Confessions to a believer

I don’t know if this reply came too late for you. But before I begin to share my views on your article, “Confession of a Believer,” I put forward this proposition: One must learn to inquire into the very heart of a worldview before he can give a final verdict.

Simply put, before judging an idea as inferior to another, we must make sure that we’ve read or heard or seen the best available information about the idea under scrutiny. My purpose in writing, then, is to help you come to grips with Christianity by providing a different perspective from what you may have heard or understood.

I do not claim to know everything, but after reading through your article, I realized that the Christianity you are trying to scrutinize is not the Biblical Christianity true believers know and follow as recorded in the Scriptures. Perhaps without intending it, your article is in fact aligned with criticisms of what is called “Pop Christianity”—a watered-down version of the faith taught by Christ Himself.

This variation of Christianity is no Christianity at all because it reduces the concepts of God, salvation, faith, sin, repentance and humanity among others into an oversimplification that detaches them from their Biblical foundations. Sad to say, many supposed believers embrace this variation because it is more convenient for them.

No longer do they hear emphases on the hard truths of man’s depravity, God’s justice and holy anger, a constant dying to self and carrying of one’s cross, of persecution and sacrifice to bring the Good News of Christ to a dying world.

Instead, Christianity for them has become simply a self-help philosophy. God is now a means to an end instead of being the end Himself. Their goal has become fame, honor, glory, health, wealth, and all the comforts of this world. Even if they do not explicitly say this, the mere fact that they hammer hard on God being “everybody’s own run-to guy” reveals that the self is at the center instead of God.  

Not to say that the Lord is depriving us with joy, but the point I’m making is that the Bible is unanimous in saying that spiritual and heavenly treasures far eclipse whatever this world can offer (Matthew 6:19-21). That is also the reason why Jesus came not as the conquering king of the Jews but as the suffering servant of the 

If we take a survey through the history of Israel, we will see that the Jews are waiting for a king who will restore the former glory of their kingdom. Salvation for them is limited to triumph against their worldly foes like the Babylonians. They are expecting the Messiah to rally His military might to overthrow their oppressors.

This is but the same attitude of Pop Christianity. God is a tool to achieve worldly purpose. But God has a far higher purpose than man. Whereas Israel wanted to make Jesus their king, He refused (John 6:14-15) because the Messiah knew that He was going to save them from a greater enemy—sin.

Why did God choose to save man from sin? Why not poverty or corruption or injustice? Because all these and all the evils in the world are but products, fruits of the sin nature in man. In essence, the greatest enemy of man is in himself, his fallen nature. Unless this is dealt with, there is no stopping the vicious cycle that plagues humanity.

I was once asked during my sophomore year, “What are Christians advocating for?” I will still give my answer then. Biblical Christianity believes that sin is the root of all the problems of society. As such, the only way to put things right is to put sin right. At the same time, if the greatest treasures are spiritual in nature, Christianity also believes that the most pressing problem is spiritual—our separation from God because of sin.

If we can put sin right, we can put our relationship with God right and all else will follow. But our dilemma is that we can’t put sin right on our own. Sin’s punishment hangs over our heads—eternal spiritual separation from God. In essence, we enter this world with a death sentence because we are born sinners. And because this world comprises of men and women under the curse of sin, it is also a fallen world, beyond earthly cure.

But out of this darkness, the Gospel shines ever brightly. What man cannot do because of his sin, God accomplished through the sinless Son. Our holy and sinless God cannot be in fellowship with sinful humanity. The chasm is fixed like that between shadow and light.

But in His mercy and grace, He came as a man, and bore upon Himself the punishment that was meant for us. “It takes God to please God.” That is why the cross is pivotal in Christianity. In it, the justice of God and His love were accomplished. In dying, He met His just punishment for sin. In dying, He showed us His love by sparing us from death.

This is what’s meant when we say God is personal. It’s not that one can transform Him into whatever one needs. He is personal because He brought Himself to us though we are unworthy, though He needs not to. He is a personal God because He experienced how it is to be human—except sin—and suffered the lowliest of deaths to bring us life everlasting.

Forgiveness, life and cleansing are summed up in the word salvation. This is a free gift which we need to individually receive by faith, not necessarily through a prayer, but by faith alone. But this faith is not simply a mental or an emotional affirmation. The faith that saves knows Jesus Christ and believes in Him; it trusts in Him as the only way to salvation, and surrenders to Him as Lord.

True faith also bears good works. Among the first that we may see is repentance or a conscious turning away from sin towards God. Know that even those who claim to be Christians may not be true Christians unless they exhibit the fruit of their salvation.

Faith is easy enough to profess, but its genuineness is shown in life. The true Christian is saved by grace through faith, and he proves his salvation by the good works that he does (Ephesians 2:8-10). Be careful, however, in trying to prove salvation through one’s own effort. When one is truly saved, the good he does springs not from his own strength but from God alone.

These good works will never add to one’s salvation, but they can prove its genuineness. If they spring from God because one is saved, these works will flow naturally. But if they are from self effort, no sooner will we witness a person losing interest in the faith he claimed to have. Know that this person is not saved.

God is the end Himself in Christianity. The highest pursuit of man is to know God, honor Him, love Him and glorify His Name because He is all in all. Everything else is peripheral. You may say I’m moving once more into abstractions of faith, but know this: Christ came to bring us to God because only when we know Him will we begin to understand His demand of love which always includes Him and our neighbors.

Christians may no longer be of the world, but God did not pluck them out of the world because through each believer, He brings spiritual healing which is the far greater need of humanity. And in case you’re not satisfied with my reasoning, take a cursory look at the world’s most active humanitarian groups and determine for yourself if Christianity has forgotten to help the oppressed and the needy.

This is the faith I profess. This is the faith my God has taught me through the Scriptures. This is the faith I am willing to surrender my all to. It is not empty and it saves.

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  1. Pau, did you send this to the author? Nonetheless, I affirm you for this. The article and your reply just made my day. God bless!