God’s voice was heard confirming the preeminence of His Son, and then, when the smoke cleared, there remained Jesus only standing with them.

Oftentimes, it can be frustrating for us when we see Christianity casually and irreverently lumped into the same category as the false, man-made ‘religions’ of our day. Those who do so also commit a grave error, comparable to the one made by Peter all those years ago.   Personally, I dislike the word ‘religion’ (at least in the modern sense) as a descriptor for the Christian Faith, as nowadays that word carries connotations that tend to conjure up images in the mind of all sorts of ritualistic, superstitious rites and traditions (e.g. bowing toward a particular city in prayer at various mandated times of day, lying on a bed of nails or performing handstands for hours with one’s head buried in the sand, reciting ‘hail mary’s’, dousing oneself with and drinking cow urine in the streets of India, vain repetition of ‘formal’ prayers, ritualistic and robotic reciting of verses from a ‘holy book’, offering of prayers to dead saints, idolization of ‘holy’ relics, etc.) that go hand in hand with the worship of man-made gods.  Christianity, by contrast, is not based upon ‘religious’ form or mysterious rites of passage but, rather, it is a genuine relationship with Almighty God through Jesus Christ.  We are reconciled to God, not based upon our own works, but by placing our faith and trust in the finished work of His only begotten Son.  The Apostle Paul confirms this in the very familiar passages of Ephesians 2:8-9 when he declares:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Herein lies one of the primary distinguishing factors which separates the Christian Faith from man-made ‘religions’.  While it is useful to know some of the details and beliefs of false religions when witnessing to those who hold to them, we need not feel overly compelled to burden ourselves with learning the finer points of papal infallibility, trans substantiation, the five pillars of Islam, proxy baptism for the dead, etc. in order to engage a Catholic, Muslim, or Mormon in a discussion.  Instead, I have found it much easier to demonstrate the exclusive Truth of Christianity vs. other religions via a very simple (yet powerful) illustration:

Visualize two columns in your mind.  In one column, list every world religion you can think of (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, etc.).  In the other column goes Christianity, all by itself.

Upon closer inspection, you will find that the man-made religions in the first column all have something in common;  at their core, they ALL advocate some form of ‘works righteousness’–the ability of man to somehow earn God’s favor or forgiveness through doing ‘good’ deeds or performing some other outward work.  Without exception, this is the mark of any false religion, as mankind’s prideful desire and need to merit their own salvation is the fly in the ointment which corrupts, and, subsequently, exposes corrupt human creeds vs. the genuine Truth of God.  Religions of men attempt to (and do) woo masses by appealing to man’s unregenerate and self-righteous human nature with a flattering message which proclaims, ‘you can earn your way to heaven through your own goodness’, while Christianity tells us something radically different.

The Bible teaches that there is NONE righteous or good in themselves (Rom. 3:10).  In fact,  we are told that our own self-righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the absolute, perfect holiness of Almighty God (Isaiah 64:6).  Christianity unapologetically declares to a sinful and rebellious world, ‘there is nothing you can do to save yourself, but God has mercifully paid the penalty for your sins in the blood of His precious Son’.  Upon Divine authority, it demands that we cease our vain and contemptible attempts at self-righteousness at once and surrender to the Saviour, in order to be reconciled to God and to be justified freely by Him on his terms, not ours

While the religions of the world are man’s prideful and futile attempt to attain unto righteousness on his own, Christianity is God’s demonstration of Divine love expressed through the act of Him humbly becoming a man and obtaining for us what we could never hope to obtain for ourselves.  He lived the life we could not live and then died the death that we should have died.  As such, he receives ALL the glory for our salvation, as He is, therefore, both the Author and Finisher of our Faith.  The difference between these two competing philosophies is as drastic as night and day and the consequences of which one we choose to follow are eternal.  As it was that fateful day with Peter, James, and John, so it is today—when the smoke of worldly deception clears, the Christ of Christianity stands alone as THE way, THE truth, THE life, and mankind’s only hope of salvation and righteousness before Almighty God.  Amen.

I was recently engaged in a very lively debate, regarding the validity of the Christian worldview vs. non-Christian worldviews, over at Debate.org.  Believe it or not, a very simple challenge, put forth to those who hold to worldviews which deny the God of the Bible, turned into a discussion thread of over 800 comments (well above the norm)!  I have included the link to the discussion for anyone who is interested in seeing how non-Christians fared when asked to account for the most basic, fundamental concepts (i.e. logic, truth, knowledge, the foundation of the scientific method, etc.), required for making sense of the world around us, in their worldview.  Warning: it ain’t pretty!

http://www.debate.org/forums/Religion/topic/55783/

NOTE: What you’ll notice in these types of discussions is that those who deny God and the truth of the Bible will always ultimately be reduced to ‘vain and foolish’ reasoning, just like Scripture states (Romans 1:18-22, I Corinthians 1:19-20).  In particular, notice how the unbelievers’ positions are always shown to be based upon nothing more than blind-faith and mere opinion, having no logical foundation whatsoever upon which to rest.  As I always enjoy pointing out, that is the very definition of an irrational (and, therefore, untrue) position.  The more familiar Christians become with these arguments, the easier it is to then (hopefully gently) expose the errors in the unbeliever’s reasoning and to pull down the ‘intellectual strongholds’ that prevent them from considering and, subsequently, receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Remember, no one will receive with their heart what their mind rejects as false, making the mandate of 2 Corinthians 10:5 especially relevant to us today:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I welcome your thoughts.