You may have realized that these words – faith and righteousness have been a re-occurring theme in many religious circles. And just like most doctrinal bases, they are often prone to been skewed, modified, abridged and diluted.
What exactly do those words mean?
Christian fundamentalists, from the late 19th to early 20th centuries have always had a knack for appending a literal deduction to the Bible.
For those not in the mood for theological jargon, you can understand it this way – Christian fundamentalists are akin to Republicans. You can call them right-wing Christians. They have a brash, sometimes rash and direct way of affirming their doctrinal basis especially when they feel the ‘literality’ of the bible is being questioned.
As you go along with me, you will see where I am going.
Fundamentalism doesn’t give room for questioning. You must just believe!
“No Sir, just believe”.
Trying to ask a question may make you and I become candidates of the “heretic” tag.
This lack of asking questions has strengthened many anti-Christian groups – the atheists, the agnostics, and such likes into seeing Christians – true Christians as dummies, without room for logic.
You may be wondering: what kind of questions have been apparently left unanswered for ages?
I present this question to you:
“A fundamental (not fundamentalist) doctrine of the Christian faith is that only those saved by Jesus Christ will be accepted in heaven. What about people who were born before Christ, where will they go?”
Okay, can we put on a garb of ‘unfundamentalism‘ now?
Go through the following points and conclude with me where those people will go, and what faith behooves we – contemporary folk.
#1 Confidence in someone is always put in the context of Faith
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint – Proverbs 25:19
One virtue of God’s character is that he seeks a collaboration with man. He is the auto-democratic God. But how does he ‘collabo‘ with someone he doesn’t have confidence in. In other words from the verse above, it will be a “limping collabo“.
Now, if you want to apply the fundamentalist principle, you may make the mistake of inferring that, “yea, but before God collaborates with a man, the man must be a ‘prepared’ vessel”. No.
“Collaboration” is a principle. Just like planting a seed. There is no ‘fundamentalist’ requirement to be met.
In the Bible, God worked ‘collabo-ed’ with several ‘wonderful’ characters who weren’t up to any human standard. What is that human standard? A level of righteousness. Created by man, for man.
Therefore, before Jesus, a faithful man was always seen by God as someone to be confided in. Someone to be related with. Not because of his ‘goodness’ but because of his faith.
Take for an instance the story of Joseph. You might remember the incident in Genesis 42 when the went to buy food in Egypt. Joseph was intentionally brash on them and told them they won’t buy any food again until he sees Benjamin.
Do you know what happened? Amazing.
His other brothers pleaded with Jacob, their father, at length! Jacob didn’t budge. It wasn’t until Genesis 43:9, Judah said,
I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. That is what Faith does.
Faith moves. Faith takes responsibility. Faith isn’t affected by age or years of spirituality. Faith is being.
See what Jacob told Reuben: “Unstable as water, thou shall not excel”.
Because he couldn’t reach a minimum standard of faith, especially as the first born son.
The idea is, before Jesus came, God was always pleased in someone he could place confidence in. Someone who could go on with a resounding faith, responding as needed in the heat of the moment.
Such people have hope of being in heaven at last.
#2 You may be a righteous man but without faith
It is very possible.
It is better not to have righteousness and stand by faith, than to have righteousness without faith.
Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? – Ecclesiastes 7:16
We started this topic by talking about Christian fundamentalism – one extreme.
The other extreme is Christian Liberalism. These are the leftists. They don’t subscribe to the rigidity of Christian Fundamentalism. And just like most doctrinal schools, they always present a problem – the problem of ‘illogicality’.
Liberal Christians say, “Christ has paid the price for our salvation“. When the person falls into a sin, they say, “we are looking unto Christ’ righteousness“. Then when it comes to tithing, they say, it is a commandment that MUST be obeyed.
“I thought I was operating under Christ’s righteousness?”, you ask. “No”, they say, “we still have a duty to do to attain the standard God wants”. You may likely stand there nonplussed.
The idea? Those who didn’t have any ‘Biblical’ awareness but maintained a certain ‘Faith’ to someone higher than they have hope.
#3 It is Faith that Honors God, Not Righteousness
Where did we hear about the righteousness of Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego? Did they fetch water for an old woman somewhere?
Was it recorded that they gave alms to the poor or fasted twice a week for 20 years?
People may regard us as people who are righteous, but our inactions make us faithless.
How do I mean by inactions?
There is always a time of proving whether or not we stand for what is right. What makes this a faith action? It is a faith-based action because we may or may not think about the consequences – the repercussions of those actions. We just go ahead and do them – as far as we are convinced that it is morally correct.
Take for instance the words Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego spake to King Nebuchadnezzar. They said, “Oh King, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter”. In other words, “Oh King, we respect you, but we are thoroughly convinced of our position”.
Another instance you could very well remember is John the baptist. He told Herod, “It is not good that you should kill your brother and be married to his wife”.
What’s the point?
Many ‘righteous’ people in these contemporary days won’t do that. They will say, “The Bible said we should pray for those in authority”, “hush hush, don’t say anything”. So many inactions in the so-called church. Everyone is mute for fear of being maligned. Is that righteousness? It may be, but it isn’t faith.
Faith is the casing of truth, it fears no one, and it fears nothing. Speak out for what isn’t right, and you will find yourself honoured by God.
Was David a righteous man? I think not. Why? He was still inhibiting a grudge against a fellow man, ON HIS DEATHBED! Was that a sign of righteousness? No, but his was a life of faith. Goliath, remember?
Don’t be rendered inactive in the face of evil.
What is the idea? Pre-Jesus, those who deed extreme deeds of faith will be honored by God. And what honor is more exclusive than heaven?
Finally, the last point,
#4 It is faith that is accounted for righteousness
“Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness”
Was Abraham a Jew? No. He was a gentile. How did he know God was God? The answer is……he believed!
That is the most difficult thing to pull off.
“Hey, Mr. Man, get up from where you are and go to where I will show you”. And he got up and went! No squabbles, no qualms. How is that?
What is the idea? Those who had absolute faith in God without actually knowing who God was, will be counted for righteousness.
Their deeds and lifestyles made God confident in them. Also made God honour them, because he honors whomever honors him. It will finally be what God counts unto them for righteousness.
This is coming to those asking questions without doctrinal affiliations. Let our faith rise high and beyond any form of righteousness, so that we could live lives that are honored by God.
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