Which matters: how much you believe or the reality of the object of your faith?

This clip from SG-1 is classic ‘What Hollywood believes.’ “Yes, it doesn’t matter what you believe in – just as long as you are very serious and devout about it – that is enough to ‘get you there!”Unfortunately this is just not true. What matters must be the OBJECT of our faith; can they/it actually fulfill their/its promises?

We have a deep longing to be justified so we invent our own beliefs that seem right to us. Unfortunately, if we venture below the surface and really consider our ‘seems-right-to-me hope structures’, we will find gaping holes, bottomless pits and flimsy rope bridges ready to snap under our weight.

Jesus described himself as a rock. Building our life on Christ is the only sure foundation. The bible alone is sufficient for truth about Christ. We can’t just make up a god to suit ourselves – God has revealed himself in the bible.

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15 Responses to Which matters: how much you believe or the reality of the object of your faith?

  1. papasteve says:

    Yep, it’s all over Hollywood. I wrote an almost identical post about the movie Serenity.
    http://papasteve.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/is-faith-enough/

    Steve

  2. Thanks for the link Steve.

    I think that picking up on this could be a good starting point in evangelism with certain people. I have talked to many people who think that just believing what they believe in is enough to get them to some sort of heaven.

    I think a good direction to go with someone like that is towards the bible and the issue of truth. No doubt such a person would have some strong objections to the claims of the bible and you would have to be prepared for this.

  3. Morse says:

    I have to ask this…which is more important, belief or acting morally?

    If a Hindu, for example, lives her life perfectly morally but doesn’t believe in Jesus, even though she has been witnessed to, does she get into heaven?

    Just curious what your view of this is.

  4. PyroPenguin says:

    dear Morse
    well I will just have a go at answering this, but I know that one of these great moderators will finish it off.

    There have always been only 2 ways to heaven.
    the first way is to obey the LAW, the 10 commandments…perfectly your whole life, from birth! and be PERFECT…
    however like everyone born after Adam and Eve, we inherited our fallen nature and innate sinfulness via our biological father , the first human representative that was in the Garden of Eden. Once he Sinned, we all Sinned.

    1Co 15:22 For just as in Adam all die, in the same way also in Christ all will be given life.

    Added to that, we can’t go a day/hour/minuet/second with out sinning!
    just go through the some of TEN COMMANDMENTS
    Have you ever told a lie?
    Have you even stole?
    Have you ever taken the Lords name in vain?
    Have you desired something that didn’t belong to you?
    etc…

    We all have failed, we all have not attained to the standard that God expects of us.
    even if we were 10 out of 10 perfect from the age of a young child, we still cant help our inherited sinfulness.

    Romans 3:23 For all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    However the Law is still not going to save us…
    The Law is to show us that we cant do it, that we cant be made perfect by DOING.
    Acting morally, in and of its self, cannot save.

    Rom 3:20 God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin.
    Rom 3:21 Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him self. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses.
    Rom 3:22 God treats everyone alike. He accepts people ONLY because they have faith in Jesus Christ.
    Rom 3:23 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
    Rom 3:24 But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.
    Rom 3:25 God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.

    The second way to heaven is to be forgiven, made new, born again, have all your sins washed away, and be make right before God..

    you see being a hindu or buddist or shinto etc. Does not get one in to heaven by virtue of there religious works, no matter how perfectly moral, because they still have a Sin problem that will separates us all from GOD.
    being moral all our lives is not gaining favor with God, because just as a parent expects there children to DO GOOD and BE GOOD.
    Our loving heavenly creator father GOD has the same expectation that we will DO GOOD, BE GOOD, LOVE, CARE, SHARE, etc…
    When we do what is right, we should not automatically think that we have earned a extra reward or favor with GOD.

    however, Morse the good news is that God has already sent his Son, who was born perfect, who lived a perfect life, and was the only possible sacrifice that could pay the penalty and price for our Sin.
    Jesus came and paid that price, so that we could be made right before God.
    so that if we repent of our Sins, put our faith in Jesus as our Lord, “belief” that Jesus is the Son of God, we will be made new, born again, washed from our Sins.

