The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
One Path To God
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The Bible clearly teaches that the path to God is found solely by a belief in Jesus Christ. It is not, and never has been, based upon one's actions here on earth. Paul quotes extensively from the Old Testament to demonstrate the "badness" of men. Consider:
Romans 3:10-20 (NLT)
10 As the Scriptures say, "No one is good- not even one. 11 No one has real understanding; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one." 13 "Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their speech is filled with lies." "The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "They are quick to commit murder. 16 Wherever they go, destruction and misery follow them. 17 They do not know what true peace is." 18 "They have no fear of God to restrain them." 19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses and to bring the entire world into judgment before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it.
No one has a complete understanding of God. No one can be made right before God because no one can truly obey God's laws - that is, no one can earn their way to heaven. The Apostle has laid out his arguments going back to Romans 1:18. His polemic has worked its way to the climax, first of this description of mankind, then, to the solution.
Romans 3:21 (NLT)
21 But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight-not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago.
Romans 3:24-28 (NLT)
24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. 26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. 27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
We are justified by faith. Maybe Jesus said it in plainer words when He stated,
John 14:6 (NLT)
6 Jesus told him, " I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
So, no one can get to heaven except by belief in Jesus Christ. Yet, the world does not like Jesus. In fact, the world hates Jesus and His followers. Jesus foresaw this, but in order to implement the plan of salvation allowed the world to execute Him on the Cross.
John 15:18 (NLT)
18 " When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you.
John 15:21 (NLT)
21 The people of the world will hate you because you belong to me, for they don't know God who sent me.
At the same time, the world desires a beautiful future. The world wants peace. The world wants heaven. So, the world has always maintained an interest in spiritual things. Every once in a while, Time, Newsweek and television produce spiritual articles and shows. The article on heaven demonstrates this. A month or so later, Time featured an article on "The Legacy of Abraham" (September 22, 2002). This article argues that Abraham is a religious innovator and the common ground for dialogues between the three monotheistic religions all seeking to join God in heaven. Abraham provides the grounds for reconciliation and peace in the world, a peace so desperately sought by all.
The point, for our purposes, is that the path to this peace lies, at least in part, in the exercise of some form of "faith." Immediately following the attacks of September 11th there was a great surge in church, synagogue and worship attendance in all religious groups. Surprisingly, within a few weeks, the attendance figures returned to those before the attacks, even thought almost half of all Americas credit faith with playing a major role in their lives during the crisis!
According to a Barna survey (Barna Research Online, September 3, 2002), 25% of adults said their faith was "the single most important resource" in their lives in dealing with the attacks and 23% credited their faith as one of several important resources. The same survey also found that almost no one said the attacks had no impact upon their faith.
As indicated, even with this great impact upon faith, the year in review shows the attacks had little or no lasting effect upon people's religious practices. Bible reading, church attendance, small group involvement, and the like all remain at levels statistically identical to (or lower than) those prior to the terrorists' attacks.
The immediate conclusion that might be drawn from these statistics is that while America yearns for spiritual things, this yearning is divorced from the impact of major events. America is spiritually complacent. Still, should this come as a large surprise?