Can Faith Save Me?

Christians confuse me.  Well, people who say they are Christians confuse me.  The reason is that what I see of them (sometimes) does not seem to fit the picture painted in Scripture of what a believer in Christ really is and does.  It’s not a matter of being judgmental.  I understand that we all fall short and misunderstand certain things, but the basics of Christianity are pretty clear in Holy Writ.  Even when I strip away the trimmings to the bare bones of belief, I’m often left scratching my head when observing those who say they are saints.  After all, shouldn’t a saint be saintly?  And doesn’t Scripture teach us that belief in Christ is more than words, lofty thoughts and whatever media designation?

It’s a rather common thing for a person to embrace an idea without possessing the essence.  For instance, people can be legally married and yet not live together.  While there may be different reasons for this (and some not nefarious), this is not the picture or design of marriage, and the practice will affect the relationship.  In the same manner, there are all sorts of people who will claim to be Christians and yet fulfill none of the biblical admonitions and duties incurred by true faith.  While news outlets and society-at-large will give the name to a basket of people, Scripture will not allow insincere professors or the casually interested to be more than entries on a church roll, whatever the blogoshere may say.

The Bible addresses this point in a number of places.  We are told some will say they know Jesus but deny Him by their actions, and that it is possible to have a type of belief that is not saving faith.  The latter point is the explanation for the confusion on judgment day when nonbelievers, apparently, face God unknowing of their lost condition.  It also fits hand-in-glove with the biblical instructive to seek the narrow path leading to life.  There is great confusion along the faith and works continuum with the potentials of substituting works for faith and the possessing of superficial faith being twin roads to perdition.  Though many are seen as Christians today, something does not seem quite right.

I can be a Muslim by birth, but I cannot be a Christian by same.  There are elements to the faith that a person cannot deny and be a believer.  One is the virgin birth.  If a person says they believe and trust Christ for salvation but do not believe He is the virgin-born Savior, they are not Christians.  They may think they are, but they are not.  There are points of mental and emotional acceptance without which a person has not believed the gospel.  Of interest is the fact that these extend beyond what we may consider cardinal tenets of the faith.  For instance, the Bible says that, if people won’t provide for their relatives, they have denied the faith.  Most people wouldn’t say that, but the Bible does.

James asks (rhetorically) if faith without works can save a person.  What he is asking is if that type faith is saving faith.  Many Bible passages tell us that salvation is based in faith and is not the product of deeds.  This point is the issue today.  While many claim to be Christians and present a type of belief, is their profession salvatory?  James indicates that real faith is one producing a certain lifestyle.  There is no reason to have confidence in a person’s confession without supporting evidence.  Also, true belief is not an idea that flits through the mind.  The justified live by faith.  They understand the depth of conversion and follow imperfectly the upward path laid before them by the Son of God.   

Jesus isolated a number of things which prevent people from being His disciples.  These range from refusal to repent of sins to failing to accept His lordship to lack of surrender of life plans.  A person cannot be saved unless they embrace certain things.  Christianity is a belief system and more.  It is a manner of life which begins in simple trust and grows to encompass the entire existence.  This deep and meaningful relationship with God is based in and guided by innocent yet informed faith.  More than mental assent, real faith changes personal aims and makes one a child of God.  Biblical faith has effects on a person’s attitudes and actions.  Incomplete faith will not save anyone but may delude the adherent.  Faith that lays hold on the total personality is the only faith that saves.

Sterl  

 

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