Where does “saving faith” come from? Faith is developed through learning the truths of God’s word (Rom. 10:17). But why do some people hear those truths and become Christians while other people hear the same truths and not obey them? Why do some Christians become dedicated and fervent in their faith, while other Christians are lukewarm, spiritually weak and only haphazardly dedicated? Do some people simply understand God’s word better than others? Do some Christians become stronger in their faith because they’ve learned more scripture than others? No, neither is truly the case. In truth it all comes down to a matter of love.
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). My faith is my identity. It is who I am. My faith guides my daily life- where I go, what I do, how I act, how I talk, what kind of friends I make... My faith cannot be just a part of my life; it must become my life. My faith develops within me as a result of my exposure to, and acceptance of, “the faith.” The faith is not the same as my faith, though my faith depends upon the faith. That’s not double talk. The faith is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. From a broader perspective, it is all of God’s word. My faith is my response to the faith. It is because of that message that I have any faith at all.
Compromise is the willingness to give up something in order to get something. It is said to be the art of diplomacy. Savvy politicians will tell you that to be a successful politician you must learn to compromise. Because different philosophies and ideologies come to bear within political circles, it is difficult to accomplish anything without being willing to compromise somewhere along the line. Usually, neither side gets all of what it wants. Instead, each side gives up something in order to get some of what it believes to be best. While getting some of what it believes in, each side prevents the other from getting all of what it wants.
Does it matter whether we do what God instructs us to do in His word? Many folks would be considered to be good, religious people. They believe in God and believe themselves to be dedicated to Him. But their knowledge of His will is incomplete, because they have a limited knowledge of His word. Many think they’re saved, but they were never taught the complete truth on the subject of salvation. As a result, even though they did what they thought was right, and were sincere in what they did, they were not in compliance with God’s teaching on salvation.
Many people are taught that all they have to do to be saved is believe in God and Christ, say the sinner’s prayer and let Jesus into their heart. While such a plan of salvation is widely taught in denominations, it is not taught in the scriptures. There is no such example anywhere in the New Testament of anyone being saved by saying the sinner’s prayer. In fact, what denominations call the sinner’s prayer is not found in the scriptures at all. Jesus told the apostles to teach the gospel to everyone, and all who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:15-16).
The opening verses of the tenth chapter of Acts give a rather glowing description of a man named Cornelius. The first verse notes that Cornelius was a ranking officer, a centurion, in the Roman army at Caesarea. The second verse describes him as, “A devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” The next four verses depict Cornelius seeing an angel in a vision in answer to his prayers. The angel gave Cornelius instructions to send to the city of Joppa for Simon Peter in order that Peter could come to Cornelius’ home and teach him and his household the gospel. The rest of the chapter deals with God preparing Peter for the mission, the messengers from Cornelius traveling to Joppa, Peter entering the home of Cornelius, Cornelius recounting his vision for Peter, Peter teaching the gospel to those of Cornelius’ household, and their obedient reaction to that teaching, culminating in their being baptized. Now, back to verse two..
Is there right and wrong in religion? If there is, can being mistaken, that is thinking you’re right when you’re actually wrong, jeopardize your eternal salvation? This is a tough question. Not so much because it’s all that difficult to figure out the correct answer, but because it’s often very difficult to properly apply the correct answer. In today’s culture it is perhaps even more difficult, because we rely heavily on subjective feelings to guide us as to what is right and wrong.
It’s a common theme in many congregations to talk about how to make worship more meaningful, more encouraging, even more exciting. Suggestions might include: change the time of worship, drop the announcements, begin with a period of silence, change the order of the service, cut down the sermons, have more prayers, pray shorter prayers, sing more songs, sing fewer songs, sing more songs with a quicker tempo, start on time, et al. The list goes on... When carefully considered, most all of the suggestions have something in common. They’re almost always suggestions for what other people can do to help make my worship more meaningful.
The Wednesday night auditorium class has been using a study guide titled, “The Love Of Christ,” written by Richard Rogers and Bill Yasko for the Sunset International Bible Institute. The fourteen lessons cover basic Christian doctrines, particularly focusing on the worship, work and structure of the church. One lesson dealt with The Organizational Structure Of The Church. That lesson included the work of elders, and within that section church discipline was discussed.
In the last edition of this publication I wrote an article titled, “Pray For A Soul.” The theme came from an encouragement and challenge that I put before the congregation a number of weeks ago. As we finished a year long study on evangelism, I encouraged and challenged each member of the class to pray that God would send someone into their life to whom they could reach out with the gospel. I have continued to encourage the class and the congregation to pray that prayer. A number of individuals have shared with me that they have, indeed, been praying that prayer.
Prayer is one of the greatest blessings with which God has blessed us as Christians. The apostle Paul exhorted, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Eph. 6:18), and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer should be a continual feature of our daily lives.
Gary L. Hutchens