Saturday, July 9, 2011

Do We Really Believe What We Say We Believe?

I've been thinking this week about what I really, truly believe. Which is not at all the same thing as what I kinda sorta believe, or wish I believed.  I'd stake my life on what I really, truly believe, but probably wouldn't on the things I only kinda believe.

The martyrs of the early years of the Christian Church had to face this question in its starkest form (and many Christians in different parts of the world today still have to): they were told that they would be imprisoned, tortured, or killed if they confessed Jesus as Lord and Messiah, but could go free if they denied Him.

The consequences of confessing that we believe in Christ in the modern West may not be nearly as stark as those faced by persecuted Christians, but ultimately the question is the same: do we really believe what we say we believe? That is, that repentance and faith in Jesus as Savior from sin, and submission to Him as Lord and King, are the only way that people can be reconciled to the God against whom they've sinned? That unless people are reconciled to God before they die, that they face an eternity of suffering in separation from God?

If I really believe these things that I confess, wouldn't my life be ordered differently?

In short, my faith is too weak and my heart is too cold.
Thou God of all Grace,
Thou hast given me a Saviour,
produce in me a faith to live by Him,
to make Him all my desire,
all my hope,
all my glory.
May I enter Him as my refuge,
build on Him as my foundation,
walk in Him as my way,
follow Him as my guide,
conform to Him as my example,
receive His instructions as my Prophet,
rely on His intercession as my High Priest,
obey Him as my King. 
May I never be ashamed of Him or His words,
but joyfully bear His reproach,
never displease Him by unholy or imprudent conduct,
never count it a glory if I take it patiently
when buffeted for a fault,
never make the multitude my model,
never delay when Thy Word invites me to advance. 
May Thy dear Son preserve me from this present, evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me. 
May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country,
my title to it becoming daily more clear,
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done
in the Saviour's Name. 
- from "The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions", The Banner of Truth Trust