What you believe about Jesus Christ is vital. If you believe he is obligated to reward your faith with riches, perfect health, and a Hollywood lifestyle, you will be bitterly disappointed. If you imagine him angrily firing spiritual darts at sinful people 24/7, you will tend to be harsh and too critical of other people. And if you are convinced Christ is so cool and chill that he doesn’t really care how anybody lives on a day to day basis, you will most likely be an enabler, quietly encouraging others to delay in seeking the Lord.
So please make no mistake: good theology is essential for healthy Christian living. But sometimes we overlook the simple biblical truth that we are not saved by the facts we believe. Over the years I’ve known at least a couple of miserable church members who were quite well versed in the Bible. Both could quote Bible verses, but both were angry, critical, caustic individuals who hated others because of church politics. Their theology sounded right, but their lives made the Church of Jesus Christ look angry, corrupt, petty, unforgiving, and unloving. They could quote the words of Jesus, but clearly knew nothing of his Spirit or his transforming power. How does that happen?
In Mark 5:28 a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years comes to Jesus Christ for help. She knows little about him- almost entirely what she’s heard from others. She has concluded that if she simply touches the hem of his garment, she will be healed. Such an outcome is promised in neither the Law nor the Prophets. So it’s clear there’s a certain amount of superstition in what this suffering woman believes about Jesus Christ. But the power of that amazing Messiah reverses her illness and instantly restores her to health.
In John 9:17 Christ heals a man who was born blind. When the man is later asked his opinion about Christ, he replies, “I think he must be a prophet.” That’s not true. Christ is much more than a prophet- he is the long awaited Messiah. But this healthy man will be able to unpack all that theology over years of faith and study. When he first comes to Christ, he knows little more than the fact that he is a sinner and Jesus is a Savior. That’s what he’s counting on. The rest he will learn through the Spirit.
Sometimes we reach the strange conclusion that we are saved by the wonderful things we believe- about the people in the Bible, about the death of Christ, about the miracles of the New Testament. We accept all those things as facts, but – needless to say- Satan knows all those things are true. Believing the facts about God hasn’t helped the Devil at all! Why should it help you and me? Being able to embody the truth of Christ only happens when I meet Jesus Christ and he sends His spirit into my life.
True faith, childlike faith, is about trusting Christ so completely that we must go after him. I am so convinced that He is the Truth that I reach out to him, count on him, rise or fall by trusting him. I became a believer when I was five years old. All these years later, I have read the Bible through many times and have gained tons of insight into what God is like, what is true, and what is important for human life. I have a fuller and more complete theology than I could ever have imagined when I was five years old, but I was just as saved then as I am today.
Ideas are powerful, but they’re not powerful enough to pay for your sins. Only Jesus could do that. When we put our faith in Him, he will lead us to all truth and wisdom (John 16:13.) But when we first begin, it’s not about facts. It’s about faith in a particular person. A grain of that kind of faith even the size of a mustard seed can cast mountains into the sea and get sinners into the Kingdom of Heaven. The faith isn’t that great but the Savior is.
Lift up the Cross!