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QUESTION: What's The Most Intriguing Aspect Of The Christian Faith [Solved]

Nigeria Student Forum / Questions / Christianity / What's The Most Intriguing Aspect Of The Christian Faith

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Nofiu Ridwan
National open university of Nigeria (Noun)
Bsc. Economic
300Level, Nigeria.
“I believe…”

That’s how one of the most important creeds of Christ’s Church begins. And it’s no surprise that it does. Because as Michael Bird explains in his new book What Christians Ought to Believe, not only is “the Christian life a story of faith: of coming to faith, of keeping the faith, and of finishing the faith.” (43) Life itself is a life of faith:

Faith, believe, trust and hope—whatever you like—these emerge from a deeply human experience full of dualities; experiences of life and loss, fidelity and failures, joy and grief, as well as trust and betrayal…The reality is that faith is an inalienable feature of human existence. (44)

What this opening salvo of our cornerstone creed is inviting those who recite it to do is “to recognize their need to know, to trust, and to belong to something beyond themselves,” because “our most basic need, one hardwired into our humanity, is to know God.” (44)

So before launching into the specific affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed, Bird explores the meaning of faith by outlining five aspects of Christian faith.

Faith as Fact

The Apostles’ Creed’s invitation to “believe” isn’t a shotgun affair. This creed calls us to faith in something specific: “the faith,” which is a vessel for facts.

“This faith consists of the assertions in the Creed about God, Jesus, and salvation. This ‘faith’ is a noun, it is the sum of ‘faith facts’ that tell us something about God’s person and work.” (45) Of course, this work of God consists of what he has specifically done in Jesus, the gospel.

Bird says, “the second-century church father Irenaeus got it right when he described the gospel ‘handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.’” (45)

Faith as Trust

Faith isn’t only a noun, a set of facts; it’s also a verb. “The biblical picture of faith is no stale affirmation of stationary facts. Rather, belief is something that is living, active, dynamic, personal, and even risky.” (46)

Hebrews 11:1 encapsulates this picture: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” As Bird explains, “Faith is a firm conviction that what we hope for will one day happen.” (46)

He goes on, “Ultimately faith is our trusting response to God’s faithfulness.” (46) And we’re beckoned to persevere in such trust through active obedience.

Faith and Obedience

Bird believes understanding the relationship between faith and obedience is vital:

If we collapse faith into obedience, the result would not be faith but fealty and fear, a belief that we must obey certain rules and live a certain way in order to earn God’s love…Alternatively, if we cordon off faith and obedience too far, then faith becomes dislocated from faithfulness, and we run the risk that faith is nothing more than an abstract compilation of religious ideas that do not shape how we actually live. (49)

If one aspect of faith is trusting, another is staying faithful to what we’ve trusted.

Faith and Doubt

It makes sense that faith would be connected to fact, trust, and obedience. But what about to doubt? Bird says yes, insisting that doubt can be faith’s aide. “Doubt can be a sign of spiritual struggle, a means of growing into maturity, and a pathway into a stronger more resilient faith.” (53)

Yes, Jesus told Thomas to “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Bird reminds us that Jude also tells us “to be merciful to those who doubt.” (Jude 22) That’s probably because God himself is.

“It is comforting to remember that God’s faithfulness to us is greater and far more powerful than our doubts. God is there to help us in our doubt and to journey with us…” (54)

Faith and Mystery

Finally, faith means delighting in the unknown. Bird explains that, while “Christians believe that God’s mysterious purposes have been made known to them in the unveiling of Jesus Christ,” and “we know how the story is going to end: a new heaven and a new earth,” it’s also true that “there are so many uncertainties and unknowns.” (54) He lists several such uncertainties:

What does tomorrow hold for me?
What is my part in God’s design?
What trials will we face?
How will God bring us through it all?
In the face of such uncertainties, “Faith means following Jesus into the mystery of God.” (54

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Habeeblah Olamilekan
Kwara state polytechnic,ilorin
Graduate, Nigeria.

The islanders were cannibals. Nobody trusted anybody else. His life was in constant danger. He had come to tell them the good news about Jesus. He wanted to translate John’s Gospel into their language, but he discovered that there was no word in their language for ‘trust’, ‘belief’ or ‘faith’.
John Paton (1824–1907), a Scot, had travelled to the New Hebrides (a group of islands in the south-west Pacific) determined to tell the tribal people about Jesus, but he struggled to find the right word for ‘faith’. One day, when his indigenous servant came in, Paton raised both feet off the floor, sat back in his chair and asked, ‘What am I doing now?’ In reply, the servant used a word that means, ‘to lean your whole weight upon ’. This became the expression that Paton used. Faith is leaning our whole weight upon Jesus.

