Our faith must be faith for today. The past, pressing painfully on the present, is gone into the record books of eternity. The future, tomorrow, is in the hands of God. Our Christian faith, where we believe all the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ, must strengthen us now, and give us wisdom, patience, self-control, gratitude, love. Our faith is ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ, the God-Man revealed in the Scriptures. He is the Centre. Only with our eyes and hearts on Him, will we be able to deal with all the failures of Christendom, the denominational divisiveness, the compromising politics of church and state liaisons, worldly secularism and materialism, our own indwelling sinfulness.
God the Creator and Saviour will not fail the faithful. It is we who fail to make faith a powerful reality in our daily lives. There are so many idols to distract us. Faith and prayer often become last resorts when our self-centred efforts bring us to despair. James warned, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22).
Obedient faith in Christ saves and sustains. When better understood, we know that it is God who saves and sustains, through obedient faith. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Saving faith is much more than external religious show. Today, easily accessible through traditional and social media, there are many false, shallow, sentimental, self-promoting performers exploiting the name of Christ. They spend time talking about themselves, asking for money, teaching false doctrines. Through the electronic “church,” many are bombarded with a showy, vain, media-savvy Christendom, for whom the idolatry of self-image is paramount. These are the false prophets by whom many are led astray.
And even more insidiously, when these versions of Christendom are tied to political movements and leaders, as is apparent everywhere, with promotion of a so-called theocratic “Christian nation” and all its attendant evils of discrimination, racism, deep community hatreds, we have a dangerous mix of religion and right-wing politics. As a result, many are turned off the great revealed truths of Biblical Christianity and the central Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The faith to which we are called in the revealed Scriptures has real power to keep us from being crushed by adversity. This faith must be rooted in the God-reverencing heart. Our “heart” is the inner, true part of us. It is the most private and intimate centre of our human being. There Jesus Christ must rule with His Biblical Word and the power of His Holy Spirit in the Love of the Father. The Christian faith is faith in a Triune, Trinitarian Godhead. Christ Jesus is the Second Divine Person of that Holy Trinity. The Apostle Paul acknowledged the sincere conversion of the church at Rome: “But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you.” (Romans 6:17). The result of this total acceptance of Jesus Christ and His commandments was that, being then made free from sin, “you became servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18).
The crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the firm, foundational reality of the Biblical Christian faith. The early Church went out into its world proclaiming His resurrection, and telling everyone that He is both Lord of all creation and Messiah (Christ), the One chosen by God to be Saviour and Judge. One cannot read the New Testament objectively and not find this declaration about Jesus Christ everywhere: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
To the Gentiles in Athens, Paul was uncompromisingly clear. God “has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31). To the Colossian church, this former Christ-hating Apostle declared, in amazing words: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16).
Faith that God requires from professing Christians today is a total commitment to the Jesus Christ of Bible Scriptures. Today’s disciple must understand and believe that Jesus “died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15). How has our declared faith in Christ changed our lives? How is that changed life seen in our relationships with others including difficult persons, those of different lifestyles, differing ideologies and religious beliefs or no beliefs? And what about those with whom we say we share the same faith in Christ? Does our faith in Christ enable us to “love one another” as Christ commanded? These questions are not meant to encourage compromises that are totally incompatible with Scriptural teachings.
Self-centredness, self-idolatry are the great, deeply rooted enemies within us of life-changing faith. They show themselves in pride, addictions to sin, anxieties about many things. These are real dangers (coming from the world, flesh, devil) facing those who desire to be faithful servants of God and Christ. We are engaged in a real, serious spiritual warfare. People of Christ must always remember with confidence, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3).
Sincere faith in the risen, returning Christ will influence all our choices, decisions, affections, thought-life, behaviour. That faith will be a certain anchor when we are inevitably tossed about from within and without. And increasingly as we age, as family and friends die, when we experience the body’s failures, only our hope in the living, loving Christ will keep faithful Christians at peace. Scripture calls us to “set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2). Those who have heard the Good News (Gospel) of God’s mercy and salvation, through faith in the Life and Work of Christ, must heed the dread warning, “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 25:44). Christ Jesus, no one else, nothing else, is and will always be, the Central Reality of the Biblical, revealed Christian faith.