There’s a woman who lives with her husband and three children in a large and beautiful home in Connecticut.
She’s not a Christian, but has had everything the world says constitutes success. The grounds of her home are lovely, her children attractive and well-behaved, and the relationship with her husband loving and respectful. One day she had a sudden shock. The woman’s grief was unremitting, leading eventually to an extended hospitalization. None of the blessings of her life could offer solace for her suffering. She’s returned home, but changed and broken.
- Faith and the heart
- Real and counterfeit faith
- Works and Grace
- The path of grace
- Do you believe? If not, what will it take?
Faith and the heart
Christianity is not like the mystery schools or other false cults which hide behind secret levels of initiation. The basics of faith are easily grasped. They’ve been preserved in the original words in Hebrew and Greek and translated into all the major languages of the world.
Christianity is a reasonable faith - it makes sense - but it’s not just of the mind. Christianity is about a changed heart. Psychology and counseling make big promises, but ultimately can’t deliver anything much more than you could get from a wise and caring friend. They can comfort you, and help you better adjust to the world. But no matter how much therapy you have, the essence of you remains unchanged.
Christianity promises something different. Christ says, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). This is a change from the inside out. You become a new creature. Old things are passed away. All things become new.
Real and counterfeit faith
You may say, All of this born-again stuff is just people getting worked up for a while and then settling down to just the way they were before. Well, it’s true that there are people who claim to have some kind of religious experience and yet behave terribly. This says a lot about them, but is no proof that Christ is a liar or that real faith has no effect on the heart of anyone who truly repents and believes.
Christianity is the most profound truth that ever has been or ever will be. Your God, your Maker, the Person who formed your soul out of nothing and gave you life, has made a way to bridge the chasm that separates you from Him.
Works and Grace
Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and all other religious systems that promise you reconciliation require some kind of effort on your part to become worthy. These man-made systems rely on human reason to figure out how to be right with God. If I do these things God will have to accept me, their followers think. Or, I am God, I just need to quiet my mind and I’ll be one with the universe. These ways of thinking sound reasonable. But people who spend their lives trying to work them often end up self-righteous, despairing or indifferent. In the end they will face their Creator apart from the justification and forgiveness provided for them in Jesus Christ alone. Standing in their own power, they will be swept aside forever.
By God’s grace, there is a way which is not dependent on your efforts.
The path of grace
True Christians know from the Bible that God is holy. That means that He is perfectly good, perfectly just. He’s provided an owner’s manual for the human race. It’s summarized in the ten commandments. Every human - including you - is expected to live this way. Every person who breaks the law separates himself from God. Perfect justice requires consequences when the law is broken.
This is why Christ died. As the Passover lamb He was a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of everyone who ever believes in Him. Christ’s death and suffering was a one-time event, which never will need to be redone.
The Bible tells Christians that Jesus remained in the grave for 3 days, and then physically rose from the dead. He was seen by more than 500 people. When you’ve turned from your wrong and trusted Christ’s suffering on your behalf, your sins are paid for and you become reconciled with God. God hears your prayers. Your heart of stone is made into a heart of flesh. You are made a citizen of God’s kingdom, and are promised eternal life in a recreated physical body when Christ returns to the world at His Second Coming. In the new heavens and the new earth there will be no more sadness, nor suffering, nor pain. No one will hate or kill or destroy in all of God’s kingdom. Can any of us even imagine what that will be like?
I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. -2 Corinthians 6.2