1. Faith as trust when under attack
Psalm 124:1-8

‘Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark,’ wrote Sir Rabindranath Tagore.
There are times in all of our lives when our faith is tested. We come under ‘attack’: ‘When everyone went against us’ (v.2, MSG) and there seems to be a ‘torrent’ (v.4) of ‘raging waters’ (v.5) – temptations, doubts, fears, and so on.
These things could overwhelm you, but for the fact that the Maker of heaven and earth is on your side (v.1). Faith means trusting that he won’t leave you defenceless. He frees you from the traps: ‘Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight’ (v.7, MSG).
David is one of the most tried and tested figures in the Bible. Like David, remain faithful to God. Trust in the Lord. He will protect you from raging torrents and from being ‘swallowed alive’ (v.3). Your ‘help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (v.8).
Lord, help…

2. Faith as choice, perseverance and expectancy
Hebrews 11:17-40

What does heroic faith look like? Moses was the supreme figure in Israel’s history. He rescued them from slavery. He gave them the Law. In today’s passage, the writer shows that Moses was pre-eminently a man of faith .
As we have seen, the word ‘faith’ carries a number of meanings. It describes our whole relationship with God – trusting in him, leaning our whole weight on Jesus, and having the courage to act on our belief. In the case of Moses, we see three key aspects of faith:
Faith as a choice
Moses was ‘no ordinary child’ (v.23). He was brought up in the Egyptian royal household and received a first class education and training. He was also physically good looking (Exodus 2:2). So many people strive today, as they did then, for money, sex and power. Moses could have had them all in abundance.
Moses had another great advantage – the faith of his parents (Hebrews 11:23). Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses’ mother the job of bringing him up. However, at the end of the day, Moses himself, like all of us, needed to make a choice.
He could have chosen ‘to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time’ (v.25). However, ‘he chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God’ (v.25). Moses
chose to be identified with a group of people that those with an upbringing like his regarded with contempt – a slave nation, the people of God. By identifying with them he brought upon himself danger, scorn and suffering.
He made this choice because ‘he regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt’ (v.26). Compared to the pleasures of the world, which are fleeting, God offers you an everlasting reward.
Faith as choice is the faith that justifies. This initial act of faith can be summarised with the mnemonic:
F orsaking A ll I T ake H im (FAITH)
Faith as perseverance
Moses left Egypt twice. The first time he was fleeing as a criminal after killing an Egyptian. The second time, he left as leader of the people of God. In between, he persevered with courage and determination. He ‘persevered because he saw him who is invisible’ (v.27). His eyes were opened to the whole spiritual realm.
From the moment of choice to the moment of triumph, there were many battles. This is the pattern in the Bible. First comes the call, then the problems. Finally, there is the fulfilment. In between, you need to keep persevering and trusting.
This aspect of faith can be summarised in another mnemonic:

F eeling A fraid I T rust H im (FAITH)
This aspect of faith is one that is particularly stressed by the author of Hebrews. It is also probably what Paul has in mind when he lists faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Faith as expectancy
When I interviewed Rick Warren at the HTB Leadership Conference, he asked rhetorically: ‘Why does God use me?’ And he gave the answer: ‘Because I expect him to use me.’ Joyce Meyer defines
expectancy as ‘a joy-filled looking forward to receiving a desired result’.
Moses heard God. He did what God told him to do. He knew that God had the power to kill, but he believed he would pass over the Israelite homes that were sprinkled with blood (Hebrews 11:28). He believed in God’s power to perform signs and wonders, such as the crossing of the Red Sea (v.29).
Expectancy is that mysterious surge of confidence that God will perform a mighty work. In the first three Gospels, nearly two-thirds of the references to faith occur in relation to miracles. Faith here must be understood to be trusting in God’s power.
The writer goes on to give many other examples of faith in the Old Testament, including those ‘who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned into strength’ (vv.33–34). I particularly love the fact that God turns our weaknesses into strengths.
He concludes this sweep of history by saying something quite extraordinary: ‘God had a better plan for us’ (v.39, MSG). He is saying
you are better off than Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, and all the others. ‘Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised’ (v.39, MSG). While they could only look forward to something better, you live in the age of the Spirit and have received this better and fuller revelation in Christ.
Lord, help me to trust you, to persevere and to have an expectant faith in you to perform healings and wonders.

3. Faith in times of tragedy
Ezekiel 24:1-25:17

‘Faith is not shelter against difficulties, but belief in the face of all contradictions’ wrote Paul Tournier.
Ezekiel’s faith is remarkable. His message is a very tough one. God is saying to his people that he has tried to cleanse them from their impurities, but they would not be clean and therefore his judgment is coming: ‘You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions’ (24:14). If we refuse to accept God’s forgiveness (which we now know is made possible through the cross of Christ), we will be judged on our own conduct and actions.
Ezekiel’s faith survives the tragic loss of his wife (‘the delight of [his] eyes’ , v.16). God says he is going to take away Israel’s sanctuary – which is the delight of their eyes , the object of their affection (v.21). He is foretelling the terrible destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
He warns the other nations not to rejoice with malice in their hearts (25:6,15). God strongly disapproves of that feeling of secret glee (by which we can be tempted) when we see other people getting into trouble – it is the opposite of love.
When people hurt us we are not to take vengeance into our own hands. We need to trust in God who promised that, in the end, he will ensure that justice is done (vv.15–17).
In the midst of the darkness in this passage there is one ray of light. As the messenger arrives with news of Jerusalem’s destruction, Ezekiel’s enforced silence (see Ezekiel 3:24–27) comes to an end. This heralds a remarkable shift in his ministry. When his focus returns to the nation of Israel in chapter 33, the prophet of doom is transformed into a messenger of hope. The God of Justice will also be revealed as a God of grace and salvation.
Jesus has taken the judgment on himself. The blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Expect him to do great things through you – as you lean your whole weight on him.
Lord I bring to you today all my fears, anxieties and challenges that lie ahead. I put my trust in you. I lean my whole weight on you today.

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