• Christian Faith

    Christian Faith
    by Gerald L. K. Smith

    I am a Christian. How do I know? Because I have embraced the fundamentals of Christian faith. In this modern, western world especially, most human beings are exposed to the question, "Are you a Christian?" The answer is either yes or no.

    It is not a complex matter. It is not something that involves philosophical procrastination. One faces the established claims of Christianity and then either embraces them or declines to accept them. Below I list with brief comment the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Anyone who accepts this summary need not hesitate to say, "I am a Christian."


    Out of the experience of man, the literature of the Church, including the Bible, and the obvious realities of life, comes an undeniable fact. This universe was created, this universe is maintained and the name for the Creator as revealed in the Scripture is: "In the beginning God." The attributes, characteristics and nature of God can so intrigue the mind of man that there is no limit to the expansive discussion that can be built around the fact that God is the Creator and God is a personality. How could a Creator produce personalities without Himself possessing those attributes? No man can be lifted into a proper relationship to time, space and existence in general without the firm realization that he is constantly in the presence of his Creator—God Almighty.


    The literature of faith, the mysterious foundation of academic and inspired understanding of man's relation to his Creator and the universe is the Holy Bible. Books, volumes and whole libraries have been written by men of research and understanding establishing the fact that this volume of miraculously preserved sacred literature has been destined to be the textbook for man's understanding of his God and himself as well as his fellow man and the universe in general. Christianity has built itself around numerous fundamentals, one of which is indeed the firm belief that the Holy Bible is a revelation of the word of God. Our Creator has revealed Himself in many ways, but a description of and an understanding definition of these revelations, regardless of how mysterious and inexplainable they may be in the human intelligence of man can be defined and explained within the pages of Holy Scripture. Skeptics, atheists, cynics, infidels and intellectual sophisticates so-called have used a thousand formulas in a desperate attempt to destroy the influence of the Holy Bible, but it remains the most used, understood and vital piece of literature known to the human race. The Bible is indeed the textbook of Christianity. It is, in fact, the word of God.


    In the apex of His career, Christ said: "No man can come unto the father but by me." This lays it down without even the remote possibility of uncertainty. At another time, He said: "I am the door of the sheepfold. He that climbeth up any other way is a thief and a robber." To accept this clear, concise ultimatum is to be represented to the world by certain cynics and off-beat egotists as slaves of dogmatism and victims of bigotry. The fact of the case is that a Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ, and a Christian is one who believes that Jesus Christ speaks with full authority as the Son of God, the revealer and interpreter of the personality of our Creator. Once this is accepted, we have no choice but to obey His will and to accept the finality of His pronouncements. That is why He said to the Apostle Peter: "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." What was this rock? It was Peter's restatement of the fundamental of Christian faith; namely, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." It becomes natural, therefore, for the believer who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God to assume that when one receives Jesus Christ, he solves the problems of his life as they relate to the terrestrial as well as the celestial—the mortal as well as the immortal. Anyone who thinks he has the right to call himself a Christian while at the same time denying the proclamations of Christ, or questioning their authority, is only indulging in self-deception.


    The complexities of this universe are so fantastic and the cross-currents of life are so uncertain that no man can develop the intelligence necessary to cope with one hour of this life let alone the ordinary span. If we were to assume the wisdom of life could be written down in a book, what human being would have time to read that book, or those books, or the thousands of volumes which would be required before going to work in the morning, or in relationship to his general responsibilities during the day, or a lifetime. When one reflects on the millions and billions of things there are to know which involve our safety, our wisdom in general our understanding of life, our planning for the future, and our fulfillment of routine responsibilities—when one reflects on this complex circumstance, he realizes his complete helplessness unless he can exploit the wisdom of God, make himself conscious of God's revelation and accept the great promise of Christ who said: "I will send you my spirit. He will guide you." As time passes, and the older I grow, the more convinced I become that there is no limit to the accomplishment of man if he will, in the will of God and via his expressed faith in Christ, accept the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit—the divine chaperone. A complete commitment to this spiritual reality will melt walls and straighten roads and fulfill needs beyond the imagination of man, and as Paul says, "Even if we have the faith of a grain of mustard seed."


