Two men of near equal financial circumstance each give 100$ to the church. Is it faith?
One man gives *because* he trusts God with his life and seeks to be obedient to the Spirit. The other man gives because he is expected to give that amount due to his income.
The first man gives because of his faith in God. His giving isn’t his faith, but his faith is his reason for obedience. His obedience isn’t his faith, but his faith is the reason he is giving.
When we make righteous choices, they are righteous because we make them in faith, trusting God. Because of our faith, we choose righteously. Faith then is the reason not only behind WHY we choose to act righteously, but also what makes the action righteous before God.
The other man [from above] gives the same $100. But he does not give it by faith. His act is not righteous before God. maybe he thinks God will bless him because he gave his tithe. maybe he thinks God will accept him because of it, and the other things he does for the church, and for his neighbors. And on Judgment day he will ask God, saying “Lord, Lord, did I not do all these things in your name?”
Now the first man, a man who has faith in God, runs into some financial difficulty, and decides to disobey the Spirit and stop giving to the Lord, for a bit. I’ve done that. I haven’t always trusted God with my finances. i haven’t always walked in my faith. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. I’ve sinned. But I never did not have faith. I simply failed to walk in it. It is easy to look back and say I *simply* failed to walk in it, because at the time I had to make choices, “simple” was not a word i would have used to describe my situation. But it is in looking back and seeing that is indeed what I should’ve done: i should’ve trusted the Lord. simple as that. Sometimes we make life out to be very complicated, when really what we need to do is to look to Jesus. i know, I’ve done that. I’ve been there. And honestly, i am sure i will be there again.
But thanks to our long interaction on the subject of our disagreement, i looked to the Word, and past the learned and helpful writers on both sides who love the Lord. that is because they, for the most part, sought to defend their system, and make what seemed to me, crazy things. One C told ne that the church down the road was “the free will baptists, and we were the not free will baptists.” So each side staked out its territory and its verses and entrenched in. But I wanted answers. So i searched God’s Word.
And in God’s Word, I found this simple truth: faith leads to choice. Not once did i find that choice leads to faith, not once. I looked at the OT passage where the people are told to “choose today whom you will serve.” Go look it up. Find out WHY they chose Jehovah.
I found out that choice leads to righteous acts, to serving. But the WHY of every righteous choice was faith. Even acts God wanted people to do, and they did, even these were not righteous unless they chose them by faith. And even the acts they did that God wanted them to do, that they did not do by faith, God came down hard on judgment. The brothers selling Joseph. Moses hitting the rock. The Assyrians invading Israel. Jerusalem crucifying His Son. To name but a few.
Who among them did not have free will? They all had free will. How funny the Calvinists to fight against free will! And yet what they did wrong and wrongly God meant for good. And their free will was never harmed. What should this tell us? That God moves and gets His will accomplished despite allowing men to have free will. So why do they strive so hard to deny it? Because they are defending a system. They see their system as the best way of expressing truth, but they have been in it so deep, they only see their system as truth, and they lose sight of some true things.
And that, my dear brother, is what you are doing. You have bought into a system that is not properly supported by the Word of God. Oh it is not completely wrong for it remains in the pale of orthodoxy. But it is wrong as a whole just as Calvinism is wrong as a whole. And the natural passage of academia is to put too much emphasis on their own learning abilities, and their own exalted understandings, instead of simply trusting God more than those.
So faith is what we have. it is the reason we choose [if we choose righteously]. But without righteous choice at all, there is no faith. that is because faith is based NOT on the creativeness of man, but on the power of the Creator. In 2nd Cor. 4. we read:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
For God [the Creator], who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone [created] in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
And the contrast is PLAIN. Those who are in darkness are those who are perishing. they are those who are blind to the truth of the Gospel. Or as Ephesians 4 tells us:
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Here we are told that those entrapped behind the gates of death walk in the futility of their mind, and they are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. It is these that are blind to the Gospel truth and are perishing that have no hope in this world UNLESS God by His Word and by His Church prevail for them against the gates of death. But even then, we know that the victory is God’s, who speaks His Word into their hearts and into their understandings and gives [graces] them with His glory in the face of Jesus.
We know that 2nd Cor. 4:3-6 teaches us, even as the Word teaches us in many places, that there is basically two types of people in the world: those being saved and those perishing. And this passage, among others, including Matthew 16, shows us a contrast between the two. And the Word always shows us that the difference is in the mercy of God, not the strength of wisdom in the people.
kindest Christian regards,