Catacomb Resident Blog

Faith by Grace

08 January 2022

Genuine faith is inherently unreasonable. Reason must serve conviction of you have nothing at all but this sad human life.

You should never be surprised, nor offended in the least, when anyone suggests that the Bible is irrelevant to human existence today. That is a very reasonable outlook. Our message does not address human reason. Reason cannot bring you to faith. It requires awakening an entirely different faculty; reason and faith cannot speak to each other unless faith rules. We do not reason with those outside the Covenant. We demonstrate the power of shalom and appeal to their faith.

Jesus flatly said that He knew for sure no one would embrace His message unless it was the work of the Father in their heart. In John 6 when Jesus spoke about being the Bread of Life, He also noted that people can't swallow that bread with their fleshly capabilities. It required a miracle of God. In other words, there is nothing any human can do to bring another human to faith. Faith is not a decision; it's a miracle.

This He said while operating under the Covenant of Moses. There was a dual purpose in that Law. First is that it should provide a frame of reference for genuine faith to grow. Yes, people under Moses did get saved and go to Heaven. That was the whole point of outlining what faith looks like in their specific context. But it was the process of walking in that context with all the obedience to God's will for them. Notice what God said in the process of replacing the two stone tablets in Exodus 34 -- "Then the Lord passed by in the front of him and proclaimed, 'Yahweh, Yahweh El, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth...'" (v. 6)

Had you been around in those days, you might hear something similar proclaimed at the approach of some earthly rulers. It was a common protocol to say that someone was easy to get along with, that the particular sheikh was advertising himself as such to persuade folks to submit willingly to his authority. There was nothing new in this proclamation from God, except that when God says it, you know it's not just a sales pitch. God was always easy to get along with, in the sense that it was within human capability to decide to embrace His will and surrender to His lordship. If you actually cared about what He wanted from you, it was a sure bet He would work with your imperfections to keep you in His favor.

The Covenant of Moses was a suzerain-vassal treaty, a common form of government in those times among Semitic nations all across the Ancient Near East. The whole point is that it was nothing new being offered the Nation of Israel, except that their Sheikh was a deity, not a mere man, and His domain was all of Creation, so He was the only one. But the whole point here is that gaining God's tolerance was within easy reach of even those who lacked a spiritual awareness. The frame of reference was a system of guidance that would speak to the hearts of the minority who had the capacity for genuine faith, but would sweep in the majority who did not. It was designed to provide an atmosphere that incubates faith for those who had it.

In Christ, this kind of thing ended. It was a shocking shift in things. There was no long a national covenant where the majority could ride along in this life on the coattails of those who actually did the work of faith. They were to be excluded in this translation of the Covenant. From that time forward, faith was the sole identity of the Covenant. It also reversed the process of the Covenant, in that under Moses, one was supposed to wade through the Law until faith become obvious. The Law was meant to beckon the soul to a higher plane and spiritual birth. Now we gain spiritual birth up front, and then go back to the Law to understand the implications of faith.

You could reason your way to the Law, but you could never reason your way to faith. There are a wealth of people today claiming Christ, but operating on the level of a law covenant, not a covenant of faith. The only Christ they have is a reasonable one; that isn't the same as the Lord of Heaven.

And there is not a single thing any human can do to change that situation. This is the whole point of what Paul taught in Romans 8-9: "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it not able to do so..." That's backed up in Ephesians 2: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." The real fault in our current situation is the utterly false assumption that genuine faith and spiritual birth is a human decision. It never was, and never will be.

There is no frantic need to get out there and drag people into faith, because it can't be done in the first place. All you can do is act according to your own faith, and trust in the Lord to use your life to provoke faith in those He always planned to touch in His own time. The whole thing is utterly incomprehensible to us in the flesh, but it rings of truth in our spirits.

So, the real mission is not to "get folks saved." The real mission is to live salvation before the world until someone responds by a miracle of grace. The focus of the church is not gaining new members, but living the Life of Eternity as much as it is possible to do so in this world of shadows.

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