Thoughts about faith

Archive for December, 2015

What I Believe

This brief statement is not meant to be complete nor cover all aspects of my faith. It is not my “Apostles Creed.” It is as simple and brief a presentation of my faith as I can make.

I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, the universe and all that is ex-nihlo (out of nothing). I believe that God is eternal without beginning or end and without creator. Nothing that exists, has existed, or will yet exists does so outside of His knowledge and will.

I believe God is holy and just – without sin. Because of this an unholy, sinful man cannot long stand in the presence of God nor dwell with Him. Only by the cleansing of our sins and the taking on of the righteousness of Jesus Christ can we abide with Him.

I believe God exists in three persons an inadequate word used by finite beings to understand an infinite God. These persons are ways in which God manifests Himself. God the Father is spirit without form. God the Son proceeds from the Father and became a man through a virgin birth and will forever have a body. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to in-dwell the believer and work in the hearts of men. Together these three persons are known as the Trinity.

I believe that Adam was the first man and Eve the first woman. They did willfully disobey God and their sin has been passed on to all future humans in what is known as original sin. We are born in sin already enemies with God. We possess neither the will nor the power to become God’s friend. It is only through the gift of faith (given by God’s good will and pleasure) that we can receive salvation. Salvation is an act of that received faith in which we acknowledge our sinful state before God and receive forgiveness for our sins through faith by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and are declared righteous by the imputation (accrediting to us) of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Apart from faith in Jesus there is no salvation. Thus salvation is wholly a work of God, not due to any goodness or merit in us (we have none) and none without this salvation will enter into heave but will instead dwell apart from God and His faithful in hell for eternity. Hell is a real place with real suffering and from which there is no escape. There will come a day, yet future, when all men and woman of all ages will be judged by Jesus Christ after which this earth and this universe will melt and vaporize and a new universe and earth will be created by God.

I believe that while salvation does not rest in any way upon our acts, our works, good works, are a fruit or sign of our salvation. Salvation is by faith alone but saving faith is never alone (i.e. it is followed by good works). In this life I will never attain perfection or cease from sin by my sins have already been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ (even those I have yet to commit). I do good works now because I love God, want to obey Him, and have been given a new nature by which I am now capable of pleasing God.

Being a Christian is being a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. To follow Christ you must know Christ. Not just know of Him but know Him personally. Such a relationship is built on reading His Word (the Bible), praying to Him, and obeying Him.  All such followers are part of a new, heavenly family. Going to church is going to be with our new family and to rejoice, celebrate, confess, worship, and learn together. We are not saved by attending church and not all who attend church are true followers of Jesus Christ. Churches are full of imperfect people and are themselves imperfect. A truly bad church that is not faithfully teaching the Word of God should be shunned but the lack of perfection in a church (or any and all churches) is not a reason to avoid church. Just as among non-Christians, Christians can be hypocrites. They can say one thing and do the opposite. As Jesus told His sleeping disciples in the Garden just prior to His death, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” While such hypocrisy is sinful and regrettable it is not necessarily evidence of a false faith nor reason to conclude all Christians are hypocrites. Christians are not perfect but forgiven. The measure of one’s faith cannot always been witnessed in one moment or even one year but over the course of a lifetime and sometimes hidden in the heart. What marks a true follower of Jesus is not the absence of sin in their lives but the refusal to give up and give into their sins. Ours is a lifetime struggle against a tireless foe but a battle we do not fight alone as God gives us strength.

We share our faith not to judge others but out of compassion and by the very command of our Lord as He (and we) do not wish any to perish but for all to come to saving faith (John 3:16). We desire that the incredible joy we experience be experienced by everyone. To live life without Christ is like using a new phone ignorant of how it works and the proper way to configure and use it. Without reading the manual we are unaware of many important and helpful features. We struggle in our use of the phone because we are ignorant. At times the phone is absolutely amazing yet we do not realize how much more amazing it could be if we but availed ourselves of the knowledge of its full use. To live life without Christ is to not know where you came from, where you are going, why tragedies, wars, suffering, and the like occur. It is to be without divine comfort. It is to live with guilt perhaps never receiving forgiveness. It is to not know why you were created and what God’s plan for your life is.

I am but a flawed follower of Christ but one striving to be more and more like him. I accept I will at times be ridiculed, laughed at, called names, considered ignorant and even persecuted. If the world can reject a perfect man full of love like Jesus Christ what hope have I to avoid persecution if I follow in His footsteps? If I am persecuted for doing good then such persecution I gladly accept. My greatest desire is to be an example of Christ to those I encounter. That in some small way they may see a difference in my life. Through my prayers and God’s sovereign grace I hope they will join me in living life to the fullest and knowing eternal forgiveness, peace, joy, and fellowship.