Friday, April 12, 2013

The Religious Of The End Times

Sincere faith is not nice if we manage it; sincere faith is vital. What is faith? Faith is the lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Without faith we cannot see God. Faith is not believing there is a God. That's not faith, it is simply belief. I can believe a lot of things without them impacting my life. It is impossible to have a faith that does not impact our lives.

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, CEV)

What we have today is a lot of religious people who are very faithful at practicing their religion. We do not have a lot of people who have made the decision to live by faith. What do we think God is saying to us when we read:

But we live by faith, not by what we see. (2 Corinthians 5:7, CEV)

We don't have time today to go through all the scripture related to living faith but we need to understand that Jesus even reflected on this as he wondered out loud:

But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith? (Luke 18:8, CEV)

When I was young I had no idea why Jesus would say such a thing but now that I am older and I see what passes for faith, I understand. Within myself there is a war that rages because it is easy for me to do things in my own strength and intelligence. I am a very capable man but Jesus never asked me to do anything within my own ability because my ability is too limiting to him. He wants to achieve things through me that I cannot achieve in myself, not for me benefit but for his. He wants me to live a surrendered and obedient life so that I will listen to his words without question and act on them. Faith means obedience.

Paul warned Timothy that the end times would be filled with a lot of religious people but not so many living by faith:

Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:5, CEV) 

Let me ask you this: How much time have you spent studying Jesus' life and words? We are guilty of spending a lot of time studying methods, history, all kinds of different topics but what about just Jesus? Just his words? Just his actions? Just his promises? Just his commands? We want to look at everything except for our responsibility in this relationship. Our responsibility is to have faith and this faith produces trust and obedience. This faith provokes us into actions that go beyond what we can do in our own abilities. This faith changes everything we see, everywhere we go, everything we put our hand to and everyone we encounter.

Honestly, if we were living by faith there would not be a word of complaint on our lips. If we were a people of faith, fear would be replaced by faith. Fear will try to press in but faith will be our shield. If we are a people of faith, there would be nothing in this earth that can come between us and Jesus. Faith destroys fear, depression, lostness, despair. More than that, faith gives us hope, strength, joy, amazement, purpose because Jesus is real and present with us. Faith makes obedience to Jesus' commands as our purpose and priority. Can we say that of ourselves? Can we honestly?

Look around. Will Jesus find anyone with faith on his return? Perhaps we should make a declaration like Joshua: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord! We need to bring the reality of faith into our lives so that we will have the determination not to disappoint Jesus when he calls us to him. It's frustrating to see what we are making of it, playing church and being faithful to our religion but leaving the reality of it untouched. Sincere faith, we must live by it.

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