    The object that we put our belief in is very important.
    It must be Jesus. as our Lord and Saviour.
    it is only then that ACTING MORALLY can flow out in our lives, with the right motivation of wanting to please our Lord, wanting to be moral because he has called us to be moral. wanting to give glory back to God becasue of all that he has done for us.

    but being moral, must never be used or thought of as, earning our way to heaven.
    Jesus paying the price for our Sins, is a wonderful GIFT of GRACE, that we can NEVER earn, be it by good works, giving money to charity, acting morally, etc…

    Eph 2:4 …God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
    Eph 2:5 even when we were dead through our SIN’s, God made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved),

    Eph 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus:
    Eph 2:8 for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
    Eph 2:9 not of works, that no man should boast.

    I hope this has helped, even if only a little.
    blessings and love
    from scott

  5. Angela says:

    Hi Morse,

    Re your question about a Hindu who lived her life perfectly morally. Moral perfection, how would you define that? Our standard would be perfect obedince to God’s law, and no-one is able to live up to that stanard for their whole life. So that scenario isn’t possible by the biblical standard of moral perfection. The only hope of heaven is a saviour from sin. Jesus.
    🙂 Angela

  6. which is more important, belief or acting morally?

    If a Hindu, for example, lives her life perfectly morally but doesn’t believe in Jesus, even though she has been witnessed to, does she get into heaven?

    Thanks for this question Morse. I am just about to do a post on this very point. The answer to your question about the Hindu girl is YES! Does that surprise you? You don’t need faith in Jesus if you live a life of moral perfection. But remember – God requires truth in the inmost parts. God requires a level of thought, words and actions that is perfect.

    Lets remember what morality is: someone’s system of right and wrong. Each person might have a different morality that they are happy to live with. But we all fall short of God standard in every thing we do. God does not just require outward perfection but also inward.

    Psalm 5:9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

    This is our true condition that the bible reveals

    Psalm 14:3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;there is none who does good,not even one.

    Does this ring a bell?

  7. Angela says:

    Well said Daniel.

    Acting morally is important, and so is belief. However the heart of the issue is in whom or what you believe. If we believe the truth, we will act morally out of gratitude for what has been done for us. What saves us is belief in the saviour which leads us to repent of our immorality. The two go together. We trust in Jesus’ righteousness to meet our greatest need, to be made clean from sin.

  8. georgiearm says:

    My mind goes to the rich young ruler to whom Christ directed the question
    “who is good?”

    17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    18″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

    19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

    20″Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

    21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    Good has to be God’s standard if we are talking about entering His kingdom.

  9. Good has to be God’s standard if we are talking about entering His kingdom.

    God’s kingdom, God’s standard – how simple yet how hard for us to swallow. We want God’s kingdom on our standards.

  10. Morse says:

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “moral”, as it applies to different things between us. Guess I’ll just have to live my life as best I can and just see what happens.

  11. I couldn’t help but cringe when I read you say that, Morse. I got this silent yet harsh screechy noise when you said that.

    I don’t want to go all “Holy Roller” on you, but Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Gospel, but if you take a look at the Ten Commandments, you’ll see what you’re going to be judged by on the day of Judgement.

    Commandment 5: Honor your father and mother. Have you ever disobeyed them? Then you’ve broken this commandment.
    Commandment 9: You shall not lie. If you’ve lied, and I’m sure you have because everyone has, then you’ve broken this one, as well.
    Commandment 10: You shall not covet. If you’ve ever wanted something someone else had (as I have multitudes of times), then you’ve broken this commandment.

    And if you take a look at the rest of the commandments here (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=2&chapter=20&version=31), and you feel guilt rising up, that’s because your conscience (Latin for “with knowledge”) remembers all the sins you’ve committed.

