Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Faith, Works and Salvation

I've got a few random thoughts about faith, belief and salvation. Haven't properly thought them through yet so apologies if it all seems bit disjointed!

Faith is not about what we believe but about what we do. Indeed, not simply about what we do, but about who we are. Secularism seeks faith to be in private sphere, for what you believe to be a personal thing that doesn't infringe on society at large; you shouldn't force what you believe onto others. Some Christians fight against that and seek for faith to stay in the public sphere and for Christians to be able to say what they believe openly. But in the very act of doing this they fall into the secularist mind-frame that understands faith to be about what you believe. But if the Gospels and Christian history teach us anything, it's that faith is about what we do and who we are, not about what we believe. Or in other words, what you believe can only be true by who you are and what you do.

Jesus actually went to the Cross. He didn't simply theorise about it and talk about it, He actually walked that torturous road to the Cross and died there.

If I claim to be a follower of Jesus then that can only be seen as true by the way I live my life. My actions will show what is true about what I believe. Which is why secularism will always be wrong about faith. It is impossible, or should be impossible, for Jesus followers to keep their faith in the private sphere. I cannot live my life without my faith impacting all that I am and all that I do. The early Christians died because they refused to bow their knee to Caesar. Their faith was proved by their life and death, it was not a private thing. Today, in the same way, Christians should only bow their knee to Jesus and their lives should imitate the One they bow their knee to. So whether it is at work, or down the pub or playing football, or whatever, our devotion to God will impact all these areas of our life and can never be a private thing.

Jesus said that people would know that we were His disciples by the way we loved one another, not by the way we thought about things. Faith without works is dead.

Faith is not about what I believe.

Which leads me onto salvation.

Salvation is not about what I believe, otherwise it would be down to me and God says that none of us are able to rescue ourselves. Salvation is entirely and utterly down to God and His grace.

If I'm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and I can't swim, it does not matter if I believe a boat will come and rescue me. My belief in that boat coming will do nothing to bring that boat to me. What I believe cannot save me. If a boat comes to rescue me I am entirely dependent on them rescuing me; it is because they took the initiative and came to me that I am rescued. Now the boat may turn up and I can refuse to be rescued and insist that I can rescue myself, even though I can't swim. I can refuse to be rescued, but there is nothing I can do to rescue myself.

Jesus alone can rescue us from drowning in death because of sin. Doesn't matter what I believe, only He can rescue us. We can refuse to be rescued, but there is nothing we can do to be rescued, it is all down to God pulling us out of the sea, as it were.

So faith and salvation comes through the action of God to us and our action and response to that action of God. And if we are truly committed to this Jesus then our faith will not be hidden away because our whole lives will demonstrate that we bow our knee to Jesus. And because we only bow our knee to Jesus the likelihood is that persecution will follow because we are not willing to conform to what culture or society want from us. Does make me ask the question then, why is the church in the UK not experiencing persecution?

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