I have a quick question. In Hebrews 3 it says "Be careful brethren lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." O.k. so the author is addressing brothers and he says to be careful about not having a heart of unbelief. Doesn't that suggest that faith is partly from us? I believe that Jesus is the author and perfector of faith but this verse and many others seem to suggest that man has a part in his faith. For instance, why did Jesus always say, "YOUR faith has made you well"? And in Romans it says that because Abraham believed it was credited to him as righteousness. If faith was soley from God shouldn't it say and it was credited to God??? I guess I'm having a hard time seeing that faith is a gift from God. I believe that we can be like that woman in the gospels who cried out "lord help my unbelief". The Lord answers her cry because even in the cry she is putting faith in Him. Also, I have no doubt that I can rest in Jesus knowing He will maintain my faith. But even in saying that I have shown my faith in that statement. Anyway, can you answer these questions especially the Hebrews verse? thanks.
Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12
Faith is one of those things that can drive you crazy while trying to get a handle on it. Of course I hear it all the time since people read my stuff and wonder how I can say what I say about faith in view of certain verses or doctrines. :)
I think the attempt to systematize faith is what puts us in a pickle so that we find it necessary to examine it to determine who actually makes it happen. I have no problem stating that I believe God, nor do I find any contradiction in saying that faith is of God. Systematizing causes many to feel the need to remove one or the other from the doctrinal equation. But we haven't received a doctrinal faith nor some kind of formula that can be broken down into an equation ... we have received something real and living.
Systematizing also forces us to overlook simple considerations that might keep us from being so strict when examining particular words. As in Hebrews. I had also been trained to make the assumption that any and every NT Biblical reference to "brethren" MUST be speaking of or about those who had been saved by grace through faith. I wonder though - should we just expect the Jews to stop addressing one another as they had since before they could remember? Especially considering the nature of the letter to the HEBREWS there might be some insight to be gained by recognizing the collective "brethren" known as the Hebrews ... those who had been given the oracles and promises of God only to fall short of believing the promise of God throughout their history. Except for a few here and there who stood against the crowd to actually believe the living God all were assumed to hold to. But they saw through a veil. They were blinded to the reality until the coming of Christ.
And the Hebrews - as a people, a brotherhood, supposedly come together in a common faith - were being addressed in the same manner as their ancestors who gave lip service to their God and being asked about entering the rest of God. The "evil heart of unbelief" revolves around the story of Israel in the wilderness - a brotherhood removed from bondage without having been delivered INTO the promised land. The "evil heart of unbelief" spoke to a brotherhood made up of some who had entered the rest of God (the promise of Christ) as well as a multitude who had jumped on the Jesus bandwagon.
Well, that's about all I can write for the evening.
Wow, you actually made sense to me, I didn't know that was possible:) Just kidding. Actually, you really spoke to my heart. I too think we disect things too much and inside I know that God cannot be disected. I really like when you said, " I have no problem stating that I believe God, nor do I find any contradiction in saying that faith is of God." I am starting to have no problem saying that either!!!! Jim, I cannot tell you how my heart longs for freedom and how I am beginning to live in the freedom Christ gave me. It is very strange. I feel as though I am backsliding, yet inside me I hear this voice saying, "how can you be backsliding by trusting Christ more and yourself less". I think Satan or our flesh tempts us to look at our flesh to see "reality" but that is a bogus reality because that is fading away. God looks at the real me which is not defined according to the flesh. Talk about FREEDOM!! Jim , I want to hug you. Inside I feel like I am flying. I want to share something with you. Yesterday, at church my pastor (he is really awesome and seems to know much about grace) was preaching from Eph. 6 where it says children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Well, all I wanted inside was to hear, see, smell, and touch Christ. However, his message was focused on children obeying their parents and how we should teach our children to obey. You know whats funny, Jim? I realized that the law is good. It never comes across as being bad. We all would agree children should obey their parents, or we should not commit adultrey, or we should not lie. But, there is no power in the law. My pastors message did not speak to me. All I wanted to see was Christ, the fullfilment of the law. Yet, everyone said how good the message was. I walked away thinking how powerless it was. Anyway, while he was preaching I noticed the verse says "in the lord" and I started thinking in amazement. Could it be that I see something I never saw before. Was Paul's emphasis on children obeying or "in the Lord". In other words, if Paul left out "in the Lord" the command for children to obey would be no different then any other law. But somehow I knew "in the Lord" was crucial to the reality Paul was talking of for the children. Yet, my pastor said that phrase meant that children are to obey only things that line up with the Lord and His standards. Well, I was very disappointed. I did not see Jesus at all. I left early and went home. Well, all my friends thought the message was fantastic. I feel like I'm losing it. I feel like I'm backsliding. Yet, I am at peace- it doesn't make sense, it doesn't seem right, but I know Jesus is all that matters. So I try to explain to my friends (family) what I see and they argue the same thing that I would have argued my whole life. Then I realized that people don't want to know their freedom until they are seized with guilt, with fear, with shame. As long as they feel secure under the law then they will argue until they are blue. But, as soon as we are broken under the weight of the law we begin to seek something more and that something is Christ. Well, this is beginning to be a long email. I just thought I would pour out my heart to you. Thanks for spending time with me. You are a very dangerous man!! Praise God! Dangerous because the shackles of the enemy fall off when Christ is seen. You are dangerous to the kingdom of satan. I want to be dangerous as well. I want to show Christ to the world so that shackles can fall off, so that blind men can see, so that the lame can walk. Well, have a great day Jim!