    Judged by those standards, would you be innocent or guilty? And would you, according to those standards, go to heaven or hell?

    Me personally, I’ve broken every single one of those commandments. Judged by those standards, I’d be most definitely guilty. And I know I would go to hell.

    Why should I go to hell? After all, God is loving. Yes, God is loving. But God loves what is perfect. And after those commandments, it’s obvious that none of us are perfect. And since he loves perfection, he must hate imperfection. It’s like an environmentalist who loves the environment, thus he or she must hate pollution. So because God loves perfection, he hates imperfection- which is us. And he hates imperfection so much that when we die, he is going to send us to hell to make us pay for every last sin we’ve committed. And sadly, that punishment goes on for ETERNITY.

    All the goodness you do will never be enough to pay for your sins. All the goodness you and I do will never be enough. In fact, all the goodness of you and I and Daniel and Angela and all the EA folks and the rest of the WORLD put together would not be enough.

    In short: None of us can get to heaven on our own. Live the life the best you can, and your conscience will still bear witness that you did bad things, that you committed sins. And on the day of Judgement, when God judges you, he will know all the sins you have committed because he is all-knowing- but not only that. Your conscience, as Romans 2:15 states, will bear witness against you.

    God has written the law upon your heart. It’s why you know you do wrong, it’s how you know right from wrong.

    I’d love to put a great closing statement here, but my brain can’t come up with one right now. I’m still reeling from putting that all down.

  12. Morse says:

    Thank you Ray Comfort. (Feel free to take that as an insult or a compliment. It is really meant as neither. I just wanted to let you know that I recognize his style of evangelism.)

    First of all, I’m a former Roman Catholic. So yes, I am familiar with the Decalogue. Though probably in a different order than you are. And frankly, I don’t find it impressive. It reads as an obviously man-made piece of literature.

    Why?

    Because fully half of it is designed to get the unquestioning obedience of the follower. If god were god, why would he need to demand obedience? Wouldn’t he just have it, on the basis of being god?

    But not only do the commandments ask for unquestioning obedience, they ask for it 4 times: Have no strange gods/make no idols, don’t take god’s name in vain, honor the sabbath, honor mom & dad. (Well, three and a half. ‘Honor the Sabbath’ is more there for validating the ‘history’ written before it.)

    That being said, there are four commandments I agree with wholeheartedly. Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t kill. don’t commit adultery. These, I believe, everyone would agree are moral ideas. However, I disagree that there is black and white when dealing with them. If you steal, lie, or kill to protect/help your family, for example, these things may still be bad but not necessarily immoral. Adultery is bad, and I’m all for promoting faithfulness, but it is nowhere near on par with, say, killing. Where are the commandments against rape and child abuse?

    The last two I am against as much as I am for the ones I just mentioned. Your thoughts are not evil, not in themselves. If you ‘covet’ someone’s goods, it isn’t evil unless those thoughts compel you to steal them. The same thing with someone else’s wife. It is the acting on those thoughts that is moral or immoral, not the thoughts themselves. And it is Christianity’s failure to understand that idea that is one of it’s greatest failings.

    If god has written the law upon my heart, then they go against the Decalogue. What I’ve written above is what is written upon my heart.

    I feel sorry that you, and many of the religious people I’ve met, feel that they are horrible, evil sinners at heart.

    Just know that I think you are all good, kind people at heart, and none of you are going to go to hell. Or heaven. Not because you wouldn’t necessarily deserve it, but because there are no such places.

    Do I know that for sure? No. But I’m sure enough that I’m betting my soul on it. (Not that I believe any of us have souls, of course.)

    a.return.to.christianity, I’m sorry what I said brought you a cringe and a screechy noise. I can only imagine what you might have heard from what I’ve just written. But I want to let you know, thank you for the sentiment behind your witnessing, even though I don’t believe in the substance of it.

