Thursday, October 31, 2013

What is Faith? Part 19 of 31

TEXT: Hebrews 11

IDEA: Faith is often misunderstood as being much less than a dynamic trust in the living God.

PURPOSE: To help listeners identify false definitions of faith that can trip them up.

Christians can stumble over Hebrews 11 because they have some misconceptions of what faith is. George Guthrie examines some misconceptions about faith which can trip us up. He notes two that are often found in Christian circles.

I. For some people, faith is "faith in God's goodness to me."

This is most obvious in the "health and wealth" corners of Christendom.

It is also found among idealistic Christians who reason that a good God can produce only good things in lives lived in a good way.

For these people, faith has only one aim—a life of ease, blessing and bounty.

It's true that God does bless His children, but this vision of faith often crashes on the rocks of reality.

God is the giver of good gifts (James 1:17), but those gifts often come wrapped in some odd packages (James 1:2-4).

II. Some people see faith as summed up in a creed.

The New Testament does refer to "the faith" as a set of beliefs in Galatians 1:23, 1 Timothy 4:1, 6, and in Jude 3. But generally the idea of faith denotes something more dynamic and active—a life lived in a trust relationship with God.

This active faith rests on sound belief, but it can't be summed up by a "cognitive assent" (James 2:14-26).

This stance of "faith equals creed" remains a danger for anyone who rightly places a great deal of emphasis on doctrine.