I’ve been thinking a lot about trust over the last few years. To be more precise, about what does it mean to trust in God. As some will know, since we moved to Ireland, we have been on a journey of coming into Catholicism from a Charismatic background. It was actually a very solid background and I am extremely grateful for the teaching and the solid foundation I received there. We also, after a few doubts along the way, are now as certain as we can be that our local Catholic church is where God wants us.
As expected, there are some differences in the way Catholics and protestants view salvation. I’m also still learning about this. The main one, that Jesus is the saviour, is the same. Contrary to what people have said to me, Catholics do not think they need to come to God through Mary or any other saints. They hold the saints and Mary in extremely high regard, but they do not view them as saviours. I’m not going to write any more on that at the moment.
But also, as I’ve fumbled and trodden this path we’ve been on for the past nearly four years. The path of coming to Ireland, the initial rush of new place, new journey, new adventure, fading into how do I do this life now we’re actually living here. Also, of course, combined with the pandemic which happened a year after living here. I’ve been questioning my relationship with Jesus at times. Do I actually believe in Him for my salvation? Do I trust Him with my life? What does it mean to actually be born again?
Don’t worry, fellow believers, yes, I believe I know Jesus and that He holds me tight. But! I also think it can be healthy to ask these questions. Wrestling with them, talking to God, letting Him correct your path where it needs correcting and walking with Him through it all.
One reason I know He is real is that (as my husband said last night), quite simply, He is real. His existence is actually a known, historic fact. He was real, he lived, died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven. There were many witnesses. All for us to come into relationship with our father God and have no barriers to knowing Him.
Another way I know He’s real and that I know Him is from experience. Some may argue against this, but I know, for a fact that He has changed me and continues to change me in such radical ways. I was a sinner and he took me and loved me and changed me. He made me so I no longer needed to sin, I do, but I don’t need to and don’t actually want to. He makes us quick to repent and come to Him and be changed. That’s one of the main differences.
The bible says that when we are in Christ, that we are made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I would say that we are ‘in Christ’ when we ‘confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe with our hearts that he was raised from the dead’ (Romans 10:9), believe in Jesus that He was given for us to believe in Him and have eternal life with Him (John 3:16), (edit – I’m adding the scripture – God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that all who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life). When we believe that He (Jesus) is the only way to God (John 14:6) ( ‘Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me’.)
1 John 2:2 also says ‘He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world’. Propitiation means he atoned for our sins, as in took the flack, the punishment. The Gospel Coalition in an article put it like this “averting the wrath of God by the offering of a gift.” That gift being Jesus, once and for all.
So when we come into this life of knowing Him, our sins, the stuff we have done wrong is atoned for, we are made right with God. We are forgiven. As such He has freed us from the ties of sin, He has purified us, set us free and therefore able to live lives that honour him because of what He has done. He came to set us free from sin, not confirm us in our sins. I also believe the whole argument that often happens over faith vs works is a non argument as far as I am concerned. If you have faith, you will have works.
I’ll leave James 2:14-26 here….
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Basically, as far as I can see it. It’s just all very logical, if you have faith, as I said above, you will have works. I just want to add as well, just because we, as humans, don’t see them in others, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. We exist to please God, not brag about our good deeds.
Aren’t we a funny lot, we christians? We should be some of the most encouraging people on earth, but for some reason we often aren’t. We withhold praise, we ignore things, we have a thing about being hypercritical if anyone posts anything to do with God. (Which is why I get nervous about publishing something like this). When God is for us, and if we love Him completely and utterly, we can’t really go far wrong. (Don’t be fake though).
This is a terrible confession, but this is another way in which I know he is real. In the past, quite a while ago now, when things have happened I’ve thought ‘I’m going to renounce Him, He’s let this happen, therefore I’ll say He isn’t real, I’ll walk away’. I know, terrible, but probably more common than people confess. But the thing is, when it came to the crunch, I just couldn’t. Because, and this is the thing, I just ‘know’. I just know He is real and that He is there and that He loves me and sent Jesus to die for me/us and be resurrected. Because he cares for me. So one of the reasons it is so difficult to explain faith is because once you come to know Him. You just know in your knower that He is real and that all this is real.
It’s all so beautiful.