    Cheers.

  13. joarm says:

    Morse you said,
    “The last two I am against as much as I am for the ones I just mentioned. Your thoughts are not evil, not in themselves. If you ‘covet’ someone’s goods, it isn’t evil unless those thoughts compel you to steal them. The same thing with someone else’s wife. It is the acting on those thoughts that is moral or immoral, not the thoughts themselves. And it is Christianity’s failure to understand that idea that is one of it’s greatest failings.”
    Actually Morse you seem to have failed to grasp the nature of Christianity i.e. following the teachings of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus actually taught that thought and intention was the essence of sin, the starting point, and the “act” was just an outward manifestation of the condition and desires of the heart and will. Jesus said that if you look at a woman to lust after her – you have already committed the sin of 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.”
    Matthew 5:27-29
    That’s what was wrong with the pharisees – they were moralistic and legalistic – they conformed to the law outwardly to prove how “good” they were but time and again Jesus called them white washed graves full of rotten corpses, or clean cups with dirty insides (in other words hypocrites, putting on a good show to cover up their total depravity). Sin starts in the heart and even if those intentions and desires are never acted on they are still sinful and condemned. When you belittle the idea that sin of the heart doesn’t matter and won’t get you into hell, you aren’t belittling Christianity – you are contradicting Jesus who alone makes the exclusive claim to absolute truth and reliability and ultimately you will have to take up your case with Him.
    Being right with God will only ever take place when we abandon any sense of self righteousness and “bet our life” that Jesus is the perfect sin offering in whom we can find forgiveness and cleansing from all our secret and obvious sins.
    It is only when we really see and love the “light” that we realise the darkness that we are in. John 1. If we think we are OK and pretty good – we are never going to come to the one who offers forgiveness, life and peace. In fact we are going to try very hard to extinguish the light that keeps showing us and others what we are really like. That’s one of the reasons many of the Jews tried so often to kill Jesus. They wanted to turn the light out.

  14. Morse says:

    “Actually Morse you seem to have failed to grasp the nature of Christianity i.e. following the teachings of Jesus.”

    I grasp the nature. I just disagree with Jesus. Yes, I’m sure you must find that shocking. But while I enjoy the stories of Jesus and many of his teachings, I don’t think he was perfect, because he was just a human.

    Once again you’re using black and white terminology. Of course being a hypocrite is a horrible thing. But that’s not the only way to have thoughts that Christianity thinks are bad but that don’t make you immoral.

    I can look at a woman and feel lust but refrain from acting on those feelings. Does that make me a hypocrite? No. It makes me restrained, civilized, and understanding.

    I can hate a group of people (hypothetically), and then consciously act counter to those beliefs because I know they are wrong. Does that make me a hypocrite? And even if it did, wouldn’t it make me a better person to be this way?

    “When you belittle the idea that sin of the heart doesn’t matter and won’t get you into hell, you aren’t belittling Christianity – you are contradicting Jesus who alone makes the exclusive claim to absolute truth and reliability and ultimately you will have to take up your case with Him.”

    A couple things to respond to in this. I think no one should be ‘convicted’ or made to feel guilty for a thought crime (what you call a sin of the heart). That is also mixed up with things that Christianity says is immoral that are really morally neutral (desiring things, feeling lust).

    Also, I’m not saying this won’t get you into hell. Certainly, if your take on religion is the correct one then of course those things will get you into hell. I’m not trying to make a more palatable form of your god. I’m just saying your god doesn’t exist, and there’s no hell to go to.

    Lastly…Jesus alone makes the exclusive claim to absolute truth? Really? I look at many other religions, and it seems like Muhammad and Buddha also claim to have absolute truth. I don’t think Jesus’ claims, or at least the claims of his followers, are all that unique.

  15. No problem, Morse. I just had to get it out. It’s not up to me whether you believe it.
    Cheers to you, too!

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