We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? (207) In another article, (213) we began to address the confusion that men have injected into the Gospel in respect to the issue of the claim that salvation is by faith. In this article we want to pick up on that and discuss it further.
When God says by faith He means that men are to believe Him for what He promises. When men say by faith they often mean something far different. As we mentioned in the last article, one of the ways men corrupt the Gospel is by making faith an empty claim. Today I would like to elaborate on that corruption.
What do I mean by making faith an empty claim? Two things. One is that men often claim to believe things they do not believe. The other is that men often claim to believe things that God has not said.
Let's consider the first. Men often claim to believe what they do not believe. An example of this is the claim that many people make when they say that they believe that God is both loving and omnipotent, and then develop a nervous condition by worrying over some circumstance in their lives. Worry is a fundamental contradiction of the claim to believe in the love and power of God. But if we confront the worrier with the accusation that he/she is being unbelieving, the response is often a claim to be believing. The plain fact is that it is easier to profess to believe than it is to believe. The reason? It's easier to lie to ourselves and others about "God-things" like faith, than it is to simply recognize and tell the truth. If we do not admit our unbelief, how will we ever come to faith?
The second way men distort the truth about faith is to claim to believe what God has not said. I am constantly hearing religious people claim to be trusting God in areas where He has not spoken. "We are trusting God for good weather on the day of our picnic", or "we are trusting God for enough money to build our new building", or "we are trusting God for a safe journey to our destination". These statements are all examples of the corruption of faith. Jesus said that if we believed God, we would have the outcome of our faith. So what do we say to the person who began his trip in faith that God would provide safety, but who was involved in a wreck and was seriously injured? We can either accuse God of being unfaithful to the believer, or we can accuse the believer of corrupting the biblical concept of faith. The plain fact is that we cannot believe what God has not spoken. Since He never committed Himself to provide us with good weather for our picnics, we can never truthfully say we are trusting God for good weather. Since He has never committed Himself to provide money for buildings, the most we can truthfully say is that we are praying that God will be merciful and provide us with the funds we want. God can only be held responsible for what He promised. He is not responsible to men to do what they want Him to do.