Part 2: believe....an ongoing faith

Faith is the key to every step taken in the life of a Christian.


It is so often that, especially in English, we can attribute to words an understanding convenient for us . It is therefor, especially in matters of one’s eternal life to be very clear about what we mean by a word such as believe. In reflecting upon my own journey with its failed beginnings I can say much was due to a lack of serious understanding of what I believed and what that actually implicated as a response. Christian belief is more than just knowledge, it is a practical outworking of the confidence in what one believes. The Bible refers to the word believe NOT as a once off, but as a continuous walking in belief and living accordingly.


What is it that we are saying we actually believe? A great summary of it it given in 1 Corinthians 15.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.



Lets break it down believe, or faith into 5 element to better understand and look at them in more detail, the 5 elements are:

Historical element, Personal element, Verbal element, Practical element & the Continual element.


Historical element: The faith of the Christian is not based on emotions and feeling but based on historical evidence of things that happened. Primarily the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, God himself. It is believing these things took place in history and that they happened for you. To prove something as fact in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt there requires circumstantial evidence and eyewitness testimony. History provides both eyewitness testimony and circumstantial evidence to the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.


Personal element: Goes beyond believing about someone to believing IN someone. perhaps an example here will help to make the distinction.


We put our belief IN many people throughout the day, we put belief in people who drive the vehicles we are a passenger in, pilots in our planes. It is actively having confidence in someone by a demonstration of action. We may believe a child is before us but may not believe IN them to drive us around a busy city.

It is our trust IN Jesus that births our trust and obedience to follow him. To believe in someone requires that person to be alive. You cannot believe IN a dead person. You can not believe IN Buddha or Mohammad, Jesus has a unique claim, that he indeed is ALIVE.

In short it is believing Jesus is alive and he is worthy of our trust and obedience.


Verbal element: One’s faith or belief needs to be put into words. This verbal expression of faith is expressed in two dialogues. Firstly, in talking to Jesus about yourself and others (prayer) and secondly, talking to others about Jesus. It is important that these verbal elements are formed from our own words, our own understanding and expression.


There is danger in leading someone in the ‘sinners prayer’ or a ‘repeat after me’ prayer as the expression is not of one’s own words. Repeating a prayer is much like the response of a parrot, this is more of a ritualistic chant that a dialogue of faith. We communicate with Jesus as one who is alive and with expectation of his response as one who is alive.


Practical element: This is simply the reality that your belief leads to action. The faith you have in Christ will be shown through acts or works. In Hebrews 11 we read of many a man and woman of God in the Old Testament who received the commendation of their faith. All the examples listed in Hebrew 11 indicate an action by or through faith.

Abel offered, Enoch pleased, Noah constructed, Abraham left without knowing where to and later offered, Sarah received power to conceive, Isaac invoked blessings on Jacob and Esau, Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph, Joseph made mention of the exodus and gave directions concerning his bones, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, identifying instead with the Israelites and instigated Passover.

Faith as celebrated and defined in the Bible was a faith that was known through action. It is not a proving of faith but real faith hears the call of God and responds in obedient action.


Continual element: Faith is not saving unless it goes on believing. Faith in the new testament is a continual and ongoing faith. It is more accurately thought of as faithfulness. Perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible indicates the nature of this faith.


John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The word believes here is not past tense or future tense it is present progressive. Meaning having once believe and continuing on in that belief.


In John 15 we can see clearly that there is a reality that those who do not go on abiding (staying/continuing on) in faith is no longer connected to Christ.


John 15:5,6 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned


The Lord declares to the prophet Habbakuk that the righteous person (the person seen right in the eyes of the Lord, through the righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus) shall LIVE by faith.


Habbakuk 2:4(b): the righteous shall live by his faith.



Clearly it is not so much the faith that you begin with, but that faith that you finish with that is the faith that saves.



Let’s finish our look at the step of believe, an ongoing faith, with a great reminder from the heroes we have heard of earlier and be reminded and encouraged to keep going in our faith to the very end.


These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13-16



Prayer,

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for opening our eyes so that we can believe and have faith in who you are and your life, death, burial & resurrection. I ask Holy Spirit that you would help us to continue on always in this precious gift of living and active faith.

We ask Lord that you would protect us from anything that would attempt to steal our faith, as the birds of the air steal seed. Protect our hearts, minds and spirit from all deception and lies of the enemy.


In Jesus' name,

Amen


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