Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Living and Believing

To be followers of Christ means that we live lives of faith. Faith is not only about what we believe, but it is also about how we live. We can mentally agree with different creeds and the teachings of the Bible, but if these things don’t make a difference in how we live then we have to question whether or not we really have faith. The writers of the New Testament make it very clear that we are judged, based not solely on what we believe, but also on how we live. The two go together. True faith is the marriage of belief and action. If one is missing then true saving faith does not exist.

What we believe is very important, but God also wants us to remember what we do is important as well. That is why the apostle Peter wrote:
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:13-21, ESV)

I think we can see the link between belief and faith which forms faith in this passage.

Faith is an act of the mind.

What we believe is mainly a mind issue. We evaluate the different evidence and truth claims that come at us and determine what is most logical for us to accept. Admittedly there are many factors that come into play here: emotions, experience, culture are just a few of the different things which shape our beliefs.

For Christians on of the biggest factors is whether or not there is evidence for us to trust what the Bible has to say. The Bible, particularly the New Testament, is our source for truth. If the Bible isn’t reliable then nothing we say about Jesus or His teachings can be believed. I want to encourage you to look into the evidence of whether or not the Bible can be trusted to get you started here is an article by Dr. J. P. Moreland entitled Historicity of the New Testament .

The revelation of Jesus Christ found on the pages of the New Testament gives us hope. This hope is the result of understanding who Jesus is and the implications of the promises that He made. Hope, like belief, originates in our mind as we think and reflect on the teachings, promises, and examples that we are given.

Faith is an act of obedience.

So our belief is formed in our mind, but our belief does us no good if we don’t apply it to how we live. Peter tells us that we need to be obedient children. God, through Jesus Christ and the Bible, has revealed to us how He wants us to live. This is not a mystery to us. Sure there are things that we don’t understand, but there is much that we do understand. By acting on what we understand we show our faith in Jesus Christ.

One of the ways we live as obedient children is to change the way we live. We need a brand new standard. The world’s standard for living cannot be our standard for living. In other words we need to be different. From struggling against sin to how we give our money to our attitudes about sex we have to live by a different standard than the world lives by. We realize that things the world says are harmless have devastating consequences as we strive to become the person God called us to be.

This is what holiness comes down to, setting ourselves apart from the world. We don’t live according to the world’s standards but we live according to the standard that God has provided for us.

Faith is an act of hope

Let’s face it there a lot of reasons that we should give up on this faith. Intellectually we are told that what we believe is a myth. By believing in Jesus Christ we are believing a lie. These people have their own apologists who are able to tells us why Jesus Christ is a myth and Christianity a lie. With the testimony of such intelligent and educated people we begin to wonder if following Jesus is the smart thing to do.

Morally we have the world sending us messages about what the good life looks like and we begin to wonder if following Jesus is all it is cracked up to be. Maybe happiness is found in meaningless sex or money or achievement. Maybe I am wasting my life trying to follow Jesus.

These doubts and discouragements are going to come and so Peter tells us to look to Jesus. We need to remember the price God paid to bring us into His family. When we look to Jesus it reminds us of God’s great love for us and the pain and struggle Jesus went through to show that love to us. Keeping our eyes on Jesus should remind us of that life isn’t easy but it is good.

Faith is more than just believing the right things it is also about living the right way. If we are not willing to change the way we live in order to follow Jesus then we don’t really have faith. Our faith is seen in how we live our lives.

  • Point to Ponder: True faith is the marriage of belief and action.
  • Passage to Remember: 1 Peter 1:13-21
  • Question to Consider: What does your life say about what you believe?

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