A Guide to Examining the Way We Believe So That What We Believe Will be Secure
I remember being out one night with a friend in Arizona. I was 20-years-old. My friend and I were about the craziest guys in town, with little good reputation to boot. Yet, this guy was worse than me. He had a death wish and swore he would not live past 24. But I loved him very much. This particular night, we were bar hopping, looking for trouble. As was typical for me in those days, I would get drunk and start to talk about Jesus. For better or worse, I was ready to lay it on this guy. This night was his night to get saved if I had anything to say about it. The Holy Spirit would have to work through my slur; we’ll just say I was speaking in tongues. Either way, I was not going to stop until this guy was in the kingdom.
To make a long story short, the guy started the night as an atheist, he ended the night having “believed” in Christ. Now, don’t get too excited, for that is not the direction that this story really goes. Let me make a long story just a bit longer. Here is how it all turned out. After many hours of discussion, I kept telling him, “All you have to do is believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead.” He said, “Michael, I don’t get it. So your saying that all I have to do is believe that Christ died for my sins and I will be saved?” “That is it,” I responded. “So,” he continued, “I don’t have to stop drinking or living the way I do?” “No,” I said, “It is not about that. It is just about belief. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” I could tell that he was a bit confused about this way of believing that I was attempting to get him to commit to. It felt like I was trying to get him to sign on the dotted line. “Fine!” he finally responded with an exhausted laugh, “I believe. Now I’m going to heaven. Can we quit talking about it now” “Yep,” I responded with relief, “You are good.”
What you can probably see is that there was no conviction, but a lot of concession. He just wanted to get me off his back. But at the same time, I think this minimalistic idea of belief, was attractive to him. He was able to “believe” without really believing.
Over the years, nothing changed with this guy, but I wanted to hold on to the idea that he really had an encounter with true Christian belief that day. I simply hoped that it “took.” But years later, when we talked about Christ again, there was no conviction and no concession. It had all vanished.
So far we have talked about the three aspects of faith that must be present:
1. Content: Knowledge
2. Conviction: Persuasion
3. Consent: Trust
My friend’s “faith” is what content and a bit of concession look like without conviction. True faith cannot be present without some degree of real conviction.
Cultural Christian Faith
Notice that there is sufficient content to produce a Christian faith (it raises above the yellow). Notice as well that the consent is present to some degree. However, the big faith meter (representing true faith) is still at zero. Why? Because there is no conviction whatsoever. This type of person is a Christian of convenience. Continue Reading →