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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Whose Faith?

Hebrews 12:2 has been a favorite verse of mine since Holy Spirit showed me that ‘the joy set before Him’ was me! (and you!)

Recently, He has been showing me even more in this verse.

Being an author, I appreciate the use of that term to describe His work in us. No one can write a book the way the original author intended. There have been a few who tried, when an author died before completing the work. Not always a success.

But the thing I sort of missed, while seeing that He is the only one who can write our faith, is  . . . that includes ME.

What He has been showing me this past week is that my faith is ALL His work.  Not mine!

Yup, you heard me – NOT MINE!!

Or YOURS!

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In all the years, and all the churches I’ve been in, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this preached/taught the way He’s showing me now.  Oh, sure, I heard that faith comes from God, but there was always this expectation that “now that He’s given you this faith, it’s your job to make it grow, to ‘use it or lose it'”.

But that’s not what Heb. 12:2 says. He is not just the author of our faith, but the finisher – the one who completes it.

‘Finisher’ is the noun form of the verb ‘Teleioo’. Here’s the definition of that, from Strong’s:

  1. to make perfect, complete
    1. to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end
  2. to complete (perfect)
    1. add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full
    2. to be found perfect
  3. to bring to the end (goal) proposed
  4. to accomplish
    1. bring to a close or fulfilment by event
      1. of the prophecies of the scriptures
 King James Word Usage – Total: 24
make perfect 12, perfect 4, finish 4, fulfil 2, be perfect 1, consecrate 1

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Wow! Amazing stuff, huh?

So where does that leave all my work, all my striving to ‘build my faith’?

On the dung heap! With all my other ‘works’. Thank God!

This is yet another thing that ” … is finished.” (John 19:30)

Hallelujah!

* * *

As we get ready this week to celebrate His death and resurrection, may Holy Spirit show you, in more complete detail, just what Christ finished on the cross.

And may that set you free from empty works, from all striving and all bondage.

And may you go forth from this most wonderful of seasons secure in the knowledge that HE will finish your faith, will perfect it (and you). And all you have to do is say ‘yes’.

Shalom

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is not the question, actually.

Romans 1:17 says, “the just shall live by faith.”  But from my observation of life, the unjust live by faith, too.

I think that is just what humans do — we believe.

We believe what others tell us. We believe what we have experienced. We believe what we read and see and play – movies, TV, sports, computers.

We believe things about ourselves, about the way life works, about the basic character of humans, about love and death and taxes.

As children, we are taught or develop a set of rules or guidelines, and we then live our lives based on our belief in them. You see this every day, everywhere you look. How we relate to one another; how we react to life or work or traffic signals; how we behave in certain situations – all these are based on our beliefs.

When our beliefs are challenged, though, look out!  Look at how passionately believers in football or human rights or saving whales will fight for what they believe. And how many of us still feel betrayed about Santa Claus?

We all live (and die) by (and for) our beliefs.

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So, if we all have faith, if we all believe, what is the question?

The question is — what do we believe?

For so long, the church has made it sound like Christians have a corner on the faith market. In doing this, though, I wonder if we’ve actually pushed people away from God? When you tell someone that they don’t have something that they know on some deep level they do have, they will reject you and what you are trying to say. Try telling someone that they don’t have the capacity to love, and see what happens! Tell them they don’t have faith, and you’ll probably get the same reaction.

But we do tell people they have no faith, whenever we act and talk as though faith is, in itself, the thing we must have to be saved.

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Throughout the Bible, though, it is clear that what counts is not if you believe, but what (or Who) you believe.

The best explanation of this I’ve ever found is this, from”The Christian’s Secret For A Happy Life”, by Hannah Whitall Smith:

“Your idea of faith, I suppose, has been something like this. You have looked upon it as in some way a sort of thing, either a religious exercise of soul, or an inward gracious disposition of heart; something tangible, in fact, which, when you have got, you can look at and rejoice over, and use as a passport to God’s favor, or a coin with which to purchase His gifts. And you have been praying for faith, expecting all the while to get something like this, and never having received any such thing, you are insisting upon it that you have no faith.

Now faith, in fact, is not in the least this sort of thing. It is nothing at all tangible. It is simply believing God, and, like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside to see whether you have sight, as to look inside to discover whether you have faith. You see something, and thus know that you have sight; you believe something, and thus know that you have faith. For, as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing. And as the only necessary thing about seeing is, that you see the thing as it is, so the only necessary thing about believing is, that you believe the thing as it is.

The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe. If you believe the truth you are saved; if you believe a lie you are lost. The believing in both cases is the same; the things believed in are exactly opposite, and it is this which makes the mighty difference. Your salvation comes, not because your faith saves you, but because it links you on to the Saviour who saves; and your believing is really nothing but the link.”

