Thursday, July 24, 2008

What does my faith give me?

I received a comment from John Hoopman yesterday and wanted to respond and perhaps open a dialogue here today. Here is his comment/question:

I was wondering if you mind taking a moment and sharing something with me about your beliefs? This could also apply to any of your visitors here at the blog: if anyone reading this would like to email me your answer, I’d greatly appreciate it. The question is this: thinking about your religious belief and its importance to you, what is the SINGLE greatest thing that you think your faith gives you know or will give you in the future? When thinking about it, please consider that you are trying to convince another human being that your faith is the one they should choose and you can only make one single argument for accepting it. I greatly appreciate the help. Again, I’m not looking for a series of good reasons for believing what you do. Please limit your answer to ONE thing or advantage that your faith gives you.

And here is my response:

Thanks for the question John! Unlike some comments here, yours in well-worded and polite in tone, in as much as one can decipher tone from reading.
Before giving a plain and simple answer, let me comment on the context of your question. Immediately after the question, John states, "Please remember that you are trying to convince another human being that your faith is the one they should choose and you can only make one single argument for accepting it." I'll say quite frankly that I have no power or ability to convince anyone to receive Jesus Christ as Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can do that; however, He does that divine work through means, most often through the hearing and/or reading of the Bible, the Word of God. Now, it's one thing to convince a sinner who sees their sin in light of the Holy God and realizes their need for salvation from the wrath of God, but it's another thing completely to convince a sinner who has already made up their mind not to come to Jesus thinking Him to be foolishness. Of those folks, the Bible says that God has given them over to sin. The Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. My hope, John, would be that you may be described as the former and not the latter.

The question again is, "What is the single greatest thing that you think your faith gives you now, or will give you in the future?"

It's a simple answer. The single greatest thing that I think my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has given me in the past, gives me now, and will give me in the future, is eternal life. I have eternal life, and will have eternal life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, you'd be wise to ask, "What is eternal life?" because it may sound silly, living in the twenty-first century kingdom of post-modernism and moral relativism. It may sound silly, given that, from humanity's limited perspective, no one has ever lived forever. You might realize that everyone dies. And the reason that everyone dies is sin. Everyone sins; everyone dies. All have sinned, and the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus, as the Son of God, as God Incarnate, came to give life to sinners. He said in John 11:25-26, "He who believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die."

What does it mean to die? Death means separation from God. When a person dies, from our perspective, their body ceases to be controlled by them. We do not perceive any existence for that person, even though we can still see their lifeless body. But a person is not their body. A person is more than mere flesh and blood. We continue to exist after the first death. This death is merely a door to a different kind of life. We'll be in paradise or hades (sheol) after walking through this door of the first death. And after that comes judgment. In the end, Jesus will return to judge, and those in paradise will receive new bodies, imperishable, and live forever with God Himself in a perfect relationship. It will be a quality of life that we can't fathom. Those in hades (sheol) will die forever in everlasting torment. It will likewise be something we can't fathom.

Thus, we return to the question, "What is eternal life?" Jesus answers it for us in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, that they (believers) know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." The word "know" is not to be understood as "have an acquaintance with." Rather, "know" means here to have a lasting and intimate relationship. God made us to fellowship with Him; we sinned against Him and separated ourselves from Him. He has worked to reconcile that relationship; and it will last forever. So there you have it, John: a simple answer to a good question. My faith gives me eternal life. Would you like to have eternal life? Come to Jesus, and live forever.


John Evo said...

A belated thanks for your response Chip. It was quite helpful to the point I was trying to make. You can read about it HERE.

Chip Crush said...

You said, "It’s clear that he gives some validity to my point and he fears nature. He fears it to the point of rejecting it in favor of the supernatural."

It appears that your "point" is that faith in the supernatural arises from fear of nature. Do I understand that correctly?

I object to having a fear of nature. How is that "clear" from "eternal life" being the single most important thing that I gain from my Christian faith? Let's work this through.

I'll post your response to my blog and add some additional thoughts there. And, by the way, thank you for your courtesy in replying. In response to the other comment posted under this post, I would like you try. Please, teach me the difference between "simple" and "stupid." Why does it matter?

John Evo said...

Chip, I provided a fuller answer at my blog, but don't get distressed by the "fear of nature" comment. It is "fear of death" - which we all have; not just Christians. My point is that this fear of death can drive you towards supernatural thinking or towards knowledge.

By the way, I honored you! You are the only one who had your blog pointed out. Stay well.

Chip Crush said...

Let's continue this discussion at your blog, and/or at my more recent post, titled with your blog name. Thanks!