Category Archives: The adventure of Faith

Q363 “when does hope become faith?”

Faith is such an illusive truth ~ it waves its promises in our faces ~ it beacons us with the anticipation of “a new way to live” ~ yet so few live the life it promises, so few discover the deep currents of the Spirit.

Sure we grasp the gift of salvation, the beauty of Christ, the wonder of His love ~ yet “the life of faith” seems to elude our grasp…. to the extend that many settle for its counterpart “a life of hope”. Hope in itself is a good thing, in fact; it is the forerunner to faith ~ but it isn’t faith, and never can be.

Hope springs from the heart of man, faith springs from the heart of God.

There is a generally accepted notion that “living by faith” is immediately ours when we turn to Christ ~ that by leaving behind the old life of faithlessness we automatically become its opposite, “filled with faith”. It’s not so, our salvation is simply that we have ‘stepped into God’s faithfulness’, the life of faith now awaits us… if we can discover its unique rhythms.

It’s not that God is hiding the ‘way of faith’ from us, that He has deliberately made it hard to find ~ its just that it can’t be found when we search for it with our earth glasses on. We need to put on our heaven glasses (like night vision glasses), we can only find it with the eyes of the heart, the vision of the inner man.

Many Christians repeat spiritual truths (they have all of the correct information) ~ but this information hasn’t become revelation because it is still perceived from an earthly perspective. Earth glasses turn spiritual truths into hope, the eyes of the heart turn spiritual truths into faith. And all because of one thing ~ hope, seeks the method for converting spiritual information into reality ~ faith, declares the spiritual information is already reality.

Hope says, “what must I do to receive this spiritual truth”. Faith says, “I have this spiritual truth because of what Christ did“.

In many circles this ‘hope thinking’ masquerades as faith so well, that many folk believe it is faith…. but it isn’t. We can dress-up hope with spiritual talk and rhetoric, we can cloth it with all of the garb of faith so that many people are impressed ~ but it’s still just earth-based ambition.

While hope is attempting to get God’s attention, faith is soaring on the wings of the Spirit… hope seeks while faith rests.

In the end it comes down to this ;

Hope attempts to engage God in the issues of life, it tries to activate spiritual truths through its own resources, it strives to pull the work of Christ into the drama of earth.

Faith declares that God became engaged in the issues of life 2000 years ago, the truths of the Spirit were activated when Christ shed His blood for us, every issue of the earth was nailed to the cross with Christ ~ the drama is hidden in Him not in me.

… such sweet rest, in the work of Christ.

Graeme

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Filed under It's all about Jesus, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q282 “which is best – obedience or surrender?”

Is obedience to God still an expectation of one who has been set free from all expectations ?

I don’t think it’s possible to answer that question adequately without a deep revelation of the magnitude of God’s love and the astounding sacrifice Christ made for us. Without these, any answer will contain a trace of the law, it will contain a need to satisfy a God who is already completely satisfied.

It is interesting to observe the perspective Jesus has in the book of John 6:38; “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” and John 14:24; “The words which you hear are not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”. Jesus was uniquely qualified to respond to the Father, he understood the magnitude of the Father’s love for him ~ this revelation gave him the security required to surrender his whole being to the Father without reservation… in fact the Father expressed His complete pleasure in Christ at His baptism, before He had even set about His ministry, when He declared; “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.

When one discovers that their security in God is unshakeable, that His love is unconditional, and that His presence is unquenchable… then obedience takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the choice of a free will that no longer has to satisfy God in any way. A God who can never be angry again, never be dissatisfied, never ever to judge you again… can be obeyed in a brand new way, it’s called “letting go” yielding to the greatest love in the universe… it’s not so much obedience as joyful surrender. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from this divine obedience ~ who wouldn’t want to do it.

Many consider the transition from law to grace as being like “the carrot and the stick”, they view the law as a stick of punishment that they must obey without choice, and grace as the carrot of reward that they can obey if they choose. In fact, life in the Spirit is so superior to both of these that it bears no resemblance at all; life in Christ means that we have the reward whether we obey or not ~ and then we face a previously unheard-of invitation ~come and obey just because you can, just because you are free… allow yourself to fall into my goodness by surrendering every fibre of your being to me, just because you have discovered my love expressed at the cross“.

