Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)
I have really struggled to communicate this, and I hope it is clear. The truths here are simple; the problem is that I am lacking the skill to communicate them simply. Before reading you must recognize that faith and belief are one in the same. If ones faith and belief differ then they are a “double minded man and unstable in all their ways.” So as far as this post is concerned faith and belief are interchangeable. Hopefully you will see why as you read.
There is an important truth that every reader of this post must recognize, and that truth is that EVERYONE EVERYWHERE ALWAYS LIVES WHAT THEY BELIEVE without exception. If this sounds ‘out there’ to you it is because your theology is not practical and it only exists in a vacuum. For example: Do you believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him, and moreover that God’s rewards are far greater than any that man can offer, and that when you seek God with your whole heart you will not be disappointed? You WILL diligently seek Him if you actually believe that, and if you are not diligently seeking Him, it is obvious that you do not believe these truths. Does that make sense? The only other option is that you do believe, you are just insane, literally. For the most part people are sane, they simply do not believe. For the most part I am sane, yet there are times, often, when unbelief sinks in and leads me to sin. There is a tendency for us to believe that we need to start living into the faith we hold, but that is absolutely untrue. The fact is that we ARE living the faith that we hold to, and if our actions are out of line with the faith we profess to hold, then the truth is that our profession of faith is quite different from our faith itself. This is the case for most of us, the author of this post included.
Now people will take exception with what is said above because it appears that if we all sin then we are all unbelievers. That is not what is being said. The truth is that we have areas or moments of unbelief, unless you are perfect (something I personally struggle to believe is attainable, but I will not accept that God is unable to perform that in someone). Unfortunately because our soteriology (doctrine of salvation) is based on a mental ascension to biblical truths as opposed to an actual belief that regenerates (or recreates, and changes) a person, we have come to refuse acceptance of the obvious truth that all sin in some manner results from unbelief. We then throw in even more confusion when we begin to speak of Sovereignty, free will, sanctification and more.
Luther was one of the main archeologists who dug up the old truth of justification by faith alone, but there was still more digging to be done. (God forbid I say Luther was wrong, he just had a further course to run.) Luther never was able to make the connections between faith and works, in fact he was ready to toss the book of James from the cannon. Luther did the church a great service, and it was a couple hundred years later when Wesley uncovered a little more. Wesley showed that not only was Justification by faith alone, but Sanctification was by faith alone as well. With that truth uncovered clarity is brought to James, and though Paul and James play different notes their message is in perfect harmony. Wesley did not finish the job though. Wesley’s theology on predestination and sovereignty is well, lacking to say the least. Equally the ‘reformed’ theologians have made human responsibility ‘free will’ a mere theory, or worse non-existent. Reformed theology rightly asserts God’s in control, but then takes all instances of cause and effect, and human responsibility and writes them off as God pulling marionette strings to get Himself glory.
Can all of this be reconciled? Maybe, but not by this author. It will take the brilliance of a Luther, Calvin, Wesley, or Edwards, of our own time. What will be said here however is this; faith without works is dead. Faith cannot exist apart from works, and more over lack of works (not busyness) is proof of lacking faith. Sin is the result of unbelief. If you sin, you have unbelief. If your life is one of continual disobedience without repentance, than your life is a life of continual unbelief. Unbelief is lack of faith. Justification, and Sanctification are both by faith alone, if you live in continual sin, you have no Justification, and the proof is your lack of Sanctification. (that was a mouthful)
Now, back to Jude 24 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling…” He is able, do you have faith enough for that? You will never obtain faith by works, but by seeking the Father to grant you faith enough to believe. If you do seek for it, you indeed will receive faith. How will you know the measure of faith you have received? How much victory do you have over sin? How will you know you are justified? Are you being sanctified? Ultimately what does faith/belief produce?
You will know them by their fruits…
I apologize, this was pretty much a stream of consciousness ramble.