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Justified: The Significance of Faith in a Believer’s Life Essay Sample

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Justified: The Significance of Faith in a Believer’s Life Essay Sample

Faith was not meant to be restricted in the religious area of Christian’s lives. It embodied who they were as people. It served as their identities. They lived a lifestyle of faith. The purpose of salvation through Jesus Christ was for mankind’s atonement. It was done in order for men to be with God in heaven. Before Jesus came, Jews offered blood sacrifices to obtain forgiveness from God[1]. God provided for that blood sacrifice through Jesus. Just like Abel did not try to invent an alternative path to salvation, believers must also hold on to what Christ did on the cross as the source of their salvation. More often than not, believers fall into the world’s mindset that man’s value was measured according to their works. The religion of Catholicism promoted this mindset even though a genuine life of Christian faith was shown in the complete trust in Jesus for eternal salvation.

According to the Christian faith, justification, which stood for the right relationship with God in the face of sin, was presented as a gift of God through Jesus. However, Catholics presented it as something that needed to be earned through good works. The debate between Christians and Roman Catholics was dominantly about obtaining salvation and if righteousness was merited by faithfulness or good works.[2]  For Catholics, justification and righteousness could be earned in different forms. It could be in the form of indulgences, confession, attending Sunday Mass, receiving Sacraments, giving to charity and the building of the local parishes, and other things that would require effort from the part of the Catholic believer. It did not mean that when a reward was promise to the believers that this reward needed to be merited as gifts could be promised and given even when they were undeserved by the receiver. [3]

There were noticeable areas in the Catholic practice of their faith that revealed how they view salvation and God’s justification in a different light. Since justification was being in right standing with God, many Catholics “go” to confession to confess their sins and have them forgiven. More often than not, this turned into a habit, instead of a real act of repentance before God.[4] Their faith had the tendency to rely more on the act of confession than God’s grace for forgiveness.

Catholics also tend to be more legalistic. This was something Jesus warned against during his time of ministry on Earth.  Jesus came as a Living Sacrifice in order for the Law to have no hold on humanity anymore. If the Law reigned, mankind would not have a chance to be saved because the Bible said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[5]

Freedom from the law was also rooted from a life of faith. Believers did not need to undergo rituals and traditions to decrease their sins. Jesus Christ already gave his life in order to blot out all of mankind’s sins. If believers would still be under the Law’s authority, no one could be saved from it and there would be no way to be righteous before God. There were events in the Bible that exhibited how believers were freed from the Law; Jesus explained why his disciples were not fasting, [6]defended his disciples’ manner of eating[7] and against the prevention of healing on a Sabbath. [8] Jesus declared that the Law was written for men and not the other way around. It was God’s Spirit that had written the Law in the hearts of the believers.[9]

A lifestyle of faith marked the heart of a true believer. Faith was not mere head knowledge. It was also not about religious denomination. It was about how the believer lived his life every single day. Believers could not be considered Christians on Sundays alone. Faith needed to be represented and exemplified in every area of a believer’s life. James reminded the believers “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” [10]Jesus needed to lord over every area of a believer’s life; otherwise, he did not reign.[11] An individual’s life was composed of different areas. These areas included finances, relationships, work, leisure, and so on. Most of the time, the Catholic faith had a way of restricting the religious life to sacraments, traditions, and rituals.

A life of religiosity did not necessarily constitute to a life of faith. Scripture expressed “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”.[12] A life of religiosity revolved around a bunch of rituals and traditions. In Jesus’ life he had shown that relationships were more important than tradition. He even criticized the Pharisees and referred to them as hypocrites even as they occupied positions as “men of God.”

Jesus served as the perfect example of a life lived with faith. He did not live controlled by the Law but he lived according to God’s will and grace. Most of all, a life of faith was about exhibiting God’s love in the life of believers. Jesus had shown a great love for the people during his ministry. He healed lepers when no one even dared to come near them.[13] He defended Mary Magdalene from the Pharisees because of her past sins of sexual immorality.[14] He also broke down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles.[15]

A heart that was filled with faith was also marked with a lifestyle of faith. A lifestyle of faith was described by a life lived under the lordship of Jesus. Faith was the only requirement for salvation, and not good works. The Bible clearly stated that it was the faith of the believers that would enable him to be saved.[16] Lordship manifested the faith of the believer. The heart of the believer would be mirrored by the kind of life he led.

Lordship was a central message of the Bible. [17]More than anything else, lordship was a heart issue. Out of the love and faith of the believer, he would be able to surrender his life to God. It takes faith for one to be able to surrender to the will of God.  Rituals and traditions were not enough to make a person trust the object of such practices. Such practices represented a gap between the worshipper and the object of worship. Christianity was about a close personal relationship with God. To illustrate, a lady would not be able to trust and obey her man if she did not have faith in his character or if she did not love him. If a man asks a woman to marry him, a woman could only truly accept this wedding proposal out of his love and faith in him. In the same manner, a heart filled with faith would be exhibited by a life of Christ’s lordship.

Lordship begins in the heart. When a believer submitted to God’s lordship, it’s not just about a set of regulations that he must follow. The starting point for lordship would be the inward submission of the heart. [18]If the heart surrenders to God, outward obedience would follow. Peter urged the followers of Christ to set him apart as Lord[19]. The hearts of the believers needed to be surrendered to God by faith.