    A constructive letter from a believing friend not long ago tended to rebuke me for saying, "I have a soul." He rightfully said, "You must not say, 'I have a soul'—you must say, 'I am a soul.'" Once one accepts this fact as revealed in Scriptures in the account of creation, he becomes aware of the fact that he is an indestructible creature. He has the potentialities which can make him immortal, eternal and everlasting. As the Scripture reveals: "And he became a living soul." If God should ever decide to quicken the soul for everlasting existence without the acceptance of Jesus Christ, that would be God's business because He is all powerful, and He can make any decision harmonious with His wisdom; but as things now stand, the words of Christ and the revelations of Holy Scripture compel us to accept the sacred formula; namely the key to heaven, the formula for immortality, the ultimate realization of eternal values depends upon our full acceptance of Jesus Christ in what we confess, and how we repent and in the full obedience of His great commission when He said: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be condemned." This simple commission, this unqualified command may be ignored by cynics, atheists and materialistic egotists, but without it and without its fulfillment, there is no such thing as Christianity.


    Disobedience to the will of God regardless of how that disobedience is defined invariably brings natural guilt. Guilt is a complex which develops among human beings whether Christianity is known or unknown. It is the pain of the soul which comes when man reflects on the contrast between his conduct and the perfections of life. As the laws of God are transgressed, and the natural will of the Creator violated, man soon discovers that it is impossible to retrace his steps. The people he injures and the infractions of divine law which he practices cannot be repaired. Injured people who have been the victims of one's inadequacies pass on and can no longer be compensated. This intensifies the sense of guilt and invites into the soul of man the hunger for forgiveness. The hunger for forgiveness cannot be satisfied except via the consideration of one who has the authority to forgive. Nothing is more beautiful in the Christian faith, nothing is more rewarding when one accepts Jesus Christ as the son of God and obeys Him as required than the idea of forgiveness. "Thy sins be forgiven." The simple proclamation of the angel to the Blessed Virgin who gave birth to the Son of God stands out in bold relief as we repeat it: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save the people from their sins." Sin becomes the mother of death, and man becomes the painful victim of his worst enemy—death. St. Paul says, "The last enemy to be overcome is death." This victory over death was confirmed, proclaimed and personified in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and defined in the Scripture, "As in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive."


    It was never the intention of God that we stand around on one foot in holy procrastination, waiting for the return of Christ, or longing for the establishment of the kingdom of God, or waiting to participate in the new phase of life sometimes referred to as "heavenly existence." These beautiful anticipations constitute a part of our faith, but it is the intention and desire of God that while we are on probation, waiting for the completion of His will in our mortal lives, that we shall be abundant in our personal lives, adding to our faith virtue, and to our virtue knowledge, and to our temperance brotherly kindness, and to our brotherly kindness love. He says, "If these abound in you, ye shall not be barren nor unfruitful." And in another place we read: "By their fruits ye shall know them'? It is impossible for me to imagine a human being who accepts the personality of God, the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, the divinity of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the immortality of the soul, the forgiveness of sin—it is impossible for me to imagine a person accepting and fulfilling these attributes of faith without the desire to be good, decent, valuable and fruitful in his personal life. In fact, the whole world, even those outside the kingdom of Christ, have grown to require that Christian men and women be good men and women, not "goody goody," which is my definition of sanctimonious hypocrisy, but good, solid, decent and wholesome. These attributes should characterize a Christian, or they should at least be a part of his inspired ambition. This does not suggest that Christianity is limited to the perfect. Our imperfections constantly remind us of the necessity of God, and they invite the presence of His Holy Spirit as revealed in Jesus Christ. No matter how noble our intentions may be, no matter how abundant we want our personal lives to be, we must not become self-righteous egotists. As St. Paul says, "When ye think ye stand, take heed lest ye fall."

    These are the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Without them, no man can be a Christian. He many be a moral man. He may be a valuable citizen. He may be an intelligent human being. Whether he lives in China, or Germany, Texas or Russia, but unless he accepts these fundamentals of faith he has no honest right to call himself a Christian.

    Time and space does not permit me to summarize the by-products of Christian faith. There are many bypaths and "pleasant walks" in this contemporary 'Garden of Eden' which we call Christian faith which no man can describe. Furthermore every believer has his own unique experience involving the healing of the body, the growth of the soul, and the development of the human personality. The universality of the name of Christ with its unique appeal to a five-year-old girl as well as a profound scholar is one of the miracles of our faith. While a little girl and a little boy with smiling countenances sing "Jesus Loves Me This I Know," and while they seem to find complete satisfaction in this simple faith, men of great character and integrity and profoundness who have mastered uncounted books and have persued the philosophies of time come back to the warm reality that time and circumstance have not given us any substitute for the fundamentals of our Christian faith.

    Christianity is like pure water, bubbling from a cold spring in the heat of the day. It seems as good to a college professor as it does to the man who ploughs the corn in the field. It is the element of life. It is as universal as the sunshine, as fundamental as water, and as real as life itself.
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