BEEN KIND OF SLOW
The past week has been rather slow -- no debates, no real challenges, and I haven't been called a wacko-heretic-demonically-inspired-looser in days. Of course, that doesn't mean the emails have stopped with their objections and complaints from cult members who don't like CARM. But, that is okay. Besides, there are always many more expressing thanks. A LOT of people are letting me know how much the website has helped them. Consider this email I received today, "Let me first say that your site has been a tremendous help in making my witness stronger by the answering of "Bible difficulties" and the emphasis on logic in apologetics. Of course my personal walk with the Lord has been strengthened as well." Emails like this one are always an encouragement.
http://www.crossroadbibleinstitute.org is a website about prison ministry that is headed up by Dr. David Schuringa. Dave used to be my professor at Westminster Seminary and he pretty much kept me from dropping out of Sem. when things got tough. He is a godly and humble man who possess wisdom and a heart for God. Now, he heads up the Crossroad Bible Institute that helps educate prisons in Christianity. It is a very worthwhile effort. Please check out the site and take a look around. Who knows, maybe you can be used there.
SHORT BIBLE LESSON - FAITH
The Bible says this about faith: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," (Heb. 11:1, NASB). The dictionary says faith is "confident belief in the truth." These are great comments on faith. But, sometimes faith is best defined as "Just plain ole' hard!"
Have you ever been in a situation where your faith is really tested, I mean REALLY tested? Or have you ever wondered where God is in the mist of your difficulties even though you've been crying out to Him for deliverance and have seen none? Have you ever found yourself with no where to turn, no real answers, no light at the end of the tunnel? Have your heart and mind been filled with both anguish, doubts, fears, and commotion and faith seems more like a distant concept then present reality? I have and if you have been a Christian for very long, then you probably have too.
Why does God allow us to go through these desert times of the testing of our faith? Well, James tells us plainly, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing," (James 1:2-4, NASB). James knew what it meant to live by faith and he knew what it meant to have his faith purified. That's right, purified.
It is easy to have faith in God when we are sitting in our easy-chairs, in our air-conditioned homes, with our remote controls in one hand, and a bag of chips in the other. That kind of faith is easy. However, it leads nowhere -- except to the easy-chair. But, take it all away and you will find out what kind of faith you really have. Take away your comforts and your security and then what kind of faith will you have in God? You will quickly find out what you are really made of. Will you bemoan your circumstances and whine at God or will you turn to Him in the midst of your trial and, by faith, praise His name and continue to trust Him even beyond your ability to understand?
Real trials provide for us a rare opportunity to actually praise the Lord of Heaven when life is difficult. It is THAT kind of praise and faith that is pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). And, it is that kind of faith that builds your character (James 1:2-4).
Now, here is a little heresy for you from Matt Slick: Faith does not save you. Got that? FAITH DOES NOT SAVE YOU! Faith is not a substance that you put in a jar or detect with a meter. Faith isn't a cream you apply to protect you from something. Faith is belief, trust, etc. The key to understanding faith lies not in faith itself but in the OBJECT of faith: God! Faith is only as good as who you put it in. Faith in a false god (i.e., Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, etc.) is useless and it doesn't save you. But faith in the TRUE God DOES save you. You see? Faith is only as good as who you put it in. Faith in the true God results in salvation (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8). Faith in a false god results in damnation.
Finally, faith "works" because of who it is placed in. It is not a thing dependent upon you for its vitality. It is not made real by YOU. It is made real by WHO YOU PLACE IT IN, that is why true faith in the true God is independent of your circumstances. Romans 12:4 says that God gives a measure of faith to everyone. Okay, so what do you do with this measure of faith? During trials and tribulations do you withdraw it from your spiritual walk, whine and complain, only to be faithful again when things get more comfortable? Or, do you continue on in faith (because it is in the Creator of the Universe), in spite of your circumstance, and do exactly what the Bible says: "The just shall live by faith," (Hab. 2:4, NASB)? To live by faith means that you continue on trusting God because your faith is in HIM and not in your comforts, your health, your needs, your emotions, or your intellect. To live by faith means that you trust the Lord in all circumstances. In this, God is glorified.
Do you think that the God of Glory who died on the cross and rose from the dead is going to leave you or forsake you? He cannot. Therefore, your faith in Him is well placed. But remember, His perfecting of your faith sometimes requires you to actually live by it. Keep your eyes on Him and remember that His love and commitment to you was proven on the cross. That will make it easier to endure the times of perfecting your faith.
Summer is a slow time and this economy is in a crunch. However, the enemy doesn't let a slow economy stop his work. Can you help CARM out by sparing a $5 monthly deduction from your credit card? If so, please go to http://www.carm.org/goods/donations.htm. CARM needs your support. CARM is a valuable ministry. Please keep it in your prayers.
GOT A SUGGESTION FOR CARM OR THIS NEWSLETTER?
If you have suggestions for what you would like to see in this newsletter or for CARM, please return e-mail me and let me know.
VERSE OF THE WEEK.
Hebrews 12: 1-2,
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," (NASB).
Matt Slick, your missionary to the Internet.