Monday, September 26, 2016

What do you believe?

Talk to any Christian and you will find basic agreement on basic beliefs. We believe in monotheism -- one God. We believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again. Basic. We believe that He was God Incarnate. We believe that the Holy Spirit is God -- the Third Person of the Trinity. We believe that the Bible is the God-breathed Word of God. Basic beliefs. And we agree.

It is said that you can tell what a person truly believes by what they do. When, for instance, Al Gore traveled the country with his "inconvenient truth" about the horrors of human-caused global warming, it became very difficult to believe that he believed it when we found that he lived in a house with a massive carbon footprint and traveled around in a private jet and in SUVs, all in opposition to his own message. His actions argued that what he claimed to believe he didn't really believe. So we must ask ourselves. What do our actions tell us about our beliefs? We may have the right words and agree on the right things, but do we act like we really believe them?

Take the repeated biblical claims to God's sustaining power. We read, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28) More, we read, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31) We are assured that in all kinds of tribulation and distress "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Rom 8:35-37) Jesus promised, "You will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish." (Luke 21:17-18) These are certainties, positive claims from God on our behalf. So why is it that when tough times come we crumble? Why is it that when our world hates us because we are followers of Christ, we are outraged and terrified? What do we really believe?

We claim that we believe God's Word. Paul claims that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). We know that being absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). We know this. Yet, most Christians I know are terrified of death. Why is that? What do you really believe?

One thing abundantly clear in the pages of Scripture is that those who die without Christ are facing eternal torment. Jesus spoke of it. The New Testament is littered with it. We're all sure of that. And yet ... how do we reconcile that certainty with our silence with friends and family? How do we correlate this horrible outcome for those we love who have rejected Christ and our fear and caution and outright refusal to warn them? It looks like, while we all agree that salvation is in Christ alone, apparently the torments we would experience in this world for sharing the gospel will exceed those experienced by loved ones and neighbors who spend eternity in Hell. What do we really believe?

It breaks my heart when I see someone claiming to be a Christian who falls wholeheartedly and unreservedly into gross sin. I wonder, "What do you truly believe?" It breaks my heart when it's my sin I'm looking at. "What do I truly believe?" When I come across something in God's Word that tells me I'm wrong, either in truth claim or in attitude or behavior, I am forced to ask myself, "What do I truly believe? Is God's Word true, or am I willing to set myself above it?" I have to ask myself, "What do my actions and attitudes say I believe? How does that differ from what I say I believe?" Most importantly, "What am I going to do about it?" Because, as Scripture is quite clear, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17), and a dead faith does no one any good.

11 comments:

Stan said...

Perhaps you've heard this appropriate question. "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

Anonymous said...

Maybe this doesn't fall into the "gross sin" category, but it caught my eye when someone tried to console another person on social media----

F@@@ING PRAYING FOR YOU

I have censored it, but readers will probably recognize the phrase that was actually used. I am seeing language that old-timers like me would have characterized as "raunchy" becoming more common in the community of believers. I wonder how long until it is heard routinely from the pulpit.

Stan said...

They clearly don't believe in instructions like Eph 5:4 or Col 3:8. Oh, and it is coming out of pulpits now. (I can think of three well-known instances.)

Craig said...

Except when Christians deny theism, atonement, the authority of scripture and other fundamentals of the faith.

But, I know what you mean.

Stan said...

No, I think I was pretty clear. I was talking about Christians, not about people-who-call-themselves-Christians-but-deny-everything-Christian-in-the-process kind of people. Of course, their denial of everything Christian while calling themselves Christian, I suppose, demonstrates what I was talking about, doesn't it? :)

Craig said...

Well if you want to use a non inclusive definition of Christian then I suppose you could have a point. :)

Stan said...

I get the humor, but you make me think. The Left is always talking about "inclusiveness" which they propagate by excluding those they don't deem inclusive. (Just like being judgmental of the judgmental or intolerant of the intolerant.) Obviously contradictory. If we claim exclusivity (that is, if Christ does) and, therefore, are not claiming to be inclusive in our definition of Christian, that is not contradictory, right?

Stan said...

The difference, I think, is that we don't claim to be inclusive, "tolerant" (in their use of the word), or "nonjudgmental" (since Jesus commanded "Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matt 7:5) We, then, claim that we are exclusive, we don't embrace sin, and we recognize evil when we see it. They claim to be inclusive, but exclude, tolerant, but not of those who don't embrace sin, and nonjudgmental except when it comes to people who see things differently than they do. That is, they are exactly like us, except they claim to be otherwise. Interestingly, there is a word for that. It is "hypocrite."

Craig said...

Stan, what you have to realize is that those words don't mean what they used to. In reality, they have very little use as descriptive words and are simply cudgels used rhetorically. IN much the same way as any of the "ist" words. As long as you can label someone, you don't have to actually have a coherent argument with them. It's just much easier.

Stan said...

Indeed, Craig, and I'd go one step further. It's much easier to label rather than argue especially if you have no real argument to use. It's much easier to wield public emotion against rational thought.

Craig said...

At this point in time that goes without saying. It's also easier to treat people as members of a group and make generalizations about them, than to deal with people as individuals.