Object of Faith

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 ESV]

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. [Philippians 1:6 ESV]

Faith always has an object. Even when we turn away from something we must turn toward something else. In every circumstance we are moving toward the object of our faith. Faith’s object draws and attracts and compels the person to move forward approaching the object with a steady pace and deliberate intent. It is the object which has shown itself desirable and trustworthy.

But, what happens when we discover the object of faith is not desirable and trustworthy?  What happens when we see the evidence of the hollow promise and the devious intent to enslave and destroy? Do we not find another object and turn toward it?  We may face every which way at one time or another first placing faith in this object and then that one only to discover the evidence of empty promises until  we are overcome with despair. Until we decide even if the  empty promise is a lie we have to face some direction and move toward some object in order to keep control.

Is there an object upon which we can have faith which is not a lie? Faith’s object cannot be a thing. Faith’s object must be a person with whom we may have a relationship, knowing both intellectually and intimately and growing in that knowledge. Yet, first the person must recognize the lie and  desire truth, then realize the consequences of the lie and the consequences of knowing truth. There is only One upon whom faith has substance. Turning away from sin toward another sin does not substantiate faith. Turning away from sin toward God opens the conduit of faith. God must be the Object because no other object is capable of fulfilling the promises of faith guaranteed by faith. No other object is trustworthy.

With the constant tug and pull from sin, the object of our affections before being called by God and turning away from sin demands the refocusing of our attention. Jesus gives, to some a not so obvious progression of events through which the Christian must move to achieve the goals of the kingdom. Sin, by its very nature, fights against the goals of the kingdom and seeks to make the Christian ineffective in achieving these goals.

Here is a quick recap of the first two elements Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount.

In the first element of this progression the Christian must exercise their minds by believing the evidence of sin. Once sin is recognized comes a realization of the consequences of sin, which is separation from God, who gives and sustains life. Thus, those who are poor in spirit are moved to mourning over their total depravity, their inability to do anything to attain a righteous standing before God. Mourning is the emotional part of the human condition, created in the image of God. Next is the will. There must be a willful relinquishing of control of self over to God. Faith changes the object from self to God, from sin to God.

Faith is the conduit through which God delivers everything the citizen of His Kingdom needs to live in a world which hates Him and them. There is nothing else which will give the necessary tools to live a righteous life. Having faith in an object other than God means continued rebellion, self-righteousness and rejection of God’s just judgment against sin. In order for faith to function the will of the citizen must come completely under God’s control.

There are many characteristics which define the object of faith. Failure in any one of these characteristics destroys faith because the object cannot fulfill its obligations. Some of these characteristics include action, promise, protection and direction. There are other characteristics but we will focus on these first.

Before there was anything there was God and He acted. In creation He built eternity and the Universe in which we live. He created in minute detail every atom in the Universe and set them in motion where they are, were, and will be. He did much of this before He created Man in His image. Since part of the image of God is Man’s intelligence the evidence of God’s action is readily apparent. Man intellectually understands the evidence of God’s work because he is built to see and know God. It takes fervent rebellion to not see what God has done and imagine what He can do.

Though made in the image of God Man rebelled in Adam which caused the detaching of that relationship. Nothing man does can reestablish this severed relationship. It is broken and bent, corrupted and poisoned beyond repair. Sin must be judged by a righteous and just God and the sentence for sin is the separation of the rebel from God. Except God promised Man His Son, God Himself, would pay the penalty and suffer the sentence demanded by God because of the violation of His moral law. God’s promise demands each person believe God has done what He said He would do, trust He will fulfill His promise and then obey Him. Once again, trust is an emotional response to the Objects ability to deliver what is promised. Man is uniquely given the ability to trust because of God’s image. Yet, rebellion corrupts the image making it impossible for man to trust God.

Think about God’s original intent for Man which is His eternal purpose. God created Man perfectly built to do something he can no longer do. This dichotomy conflicts all men and drives them either toward God or away from Him. Think of a tool built to do a specific function used in such a way to destroy its ability to do that function. A screwdriver whose blade is dulled or bent. A socket wrench whose inside is stripped. A man who is meant to worship, glorify and enjoy God, who, because of the corruption of sin, cannot.  Man is not a tool.

I realize much of this is foreign thinking. Few have said knowing God intellectually and intimately is natural to Man because all of the evidence screams against it. Those in complete rebellion against God demand there be no connection. There is a connection, a spot of God in a corrupt being which cannot be explained away, but can be ignored. Our image reflects His image. When critically examined, no naturalistic explanation may exclude God without violating, even destroying, that explanation. Refusing to examine, with the head and the heart, will not make Him cease to exist. Wishing something true not true is close to insanity.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. [Philippians 2:12-13 ESV]

God image in Man is found both in the spiritual person and in the soul of the person. It is not physical. We cannot define the spiritual. We can define elements of the soul. Three of these elements are the mind, emotions and will. Being poor in spirit engages the mind. Those who mourn engage the emotions, which help interpret the moral law of God. Meekness is an activity of the will.

You ask, how is meekness something done by will power alone? Do not jump to conclusions based upon faulty, incomplete thinking. Do not detract from or add to Jesus’ teaching. His purpose  in placing “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” here is intentional, deliberate. Meekness is part of the process of being a citizen of His kingdom. It is not a characteristic smiled upon by the world. This statement, like the previous  two statements and all of Jesus teaching has the opposite outcome from the teaching of the world. Jesus’ teaching is diametrically opposed to everything taught and believed in the world.

One of the phrases used to define the Greek word translated “meek” is a “disposition of gentleness” or “humility”. Like the word meek these phrases carry worldly baggage which weakens them and our understanding of them. Do not think any longer the word meek means something weak or spineless. Meekness is strength controlled. Meekness is the activity of the will in directing strength in a manner which promotes the Kingdom of God and brings Him glory. Shake off any other silly, worldly notion of meekness. It is not what you think.

We are intellectually and intimately capable of having faith in the true Object. He has all of the qualifications for the Object of faith because He determined what they are. To place one’s faith in an object other than God is an act of willful rebellion and idolatry. Saying anything other than God can fulfill His purpose displaces Him as the center, which is His rightful place. Replacing Him with anything else says we are not as He created us and that His image in us is either not true or changed.

Faith, the conduit through which God delivers all we need to live as a citizen of His kingdom in this world is clogged. Not at His end but at ours. Sin has stopped up, not God’s ability to deliver but our ability to receive. God, the Object of faith, remains true. It is the subjects who cannot receive what is offered and delivered through a faith which is false.

Since faith is only the conduit we must recognize the difference between what is delivered, or offered for delivery, what is promised, and the vessel through which it is delivered.

Salvation is the primary example. God acted by sending His Son to die for our sins, He taking the sin of the world upon His shoulders and we being given His righteousness. God acted by raising His Son from the dead, by seating Him in the heavens where He continually intercedes on behalf of those who are His. God promises He will apply Christ’s Righteousness to us and our sin to Him. The evidence is the life, death and resurrection of His Son. Since God is God, and there is no other, His word is completely trustworthy. We cannot see how God does this. But, the evidence He has done what He promised is substantial and convincing. We must trust He will keep His promise. We believe the evidence of His resurrection which supports the trustworthiness of the promise. Now we must do something. We must act in obedience to the command of God. Remember, obedience to a command given by a Master to His slave or bondservant carries no merit. Nothing is earned. Nothing is owed. Obedience is expected.

We can actively obey God or continue in active rebellion. Faith is receiving and using the tools God gives to actively obey Him in a world which actively hates Him. Meekness takes ownership of this responsibility while watching as God’s strength works in and through me while under His control.

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