Do we turn faith into a human work?

We must avoid the tendency to see our faith as what saves us, thus turning faith into a human work. For a related discussion (with a powerful illustration), watch the excerpt below from a You're Included interview with trinitarian theologian Dr. Elmer Colyer. 

Click here for more You're Included interviews and here for more excerpts.


  1. Anonymous10/16/2011

    Quite an interesting post. And it reminds me of Mark 11, which has a curious account about Jesus and a fig tree. You see, Jesus was hungry. But when He checked out a certain fig tree, He found no fruit on it because it wasn't the time of year for the tree to have figs. Nonetheless, Jesus cursed the tree.

    Not too much later, after some wild doings at the temple, Jesus and the disciples walked by that fig tree, which had become completely withered. Peter called this startling fact to Jesus' attention; whereupon Jesus said the following:

    Mark 11:22-24--"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will
    be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (NIV)

    But the truth be known, mountains don't move, at least the way we usually want them to. However, this fact does not stop the above passage from being used to pound Christians with the idea that they can squeeze out enough faith to move those mountains. It is all so sad and testifies to the fact that the real meaning of Mark's account is being missed.

    You see, Jesus was not trying to be the "great moral teacher" here. Instead, Jesus was pressing those pre-cross people up against the cross with the futility of their religiosity. This being so, Mark 11:22-24 is not a recipe for self-generated faith. It is, instead, a pre-cross taunt forcing those people, over time, to realize that they simply can't build enough faith to get the job done. This is in sharp contrast to Jesus' faith, which can, even when used casually, cause things to happen.

    So next time you hear the preacher admonish folks to work up enough faith to move mountains, please respond, at least in your mind, with, "Well, that is not going to happen anytime real soon in my life. But thankfully, it is not my faith that moves mountains. It is the faith of Jesus Christ that has already moved the mountains blocking my way to eternal life with God."

    All the best!

    J. Richard Parker

  2. Thanks for the comment Richard.

    I'm reminded of John Wesley's admonition to read the Bible's *commands* as *promises* - promises fulfilled not though our own effort, but through and in Jesus' incarnate life for us. This life we share, by faith in him, as his follower.

    And so the faith that Jesus commands us to have is not our own, but his. And, indeed, he has the faith (faithfulness) able to move mountains, should that be his Father's will.


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