Christians, Beware of Misplaced Faith

As I type these words, I’ve recently finished reading another chapter of By Their Blood by James C. and Marti Hefley. This tome contains hundreds of accounts of martyrs throughout the twentieth century.

(I intend to write more about this book when I review it properly, Lord willing before the end of April.)

I began the 600+ page journey with a false assumption. I was caught by surprise to learn that the authors told the stories of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox martyrs in the same way as they wrote about Evangelical Believers of the Gospel.

 

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Okay, so I’m going to insert a disclaimer before I continue any further. I’m no expert in the theology of the various churches, nor am I learned in church history.

But.

According to my understanding of things, a Catholic or Orthodox “Christian” can have a saving relationship with God where Christ is their personal Lord and Savior… but, given their works-based salvation it’s not generally the case nor is it true of the official Catholic and Orthodox teaching.

The Bible teaches that salvation is not by works but by grace…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9

And that the way to the Father isn’t church attendance or Biblical knowledge, but Jesus Himself:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-John 14:6

This made a book about martyrs significantly sadder than it already was. For the martyred Believer who dies in Christ, their death is their victory! Their “end” is bitter but also sweet as earthly trials give way to unspeakable joy. But try to describe how great a tragedy it is for those who die for a faith in something besides Christ.

The book I’m reading, By their Blood, includes stories of countless monks, nuns, and priests. I can’t say whether or not each was in a saving relationship with Christ when he or she died. But if their faith was in their works – if they were counting on their good deeds to save them – their plight went from bad to infinitely worse as they faced their Judge without a Savior.

I’m not talking about faithless people, here.

These martyrs were incredibly devout individuals who went to the extreme to prove their faith. The issue is not the amount of faith, but rather what – or Whom – our faith is in.

If you’ve read this far through a post about faith, chances are you consider yourself a faithful person. But what is your faith in?

Good works? Church attendance? Church involvement? An active prayer life? Consistent Bible reading? Good reputation? Healthy relationships? A rich bank of biblical knowledge? Spiritual feelings?

Let’s remember the words of Jesus:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

-Matthew 7:22-23

Let’s check ourselves again against the standard of Truth which is the Word of God and be sure that we aren’t misplacing our faith.

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12 thoughts on “Christians, Beware of Misplaced Faith

  1. Faith and works… I think this is a confusing subject for us sometimes. We are saved by GRACE not by works. But since we’re saved by grace we should desire to do things for Jesus. We should understand of course that our works don’t save us, but when we are saved by grace then often we want to serve Jesus because of our love for Him.

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    1. Well put, and definitely something we need to revisit often given our (human’s) tendency to use good deeds as a means to make up for our bad deeds. Have you ever written a post about it?

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      1. I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about that. I’ve written things concerning faith and not faith and works together. Something to think about writing sometime though 🙂

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      2. It’s an age-old discussion that was relevant way back in the Early Church. I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on it if ever you felt the Lord tugging you in that direction.

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    2. Actually since you mentioned that I’ve begun to think about it writing a post on it. I think I may write a post on it for Tuesday’s post – so you can be on the lookout 🙂

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  2. I can’t say I’ve ever read a book that put Catholics/orthodoxs in the same group as Christianity as we understand it. That would be interesting, and perhaps a little confusing.

    I find this topic really hard, to be honest, because there are so many people who put their faith in works and deeds, and yet they’re so sincere. They’re good people. They have a form of belief – they’re doing everything they know to be right. How much does God wink at ignorance? I guess we’re talking about a saving relationship here, so it’s not something God can save in spite of! But I don’t know. I have extended family who are Catholic, so that’s why this hits close to home. Thanks for the reminder though, and I’m interested to hear your further thoughts on the topic! xx

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    1. Yes, very confusing! It hits close to home for me, too. My dad grew up in a Catholic family and both his parents are Catholic. When asked whether his mum has a saving relationship with God, my mum says yes and my dad says no. Ultimately, I think none of us can really know for sure except God Himself, and He judges according to His perfect wisdom. I honestly don’t know what our role is, though. Are you very close to any of your Catholic family members? Has the difference in your beliefs ever lead to good conversation?

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      1. Ah, you understand perfectly then! My mum grew up Catholic so it’s her family, especially her parents, I’m talking about. Yes, that’s what I have to come back – God is the perfect judge, and He knows. But it’s hard to not be sure.

        I am close to my grandparents, but it’s not a subject that’s brought up very often – we mention things we have in common, but don’t have deep conversations or discuss differences. They have become very respectful and even appreciative of our beliefs, but their loyalty is staunchly with their church. I don’t know. I would really like to have an open discussion with them about it, because I don’t fully understand their perspective, and I’m sure they don’t ours either. Maybe I should be praying for that opportunity! Do you have opportunity to discuss these things with your grandparents?

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      2. Our conversation is ringing a bell. I think we may have talked about our similar situations with our Catholic grandparents before.

        I don’t feel very close to my dad’s parents. I don’t doubt their love for me or mine for them, but we haven’t spent much of life together and sometimes our relationships seem shallow. I’ve tried reaching out by initiating deeper conversation with my grandma, but it’s been a while. Maybe I should try again soon; I feel this is something worth persisting in. I feel a bit out-of-place (being the granddaughter) to be the initiator in this, but perhaps it’s just an excuse – as there seems always to be an excuse within grasp when something is hard – and by God’s grace I can overcome it.

        As well as being close to your grandparents, do you also see them often? I pray that the Lord will give you grace to act wisely and lovingly, and that conversation will flow naturally as you love them with God’s love.

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  3. Well about mislead faith the Bible itself says that “the wolf will come in the form of sheep and mislead you” so there are many times when people, situations, circumstances can mislead you but be firm and stand in your faith which has answers to all your problems.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog! Yes, Jesus says that. (Your quote is either a paraphrase or a Bible translation that I’m not familiar with, but I understand you’re referring to a verse in Matthew 7, which is very true and insightful!)

      And indeed, I would exhort a wavering believer to stand firm in their faith, which may not always answer all our problems, but oh how wonderfully does it put them into perspective and turn our eyes back to our Savior!

      Thanks again for your comment. May I call you by your name or would you prefer to stay anonymous?

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