Monday, October 8, 2007

the basics...

my buddy matt and I were talking about the basics of the faith tonight. The conversation came when we were posed with the idea that the Christian faith is not based on facts in the uttermost sense. That, without the facts of the faith, someone could still be saved. (This is a very dumbed down version of the actual question, but it gets to the heart f it.)

Here is what I think, regarding the bare faith of Christianity. I will give a metaphor and a short fictional story to show my ideas.

The first is the story. Suppose a man named Abihu meets a man named John. They meet randomly as John is on his way to another place in the jungle. John is a Christian and desires that Abihu also believe so that Abihu might know the glory of God and joy of salvation. Abihu hears the following version of the Gospel in the 2 minutes that John is in contact with him. "Jesus was a man, who was also God. He came to this earth and had a ministry of several years. He performed many miracles. He was anointed with precious perfume. He died taking on the sins of the world. He rose again and spent 40 days more on the earth. He then ascended into heaven. If you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead and confess with your mouth that He is Lord, you will be saved from the judgment of the most Holy God."

Abihu hears this and in his heart, believes. He leaves the brief encounter rejoicing. He goes back to his tribe, being the only one who has ever met a Christian. He tells them all of this news that he has heard. He preaches it faithfully for 30 years. All of his tribe also believe.

Thirty years later, another man, Tim, who is also a Christian, comes to the tribe of Abihu to tell them the good news of Christ. Much to his surprise, Abihu and the tribe already profess faith in Jesus, despite this tribe never having been ministered to by a missionary. Tim asks how they know of Jesus and Abihu tells him of the brief encounter with John.

Tim stays with the tribe and continues to teach them the faith, entrusted to the saints. Surprisingly, the tribe accepts, with little hesitation, all that Tim tells them. They readily acknowledge that Jesus was born of a virgin. They see how the Trinity must be. They find much comfort in the joys and sufferings of the folks in the Bible.
This story illustrates, to me, the basic faith of Christianity. It is true, that all one must do to be saved is acknowledge Jesus as Lord and recognize Him to have been resurrected. The key to the story is that 30 years later, all the other doctrines of the faith are brought in, and because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the tribe of Abihu, they readily agree to the other doctrines of the faith. So too, we must readily accept the doctrines of the faith if we believe. It is true that they are not utterly necessary but if we believe we will want to know deeper the fullness of the Gospel. We will want to understand more and more the joy of our salvation. Our desire will not be to stagnate and be satisfied with the absolute minimum of faith.
The metaphor (I might have used the wrong word...analogy? simile? i never know...)

Suppose one is learning to drive. That person is told "This is the gas. This is the brake. This is the steering wheel. The gas moves you forward. The brake makes you stop. The steering wheel makes you turn."

That is, essentially, what driving is. Three things. But isn't there more? What of shifting to a different gear? Driving in the rain? In the dark? Why use turn signals?

Even though this person might be able to "drive" they will not be very successful if the driving gets difficult. If, however, they are taught the full measure of driving...they will have much greater success. (It is true that they may not...which is true of faith as well. Some may know all that Christianity entails, but not believe.)

Thoughts back?


1 comment:

Nigel said...

These are good thoughts and observations. I find it to be a helpful reminder that it is not our job to determine who is "in" and who is "out" of God's Kingdom. We need to spend more time listening to understand where other people are at before we impress them with our "necessary" doctrines. Otherwise our faith is nothing more than a pushy self-interested faith movement that offends rather than frees. Tim would have been a tool of a missionary if he judged the tribe based on their lack of knowledge. Instead he listened, learned, and added to the conversation which enhanced their joy and understanding. Good thoughts my friend!