There is no fear in this new grace based obedience, there is no possibility of retribution, no un-voiced disapproval ~ it is motivated by the purest motivation possible ~ the wonder of Him, the sheer joy of living from His divine presence that abides in us forever, without measure.

cheers Graeme

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Filed under Christ in me, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q253 “do we access the benefits of the cross by prayer or by faith?”

I’ve been trying to write this blog for the last few days, each time I get part-way in, and then shelve it… because I want to find the right words to explore this sensitive subject.

But today I will start by jumping in the deep end, here goes; sometimes we pray when we should be exercising faith“. On the face of it this doesn’t seem such a radical statement ~ but wait there’s more ~ “sometimes we shouldn’t pray at all“…. Ok, now you’re starting to scare me ~ isn’t prayer the trademark of Christianity, didn’t God tell us to ‘pray without ceasing’.

Praying without ceasing is that wonderful un-ending communion we have with our Father, it is a dialogue of love and intimacy, made possible when the blood of Christ removed the wall of separation between us and Him. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t pray, I believe communion and fellowship with our Lord is the highest expression of our being ~ and I guess that’s the point I am making ~ we are already in perfect fellowship with the Lord, so that should mean we rest in times of disaster, rather than frantically scrambling to get God involved ~ HE IS INVOLVED.

In short; I am referring to our tendency to run to the Father for help, when He has already placed that help within us ~ the Spirit of Jesus.

It’s interesting that Jesus never criticized His disciples for lack of prayer …(before He was betrayed He was disappointed they couldn’t watch and pray with Him for one hour, but that was more to do with supporting Him in His time of need, than developing a prayer life), yet on numerous occasions He castigates the disciples for their lack of faith.

My gut feeling is that on the whole; “we are strong on prayer, but weak on faith“. We are strong on prayer because we want God to do something, but we are weak on faith because that means we must do something; ~ ‘rest in the sufficiency of the blood of Christ’. Often when we go to God in prayer we are effectively crying out to Him “God you’ve got to do something, we need your help”…. and all the while God is saying; “but you have my help, my Son Jesus broke the power of satan, sin and death over your life 2000 years ago ~ have faith in His work

Resting in the blood of Christ is not a lazy or indifferent response, quite the contrary ~ it is staring calamity in the face and demanding it bow to the blood of Christ, it is standing your ground when your instinct says ‘Run‘ and declaring like Martin Luther; “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen!”

the days of great pioneering hearts aren’t finished yet…

Graeme

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Filed under How to be a believer, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q235 “is it possible to be a believer who doesn’t believe?”

This would be a really funny question if it wasn’t so tragic. The hallmark of a believer (Christian) is to believe in the works of Christ. Yet the institution that is broadly called ‘Christianity’ doesn’t always believe in the works of Christ ~ sometimes it just participates in the activities of the organisation known as the church.

It all comes down to our understanding of the word “believe”. We use this word a lot; I believe that children are our future,.. I believe in love,.. I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows,.. I believe that all men are created equal…. There is a difference between these expressions of belief and the Christian meaning;  these are personal values, they are an expression of our deepest opinions, an inner yearning, a firmly held ideal.

Belief, as portrayed in the above paragraph is not the belief portrayed in the bible. Belief in the Christian context is this;To align ones life so fully with the finished work of Christ that no other truth obstructs it’s reality in our lives“. In other words, I am putting all my eggs in Christ’s basket, I am staking my entire existence on Him. There is no plan B, there is no grey area, He is the primary fact that fills my entire screen.

The reality is; that many Christians don’t realize that they do not actually believe in God, they only believe in the ‘idea of God’.

That’s why Hebrews 11:1 says; “being certain of what we do not see” ~ believing is the crazy notion that if God says it, then it is true, even when our circumstances scream out ‘liar’. It is the stuff that causes believers to step forward into an arena of man eating lions, it is the raw material that says ‘I will never bow down to onother God even though you burn me alive’. Yet; we modern Christians seem to have lost the ability to live confidently in the simple statement; “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”, and so at the first sign of difficulty we blurt out ‘where are you God, I’m having such a bad week?’ … at the outset of trouble we beg, plead, make deals and try to manipulate God anyway we can.

That’s not believing in God, that’s believing in the idea of God.

We all have noble notions of how we would never deny the faith, even under torture we would hold the line for Jesus, they can saw-me-assunder and I wont recount!!! But it’s all a bit silly really,  if we don’t know how to stand strong in God when someone smears our reputation, or leaves us out of their party invitation list.

