The Arrogance of Faith?

Walk with me as I think “out loud” about this vast question.*

*This post is being written over the course of several days weeks months as my thoughts congeal. It is being liberally edited and rewritten as new thoughts, ideas, verses, reactions, and experiences come into my life. It may end up being a ramble, or too long for anybody to read or care about. I’m primarily doing it for my benefit as I work out a biblical understanding of what I have been seeing and experiencing lately. Thanks for bearing with me…

It takes a certain amount of arrogance to suggest that faith in Jesus is all you need. Who am I (or anyone else) to assert that I (or they) know enough to tell anyone else what to do with their lives?

After all, I have limited experience with life, and I certainly have enough struggles of my own, in spite of my professed faith and my supposed dependence on God. Shouldn’t my life be perfectly together if God is all He’s cracked up to be?

With all the tragedy and uncertainty in the world (read the daily news: epidemic diseases, war and unrest, economic instability, terrorism, environmental crises); and in individual lives (look around your own experience: sickness, death, trauma, doubt, failed relationships, job loss, discouragement, money troubles); how can anybody have any hope? I certainly can’t say I have tried every solution in order to know empirically and conclusively whether this or that philosophy or religion or lifestyle is the answer or is not the answer. How could I? How could anyone?

I have recently heard this idea painfully and variously expressed by several people:

  • I wish God would just let me know He’s still there;
  • or that He’s working;
  • or that He would get me through this;
  • I’m at the end of my rope and I can’t keep going, so He’ll have to do it for me;
  • or I wish we could see Him working today.

I agree: It sure would be easier if He did! But what if He doesn’t–or doesn’t appear to be doing it?

The ministry I work for (FaithSearch International) exists to “proclaim the Gospel with evidence.” In short, we propose that there are good reasons and plenty to believe that the New Testament as we have it today is a historically reliable document, capturing eyewitness accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. (You can read an accounting of this evidence in the book Surprised by Faith, available on the FaithSearch Web site. Let me know if you’d like to get a copy.)

These questions are not new. Jesus pointed out that Israel wanted a sign; Jonah; resurrection. That they had had signs and still did not believe and follow God was painful to acknowledge.

A series of incomplete jottings:

  • Isaiah 45 “look at the evidence…”
  • Day to day take up cross. If living for Him, there WILL be trouble/tribulation. But fear not for I have overcome the world.
  • Once we establish the validity of the eyewitness account, we can move on to examine what Jesus said and did, and how He backed up His claims.
  • But way down here in the twenty-first century, it’s realistic to want to have God take care of everything…
  • Without faith it is impossible to please God… Hebrews
  • no other name Acts 4:12
  • no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him John 6:43-45
  • All we need for life and godliness 2 Peter 1:3
  • “has granted to us” This is a perfect middle (deponent) participle. This form of the Greek word (dōreomai from didōmi) is used only in Mark (cf. Mark 15:45) and Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3,4), which may illustrate Mark’s Gospel and 1 Peter’s literary relationship.
  • “everything pertaining to life” Verse three is basically a refutation of the Gnostic false teachers’ theological separation of salvation through secret knowledge and daily godly living. Deity provides for eternal life (i.e., zoe) and daily Christlikeness (i.e., eusebeia). True knowledge is faith in Jesus Christ that impacts daily living. Believers have all they need spiritually in Christ! We do not need to seek a deeper truth experience!
  • “godliness” This compound word (i.e., eusebia) comes from “well” and “worship.” It has the connotation of daily living acceptable to God. Peter repeatedly emphasizes the need for godliness because of the false teachers’ neglect of personal ethics and morality (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3,6,7; 2:9; 3:11). See fuller note at 2 Pet. 1:6.
  • Without excuse Romans 1:18-23
  • All things Romans 8:28
  • Grace is sufficient 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • No one comes John 14:6 [1-12]
  • Blessed are you those believe without seeing; who believe based on what these say. John 20:25;28-29; John 17:20
  • Who has ascended? Prov 30:4; John 3:13

Proverbs 30:2-6

Surely I am more (A)stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the (B)knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has (C)ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the (D)wind in His fists?
Who has (E)wrapped the waters in [b]His garment?
Who has (F)established all the ends of the earth?
What is His (G)name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

Every (H)word of God is tested;
He is a (I)shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(J)Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

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