Whom We Believe

Statements of faith are often written as declarations about subject matter and reduced to a list of ideas. We believe Christianity is not so much about thoughts, ideas, or doctrines, but faith as a relating in trust to God. Throughout the Bible, faith is primarily the exercise of trust. This trust in God allows us to enter into relationship with God. Noah was counted as righteous along with Enoch for walking in relationship with God (Genesis 5:22, 6:9). Abraham's believing God (trust, not doctrine) was the basis of his righteousness (Genesis 15:8). This quality of believing is active trust and practicing faith more than assenting to a core of beliefs.

As believers created to think, we develop varied ideas and definitions of what this trust means to us. We report our faith as based upon God's revelation to us, primarily from the Biblical record. Our heritage confirms God coming to us and confronting us through this written word. To present this in a concise manner, many have formulated doctrinal statements, often considering them as the basic building blocks of faith. Some would consider it necessary to believe and follow such statements as requirements for faith. While such doctrinal formulas have value, we would hold that faith is not primarily accepting doctrinal statements, but trusting the living God revealed to us through the Bible. In final analysis, doctrinal statements are human formulations about God and the Bible. They should be placed secondarily to trusting the God to whom they would refer us.

Christ Jesus is the center point of gospel faith. It is Christ Jesus in whom we trust—God expressed in the character and person of Jesus Christ. It is this same God, Yahweh, we find in the Hebrew Scriptures, though most clearly revealed in character through Jesus Christ. This Creator, Sustainer God created flesh in the Christ event, entering the realm of human existence and calling us to join in trusting, humble fellowship. In this God we deposit our confidence—our faith and trust. (Philippians 2:5-11; Romans 8:8-39)

The Bible is the central text for knowing Christ and the fullness of God as expressed in this mystery of divine revelation and incarnation. It records primary events and narratives through which God has addressed humanity in revelation. We are not afraid of other means by which God may also have been revealed. Even so, we find in the Biblical witness to Christ Jesus the central and supreme revelation of God's character, will, and desire to offer fellowship to frail humanity.

Grace is the main character or theme of the gospel of faith in Christ Jesus. We cannot earn salvation, acceptability, or perfection by any means. There is no sacrifice we might offer, no work we might accomplish, no state of mind or spirit we might attain that would grant us worth to stand in fellowship with God. Yet in spite of our unworthiness and ungodliness, God freely offers us fellowship based not on our initiative, but on God's.

In the Christ event, God initiated the ultimate sacrifice for reconciliation. God as priest offered a sacrifice, willingly accepting the cross. God took the initiative to be that same sacrifice. In the role of sacrifice, God interceded on our behalf. God interceded on our behalf to Godself. God as initiating the entire sacrificial event accepted the sacrifice to draw humanity into loving fellowship. As Paul writes in Romans 8, there is nothing more to be done, and any attempt to gain some alternative access to the throne of heaven would spurn God's ultimate initiative to offer fellowship in love and grace.

It is this God of loving, redeptive grace in whom we believe. Our ideas about this God will never do justice to God's full reality. Our limited concepts regarding grace, love, and the mysteries of God's revelation will never be adequate. In all our attempts to understand God's fullness, however, God is ready to extend fellowship in grace, forgiving our failures to fully understand and live out the life to which we are challenged.

Let us, then, proceed on our journey of faith—trusting God to fill in the gaps in our understanding, forgive our failed actions, and encourage us to persevere on this journey of faith under the banner of God's grace and faithful love.

Christianity is, after all, about in Whom we place our trust, and from Whom we seek direction for living on earth and through eternity. It is in Christ Jesus that we find the only sufficient respository for our full confidence. Whatever words we might find to describe Christ as the focal point of our faith, will fail to do justice to the greater reality of Christ Jesus as God made flesh yet unhindered by the physical realities of human existence.

So we journey in faith. So we trust in One we will never fully comprehend but in Whom we have learned to trust and follow in ever greater fellowship and submission. Will you follow with us and those who follow this way of life in Christ Jesus as sole and sufficient Lord? This is the life and faith we prize.

—©Copyright 2007 Christopher B. Harbin

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