asking the hard questions

I was reluctant to post yesterday’s blog entry because I wondered if it was rebellious to admit that I don’t know. After all, isn’t that what faith looks like? Isn’t faith the assurance of things hoped for, (Hebrews 11:1 ESV) or as the King James Bible calls it, the “substance” of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The NIV goes so far as to say faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

As a young girl, when my parents told me I could not do something, I would whine back, “but WHY?” “Why can’t  I ____ ?” The answer was the same each time. “Because I said so.”  Looking back, it was my disobedient response to something I thought was unfair. Was it my business to even know what their reasoning was? Or, was it simply my job to trust that they loved me and had my best interest at heart? After a lot of years, there is still a place in me that demands to know. I’m not sure I really want to know the why, or if I truly just want it to go the way I think it should. But there is an honest place for us to bring before the Lord our questions, to draw near to Him and lay things down at His Feet.

So, I’m feeling a need to review the things I do know about faith and contrast it a bit with belief.

Faith comes by hearing The Word of God (Romans 10:17) Mostly, the Christian world does not encourage an honest search for truth. We remain comfortable in the knowing, settled place of what we already believe. Truth, whether in science or religion, demands a continual search for answers. The Christian must look for answers in our guide book for life written by the Author of our faith, the Bible. The very first thing to do is prayerfully study the Scriptures and come to God with our questions. And faith will come, according to Romans 10:17.

Faith is a gift from God. Heb 12:2 says “…Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”. And Rom 12:3 says “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” These two verses tell us that faith is not something that we do or a presence of mind that we can muster up, but that faith is a gift from God. So in His time, Christ will equip us with faith  as we need it. Eph 2:8 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Faith comes from God.

Man is justified by faith. Rom 3:28 says, ” … a man is justified by faith.” If we must generate our own faith, then justification is by works and we know that is not correct. Looking at Ephesians 2: 8-9 again, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We clearly see from these verses that faith is not of our doing for that would be a works based salvation and we know from Eph 2:8,9 that salvation is surely not from works.

Our faith can grow. We see in Heb 12:2 that ” …Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith.”  Jesus is not only the author — the originator of faith –; He is also the one who perfects it in us. Our increase in faith will come at God’s timing and not by our works or at our insistence. In 2 Cor 10:15 we see that faith can grow, so as we study the Bible God can add to our faith.

Faith is what pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)  “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Then he gives the foundation. Here’s the bottom of it all: You can’t please God without faith, “For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Because of this, only by faith can we please God. God is pleased by us when two things about him are reflected in our relation to him. One: that he is real; and the other: that he is rewarding. John Piper summarizes it, “We could say it like this: what pleases God is that our hearts and minds display God’s being and God’s beauty. That we display God’s existence and his excellence. That we display how real he is and how rewarding he is. This is what pleases God, and this is faith.”

One glorious Day, our faith will be completed. As we are sanctified in Christ, we will grow. Eph 4:11-16 tells us that God gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers in order to build up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man. We will attain the unity of faith. This is talking about what we call sanctification. God provides justification by faith, sanctification by faith, and finally glorification. On that fine Day when we stand before Him in our glorification through Christ alone, then our faith will finally be complete.

So, come let us reason together as God invited us in Isaiah 1:18. Let’s ask the hard questions, expectantly awaiting the Lord to fortify our faith, to further reveal Himself, and to draw us unto Him. And in believing in how real God is and how rewarding He is, we will please God. This is faith.