Monday, November 22, 2010

faith: defined by experience

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:20-21

I love how Paul defines faith in the life of Abraham in this vital chapter of the book of Romans. Paul's point is that Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, was justified before God centuries before the Mosaic Law was in effect. And the basis for his right standing before God was his remarkable faith in what God had promised. It was in that faith that God counted him righteous. Paul concludes the point by insisting that God still operates with faith that way today. We are "counted" righteous in Christ through our faith in Jesus and His saving work on the cross (Romans 4:22-25).

Abraham's faith was shown in the life of a desert nomad. He wandered a land of promise, a wealthy homeless man, trusting in a God Who called him to abandon a comfortable life in a prosperous city. God promised him an heir. And for decades Abraham lingered on in that promise. It was not until he and Sarah were both so physically aged that conception was impossible that God honored the promise. It was clear faith was in operation, literally born out of experience!

My faith is refined and to a degree defined by my experience with God. In that sense it is very personal, individually known by me alone. Where I have had to trust Christ is not always where you or another person may be called to trust Christ. I am saved by faith in the gospel, but my faith is proven in a walk with God that is personal and unique. There are many shared experiences within the church with other believers... but even then they are most valuable as we share personal experience with one another. I am glad that God did not enroll us by Christ into a spiritual factory that produced identical Christian puppets. Instead, God delights in our individuality. He redeems us in Christ as the unique persons we all were created by God to be. And like Abraham, our faith is lived out in personal circumstances distinct to each of us, yet linked powerfully to one God Who loves us all.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

No comments: