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Thursday: Faith and History — 6 Comments

  1. Some have questioned the value of archaeology and history as it related to our faith; suggesting that faith in God is explicitly unrelated to our understanding of these disciplines. Perhaps it is a reflection on my scientific training that I disagree with that analysis. I see history, archaeology, and science working hand-in-hand with our faith experience. Part of that is figuring out how they work together.

    I will try to illustrate what I mean. In my science, I have studied electromagnetic radiation (ie radiowaves). I know that if I cause an electric current to oscillate in a conductor, I can generate a responsive oscillation current in another remote conductor. I can, by applying the appropriate physics cause that response in a wire at remote as outside the solar system. How do I know that? Well, I can send a signal to Voyager II and get it to respond back to me. Now I cannot see radio waves, nor can I experience them with my normal set of senses, but I do have instrumentation that I have faith in, to send and receive signals from EM devices and I know enough about the physics of the radiowaves to know that the message I get back from Voyager II is consistent with what I believe is the physical situation and not just a trick to make me think that it is all happening. Essentially my faith is based on knowledge, understanding, and experience.

    In a somewhat analogous sense, God has provided us with enough physical evidence (archaeology, history, science) of his leading; and not only that, has provided us with minds capable of being led by the Holy Spirit to understand and check out the link between the physical and what we accept by faith.

    Faith that lives in a cloister goes untested. You may have the best climbing rope in the world, but if all you do is put it in a cupboard and tell people about it, you are not going to be believed. If you want to convince people you have the best climbing rope in the world, you have to take it into rugged terrain and use it with confidence. Is there a lesson in that for us?

    These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb 11:13 KJV

  2. The Greek word for faith in the New Testament is 'pistis'. There is consistent agreement amongst NT Greek analysts that the use of this term by New Testament writers exclusively refers to faith/trust/belief in something that is the result of a person being 'divinely persuaded'. Thus, from the perspective of the writers of the New Testament, faith is the outcome of the working of the Holy Spirit upon one's heart/mind.

    So, there is consistent agreement that according to the New Testament writers, no divine persuasion = no true faith (pistis). And because our English term 'persuasion' can refer to something that comes about as a result of internal conviction or external coercion, 'pistis' refers to persuasion from internal conviction. Thus it is authoritative rather than authoritarian in nature.

    However, the means by which the Holy Spirit is able to bring about this 'divine persuasion' varies according to the individual. Like any good teacher knows, a person learns best when the learning matches their personal 'style', interests, capacities, etc. Thus the material used by the Holy Spirit to facilitate divine persuasion for the scientist is likely to be quite different to the material used by the Holy Spirit to facilitate divine persuasion for the artist - and so on.

    Unity of outcome, diversity of pathway to that outcome!

    Another inseparable dimension to New Testament faith is that it is something that is expressed in how a person lives their day-to-day life. That is why James is able to say that faith without expression ('works') is dead.

  3. Faith, belief, these are words we hear used often. We speak of believing in God or having faith in God but what are we talking about? I would like to add another word to the list and that is trust. When you have faith in something or someone, when you believe in someone or something you are trusting that person or thing. You trust that they or it can supply a need. But it doesn’t stop there. There is an action. You will make a decision based on that faith, belief, trust.

    I’d like to share with you a humorous story from my youth. My mom was sleeping in her bed. Momma’s bed of course was far more comfortable and safe than my own. Everyone knows this. So I quietly slipped into the bed on the side my father usually occupies and lay there facing her. I forget where my dad was at the time but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So there I was laying there awake but trying to go to sleep when my mom’s eyes popped open and she screamed. I screamed as well. I rolled towards her and off the bed and ran out of the room. It was many years later that my mom finally learned why I had screamed. You see, I have full trust in my mom and I knew that the only thing that would have caused her to scream like that was because something or someone behind me scared her and was a threat to her precious baby boy. I didn’t know what it was but I knew I needed to get away and help mom raise the alarm! You see, I wasn’t scared of my mom. I wasn’t worried that she was screaming because she was about to attack me. Because I trusted her fully those thoughts didn’t even enter my mind.

    Our decisions are based on where we have placed our trust. If you trust that something will supply a need then you will choose to acquire that thing and use it. If you trust that someone will supply your need then you will want to get to know that person, enter a relationship with them and as long as you believe they can supply your needs you will do what you can to maintain that relationship. If you do not feel that your needs are being met by that person then the relationship may suffer. You may even choose to sever the relationship. This is true of our relationships with each other and it’s true of our relationship with God.

  4. As little as it can be, faith can make a difference. As doubt can turn things flowable, faith can give a cling in the current. And it can be based on experience, as everything. The more we trust this cling, the more foundational it feels, even when the current becomes stronger and doubt still considered.

  5. When contemplating todays lesson topic 'Faith and History', I started to realize that our Christian Faith is based squarly and exclusivly on the Promise that was certified as a Covenant.

    God gave mankind a very specific Promise and reveales its purpose and reason to us only at the time we choose to believe. Without this declared Promise as revealed to His Prophets and Servants and written about in the Scripture, we would not know anything or could be 'inspired' or 'motivated' to NEEDING Faith to survive this life's journey.
    Faith requires 'hearing' first before we can believe.

