The underestimated power of faith

by Life-Engineering on January 25, 2011 · 13 comments

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/the-underestimated-power-of-faith

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leroy Glinchy May 8, 2008 at 10:19 AM

I agree that faith is a very powerful thing. I respect people of all faiths.

Here’s the problem with faith. How do we know WHAT faith to believe in?

There are no easy answers to this question. Things get dicier when one believes in a faith because this gives other people power over you.

I suggest a few guidelines:

1. Believe in yourself first. You will always be with yourself. Nobody else will be. Therefore, you need to trust your gut as you can never put yourself down.

2. Balance faith with reason. There is no real duality between faith and reason. A wise person can do both.

From Rusty,

There are indeed lots of connotations to the term “faith” (see also comments from my Pastor friend below). Faith can indicate your religious preference, and indeed, once we submit to “a faith”, then we’re submitting our selves to the restrictions that belief system encourages. It’s a voluntary surrendurring of free will, and while some people find that restricting, I find it liberating – it shows that I have power over myself. The higher law force ourselves to live, the more we’re able to overcome the natural man. Jesus said “be ye therefore perfect, even as I am perfect”. And I think that’s done by degrees.

In terms of your two suggestions, I would wholeheartedly agree. Believe in yourself – you are a child of God, you have power within you that you can scarcely imagine, the power to do, and be much more. So true also is the wisdom behind reason. I believe in the council that we should “figure it out in our mind” as a part of the natural process of finding truth. Thanks for your valuable additions.

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2 ponderingpastor May 8, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Ahh, have faith first in yourself the commenter says. Rusty will agree with me that this is not the kind of faith he is talking about at all. It is though, a pretty popular position.

Faith is rightly understood as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Luther, in the Small Catechism writes (referring to the Holy Spirit), “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and abundantly forgives all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and on the last day he will raise me and all the dead and will grant eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ.”

As long as faith is not something that we do or achieve … then Mormons and Lutherans (at least) can have a conversation.

Saving faith is that faith which believes that Jesus did it all, and that I don’t have to accomplish anything to be saved.

Pondering Pastor

From Rusty

As I mentioned in my comments to him, there are lots of connotations to the word “faith”. The faith one has in his or herself is different than the faith by which we are saved. Perhaps similar, afterall faith is faith, or is it? Is the faith I have in myself related to the faith I have in our Lord? Are they independent? Mutually exclusive? Hmm, interesting points to ponder. I do think that faith isn’t natural – apparently, since not everyone has it, and those that do have it in vastly varying degrees. In this way, perhaps I would say that faith is something that we achieve (ah-oh, another distinction between Lutherans and Mormons… seems like we’ve had a few of those ;-).

As a side note (and pardon my ignorance), if there’s “Mormonism” and “Catholocism”, is there also “Protestantism”? Is that ever used, or is there an equivalent?

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3 Ben May 8, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Prove it.

From Rusty… LOL, that’s great.

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4 ponderingpastor May 8, 2008 at 2:26 PM

There is Lutheranism. I believe that there is Protestantism. While Lutherans are often labeled as Protestants, we actually have more in common with Roman Catholics and Episcopalians than most Protestants. Luther was involved in a reforming movement, reforming the church of his day. A break was not intended.

Pondering Pastor
PS, thanks for the reference of “friend”.

Certainly! I truly appreciate your respectful questions, they’re educated, deep, and important, but what’s more, you keep them friendly, and keep me studying!

I actually didn’t know that Luther was a man, and that’s where Lutheranism came from. That’s fascinating to me. What was it (sorry if I degress from this post), that he was most interested in reforming, had he sensed a “falling away” from doctrine, or a trend towards a lack of clarity, or something of that nature?

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5 dcmattozzi May 8, 2008 at 3:17 PM

Thanks and God Bless

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6 ponderingpastor May 9, 2008 at 4:55 AM

Martin Luther was a Benedictine monk who challenged the Roman Catholic Church of his day in matters of faith. He believed that the church had strayed from solid scriptural teaching, especially with regard to its teachings about “justification” (really the same kind of discussions that have been central to you and I). “Lutherans” was a name given by the opponents of those who followed the theological distinctions made by Luther. Luther was excommunicated from the church, yet continued in the faith. He was a prolific writer … taking advantage of Gutenburg’s printing press (there are 55 volumes of his writings in English, and maybe that much more that is only in German). He translated the Bible into German from Hebrew and Greek, bypassing the existing Latin translation. He believed that scripture and worship should be in the language of the people.

