Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Soap Chicken & miscellaneous thoughts about faith

Today I won the soap chicken contest in our house.

If we were wealthy and had housekeeping staff, I suppose that everyday we would find a brand new bar of soap in the shower. Since we are not even close to that - we try to use up each bar of soap - right down to the last sliver.

But who will be the person who gives up and replaces the last tiny sliver of soap with a brand new bar? Who remembers to check the soap before they get in? Who can remember the need for soap after they get out?

Today, my dear wife remembered and put new soap in the shower. I was spared the frustration of trying to lather up the bits of soap that have stuck to the soap dish.

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I was thinking this morning of the phrase, "...not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." This is found in Hebrews 4:2 in a discourse on God's promise of the rest that is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said,
(Matthew 11:28–30) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus promises that those who come to him will have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life in heaven with him. Many people are aware of the promise, but it doesn't do them any good because the word of God is not "...mixed with faith in those who heard it." As a consequence they do not rest their hope on Jesus - but somewhere else.

The alternatives to faith in God's promise are almost infinite. Some refuse to believe in a supernatural God at all - so they believe in something else they have not seen - existence from nothing, life from non-life, spontaneous complexity, macro-evolution.

Others believe in God - but not in the God of the Bible. They have many alternative religious ideas - reincarnation, soul sleep, annihilation, pantheism, universalism, and so on.

Others claim to believe in the God of the Bible, but they reject the idea that salvation is by God's grace and received by faith in Jesus. They insist that there must be some human effort to complete God's work. A certain prayer, many prayers, good works of one kind or another, baptism or other rituals, etc. They may have many of these or few, but they all amount to the same lack of faith in Jesus. They do not trust in what Jesus has already done, but rather they trust in what they have done or are doing. They are not resting in Jesus, but are resting in their particular system.

We are humanists at heart. I always want to know what I can do. Give me buttons to push, and levers to pull, and switches to flip. I am confident when I think that the outcome depends on me. Give me something to DO.

But in the case of biblical Christianity God takes it all out of our hands. God says there is nothing you can do but trust Him. He has made the provision. He has finished the work. He has paid the full price. He took care of everything. You don't deserve it now and you never will deserve it. It is free. It cannot be earned or purchased.

All you can do is believe God, trust God, have faith in God, rely on God, hope in God...
(Ephesians 2:8–9) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't believing God, trusting God, having faith in God, relying on God, hoping in God, etcetera, etcetera, also "doing something?"

My experience is that being Christian is hard (mental) work!

:) Harmen

Pastor D said...

Harmen - Good to hear from you again! Hope you are well and that Spring is coming to your side of the Atlantic as it is here. It is good to hear the birds singing their Spring songs again. Do they have cardinals in Holland?

You have faith in atheism. You believe in it, trust in it, have faith in it, rely on it and hope its true. But are you doing it?

To believe that God has done all the work of salvation and offers it as a gift of His grace is faith.

Anonymous said...

Cardinals can only be found in North and South America, Wikipedia says. Too bad, they look beautiful! Strangely enough we do have a few thousand of these exotics in Amsterdam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose-ringed_Parakeet . Sadly they only make an awful noise at daybreak... bah.

Atheism is just the absence of belief in a god. There's not much I can "do" with that. Believing in, relying on, and trusting other people and myself is what costs me the most mental work, to be honest.

- Harmen