The Action of Faith

A reader writes in response to my last article, “Saying that we only trust Christ and everything will happen by some kind of spiritual osmosis is not reality.”

To “only trust Christ”: what does that look like? Well, if I really trust that there is a Person living me who is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, humility, and even faith – who in fact is the Source from which all these things flow – if I really trust and rely on this person, and step out in faith that he is there, living in me, trusting that he will live through me, does that mean I just sit on the couch? It is like trusting God for our finances. “Lord, I’m trusting you, so I’m going to watch tv until a check arrives at my door.” It doesn’t work that way – that is not expectant, reliant faith. Faith in that area, as in any other, involves expectation – expecting God to act, to come through, and so we have an attitude of looking for the needed supply. In other words, we start looking for the opportunities he will send our way

Likewise, when we trust in Christ within us to live through us, this God who promises, “I will cause you to walk in my ways and keep my statutes” (note that he is the causing agent, not me), we can’t just intellectually assent to the idea of it. Real faith involves action. So in trusting him to cause me, I step out expecting him to do so. In other words, I go about my day knowing that he is my love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, humility, and even my faith, and in any temptation moment he is there, available to me – his riches of virtue ready for any situation. Now, if I forget that, and think “I” have to be loving, joyful, peaceful, etc., I fail miserably, for the human vessel is not the Wine; the branch is not the Vine

Nowhere do I say that all we must do is intellectually assent to an idea that Christ lives in us. Everywhere on my site I say we’re to faithe – not merely “believe” in our English sense, but faithe – an active verb in Greek. There is an inner choice we make to faithe; then there is the action of faith (for if we faithe, we step out in faith expecting the needed supply), and the enduring attitude of faith. If I’m tempted to impatience, I faithe that he is my indwelling Patience, right here, right now. Then I step out in the action of faith.

This faithing/relying/abiding life is the only way I have found to really overcome anything in my life. When I am abiding, the Spirit takes up all the slack in the line; he fills all the rough places and makes them smooth. But when I go back to “my effort” (even “with God’s help”), thinking of myself as an independent self who must be good like Christ by striving and trying, that’s when I go back into Romans 7 temporarily. And I refuse to live there anymore on any long-term basis.

8 Responses to “The Action of Faith”

  1. Becca Says:

    Good job, Ron.

    There was a point in time when I would have agreed with the statement your reader made. I thought the only two options for spiritual activity were (1) my effort and (2) my passivity. I just couldn’t see the connection between understanding my true identity and the resulting action that flows from that.

    One of the images that caused me to turn the corner on this is the Bible passage that talks about works that will burn away versus works that will remain. (1 Corinthians 3) As I looked back through my Christian walk, there were things done (attempting good for Jesus) in the power of my own strength. And there were other things done in reliance upon God in me to provide. I could see that distinction.

    As I began to take that concept from the past into the present, applying faithe to areas of current need, things began to change. Areas where I hadn’t been able to “force” myself to obey unlocked. Resources were there I hadn’t seen before.

  2. kelli Says:

    My thoughts echo Becca’s. I, too, once thought the very same thing as your reader. I think what opened my eyes to the truth was an old RR article you wrote about the car. You can push it around…which takes alot of effort and produces poor (if any) results, or you can actually get in the car and turn the key…engaging the Spirit who is there waiting. But you can’t just sit in the car and do nothing. (Your writings on this are much better than that synopsis!)

    Like Becca, and like you’ve shared in the past, I have also seen changes in my life because of relying on the One who lives through me versus trying to overcome things on my own.

    This is a great post, Ron!

  3. Danan Says:

    Aren’t you trying to explain “common sense” here? (Sometimes that’s as hard as trying to explain a joke after you’ve told it.) I agree with both comments and with your post. In a way, your approach is a kind of de-programming from what I was taught in the past. I’m going to keep reading. Thanks.

  4. ronblock Says:

    Danan – sometimes what should be common sense to a Christian, through legalism, becomes uncommon. All those mind-filters we have when reading the Word of God, whatever they may be, obscure the clear meaning of the text. In our modern world we seem to have two polarized Christianities – one is “Jesus died to pay my sin-debt, forgives me, and now I am going to Heaven, so I can party down and enjoy myself here on earth with a get out of jail free card.” The other view is “Jesus died for my sins, so now I have to show him my gratitude by trying really hard to be good.” Both contain elements of truth; both hold elements of error. There is a third one, a middle ground of “Jesus died for my sins, and now, though I can never be perfect because I am a miserable rotten sinner, I’ve got to be at least decent and go to church and not do A, B, and C.”

