Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Is Your Faith Real

All my life I have heard preachers ask, "Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're saved?" That bothers me because at times I doubt, and I bet that I'm not the only Christian who does!
Romans 3:3 "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?"
It says "faith of God", but yet it seems that I want to change this to "faith in God"! How can God have faith in himself? Because he is truth and there is not one iota of doubt. He is sure of his existence and authority. Our doubt, or unbelief, can never change reality. Hence, pure faith is God's own knowledge of himself. He doubts not! For the rest of us, there is always some degree of doubt. Why? Because anything short of pure faith is unbelief and those without absolute certainty have doubts.
Matthew 8:10 "When Jesus heard it (the faith of the centurion), he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
The centurion who had faith that Jesus could heal his servant of the palsy is the only example of great faith in the New Testament.  As such the centurion had little doubt! The doubt arises because his faith could never be as great as the faith of God... pure faith.

Romans 4:16 refers to "the faith of Abraham". His willingness to sacrifice his son because God asked him to, was an example of the greatest faith of which mankind is possible. As Abraham was about to make the sacrifice, there was little doubt of the reality of God in his mind. Has faith was measured by his obedience. He was demonstrating his real love to his real God!
John 14:21 "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
"By keeping his commandments" are how we show our love to God.  Keeping commandments is obedience. Therefore, failing to obey raises doubt.

Having little doubt is having much assurance that we are truly born-again:
Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
Hence, we are assured of salvation when it's not in our heart to do evil. Without evil inside, obedience is easier. Therefore, when we obey God, we are assured of our salvation, and there is little doubt that we "shall be saved".

Those who profess, "I am saved" and obey because they love God, have strong assurance of their salvation because they are less inclined to sin. The desire is not there because Jesus' blood sprinkled it out.

Paul uses the expression "hope of salvation". Hope is measured by how much faith Christians have, or conversely, how little doubt is within. However, even those of "little faith" still have the "hope of salvation", they just have more doubt and are less assured.

My own faith is not beyond a shadow of a doubt! Why? Because at times I'm not obedient. When I sin, I know that I don't deserve salvation. Scripture reminds me that it is by grace that I'm saved, but Satan's emissaries respond, "But you know that you're just a sinner and don't deserve reprieve."

Let's not give Satan any undue credit. It's not him who speaks; it's our own conscious. It's our nature to deceive ourselves because we are born with original sin. What greater sin is there than doubt God's existence? None. Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is denial of Jesus (Matthew 12:31). Having not enough faith in God to obey him is doubting his existence. Inside we all are born with that doubt and we fear it. Atheists embrace the fear. They have no faith, but entire doubt, and live without hope. How they cope with doubt is unbelievable! In fact can it even be called doubt because they are of exceeding faith.

Atheists are so confident that there is no God, that they have no fear and hence make no attempt to obey. In actuality theirs is a hope for nothingness following death. In fact they gamble their eternal life that there is no heaven nor hell. Their faith in nothingness is as strong as the faith in God of Abraham! Their faith is great faith which approaches the faith of God in himself. They are as certain that God is NOT compared to God's knowledge that he IS!

I feel insecure at times because my faith is not beyond a shadow of a doubt when atheists have such strong faith that God does not exist. It's the flesh which makes me doubt because my spirit is willing  (Matthew 26:41). Inside I want there to be God, but knowing of my own impure heart because my desire is pleasure, doubt is sometimes a welcome as relief for my own disobedience. To be more precise, if I live in sin, then if there is no God, I can never be punished. Therefore, the flesh, or our desires, suggests to us that to avoid punishment, God is not real.

We only fool ourselves. God is real and there is salvation. Hope turns to action when death arrives at the doorstep.  When we play games with our destiny, our unbelief doesn't change things! (Romans 3:3 above). Because atheists do not have faith in God, it doesn't change the existence of God! Because we sometimes have doubts, it doesn't change God's existence.

Doubt is caused by living for ourselves rather than God. We in effect try to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We must either choose our own flesh or choose God to eliminate doubt. Fence straddling is the source of doubt. We all have one leg on the wrong side of the fence, but it's the side our hearts are on which is the master we serve.  Sure, we have doubts and our hand stretches out over the fence, but there is enough faith that out heart remains on the God side of the fence.

Rather than praying for salvation again, because we "shall be saved" only one time, we should pray that our faith be increased enough that our sacrifice to God is greater. The sacrifice we must continually make, to be assured of our salvation, is our flesh. We must be obedient to erase doubt, although because of original sin, some doubt will always be there.

We can never "believe beyond a shadow of doubt that we are saved" for we are not yet saved. However, we can have the strong hope of salvation if we obey God because that's how we show our love for him!

Those with strong hope of salvation have little doubt that they "shall be saved" and with that much assurance, indeed, they are secure in the belief that they are saved because they know that God is protecting them from destruction even before the catastrophe occurs!

Real faith is obedience. We have doubts because we are disobedient. "The Lord's Prayer" is that we do his will. That's obedience and if we obey, our assurance increases as doubt decreases. Obedience then is real faith. The attribute of a real Christian can be measured by obedience. If a Christian sins without remorse and never worships God, they are likely to doubt the existence of God because they know that he is a fearsome God. Doubt is an escape from punishment because doubt erases self-responsibility for sin.

If we love God, we ae to do his will, and that is our assurance of salvation, and doubt is smothered in hope! If there is any doubt within your heart right now, the thing to do is pray that you change; that the old person will die and the new person will reign with God. Then your living flesh will truly be sacrificed.

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