What do you believe?
The question alone appears almost insultingly simple… doesn’t it? But it is one that demands a reflection of both heart and soul as it describes our core existence and beliefs, and how we can stand up for so vehemently for what and who we trust, as trust relates to confidence and belief requires faith that something or someone is true.
Relating this description of belief to the Christian faith, people appear to believe either one of two possibilities when it comes to being accepted by God… faith or good works. The belief that faith in Jesus or good works will make them acceptable by God. The Bible offers numerous passages in the New Testament that works are good, but faith is better and necessary, that good works will not save an individual, that good works will not make us righteous before God, that good works will not make God love us any more or less. An amazing testimony of the impact of faith to our God can be seen in what Jesus said to the one criminal who declared who He was while on the cross with Him in Luke 23:43… with no chance to begin any good work for his Savior, the criminal’s faith caused Jesus to speak out “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Romans 3:20 declares that “…no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” and Titus 3:5 affirms that “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…”
Logically, it would appear to make more sense that the more “righteous things” we do, the happier God will be, and therefore, the more God will love us and the more justified we will be in His sight. But, as Christians, we know that that is not how our God works. While *all* the other world’s great religions are based on performing good works in order to gain favor with God, the Christian faith says something very different. Romans 3:28 states that “…a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, very simply put into just one word… belief!
To illustrate this idea further between faith and good works, imagine for a moment that I prepared the most succulent dinner made up of the leanest and most flavorful steak, along with tender vegetables. Then, before presenting this delectable meal to you to eat, I placed the carefully-prepared meal on a food plate that was used by a previous customer who had the flu and was never washed. How many of you would eat the meal? Why?
In this parable, the meal signified a good work. The problem was not the meal… the meal was pure and perfect… the problem lies in how the food was plated and presented. Unless the plate is first cleansed and sterilized, the beautifully-prepared meal will make us sick. In a similar way, this is how God sees our good works… on the surface, there isn’t anything wrong with our good works. As a matter of fact, God’s people should do good works as an outward expression of our faith! However, unless our hearts are made pure by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Christ, all our good works will, in essence, sicken God, as we will be placing those good works (good food) onto/into an unclean vessel. Allowing Jesus to come into our hearts to change/clean us from the inside out first, pleases our God, thus allowing any good work that we do, to please Him further.
So… how can we clean ourselves up? We can’t… not alone, at least… we need Jesus in our lives to get that process started. If it weren’t for the grace of our Lord and Savior, none of us would ever have been forgiven for our sins, therefore, it all starts will allowing Jesus into our hearts and proclaiming Him Lord and Savior over our lives. And we can respond to God’s free gift of forgiveness through faith in believing that Jesus sacrificed His life so we could live.
Simply put… believe!
Heavenly Father, while we don’t fully understand your ways, or really need to, thank you for loving us in ways that defy logic. That simply believing in who Your Son is and what He did for us at Calvary, and why He did what He did, is all You ask for the amazing grace You offer us. Father, I ask that You continue to work on our hearts, from the inside out, to keep them soft and repentant, so that we can experience the love that surpasses all explanation and description. And, finally, that the natural expression of our gratitude for our faith and belief in who You are, is service in all we do to honor You.
gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)