A Valid Faith

In a world of many faiths, many beliefs about many different things, and in particular a culture that simply requires belief in absolutely anything whatsoever as the only requisite for a hope of heaven or wherever it is you might like to be going, one thing glaringly stands out: the validity of your beliefs.

Lets cut to the chase: the requisite is not an ambiguous random thing called faith.

If I might mimic James, “So you say you have faith?”

Faith in what exactly?  Or is it something that you purchased at Wal-Mart?

Not desiring to belittle anyone at all, we must concede that if a strong belief in anything is all that is required then Hitler and Dahmer are just as likely candidates as any.  I have no doubt at all that they had strong convictions. 

I am simply trying to underscore this one point: it is not the mere existence of faith that grants a validity to it (does that seem strangely circular?), but rather the validity of the object of the faith.  In my daily reading, I came to 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul actually addresses this very topic.  Apparently some had been stirring up controversy as to whether Christ was actually raised or not and the Apostle addresses it very pointedly.

1 Cor 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

We see clearly in this passage that it is not the faith that gives validity, but rather the object, viz. the ressurected Christ.

You can have all the faith in the world and if Christ is not raised then your faith is not valid and therefore futile. 

The Apostle is not embarking down this line of reasoning to leave the subject open to speculation, as we see in verse 20:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead..”

The Apostle affirms the validity of the object and therefore the validity of the faith.  Our faith is valid because Christ is raised.

Speaking the Word of God

While studying hermeneutics today, the Doctrine of Inspiration in particular, I was profoundly struck with the weightiness of the reality of such a Doctrine.  I suppose, while whole-heartedly affirming the doctrine, that I fail often to have a simple awe for this idea: that God has spoken.  The omnipotent, omniscient, holy, creator God has spoken.  More than that, he has spoken through men imparting divine authority to the sounds that are created by the vibrating of vocal cords and the moving of muscles in the mouth.  To read the Prophets and see them speak the Words of God in the first person is suddenly astounding.

I consider further that the Son of God was manifest in the flesh and spoke the Words of God with his very own physical mouth.

This is nothing short of Awesome. 

Guarding Truth

Since beginning the study of Hermeneutics, one thing has struck me as extremely important.  In acquiring a brief overview of the history of Hermeneutics, it has appeared as a dire necessity for the truth to be guarded and protected.  It does not only need to be protected by us, but also from us.  While there is no shortage of enemies of the Scripture, including those of the woolly sort, we must be careful to conclude as well that our own hearts do deceive us.  Subtle motives and deceptions lurk in dark places that we do not always see clearly.  A sound Hermeneutic however, seems to alleviate much of the danger of such things from taking root, as well as arm us with the ability to rightly guard the precious truths of the Word of God.

Running with a full cup

I heard a quoteable statement in a sermon on contentment by Curt Arend and thought I would share.

“In order to carry a full cup, one must walk very carefully.”

You can listen to the sermon here:

Starting Again

I have once again begun to embark on furthering my understanding of and ability to handle the Word of God.  Sadly, I have already acquired a Bachelors Degree in Theology, however I am quite certain that the validity of the honor bestowed by this glorified piece of papyrus is marred.  So here we go again, with hopefully a greater degree of success, Lord willing.  I have chosen Reformed Baptist Seminary to acquire future pieces of paper from.  The benefits of this school for me are manifold.  Tuition stands out as one major reason, as the tuition is a mere $60 per credit, compared to similar institutions boasting $300+ per credit.  Secondly, being like-minded in doctrine is a major benefit.  Other schools considered typically had some major departures from my own convictions, which is always less than ideal.  Finally, the course work is available almost entirely (excepting languages) through portable media.  This is one of the most vital issues for me as time is critical.  My family is of the utmost importance and slaving away for 8 years on one class a semester is not desirable.  I have already done a trial run of this through community college and it has been a rather brutal 20 or so credits.  The great blessing of technology, combined with a schedule change at work allowing me to arrive home 1½ hours earlier each day during the week provides me the opportunity to consistently and steadily work through classes at a reasonable pace without taking a huge chunk of the time I previously had available.

The only downside to this particular school is that they are not accredited.  The only concern I would have here would be the quality of the education, and from what I have taken so far it seems to be up to par with what you could acquire elsewhere (this is a mere estimation of mine which has no actual basis).  The classes are thorough and challenging.

Did you have a good week?

For some strange reason I was thinking about this phrase this morning and have come to a conclusion about it.

I do not see that it is a useful question for the people of God.  When I ask someone this question, what am I really asking them?  I realize that questions such as this one are merely formalities and are simply a matter of politeness.  I simply cannot resist asking the question though, Why do we use that particular phrase?  You see, I am one of those annoying people who actually answers honestly.  I remember one fellow who was visiting our church came over to talk to me and upon asking how I was doing he was a bit disrupted by not getting your “typical K-Mart answer”, to quote him.

So what do we mean when we ask if someone had a good week?

Are we asking if their week was full of blessings?  or are we asking if they were in an agreeable state of mind throughout the week?  Was your week comfortable?  Were all things pleasant?  No catastrophies occurred, no one died?  Your walking with Christ?  Struggling with sin this week? 

So which of these are we really asking?  Depending on where our own thoughts are and the type of week we had and how humble we are at the moment will determine our underlying meaning. 

Now here is the problem:  the person your asking has no idea what you really mean by your asking.  And so you get a “K-Mart answer”: “Good”, “Fine”.
What does THAT mean?
No one died.  My house did not burn down.  I did not lose my job.  My week was terrible but I do not care to tell you, I would prefer to just be polite and keep it to myself. 
I will also mention the difficulty of actually answer such a terrible question in the 2 seconds you have, if you actually consider your week, to make a one-word summary of it.  In those 2 seconds you have to evaluate every state of mind, every event, every emotion, as well as those of your own family.  Good luck.  I commend you if you can do it.  More than likely, 98% of your week will immedietely vanish from your memory and the moment your currently in and perhaps one or two events that stand out will determine your answer.

Now lets look at this from a Biblical standpoint.
What does it mean, Biblically, to have had a good week?  Well, according to Christ, only God is good.  So you can only honestly say you had a good week if you are God.  Maybe “Fine” is a better answer.

All that being said, the primary thing I would like to address is this:  is it necessarily a good thing if we have had a “good” week in some of the senses mentioned above?  If we examine our week from a heavenly perspective, a good week suddenly looks drastically different.  Now a good week might be more along these lines:
God delivered me in a difficult situation this week.
God gave me victory over a sin I was struggling with.
The trials in this week have further sanctified me and conformed me more to the image of Christ.
God chastised me this week.
God was glorified in my suffering this week.
God taught me patience this week.

I think I prefer the old Puritan greeting. 

How is it with your soul, friend?

John Bunyan: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

I have begun listening to this audio book and have been thoroughly enjoying it.  I would definitely recommend this for anyone who has struggled, or does struggle, with assurance.  We should always be wary of a false sense of assurance, but we should also be wary of a false lack of assurance.  John Bunyan was tortured within over his own salvation for several years.  This has been profitable to hear for me, especially having struggled with assurance more than ever before in the past six months.

Also a bonus: the speaking quality of whoever is reading is fairly good, so this book is rather easy to listen to.

Then entire book can be downloaded here:

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners


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