Category: Faith


Having Nothing, yet Having Everything

People like things of substance, because substance validates things for us. A bunch of flowers that a man gives to a woman may mean more in a moment than him saying, “I love you.” The flowers themselves are not the man’s love, yet they confirm his love. A hug or a kiss is a quantifiable experience of substance too. A smile that’s shared is simply putting thoughts into substance for those around to receive. Even the atmosphere of a place, whether romantic, solemn, creepy, jolly or quiet is an experience based on substance. Having said that, usually the more concrete a substance is the more real it may seem to us.

With this in mind, consider religion with its array of different things of substance from the paraphernalia of robes, head pieces, beads, to buildings, traditions, titles, creeds, books, etc. all there to help those involved get the full experience. Off-hand, the more religious substance you see around someone the more religious they appear to be. Also, the more we personally interact with these substances, the more religious we may feel. However, it’s because of this inclination to validate or complete our experiences with things of substance that we can easily get duped. You see, besides God’s word, true Christianity needs no outward stuff. In fact, often the less religious substance (tangible things) you see around a Christian, the more real or mature their faith may be.

In the Bible, the book of Hebrews is an appeal to Jewish people who recognized Jesus as their Messiah, but had become uncertain of their new found faith. You see, before Christ came, Judaism was accompanied by a lot of concrete substance. They had the Law, the Ark of the Covenant, the Sacrificial Rituals, Holy Days, the Holy Land, the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Temple, and a history filled with evidence of God’s hand in their lives. In contrast to this, these Jewish followers of Christ had by comparison little in the way of concrete substance surrounding them. Having been ousted by their own people for their faith in Jesus, they had become a mottled group of people, meeting in homes. Not only had their brief history been filled with a lot of difficulty, their faith was accompanied by fewer things outward and tangible which possibly added to any uncertainty they may have felt at the time.

In the book, the author appeals to them by contrasting what Judaism had been to them with what their new faith in Christ now was. He reminds them that what they had, having been spiritually brought into the New Jerusalem, was better. Here is an example of what he said, “For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a trumpet’s blast, or to a voice that made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. For they could not endure the command that was given: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ Indeed, the sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together, to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to a judge who is the God of all, to the spirits of righteous people who have been made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” (Heb 12:18-24).

The author also wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Other translations use “assurance” in place of “substance.” Either way, we see that faith, although intangible, is nevertheless substance, the assurance that we need. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen.”

The Bible tells us how this faith comes about when it says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). This faith, “substance” or “assurance” is found through hearing God’s word, which teaches that Jesus is our Savior from sin and its consequence, death. This is validated by the substance of both the Old and New Testaments, Jesus’ miracles, His words, death, resurrection and the lives that have been transformed.

All we may really have at times is the unseen substance of faith, yet it’s a faith based on a lot. Appearing to have nothing, we have everything!

Go here for part 2

Rob Morley

Fatalism, Presumption or Faith

I was recently asked whether a decision that I had made, not to allow something to take place for the safety of a child, was me being fatalistic or not. Now, whether or not I had been fatalistic is not my reason for this post. Rather, I would like to share from my musings, as this has had me thinking quite a bit. For one, what if my decision had been the opposite? In other words, what if instead, I had allowed the event to take place? I might then have been questioned on whether or not I was acting out of presumption that the child would be safe. Both fatalism and presumption are two Godless ways that we easily entertain in our lives.

Fatalism is often fear driven, while presumption is based on false or unsound assurance. While fatalism acts apart from faith, presumption often masks itself as faith in action. For example, a villager might never venture outside of his hut for fear of a lion. Now, unless he knew of a lion outside, we would say that he is being fatalistic. On the other hand, someone may nonchalantly or even prayerfully venture up to a lion thinking that he is safe, and be attacked. That would be presumption! It is because neither are based on God’s word that they are flawed and bound to fail. While these illustrations are obvious, we should realize that our every day choices are so easily based on us being fatalistic or acting in presumption. As a result, fatalism can keep me from doing what I should be doing, while presumption can even have me doing “good” things, but not what God had in mind.

So, how do you know if you are acting on presumption or being fatalistic? And, what is the antidote to these? Well, being level headed is the obvious and correct answer, but who can safely be level headed all of the time? Obviously, none of us! That is one reason why God’s Word instructs us not to lean on our own understanding, but rather to acknowledge God in all of our ways. The other more important reason is that we were meant for a life that honors God, demonstrated by our dependence on Him. Acknowledging God in all our ways is a life of faith. Simply put, this is being in God’s presence, listening to Him in all the details of life and, in His Spirit, acting on His leading.

God’s Word says, “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” and also “Faith comes from hearing… the word of God”. So, without God speaking to us, we cannot know what to believe and do, and any action without God’s word is presumption. Presumption and fatalism (which is just one form of presumption) is based on wrong belief or unbelief. Let’s instead enjoy God’s presence and allow ourselves to be moved by His Word and His Spirit! As it is written, “Let us confidently draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need” Heb. 14:16.

Rob

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