Lordship also demands obedience.[20] Believers that claimed they have faith in God needed to back up their claims through their action. It was not because their actions would bring them salvation. The basis of their faith was the fact that Jesus brought salvation and they received his grace by faith. Action and obedience were the products of faith. Intellectual faith and empty confession could not produce obedience. When the hearts of believers were filled with faith, they could accept what they need to do in obedience to God’s will for their lives. Jesus questioned false believers, “why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say”?[21]

Unlike temporary faith, a revelation faith was something that experienced continuous growth. A life of lordship meant a continuous walk with God. It was not a one-time thing.[22] It was not when times were tough and people needed God. It was also not when it was convenient. A life filled with faith meant being under lordship for the rest of their lives.[23] God could make faith grow. The more believers seek and know God, the more they would be able to submit with him and the more their faith in Him would grow.

Living faith required a life that was surrendered to God. Many found Christianity hard because of the fact that they lose control over their lives. Faith required absolute trust in God. It was about being certain that life’s faith was not a one-time thing. It was about a life that involved a continuous walk with the Lord. It was about a lifetime of walking with Him. It required the believer to live each day for God and believe in Him to be in control over every area of their life. The more believers know about Him, the more they would submit to Him. The New Testament reminded that when the believers received Jesus, they must continue to live in him.[24]

When a believer lived in a life of faith, he would be able to adjust everything according to God’s Will. Trusting in God’s provision meant that even when circumstances did not go according to plan, he would still be able to praise God and be confident that things were still going according to His plans. Jesus did not need to worry about what he was going to eat or wear. He already knew that his Father could provide for it. There was not even a question to it. No one was exempted from having problems. Since problems were a normal part of human existence, faith was utilized every day. Even Jesus encountered problems. Pharisees often created problems for him. The apostles’ lack of faith and Satan’s temptations could be considered as problems. Nevertheless, Jesus never showed any sign of worry or doubt. His foundations was so grounded on the Word that these instances never bothered him. When a believer was founded on the Word, every trial that he encountered would be considered as an opportunity to experience God’s power and glory.

It would be safe to assume that worrying was attributed to non-believers and even false believers. Pagans ran after material things because they did not know that God provided for them. They believed they produced their own possessions by their own strengths. Since they were dependent on their limited abilities, they worried about it. Similar to the way Catholicism encouraged penitence and good works to merit their salvation. On the other hand, believers were taught that God already knew their needs and those they did not need to worry. Most of all, they must act like a people of faith through the absence of worry. Believers could live worry-free lives because of their faith. It was observed in their surrender of their burdens to God because they knew that He wanted to give them full lives. Even in the times of complications, they could have peace of mind knowing that God was in control. Living faith was attributed to a life without worry. Jesus warned believers against worrying.

Living by faith also meant living a life of humility. Self-sufficiency and independence implied dependence on one’s self. When one depended on one’s own righteousness and ability to do good works for salvation, this negates humility. However, humility was required for lives that were dependent on God. Just like a car could not have two people in the driver’s seat, only one person was supposed to drive. In the same manner, there was only one person who was to drive the direction of one’s life; it was either God or someone else. When a person knew that there was nothing that he could do and that nothing came from him, he will have no cause for pride in himself. If an individual does not empty himself of pride and self-reliance, God could not pour out the fullness of His grace.

It was often said that Christianity was not about a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It was not something that required self-righteousness or a long list of good works in order for a person to truly call one’s self a believer. It was about a relationship with Jesus. It was about trusting in what Christ did on the cross for salvation. It would be this faith that would enable Christians to do good works. It would be from the overflow of God’s love that Christians would be able to move in God’s will and purposes.

Bibliography

Dulles, Avery. “Two Languages of Salvation: The Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration.” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (1999): 25.

Hickey, Marilyn. Wow Faith: Bringing the Childlike Heart Back to Faith. USA: Marilyn Hickey Ministries, 2004.

Murrell, Steve. One to One. Philippines: Every Nation Productions, 2005.

Reinckens, Rick. “Protestants or Catholics — Who Are Right?”. Accessed on June 12, 2009 < http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/catholic.htm >.

The Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.

[1] Hickey, Marilyn. Wow Faith: Bringing the Childlike Heart Back to Faith  (USA: Marilyn Hickey Ministries, 2004), p. 146.

[2] Dulles, Avery. “Two Languages of Salvation: The Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration.” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (1999): 25.

[3] Dulles, 25.

[4] Reinckens, Rick. “Protestants or Catholics — Who Are Right?”. Accessed on June 12, 2009 < http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/catholic.htm>, par. 3.

[5] Romans 6:23, New International Version

[6] Mark 2:18-19

[7] Mark 2:18-19

[8] Matthew 12:9-11

[9] Hebrews 10:16.

[10]  James 2:17

[11] Murrell, 7.

[12] Matthew 7:21

[13] Luke 17:13-14

[14] John 8:3-11

[15] John 4:6-10

[16] Ephesians 2:8-9

[17] Murell, Steve. One to One. (Philippines: Every Nation Productions, 2005), p. 7.

[18] Murell, 8.

[19] 1 Peter 3:15

[20] Murell, 8.

[21] Luke 6:46.

[22] Hickey, 5.

[23] Murell, 9.

[24] Colossians 2:6

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