Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 
   You say you don't want to go to a church because it's filled with hypocrites?  Uh-oh!  You've misplaced your faith.  It happens often, and people don't realize that's what they've done.  I didn't.  It was only when the new paster at the church I attended (before I moved) gave a great sermon about misplaced faith that I realized both what I had done and what a common problem it is.   
     What did God inspire (remember--breathe into) the Bible writers concerning this? 
1)  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  Psalm 118.8 [NASB] 
2)  Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.  His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.  How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever... Psalm 146.3-6 [NASB] 
3)  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God  Ephesians 2.8 [NASB] 
      
     So, God warned us not to have faith in man, because faith belongs to God.  Men will die--faith shouldn't die with them but remain in the living God.  When people are the barrier keeping you from church, the problem is not them, it's you.  Well, it's your misplaced faith.  And it was mine for a while.  When I was in high school I got mad at some of my friends who scolded me for leaving after Sunday School and missing the sermon.  I told myself that they were ones to talk, since I had seen them do things or heard them say things that I didn't consider very Christian--so if that's what they wanted me to be a part of, they could just forget it.  My faith, without my realizing it, was in them and the examples they set rather than in God.  I was putting a burden on them and myself that no mere mortal can live up to--perfection. 
     When your faith is in God you face the fact that you, too, don't get everything right.  A Christian's outward actions are very important because other people, Christian and pagan alike (you realize--you're either one or the other), are watching you.  Some of them are misplacing their faith, putting it in you instead of God, which means that if you mess up--and you will because you're a human--their faith is shaken.  It shouldn't be that way, but it is (still dealing with those pesky humans!).  
     I've lost my temper badly, not righteously; I've told inappropriate jokes; I've said bad words--in more than one language: in short, I've messed up.  Unless you're perfect (therefore, unless you are God) you've done some of the same things.  I really hope I didn't do those things in front of someone who was looking to me at that exact moment as their personification of what a Christian is and does.  If they were, then I caused their faith to be a bit wounded, because I didn't realize their faith had been misplaced in me.   
     We are surrounded by our fellow mortals, so it's hard not to put some faith in them.  People even tell you, "Have faith in me."  Usually, some time, some way, you'll be disappointed by a person you trust.  And if that person is mistakenly, probably unknowingly, carrying your faith, then you are in for an even greater disappointment.  We need to learn to separate our spiritual faith from the things of this world, especially from each other.  We're not perfect, and we can't be perfect in this mundane existence.  What we can do is try our best to follow Christ's example of love and to put our faith in God.  He's the only one who won't break promises, who's capable of loving us enough to not only forgive but to forget our sins, and the only one who can save us from ourselves, the world and the sins of the world. 

 
 

     So, what exactly did GOD mean by "forgiveness"?  It's a bit different from man's idea!  We forgive (or say we do), but we never actually forget when someone has wronged us.  To test this, just get into an argument with somebody.  Unless everyone in the argument has been trained to argue without placing blame or bringing up the past, someone, at some time during the argument, will say, "Yeah, but remember when you.....?"  The old wrong, supposedly forgiven, is suddenly back full-force.  Humans have such a difficult time fully forgiving each other.  Luckily for us, God is not so cavalier.  When he says we are forgiven, WE ARE FORGIVEN.  Entirely and eternally!  He removes our sins and casts them aside, and does not bring them up again.  How do I know? 
      1) As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103.12 [NASB] 
     Indeed, all of Psalm 103 is wonderfully uplifting because it is a psalm of praise and love for God, celebrating His great love for us.  Verse 12 reveals the central truth of God's way of dealing with His children.  He forgives us!  Why does he do this (since our actions certainly don't always seem forgiveable--especially to each other!)?  Knowing we will wonder, God tells us why. 
     2) "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins."  Isaiah 43.25 [NASB] 
     He forgives us because He wants to!  And that is a great thing, because we humans can't stop reminding (and not forgiving) each other of our transgressions.  God wipes out our sins.  Those sins are gone.  The word used for "wipes out" also means "erases" and "destroys".  So thank God that He has a Divine plan for us and that He makes all the decisions and judgments and that man has nothing to do with it!  God can, does, and will forgive us--of ALL our sins.  Humans try to rationalize sin to build up their own sense of self: I didn't murder anyone!  I haven't taken other gods.  But have you sped down the road at 60mph, 70mph, well above the marked speed limit?  Have you gossiped?  Well sure you have; therefore, you have sinned.  Mankind and man-made law make distinctions between sins--we call them transgressions or infractions of the law--and the extent of punishment meted out for those sins.  That is limited to earth.  God allows us to judge, on earth, the mundane sins of our fellow man, but He reserves for Himself the right to judge our spiritual selves.  Some believers try to restrict God to these human emotions and judgments: they try to logically understand and explain God.  That cannot be done, because logic is a human brain activity, not a spiritual one.  Which brings me to my favorite quotation about God by a man, and then to God's own statements about our ability to understand Him. 
     3) "We do too narrowly define the power of God, restraining it to our capacities."  --Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici  (For any purists, I've modernized the spelling, since that was first published in 1642.) 

    And what does God have to say about the same idea? 
     4) "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are My ways your ways," declares the LORD.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55.8-9 [NASB] 
     Why do humans try to make God less than He is?  He tells us that His ways are not our ways, but we forget or ignore that, and try to attribute to Him human motivations and reasoning, when that is impossible.  He is so much more than we are or than our humanness can allow us to comprehend.
   It is only because of His greatness that we are forgiven.  Isaiah 43.25 makes that abundantly clear.  And just in case we forget that, God sent a living example: Jesus Christ.  Christ came and lived perfectly and died on the cross so that we might have everlasting life.  The most known verse in the Bible, aside from the "In the beginning" opening of Genesis, is likely: 
     5) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3.16 [KJV]
  
     People tend to overlook the following verse, which tells the Why of this action. 
     6) For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  John 3.17 [KJV] 
     7) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5.8 [NASB] 
     God tells us repeatedly that He can and will forgive us, and He sent His son to show us just how great His love for us is.  In the Bible, you will not find only one example of an important doctrine.  God always repeats the important parts (it's ALL important, but you see what I mean, I hope!).  What divides the body of Christ into so many denominations is mankind getting caught up with single verses, things mentioned once, but mysterious to us.  Though God says we won't understand everything, we latch on to and try to puzzle out or "logically" explain  these single verses, thereby limiting our understanding of a topic to this mundane existence.  God instilled the basic truths and necessities for forgiveness and salvation throughout the Bible, never in only one verse (there are already seven verses quoted in this one discussion).  Luckily for us, God forgives us and throws our sins away.  How far away?  As far as the east is from the west.  And, as if that weren't enough,  
     8)He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Cor. 5.21 [NIV] 
 

Back to Christian Faith main page
Back to Genealogy and Other Stuff
E-mail: lambertr@cei.net