Friday, January 21, 2005

Hard To Believe

The question has come up a lot lately: How do I believe?

I really don't know how to answer that. Part of me wants to get all Nike and say "just do it." But I know that isn't enough. Not that it isn't true; believing is a decision you make, and no one and nothing can force you into it. If you believe when there is no reason, that's your choice. If you don't believe when there is every reason to, that is also your choice. Faith is, in that sense, very much a decision. You just have to do it.

But why isn't it enough to tell a person to just make the decision to believe? I think its because you have to also convince them the decision is worth making. People don't want to be wrong, and they certainly don't want to be wrong over something as important as heaven. If they are going to believe it is because they are convinced that it is right to do so, and they are not afraid to stake their eternal lives on it.

So: certainty and courage. I am tempted to say it is just conviction. We often speak of conviction in Christian circles as that which the Holy Spirit does in a person. The Holy Spirit brings a person to a place where he or she is certain of being in the wrong in the great argument with God. But knowing you're in the wrong and having the courage to go to the other party to be pardoned are not the same thing.

So where does the courage come from? I think the same Holy Spirit that gives the certainty of being in the wrong through conviction also gives the courage to go and ask for forgiveness. I believe in what is called the Effectual Call of God. It refers to God's calling a person to make the decision for faith, a call that is always answered with faith. I believe that the Call itself is something that inspires such assurance of pardon that the courage is evoked in a person to believe. When that Call comes, you can say "just do it" and the person called in fact will.

A Scripture worth thinking about:

Peter replied, "Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you and to your children, and even to the Gentiles[a]--all who have been called by the Lord our God." Acts 2:38,39 (NLT)

1 comment:

Kim said...

You know, I believe that faith is more a "gift" than a decision. With Mike, I have perfected the presentation of Biblical facts and figures. I have an answer for every argument, but to no avail. He lacks faith. I can't give it to him or make it for him. He has to accept the gift. The Lord is knocking at his door to give him faith but he isn't opening it. The Holy Spirit continues to convict but he ignores. Perhaps that is the decision or a matter of prayer on my part.