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So maybe, instead of questioning whether others have faith, we should ask what they have faith in.

Instead of trying to use our faith as a lever to move God in the direction we want, maybe we should use it to hold on to Him, and go where He goes.

“A great many Christians are slaves to the habit of doubting.”

Mrs. Whitall Smith said that, too, in her book.  Do we doubt because we are putting our trust in our faith, rather than in Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven?

Maybe, if we had faith in God instead of in our faith, we could be healed, conquer sin and death, reach others’ hearts with His truth, change the world!

Just maybe.

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May you be blessed with true faith in Him who saves and heals, guides and protects, loves and intercedes for each of us.

May our Father God teach you how to believe in Him!   And may you see fruit of this new faith across all the facets of your life.

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Abiding

During the last year or so, the focus of my relationship with God has been on being in Him.

All the dealings of God with the soul of the believer are in order to bring him into oneness with Himself, that the prayer of our Lord may be fulfilled: ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.’ . . . ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’

This soul-union was the glorious purpose in the heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world. It was the mystery hid from ages and generations. It was accomplished in the incarnation of Christ. It has been made known by the Scriptures. And it is realized as an actual experience by many of God’s dear children.”

The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

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We’ve gone through a lot of stages to get to this point – learning to understand Him as my Father, getting free of lies about Him and myself, etc. – all of which were necessary for me to be able to trust Him.

So now I’m learning what it means . . . what it looks like . . . how it works . . . to abide in the Vine. (John 15:5)

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I could give you a lot of ‘Christianese’ on the subject, but if you’re like me, that just confuses the issue, so I’ll just share what I’ve learned.

  • I’ve learned that ‘childlike faith’ is much simpler, and harder, than it sounds. It is believing in Him and trusting His Word so completely that you don’t even think about it. Little children (up to about age five) don’t even think about being part of the family, they just are. They don’t think about: will Mom give me food when I’m hungry? Will there be a bed when I’m sleepy? Will I get a hug when I need it? They just live! And the trust that all their needs will be provided is so natural, they aren’t even aware of its existence. They never have to make a choice to trust.
  • I’ve learned that it’s so natural that it feels wrong. I mean, with all the brainwashing I received in church, the concept that I don’t have to focus, concentrate, work at being in Him was so foreign to me that it took a long time to understand this part. In fact, I’m still working on it. Just about every day I see another area where I haven’t trusted my Heavenly Father. And I have to reject the guilt that tries to come sneaking in, nagging that I’m not trusting Him because I’m not praying about it or struggling to do it, etc.
  • I’m learning that abiding in Him is not this intense awareness that I work to maintain. Sometimes I am aware of Him, sometimes I’m not. But either way, I am still in Him. And He is in me. In fact, those little nudges to do or not do something, those little feelings that I should or shouldn’t say something, all of that is abiding in Him.
  • I’ve learned that abiding in Him is something that we do all the time, even when we’re not consciously aware of it. Example: I’m just talking to someone – not having prayed beforehand, or even being conscious of His presence at that point – and I say something that changes their view of themselves or God or life, and I don’t even realize what I said until I hear it. That is Him abiding in me, and me so one with Him that He speaks through me.
  • All those things I was taught about the gifts of the Spirit were really just examples of how He works through us, when we are IN HIM and He is in us. We don’t have to work at producing them; they’re just there when we need them, because we’re there – in Him. Same with the fruit of the Spirit. It just grows naturally, not through striving.
  • I’ve learned that, although this is a place we are to just ‘be’, it’s hard to get there. Mostly because I keep working to get there. That old cliché – ‘let go, and let God’ – isn’t really a cliché at all! That’s really what needs to happen. I need to let go of trying; of my need to do it myself; of the feeling that if I don’t focus on it, it won’t work. I need to just accept that because of Christ and his death on the cross, I AM in Him!! Period!
  • I’ve learned that this is another facet of the finished work of Christ. He came to restore us to God, to the relationship with Him that mankind was originally created for. (That finished work is so immense! Wow!)

Every so often I sit down with the concordance and my Bible, looking up the meanings of the words, and writing them in the margins. In verse 8 of Genesis 3, the word translated ‘cool’ (as in ‘God walked in the garden in the cool of the day’) is actually translated everywhere else as wind or spirit. So that made me wonder . . . if God walked in the Garden in the wind or spirit of the day, does that mean He was always there? Did they, until the fall, actually live in His presence all the time, every moment? Hhmmm.

But whether or not Adam and Eve did, that seems to be what we, the new creation, are called to. (see John 14 – 17)

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May this be your prayer and your experience:

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

From ‘Be Thou My Vision’

An Irish hymn from the 8th century

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