Is salvation based upon our decision, or do we decide because we are already saved? We have nothing to boast about.
Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone Scripture Alone, All the Glory to God Alone!
Grace and Peace,
Posted: 12 Sep 2008 02:11 AM CDT
(By Lee Duncan)
* Lee serves as the Director of Educational Partnerships at The Master's College.
Every four years the United States goes through the democratic, sometimes painful, election process to select a new president. Television and radio ads inundate the electorate with every conceivable spin that promotes certain candidates while denigrating others. Many Americans stop answering their phones at home because they cannot take any more pre-recorded sales pitches. Every day we hear news reports, read articles, or receive mail about everything from foreign policies to economic policies to educational reform ideas — all with the theme of how to bring "change" to America.
In recent elections there has been a much greater emphasis on the personal faith of the candidates, including how often they attend church, who is their pastor, what they think about God, and how their faith might influence their leadership and decision-making. A new kind of politically correct version of faith is emerging among many candidates and it prompts a question: is it real faith?
Not that long ago "faith" was a word that described a particular set of doctrinal beliefs that identified a person's convictions that affected their lives and decisions. People would claim a certain denomination or doctrinal view as "their faith," determined by allegiance to some written authority or church teaching. Even though not everyone agreed what source was the ultimate authority, at least most people agreed that an outside source was needed as a basis of truth.
That is no longer the case in America. Today the term faith is used to say that a person believes in something of their own choosing; it does not rely on an external source but each creates his own truth. Political candidates can stand up and say they have faith without having to submit to the authority of God or Scripture; their faith is their own and frankly, they tell us, it is none of our business what specifically they believe because is it personal.
This is not genuine faith, it is a cultural faith.
Our modern American culture has changed faith into a personal, nebulous, changing, and relative expression of spirituality. Political candidates stand up and say, "I have faith and it is personal." From the position of an outsider, one might conclude that almost every candidate is a Christian who is committed to God. However, after further review, their faith is often nothing more than an admission that they believe in something that they don't want to talk about.
Unfortunately, that seems enough for the average citizen because to most Americans religion is personal and we certainly don't want to pry! Modern Americans are willing to accept that one who has faith is religious, regardless of what that faith entails. In reality, to state that you have faith today simply means that you consider yourself a spiritual person and that you have the right to believe whatever you choose. Faith is without accountability.
Biblical faith is something altogether different; it is based on an outside authoritative source that identifies that truth comes from God and is totally consistent with His Word, the Bible. The essence of the word "faith" is that it is a belief or trust in a higher power. Faith is a moral and spiritual quality of fidelity to God and confidence in His Word. "Faith is not simply the assent of the intellect to revealed truth; it is the practical submission of the entire man to the guidance and control of such truth" (Unger, 1957, p. 341). "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Faith is based on evidence that we can't see (Heb. 11:1) and is a gift from God. God grants faith and then sustains faith through His eternal power. True faith submits to the Word of God; it is God's view that we follow, His Word that we obey, and His will that we seek.
Political candidates, and yes, most Americans, see faith as something that is individual and that allows every person to believe whatever he or she thinks is right. All they have to do is say, "I have faith," or "I am a person of faith," and they are excused from explaining what they believe and by what authority they make claims to truth. Politicians say that God's Word is informative, it is comforting, it is motivating, it is inspiring, but never will you hear one of them say, "It is authoritative." Americans like their faith the way they define it and don't want to be confined to a set of writings that has been handed down through the centuries. This is how political candidates can claim to be Christians but promote views that absolutely disagree with the Bible. They have faith all right, but not a biblical faith. Their faith is of their own making and there is no outside authority to which they must submit. It is a convenient faith, an easy faith, but ultimately, a coward's faith because they never have to be accountable for what they believe.
Cultural faith is taking over America, but it is not genuine saving faith. Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6), God is the only source of truth (John 17:17), and God's Word is His inspired message to mankind (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Unless faith is connected to these truths, then it is not faith at all.
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