Vol: 58 Issue: 12 Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Faith in Christ means a pretty substantial faith that you are right about where to put your faith. I have to admit that, from time to time over the years, I’ve heard some skeptic’s argument, some new interpretation of an accepted doctrine, or heard of some new archeological discovery that caused me to go, “Hmmm.”
I admit that I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion if maybe I am following ‘cunningly devised fables’ concocted by brilliant men who lived centuries ago and refined in secret in the centuries since.
After all, if the Bible is true, then the writings of Buddha, which are unquestionably brilliant, are false. But one seldom hears of Buddhist suicide bombers or Buddhist killers or even Buddhist thieves. Their doctrine of ‘karma’ is not too much different than Jesus’ doctrine of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’
‘Karma’ is the belief that what goes around, comes around. A good man in this life comes back a better one in the next. A bad man in this life may come back in the next one as a dog. Or a pigeon. Or a chicken. (Karma also explains Buddhist vegetarianism. Yuck)
Still, while there are bad Buddhists (just as there are bad Christians) most of the followers of Buddha are pacifists who work hard at being good neighbors.
An evolutionist’s faith is rooted, first and foremost, in his own conviction that he is right about where to put his faith. As when one comes to Christ, that decision comes first. The search for confirmation that one’s faith is correctly placed comes afterwards.
The dedicated evolutionist is one who first concluded evolution made sense, then investigated his conclusion until he was satisfied he was right in reaching it. The rest of his energy is devoted to convincing others that his conclusion is right, creating new dedicated evolutionists in the process.
That is not too different in practice than is Christian dedication to leading others to Christ. But is it truly different in theory? Is it a case of being right? Or of being saved?
The evolutionist will make his point, and your reaction is to disprove his point first, then go back to your point, and so on, by which time the point you were trying to make gets lost in the argument over details. Soon, you find yourself, red-faced, eyes bulging, shouting, “Jesus loves you!” while resisting the temptation to grab the guy by the lapels and shake some sense into him.
What’s happened is that your faith is less in Jesus than it is in being right personally. It’s no longer about Jesus. It’s now about you. All somebody has to do to shake your faith is seemingly prove you wrong.
And you didn’t even see it coming.
Nobody puts their faith in something they don’t believe in. Evolution has been disproved so many times that, even though it is taught as fact in schools, it still bears the label ‘theory.’ ‘Theory’ means ‘unproved’. The evolutionist’s faith isn’t in the evidences from science. The evolutionist believes he is right because he has faith in himself.
Salvation comes by putting one’s faith in Christ instead of in oneself. It isn’t a case of being right so much as an understanding of how wrong you are by nature.
It is possible to put one’s trust in Jesus for their salvation and still be wrong.
One can be wrong about the timing of the Rapture and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation. One can be wrong about Bible prophecy and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.
One can be wrong about their understanding of who the antichrist is, or is not, and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.
It is even possible for one to be wrong about their church and its doctrine and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.
Beyond the need for salvation and the way to obtain it, the battle isn’t over faith in Jesus, it is over one’s personal faith in oneself and one’s own rightness. What happens to that person when they lose the battle to someone with superior debating skills?
I’ve known many Christians who’ve been utterly demolished by skeptics who make a career out of debating the existence of God.
The Christian marches in, full of faith in his knowledge of details and doctrine, and has his faith shattered because his faith was rooted in his being right on all the details, rather than being in Jesus.
He gets a few details wrong, the skeptic uses those details to obscure the central truth, and the Message is lost in the debate. But the debate was supposed to be about the Message. Instead, it became about him.
The Christian’s faith in himself is in shambles. The skeptic walks away more convinced than ever of his rightness.
The final score? One wounded Christian. No victories for the Kingdom. Our faith was more in being right than being in Christ. And we pay the penalty for our misplaced faith.
None of us knows everything there is to know of God and His plan for the individual believer. What we DO know is that there are as many denominations within Christianity as there are letters in the alphabet, and each is convinced that their way is the only ‘right’ way.
But the Bible says that the ONLY way to heaven is through faith in Jesus. Everything else leads to bitter and endless debate that always degenerates into an argument over who gets to be right.
Debates are useful tools for sharpening one’s understanding of the things of God. But the problem with debates is that somebody has to be wrong. That doesn’t mean that it was God.
The Bible says, and logic and experience confirm, that all men are sinners who have missed the mark and come short of the glory of God. The Bible further says, and logic further confirms, that man is by nature a sinner from the day he is born until the day he dies.
The Bible says, and logic further confirms, that man is spiritually hopeless on his own. Spiritually, all men are equal.
Logic says that man is therefore lost without Someone to save him. The Bible says that God Himself took on human form in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus lived the life God expects of each of us, and, having complied with God’s standards, was uniquely qualified to pay the penalty failure to meet God’s standards demands.
Our faith is rooted in understanding our inability to meet God’s standards, first, with our faith in Jesus Christ to meet that judicial standard on our behalf rising out of that first understanding.
There is a difference between winning a debate and sharing the Gospel. Sometimes, listening to Christians debating non-Christians (or especially each other) it seems like a distinction without a difference.
It becomes more about the personal vindication by being ‘right’ than it is about sharing what you know and leaving the rest up to the Holy Spirit. Salvation comes by putting one’s faith in Christ instead of in oneself.
To the unsaved observer, that looks like ‘humility’ — which is a lot more attractive than arrogance. And it is the unsaved observer that is the mission. Leading him to a saving knowledge of Christ is the mission.
Not winning the debate. That’s a mission you take on for yourself.
Big storm here this morning. Had to shut down my computer until it passed. Sorry for being late with this morning’s briefing.