If he is God we can stand strong in Him ~ if He is just an idea we subscribe to, then we might as well put our trust in the easter bunny.

cheers, Graeme

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Filed under Gazing upon the cross, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q211 “what’s the most offensive thing a Christian can do?”

Ok, I don’t know the answer if we are talking about whether swearing is worse than lying… or omission is worse than commission.

But I do know that there is one thing that causes the angels to squirm and the demons to laugh  out loud more than anything – ‘when Christians don’t believe in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus‘. It must make the hosts of heaven so frustrated that they could spit when a believer lives no different from an unbeliever, knowing that the blood of Jesus has set them so far apart –(I’m not sure if angels spit).

And it’s not just angels, Rom.8:19 says “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed”, everything created is observing humanity watching and waiting to see who gets it, anticipating the moment when the powerful blood of Jesus exerts it’s mighty energy against a stubborn heart or situation. The created world has eyes, and they are trained on us, waiting to see if we will entrust everything to Jesus.

The most offensive thing a Christian can ever do is to carry in his heart the very Spirit of God, to bear the perfect righteousness of Jesus as a gift of grace, to be hidden with Christ in God… and yet live his life as if this was some sort of heavenly fairy tale, a divine myth that it’s nice to know about, but requires no real personal response.

I am so utterly infused with the blood of Christ that it is more real than a dip into a hot bath at home, how could I live as if this fact was somehow theoretical or metaphorical. The angels must scratch their heads in amazement when they observe us Christians in such a divinely cleansed condition, but living as if nothing has happened.

So, what to do ?

In some respects it is easier to live inoffensively before the eyes of mankind – than the blood of Jesus. The world simply wants us to live decently, but the blood of Christ deserves our life, our soul, our all. In the same way that the blood of those martyred in Rev.6:9 cried out to God for vengeance, so also the blood of Christ cries out to us to believe in it’s life giving power.

By now most readers will know that I’m not one for piling-on condemnation… because, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, we do however have a unique opportunity to live as people who have plunged headlong into the fountain filled with blood. An image that would border on the macabre were it not the very substance of the author of life Himself.

Its the only blood that washes whiter than snow…

Graeme

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Filed under No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith

Q144 ” what about someone who receives Christ but continues to live like an unbeliever ?”

This is a question that is troubling not only for us in this century, but also troubled Paul in the first century.

Firstly, lets say this much;  the moment we believe in the blood of Christ shed for us on the cross – we have eternal life. John 6:47 says “he who believes has everlasting life”.  That means that irrespective of our behaviour, the blood of Christ is effective in saving us, because it is His behaviour not ours, that brings us right standing with God.

In Galations 5, Paul talks about 2 themes, Freedom in Christ & Life by the Spirit. These 2 themes are companions, they are always supposed to travel together. It is only as we see our awesome release from all bondage obtained for us on the cross, that we are energized to live magnificent lives by the Spirit. To attempt to live in such a way without a revelation of Christ is religion at it’s worst – simply dead works.

By talking about the fruit of the Spirit, v22-23, Paul is describing what a life led by the Spirit looks like. He is not saying -‘you need to bear this fruit to qualify as a Christian’ but rather ‘because Christ has already qualified you as a Christian by the blood He shed for you – this is what your life will look like”.

Unfortunately, the Christian church in the western world is so well established now that the very fundamentals of our faith are often lost in programs, culture and traditions. Many Christians rarely talk about the very one who’s name they have adopted as Lord and Saviour. It is as though they know about Him, but they don’t know Him.

In my view it is impossible to live a life that is blatantly un-Christian once we have grasped the magnitude of what Christ accomplished on the cross. It would be like watching a loved one die and then going about your life as if nothing had happened – quite unthinkable.

So my conclusion is this; we must stop playing church! We must stop presenting a gospel that treats the precious shed blood of Christ as if it was only a tragic event that happened 2000 years ago. It is personal, it is to be treasured by each individual, it cannot be treated lightly, if we truly grasp it’s magnitude it will change us forever then we will truly live like a believer.

I’ve been a Christian a long time, but it wasn’t until I stared in awe at the staggering work of the cross that I was  really motivated to live for Him. But now it’s such a joy, not a chore, just to live for Him.

Graeme

18 Comments

Filed under How to be a believer, Renewing the mind, The adventure of Faith, The complete work of Jesus