Faith 101


“Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)” (Hebrews 11:6a NKJV)

Without question one of the most misunderstood essentials of the historic Christian faith is “faith”. There is a wide chasm between our contemporary understanding of the word and the Biblical meaning of it. What is most commonly passed off as faith by TV preachers, motivational speakers, and sadly, many pastors, is nothing more than “positive thinking”, or as one creative fellow puts it “possibility thinking”. I strongly believe in positive thinking, and especially so for Christians, but it is not faith.

 

The understanding of many, even church leaders and preachers, is that faith is synomonous with our contemporary understanding of “belief”, or “believing”. They often have the same root meaning in the Bible but in regard to salvation are far different than what is commonly understood in 2007.

 

There is an element of “belief” in the concept, or truth of Biblical faith. In both belief and faith the mind must acquire some facts. The intellect is engaged when one hears, or reads, or sees a set of facts, and those facts are recorded in the brain. By the use of this human mechanism that we all share I am convinced that George Washington was the first President of the
United States. I “believe” the facts as recorded in history. That sort of “belief” requires no trust; I never have to rely on those facts, nor am I motivated to act in any way because of the fact that I have given mental assent to them. Biblical faith is not only intellectual but also emotional and volitional. Unless we come to the place where our hearts embrace the facts of the gospel and our wills are predisposed to act on what we believe, we do not have faith.

 

Every sane human can acquire and believe facts. But God gives faith to a selected few (“few there be that find it” are Jesus’ words about the narrow way of salvation in Matthew 7). To those who hear the Word of God, not only with the ear, but with their hearts, faith is given. (Romans 10) One the one hand the brain is the center of activity and on the other the heart (innermost being, or human spirit) is the part of us that embraces the truth of God given by grace. It is this faith, or belief, that Christ could “see”. (Mark 2 & Luke 5) At the moment of saving faith, there is no demonstration needed to convince God that the sinner has placed his faith in the record God has given of His Son. God knows our hearts.

 

The sight of mere belief is short sighted and fickle at best and depends entirely on what can be observed naturally. Faith sees the unseen, is sure and certain, and is supernatural. Faith gives substance to our hope and makes the unseen things of God hard evidence. Faith allows a born again believer to gladly accept God as the Creator of everything. Those without faith have problems with the concept of a being able to make matter out of nothing by speaking a word. The eyes of faith allowed Abraham to look over the eons of time and see a city not built with human hands and upon that evidence only he left his home land to follow God. (Hebrews 11)

 

When I have a candidate ready to be baptized and I ask the question “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?” have I done due diligence to be reasonably sure that person has faith in God? I don’t believe so. The devils believe the facts of the gospel but they do not believe with “the heart”.

 

In the coming weeks I will show that out of the spring of faith flows all obedience to God including repentance, confession, baptism and every other act of submission to a Holy God and His Christ.

 

Grace and Peace,

Royce Ogle

Hafa Adai!


palm-1.jpg I have finally returned from several days in paradise. This a view of sunset at a beach on the Navy base where we snorkeled and played in the water with the grand daughters. This is typical of the beauty of the whole island of Guam.us-1.jpggirls-1.jpg Our grand daughters are Kelsey (14), Adysen (6), and Allie (5). We are very proud of these girls who are wonderful, smart, and just good kids. Our trip was a grand success, with every flight on time, accommodations better than we expected, and the time with our family was priceless. Carol and I took well to the surroundings.

The native people of Guam (Chamorn) are wonderful, smiling people who love their little island and the people who have made it their home. Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians are the majority except for the American military of Anderson AFB and Guam Naval Base and other smaller bases. The Japanese folks were also very friendly, always smiling and bowing to those who speak to them. I really enjoyed trying to communicate with some of the Asians and even some of the Chamorans who do not speak English.

We were blessed to have government housing for the first few days at only $20 per day and it was far better than a $60 room in the U.S. Also, my son had arranged a free car for us for the whole time. So we were able to do some exploring on our own and one day drove around the South end of the island and again and again were over whelmed by the beauty of the vista we saw at every bend of the road.

Our last several days were spent at the Guam Hilton Hotel and Spa on the beautiful Tumon Bay and the center of Guam on the Philippine Sea. The beauty was astounding! I would add more pictures but my editing skills are minimal. If you care to see more you can go to http://picasaweb.google.com/RoyceOgle where 160 pictures are posted, perhaps 150 of them are decent pictures. They include some made during our 2 days in Honolulu.

The only negative is that we had to come home. And, I have managed to get very ill. Horrible ear infections, chest congestion, stuffy nose, and a consistent cough have dulled somewhat a wonderful, once in a lifetime vacation.

Nevertheless, I am glad to be back in Monroe, and back to blogging. Depending on my recovery, I plan to begin a series on Repentance and Faith in the next few days. I had some good time with the Lord walking the beach at night and made some notes late one night after one of those walks for my first installment.

Thanks to all of you who wished me well and prayed for us.

Grace and Peace,

Royce Ogle