the Spirit Watch
What Is The Christian Faith?
What is the Christian faith? We're glad you asked ..
The story is told of a world famous acrobat who was noted for his daring highwire walks across vast chasms who astonished crowds as walked a tightrope strung between the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls. He had done this on several other occasions with amazing stunts like pushing a wheelbarrel or toting an oven along to cook an omelet halfway across the Niagara Gorge. They erupted in a wild ovation when he made yet another successful crossing. He then quieted them with a question: "Now that you have seen me do it once, do yo u believe I can go back again?"
"Yes! We believe!" they shouted back to them, applauding.
He quieted them again. "Do you believe I could cross with a man perched on my back?"
Without missing a beat, the crowds continue to cheer and express complete confidence in the acrobat's ability to perform such a feat. Hadn't they just seen proof? Hadn't they heard of his past accomplishments? Of course he could!
The acrobat then gazed intently over his rapt audience and asked "Now, which of you will be that person and accompany me back across?"
Suddenly, there was an uncomfortable silence of consternation. The acrobat suddenly found no takers. Those who professed belief suddenly had no faith. It wouldn't be until another day until someone exercised their faith - his business manager - and accepted his invitation. Both crossed and lived to see another day.
The essence of faith is trust, a confident hope that doesn't question the truth believed in. It is the stepping out onto nothing with the belief that one's foot will land on something. Like the acrobat's manager, it is the anticipation of accomplishment despite all of the circumstances surrounding the progress toward it.
And that is what the faith of Christianity is about. Hear what the Bible says about it:
Now the just shall live by faith .. We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul
The Christian faith is just that - a faith that is nothing more and nothing less than a very real trust in Jesus Christ alone for a very real personal salvation. That is what it means to "believe to the saving of the soul." It is a faith focused entirely upon Jesus Christ that our inner man, the essence of who we are which the Bible calls the soul, may be redeemed by His marvelous power. That is why Jesus has been called our Savior - He came to live, die and rise again from the dead to provide this salvation for any and all who would "believe on" Him. And the Bible makes clear that this indescribable transformation is available for all to receive, but only through faith in this same Jesus:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.
This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave commandment. 1 John 3:23
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29
And it is Jesus Christ whom was sent by God the Father to be believed upon. He is at the heart of true Christian faith. Religious trust directed anywhere but to Him alone isn't true faith. For to "believe on" Christ is to give oneself to a complete and radical trust in His power to change and restore, to cleanse and to forgive, to heal and make new the life one gives over to Him. It's not just believing in Christ, not just affirming that He existed or even that He can do these mighty redemptive acts .. but believing on Christ to the point that a real perspective enters your life that is indeed life-changing - and what is that perspective?
We are all people still in need of a Savior and we need to be saved.
So what is it that we need to be saved from? Jesus came to save us from an inescapable spiritual bondage all mankind has labored under for generations - from our own sinfulness and the sins that we all commit. They range from the white lie to the murder of the innocent. The Bible is clear that such acts aren't just "errors" but moral outrages to the holy nature of God Himself and separate us from Him, making us spiritual rebels in danger of eternal punishment who can do nothing to save ourselves from our sinfulness:
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. .. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. .. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. ..
O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. .. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 3:23, 5:12, 7:19-20, 24-25, 6:23
Despite the depraved and evil nature of fallen humanity, however, God the Father so passionately loved us all so intently that He sent Christ into the world to save us from ourselves at such a precious cost. The often quoted John 3:16 summarizes this well, as well as the not so often quoted John 3:17:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Such a salvation is precious indeed - it cost the life of a Baby born 2000 years ago who would grow up to die as a Sacrifice that would turn aside the righteous wrath of the holiness of his Father. The Baby celebrated at Christmas came to die as a hated Man in a violent execution 33 years later upon a cross to bring eternal life to "whosoever" would believe upon Him .. with a total trust and faith in His ability to bring it to them.
This is what so many who would be Christians (and not a few professing "Christians") stumble over. It's also what those bound in false religion and cults cannot abide. Their definition and application of what they think they are saved from makes all the difference in the world and all of their sectarian good intent and self-discipline cannot save. It cannot redeem. It cannot justify them before God, although it may make life on the earth better. Only trust in Jesus saves.
Such a thought offends the sophisticated tastes of those who would stubbornly insist on placing their misguided trust in their own chosen philosophy or tailor-made spirituality or tradition or preoccupation. There is nothing more humbling then to admit that your good works, your morality and even your own belief system have in fact had less to do with faith in Jesus than faith in yourself. It brings confusion, fear and a soul-searching revelation of finding ourselves in the deepest spiritual need. Pride and indignation arises .. and indeed, it even angers many to hear such shocking, seemingly intolerant truth claims that explode the false foundation of their misguided lives.
But the Christian faith cannot be reconciled to these well-intentioned dead ends. It is faith in Christ alone that brings one a very real and personal deliverance from the spiritual toxicity of their sins. This precious faith is based on only one foundation - the blood of that Child who was none other than Jesus Christ Himself, born of the virgin Mary and whose prophetically foretold death upon a Roman cross in ancient Israel now opened a way back to God for all who would turn to Him and Him alone:
Jesus saith .. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. (John 14:6)
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12)
.. we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all .. this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; .. by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14)
This Christ Jesus rose from the dead three days after His death to establish forever that the restoration of fellowship with the One True God who loved us so much that He sent Him to die for us. This wonderful reality is indeed the greatest blessing one could ever have this side of heaven - full peace with God, with one's past and with all others, bestowed upon us by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ!
If God would not spare even His own Son to take upon Himself on the Cross the punishment for the sins we've done, then how can we doubt His promises? Yes, there are many issues about Christianity one can raise intellectually, and they are worthy of discussion, but the choice to believe and trust is still one we all must make.
In the end, that is what the Christian faith is about - trust in the promises of God revealed by Christ and empowered today by His Spirit. It is not belief alone that He can do what He said He would. Mental affirmation of truth is not faith. It is an active faith of total commitment to becoming a follower of Christ that Jesus calls us to: one who will deny self, take up his personal cross of death to self by confession and repentance from personal sin and by calling on His Name to become their personal Savior.
Then Jesus said unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:24-25
If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. John 14:23
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:12
Will you come to know this Jesus whose Gospel we preach and defend? Don't delay any longer - come to Him who loved you enough to die for your sins, who ever lives to meet your needs and serve His Kingdom! Jesus Christ does indeed know and love you and will meet you just where you are. Trust His promises found in the Word of God! You won't be disappointed. Give him your all today! Here's how ..