    In reality the Gospel is simple. Christ died not only for me, but as me. He was not only a representative, though; I was put in him on the Cross, and died to the old life described in Ephesians 2:2. I was resurrected in him and raised to walk in a new life – the new creation, Christ-indwelt life, which is lived by trusting in a present-tense Deliverer who now lives inside me and is everything I need for this life, and for god-like-ness. The more I enter that trust-place, the more I see him work.

  5. Lee Holland Says:

    a question that i keep coming back to after reading your posts is: did all of humanity die with Christ on the cross? and if so, does that mean that in a sense, we are all “saved”, but there are only a few of us that actually grasp what it means to abide and have life more abundantly? hence, “enter the narrow gate”, and “…few are they who find it”, etc, refers to the fact that few of us will ever grasp how to live in Christ, but we may all end up in the same place? sort of? some of us with little or no “inheritance”?

    enjoy this tasty can of worms :) actually, just ignore this if you want. we can talk about it sometime.

  6. ronblock Says:

    Lee, that’s a great question. Biblically there is a big distinction made between those who have not entered into the co-death/co-resurrection with Christ, and those who have. “Vessels of wrath” and “vessels of mercy.” “You are of your father the devil,” Jesus said to the religionists of the time, and “Our Father, who art in Heaven.” The Eph 2:2 old man identity, and the new creation, re-gened sons of God identity.

    I once was driving home from the studio late one night. On Moody Radio was a Calvinist talking about limited atonement, how Jesus died only for the elect, or else some of his death was wasted. As I pulled up to my house, I shut off the van and sat there in the dark, thinking about that.

    God is outside of Time. We are within it. He doesn’t think in terms of past, present, future. He sees the end from the beginning, and all moments are Now to him. He knows all the choices that will be made, not because he foretells but because he sees us making them. He looked into the future, where I was, and gave me promptings, revelation, to trust Jesus as my Savior. I responded. Boom. God put me into Christ on the Cross 2000 years ago.

    From my perspective, God put me into Christ 2000 years ago. I was predestined. But to him, the past act doesn’t have to happen before the future choice. He is in eternity. All those moments are an “IS” to him.

    So, in one sense, the Calvinist was right. None of the blood of Jesus will be wasted, not a drop. That blood is potentially efficacious for all men for all time. But God will not be surprised when some do not accept it, and instead choose to be judged by their works (As per Revelation 20, a terrifying conclusion). Christ died for the elect, those who were in him. But salvation is open to “as many as received him, he gave power to become sons of God.”

    Because we are stuck in Time, it is sort of a chicken-or-egg proposition. Did God choose us? Yes. Did we choose God? Yes. Do we have free will? Yes. Is God sovereign? Yes.

    The part where we get confused is where we try to figure out higher dimensional concepts with our three dimensional brains rather than recognizing “we have the mind of Christ” as new creations, and that mind can hold paradoxical truths in full tension. God is three persons, but one Being. We are many persons, but one Body. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” said Jesus. We live by dying. We’re exalted when we’re humbled. All this makes sense to the spiritual mind, but to the flesh mind it makes no sense at all.

  7. Lee Holland Says:

    perfect response, Ron. thank you so much. sorry it took me so long to read it. this thing doesn’t send you notifications… or maybe i just haven’t figured out how to get it to.

  8. Doug Says:

    Ron, this speaks to me today. There was a time when I put my confidence in feelings/emotions. I projected that thinking onto others, until I believed God only loved me and felt “feelings” toward me. I couldn’t wrap my head around the possibility of God actually doing anything for me. God’s faithfulness is pro-active. So should mine. I learn how to work faith by God’s example: He sent His Son. He withheld his wrath thru mercy and forgiveness. He did he did he did. Based on love and faithfulness. Now I must learn to put aside my feelings as truth and accept the cognitive truths which ask me to act on my faith. Not as self effort. But as walking, finally, with Jesus Christ. Take care, Ron.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011 at 5:49 am and is filed under Christian, Spirit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.