    The Holy Spirit is the provider and manifestor of the Seal of God which He promised to place in the hearts and minds of all who believe.

    Our Christian Faith is unique and excludes external 'proof'. It does not relate or can be supported by/through anything that is observable. Only experienced Faith can add and increase Faith.

    Everything spiritually discerned has to be accepted by Faith first. Faith can only be recognized/discerned spiritually because Faith is a Gift from God's Spirit. If we look for 'proof' of why we believe outside of Faith, our eyes are taken off Faith.'Discovered evidence' does not 'increase' Faith. It lures us into 'discovering' more evidence and only supports our intellectual 'faith'.

    Believe comes before Faith and Trust follows. We first have to believe that we are created and that our Creator is reaching out to us. Once believed, Faith establishes Itself through its continueous application and increases the Trust in our relationship with God by maturing our understanding of Him. This is only facilitated by the Holy Spirit.

    Going back to God's Promise. It was 'legally' bound as expressed in the Covenant: this 'legal' contract was entered into through Abram's Faith in the God who offered to seal His Promise through a Covenant with him and his posterity.

    The implications of this Covenant can now be known and experienced by all mankind should we choose to believe, brake or decline to accept the Coventant and with that, the God who is the other legal party of this Covenant.

    I think 'Faith and/in History' goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Because Adam and Eve were not destroyed immediatly as a result of their failure to obey God's expressed Will, this implies that God has deviced an alternative to help with their existence outside of His presence and to ultimately lead them back to Him.

    Faith is the 'operator' to accomplish this Plan! Faith as a devine power had to have been established in Heaven before or, at the latest, at the time when God decided to redeem mankind.

    Faith is His GIFT to mankind which He offers to protect/prevent us from suffering the eternal loss of His presence; the only cord that still connects this world with Heaven, and the only way we can know God as He knows us!

    No works of any kind - no sacrifice, no ritual, no offerings of works of any kind, no belonging to any organization or creed will suffice!
    All believers have been called to come out of their personally identifyable 'Babylon' so that we can be saved. It requires our whole being to be given over to this exclusive, discriminating Faith - this is God's Will and Choice.

    Gen.3:22-24 - ...When the LORD God saw that man had become 'as one of us, to know good and evil', He needed to protect the Tree of Life from them and 'sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken'...

    First man's devine integrity had been compromised; we are now flesh. But God's Mercy established a pathway for us to be reclaimed into fellowship with Him - this pathway is Faith.
    Whiles still on this earth, by Faith we can already be in Jesus and with Jesus be united with the Father.
    This was accomplished by the Faith of Jesus through the Power of God's Spirit - the revealer of even more astonishing things to come.

    Abram's faith-acceptance of God's Promise to establish him and his family in a new land, to bless him and cause him to prosper and multiply, to confirm him as Abraham, the seed-giver of multitudes of faithful, was the recorded beginning of the faith-journey of Believers.

    The individuals mentioned by name in today's lesson are only a few whose Faith has been recorded to inspire us to always remain faithful.
    This divinely established record and the ability to look back in History is waiting for all mankind to be 'considered'.
    Though, the act of Faith is still required of the one who choses to be a Believer.

    The Promise God gave Abraham and the Covenant they 'signed' and confirmed is still it place today. God is maintaining our Faith through His Faithfulness.
    He is patiently working toward the fulfillment of His Promise to reunite us with Himself and to dwell with us. He hopes that we will remain faithful to our Coventant with Him, because He wishes that no one should perish.
    At the Fullness of Time, we will be welcomed back into the 'Garden of Eden', our new world, and be allowed access to the Tree of Life.

    Everything recorded in the Scripture is meant for edification - to strengthen our Faith and Trust in Him who gave us the Promise and signed His redeeming Covenant with man.

    By Faith we choose to believe and trust our Creator, the source of our Faith. He was revealed to us to be trustworthy because we submitted our will to His expressed Will - to unite with Him through Faith.

  6. We are creatures that live by faith and don't think much of it. We, overtime, develop faith in things making assumptions that are not discerned by us. How many of us think about the faith we have in going to our cars, putting the key into the ignition switch, and turning the key to get the car running? We are trusting the car to start each time we go through those actions which we don't give a second thought to. The faith has become natural to us and is jolted when the car battery dies.

    Faith in God starts with God drawing upon us through His Spirit without our even knowing it. Some of us have started life in homes that had faith in God, the Bible, etc. It was taken for granted since it was already accepted by our parents or guardians.

    Others, have lives that gave little thought about God, never went to church, had associations with those that went to church or exercised any kind of faith in a deity at all. It will be life experiences that come along in that person's life that will get them to place faith in God. Could be a chance contact with an evangelistic event, a roadside message with a text reference to it. Perhaps a life shaking experience that the "light goes on."

    As creatures of faith God is always, in my view, seeking to get us to exercise that faith in Him. God is constantly drawing us to Himself until one day the lights go on and we do place our trust in Him. We call that saving faith. The faith that comes from hearing the word of God either out of the Bible or through other means. As Jesus says, the Holy Spirit moves. We can't see it, but we do see its affects.


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