Developing the habit of deferring gratification is no simple task, especially since we all seem to be multi-taskers these days. We live with the short term in mind.
The concept of faith is woven through the pages of Scripture and is essential to a personal relationship with God. In fact, “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not only is it necessary for salvation it is part of our daily walk and warfare as believers (Ephesians 6:16).
Contrary to popular Christian opinion, the Bible neither exhorts us to have childlike faith nor does it tell us to believe as children believe. The idea that we are to have childlike faith is an incorrect inference based on several passages of Scripture. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:15-17 NIV).
These passages don’t tell us what receiving the kingdom of God like a little child means so it is wrongly assumed to be referring to the faith of a child. In Matthew 18:2-4 Jesus spells out what He means. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Our goal as believers is not childlike faith. Instead it is to grow to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4).
However, the past few months have made me wonder: if I was given a death sentence would I have the same level of peace and assurance as my grandmother?
I want to pass along some thoughts by way of four simple reminders. Let's call them “commandments,” which apply to anyone graduating—as well as to those of us who graduated years ago.
“I believe in the Holy Ghost….” These are familiar words to those who have ever attended a church where the Apostles’ Creed is recited during the service. Six words commonly heard yet seldom thought through. What, exactly, do they mean?
The second member of the Godhead came to earth as a tiny baby in Bethlehem. God became man. This is commonly referred to as the doctrine of the incarnation. In the words of the Apostle John, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Think about that for a while. Imagine what it must have been like to see Him, walk with Him, watch Him work, and hear His words.
Knowing God calls for a response that includes trusting Him, relying on Him, worshipping Him—in a word, loving Him. Scripture is filled with accounts of the God of heaven, reaching out to His people in grace and mercy, showing Himself to be strong and compassionate. Each one is a reason to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Puritans used to speak of “following hard after God” and “setting our faces like a flint toward God.”—Strange-sounding phrases in today’s fast-paced world! But these words need to be remembered, especially in our generation.
“You can prove anything you want to from the Bible!” Have you ever heard someone make that claim? Probably so. For the most part, it is true. If a person really wants to find biblical “justification” for some belief or activity and is willing to use half-verses, to take passages out of context, and to twist the meaning of various terms, then he or she can “prove” just about anything from Scripture.
Have you ever stopped to think about the benefits of having a copy of the Scriptures in your own language? Have you pondered the thought: What if the Bible never existed? In our overabundant, more-than-enough world, such thoughts are foreign…too impossible to imagine.
Without love, knowledge can be a source of pride. Without humility, knowledge can lead us into a judgmental attitude. Without wisdom, knowledge can result in idealism and a perfectionist spirit. Knowledge needs a buffer…something to soften it, to give it perspective, to make it workable and real. Perhaps the very best companion for knowledge is discernment.