I’d recommend a book for not just information about Luther, but an engaging read about one of the greatest periods of change in the world. William Manchester’s “A World Lit only by Fire”. This describes Europe’s radical move from the “Dark Ages” into the “Renaissance” within just a few short generations. Columbus, Michaelangelo, & Luther were all contemporaries. It’s a great read.

Pondering Pastor

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7 ponderingpastor May 9, 2008 at 2:13 PM

I’m sorry, Luther was an Augustinian monk, not Benedictine.

From Rusty, Thank you for the background information, and great book recommendation – I’ll pick that up. That is a fascinating time period.

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8 Margaret May 13, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Being a former Baptist (American), I have heard the word “Protestantism” many times, lumping many churches together. Don’t think I ever heard “Baptistism”, though. It can’t be “Baptism” ;O). Even though Protestants have differing doctrine, they are often lumped together, whether they want to be or not.

It is fascinating for me to read this blog. You are all so respectful, and I am learning more every time I read. Thanks, to all of you.

From Rusty… I’m so glad you’re finding it valuable. We’ll be having lots more discussions as this series on Mormon beliefs progress, so I hope you’ll continue to join us. I too am grateful for the tone of respect that has been maintained as we discuss items that often can quickly lead to argument.

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9 MartyH May 13, 2008 at 4:18 PM

Rusty, I saw your “be ye therefore perfect, even as I am perfect”. I just put it back into Matthew 5 and then wondered by what standards you were earning your salvation. If I go to the Mormon.org website, they have obiedence to God’s commandement listed as the 10 given in the Mosaic Law. Does Jesus expect more than just obiedence to the Mosaic Law?

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

From Rusty…

You asked “Does God expect more than just obedience to the Mosaic Law”. The Law of Moses was fulfilled with Christ, and we were given a higher law. God expects obedience to all of His commandments (else why would he give them).

From your quotaion… “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”

That’s another reference that doesn’t fit with the belief that our works have no bearing on our salvation.

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10 MartyH May 15, 2008 at 8:08 PM

Rusty, some say that these “new” commandments weren’t a higher law as you indicated but rather a clear standard of the intent of the original law. Could you imagine what they felt when they heard Jesus say “,“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”. His listeners are thinking, – If a Pharisee, one who is separated for a life of purity, couldn’t be saved, then it is also humanly impossible for anyone to surpass their rigorous living and be saved!

Now He further shock His audience with a parable that seems to place a detestable tax-gatherer in a better position spiritually than a praying Pharisee

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Again, he makes a stark contrast with the smug Pharisee, who was so certain that all his fasting and tithing and other works made him acceptable to God.

Remember Jesus’ statement “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” Yet now He states that this tax-gatherer—the most wicked of men—was justified! How did such a sinner obtain a righteousness that exceeded that of the Pharisee? If the standard is divine perfection (be ye therefore perfect, even as I am perfect), how could a traitorous tax-collector ever become just in God’s eyes?

The only possible answer is that he received a righteousness that was not his own. One that was imputed to him by faith.

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11 ryan September 30, 2008 at 7:56 PM

Surely the most important kind of faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith that his sacrifice met the demands of justice and allowed us sinners to repent and become clean again. His sacrifice is infinite and eternal and includes the sins and shortcomings of all. We show our faith by following Christ’s example, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

I find it funny how many reason that a miracle didn’t happen because they didn’t have enough faith. Christ himself indeed taught that if we have the faith of a mustard seed we can move mountains. But faith in temporal things sets us up for failure. I may have faith that my grandmother can be cured of stage four ovarian cancer, but when she decided to quit chemotherapy my faith is unlikely to save her. I believe true faith has to be in true principles–constant. If my faith in Jesus Christ is pure, then my desires parallel God’s will, and I only ask God what is His righteous desire. Then and only then will my faith move mountains–because God wills it to happen.

A wise prophet once said, “Pray as if everything depends on God, and then go out and work as if everything depends on you.”

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