By Howard Anderson
La versión en español está disponible al final de este documento.
What is faith?
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT).
According to Gordon W. Allport, “Faith … seems to carry a warmer glow of affection than does bare belief. It suggests that though the risk may be greater, still the commitment is stronger and the outcome of the wager more precious” (The Individual and His Religion). Faith seems simple and easy when all goes right. It may even stand up against some drastic event that would seem to shake the foundations.
It is easy to say “I will be faithful to death” when there are no clouds on the horizon. The trials of earthly life can be overwhelming—Aids, cancer, drug and alcohol addiction, babies born out of wedlock, and a government that seems determined to “Make America Great Again” by reversing the Civil Rights of black and brown people, and cancelling the health care for over 24 million Americans. Life conditions are accompanied by socioeconomic stratification. Our faith may not enable us to see as clearly into the future.
A living faith will help you to see yourself as God sees you … children of the living God. We need guidance every day of our lives. Psalm 139 is a marvelous comment upon God’s wonderful knowledge of us and His profuse love for us, just the way we are. With all our objectionable baggage… we belong to God—lock, stock, and barrel. God desires to gain intimacy with us through a living faith.
We can be secure about our spiritual lives. The unknown writer of Hebrews tells us that through faith and because of the blood of Jesus, our sins can be forgiven and we can experience the presence of God in a new and life-giving way. Faith is important for salvation.
The priesthood of Christ is superior to the Levitical priesthood, which was made at Mount Sinai. The Levitical priesthood could not bring the people to perfection. There was no permanent reconciliation between the people and God through the temporary animal sacrifices. The people needed the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who gave His life once to restore the people to a relationship with God.
The Levitical high priests atoned for all sins of the people on the Day of Atonement. Every year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies where he made a sacrifice for the nation’s sins. A curtain prevented anyone from seeing the inner sanctuary. When Jesus died for the sins of humanity, the curtain was torn open, permitting anyone to enter the holiest of all—God’s presence. The high priest was no longer required for believers to be forgiven. By a “new and life-giving way” (Hebrews 10:20), believers can go directly to God through faith in Christ.
Christ shed His blood to give humanity the ability to come before God’s presence by faith. Our High Priest is Jesus Christ, who experienced the pain, temptations, and trials that we face as believers. By the righteousness of Christ, the Superior Priest, “we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). Through the shed blood of Christ, we can come before our Creator by faith.
Through Christ, we can freely enter into the presence of God. Through faith in Christ’s work on our behalf, we come “fully trusting,” that our sins are forgiven. The believer must be cleansed before he or she can come before the Holy One. While we are declared “not guilty” because of the work of Christ, we need to cleanse ourselves daily by turning away from sin and turning to God to experience the fullness of relationship with Him. We must give ourselves completely to God and maintain a personal relationship with Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm” (Hebrews 10:23). God reveals His promises and truths through His Word; therefore, we must embrace God’s Word and resist temptation and opposition. His promises are our treasures that we believe with a confident expectation. The foundation of our faith is based upon the integrity and righteousness of Christ. We have hope because “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9), and God can be trusted to keep his promise (Hebrews 10:23).
But this salvation affects not only our spiritual lives, but all of our existence. Therefore, we cannot be discouraged by the alternate facts and the willful sin against God’s people. Believers must stir up the qualities of love and good works toward each other (Hebrews 10:24). Believers can have an impact on one another by loving and doing good deeds for each other. The fellowship of believers is a source of encouragement; it is an opportunity to share faith and grow stronger; promotes accountability; and it is the opportunity to worship and pray with others. Praising God through thanksgiving and through acknowledging His character and attributes is one of the best ways I know to break the bonds of willful sin.
Have you accepted Christ by faith and experienced a relationship with God that is only available through Christ, the Superior Priest? The world is temporary, but our life with God is eternal. Each day we must trust God and hold on to our faith and then share our faith with others. When we share our love for God, we can encourage others and introduce them to a new life through Christ.
Dr. Howard Anderson is celebrating 39 years in the gospel ministry—theologian/spiritual director and an Ordained Baptist minister. In his third year, he serves as an adjunct professor in biblical/theological studies for the Baptist University of the Américas. He is a certified spiritual counselor. He is currently serving as the Executive Director for the Community Churches for Social Action, Associate Pastor at the St. Paul Baptist Church, and Senior Vice President at the San Antonio Theological College.
La versión en español está disponible aquí.