|Ramblings and Random Thoughts the Faith of a Righteous Man|
|Ramblings - The Faith of a Righteous Man
There are many questions and many varied teachings about faith. I heard someone mention "having faith" recently and that got me to thinking. It seems to me there are some questions about faith many of us have. Here are some things I thought about while wondering why faith can be such a question to us believers. I am not saying I have it figured out. These are just some things I thought about.
There is a question in the minds of many today who have a grip on the doctrine of grace. That question is: Why do so many folks want to add law to grace? Max Lucado wrote a book titled "In the Grip of Grace." Many of have problems believing we stay in the Grip of Grace. For some reason many pastors, evangelist, teachers and people in the pews want to add some law to grace. They believe that everything God does for us or does not do for us, is based on our performance. I have said before you can have a little grace mixed with the law, but you can never have a little law mixed with grace. Once you mix in a little law, then you have diluted true grace and thus canceled it. I have been thinking on this for several weeks off and on. One thing that is a big consequence of that attitude is lack of faith. So, what causes this switch from pure grace. One thing I have heard from different sources is sin consciousness in believers, instead of righteousness consciousness. What that means that we are more aware of our shortcomings and what we lack than we are of the right standing we have been given by Jesus. One pastor of World Changers Church International near Atlanta apologized to his church for preaching sin consciousness in the past and bringing them under condemnation. He said he would never bring them under condemnation again. The pastor of a large church in Singapore said we must be Son conscious and not sin conscious. Paul was puzzled as to why the Galatians so quickly turned away from grace and to the law. Likewise it is puzzling why many today want to turn to their own performance to determine their standing and fellowship with God. One reason I think is that view just makes sense to us. We want to deal with others on that basis. If they do good we want to reward them. If they donít do well then we donít think they deserve it. We want to believe that is the way God deals with us. The new covenant is completely based on grace; however we still want to believe that God rewards us based on performance. I decided many years ago, people are going to believe "what they want to." Most people want to believe their daily relationship with God depends on their performance. That just makes sense to us. So, no matter what the New Covenant says, they read it in such a way that suits what they want to believe. They end up believing what they want to believe.
Let me give an example of people believing what they want to, even ignoring some facts to the contrary. Several years ago where I worked in a local factory one of the guys was selling sunglasses. They were knock-offs of the real thing. They claimed to be Oakleys and Ray Bans but were just convincing copies. Here is the story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Our friend Jim Bob was about to buy a pair of the fake Oakleys from Tommy. Jim Bob being our friend, we did not want him to be ripped off. Here is the conversation we had about them.
I said, "Jim Bob, you know those are fakes?"
"No," he said, "They are the real thing. They come in an Oakley box and everything. Tommy says they have a lifetime warranty, to. And they are a great deal, only $45. Retail they cost $125."
I said, "Trust me they are knock-offs. (I had seen street vendors in Washington, DC, selling them for $10 a pair.) I tell you what Jim Bob, Billy Joe has a real pair like that. I will get him to bring them in and you can compare his with those. Tommy said you could keep them a couple of days to see if you wanted to buy them or not."
He said, "Ok. That sounds good."
Then a few days later when I saw him I asked, "Jim Bob, did Billy Joe bring his M-frames for you to see?"
He replied, "Yes he did."
"How did they compare," I asked. His reply caught me off guard.
He said, "They were almost exactly alike. His lens is removable and these are not. We decided these may be seconds and that is the reason they are cheaper. I asked Tommy if he thought they could be seconds and that is the reason the lens does not come out. He said that is probably it. For some reason the lens had to be glued in, but even if they are seconds, they still have a lifetime warranty. I think I am going to really like them."
I said, "They look real nice alright." I did not want to hurt his feelings as he had bought them. That day I became further convinced we all tend to believe what we want to believe. Sometimes, no matter what. As a side note; that is so very very true at the gossip fence.
It is almost as if many in the church today are teaching that Godís forgiveness and fellowship are given on an installment plan. So that we make regular payments to get Godís forgiveness and blessings. Regular payments with our performance and confession. That seems to make sense to us and it is what we want to believe. Most people are going to believe what they want to. Godís forgiveness is not given on installments. The whole price has been paid already. This line of thinking makes it difficult for believers to have effective mountain moving faith. It is hard for me to put my faith in action and expect God to act on my belief when I donít know if I have made the necessary installment payments.
As I see it, so very much of the teachings on faith are misunderstood and rightly so. We are often told to have faith. Told that without faith it is impossible to please God. All this is very true. Then we often decide that we have to have faith in our faith; that we just have to, somehow, believe harder. Or that we have to have to have faith that God will "do what we want him to do" and that is what faith is. The faith we need to have is faith in our righteousness, our right standing, which is given to us by grace through Jesus. This is the faith we must have. This is the faith that pleases God. This is true and effective faith. This is the faith of a righteous man that James mentions. The man or woman who knows their righteousness is all a gift of grace and their faith is in that gift. They know their relationship with the Father is not based on an installment plan, but is a gift. It is this faith that enables us to come boldly and with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
So; what do we have faith in? Is our faith the faith of a righteous man or are we making installments on our righteousness?
These are some things I thought about. What do you think about this?
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