Sorry, no more waffling, here it is the question of the day:
Why is faith required for Salvation?
In my head, the brief (very) history of the redemption plan is this:
- God made a perfect world, humans were in perfect relationship with Him.
- Humans messed up and ruined it – we were separated from God.
- The huge gap between God’s holiness and glory and our sinfulness meant that we could no longer see God fully or be actually with Him in the fullness of His presence because we would simply die. (This is true – right?)
- God still wanted to be in relationship with His people so He chose a nation and set some guidelines for them on how they might be able to still be in relationship with Him - sacrifice, the holy of holies, the tabernacle, the ten commandments and covenant relationship etc etc. Namely the law.
- Skipping a whole load of "stuff" - the law was powerless to remove the sins of the people: "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Hebrews 10:1-4
- Jesus came to earth, became a man, lived a perfect life, and died for our sins, becoming the perfect sacrifice and therefore the fulfilment of the law.
- Now we are in a transient state. We have forgiveness of sins through Jesus, and can 'gain access' to the Kingdom of Heaven through faith in the son. But what we see now is only partial because the Son has not yet returned in all His glory. So we are still imperfect, and still do not experience the complete fulness of His glory (nor can we till we have been made perfect).
That is my understanding. My question is this:
If God is omnipotent - can do anything - why was he bound by the 'law' in the first place? Why did sin seperate us from Him? Why couldn't he just turn round and say sin can exist with holiness? (or more metaphorically - I choose that darkness and light can now exist together)?
Secondly, even if that is explainable, when Jesus died for our sins, why was that not the end of the story? Jesus sacrifice has enabled us to have a relationship with God again, why now make faith a requirement? Surely Jesus came to do away with requirements?
Basically, why make it so difficult? Not that He is not justified in doing so. I am not angry or frustrated that we have to have this faith, It is totally justifiable. He is God, and besides look at how much he has done for us! How can we even think about questioning some tiny little requirement He has of us? In a sense, I am not questioning it, more questioning why it is necessary.
We are told that God is able to do anything. This is a fundamental belief which I understand and agree with. We are also told that God really deeply desires a close relationship with us. (Something I struggle with a bit more as you know from my previous entries). If both of these are true, then why make it hard? why not make it easy? Why put an obstacle in the way?
John Ortbergs 'God is closer than you think' series talks a lot about how much God desires a relationship with us. How much He loves us. He uses the illustration of the picture in the Sistene chapel of God reaching out His arm, stretching out with His whole body trying to reach us, and all it requires is a little lift of our finger to meet His outstretched arm. Beautiful! BUT He is not bound by anything, He is God, He is not stretching out to His full capacity because that is infinite. He doesn't 'need' us to lift our finger, He could reach us anyway, and if that is what He so desires, then why doesn't He?
I know I have left out free will, but that little lift of our finger is not simply an exercise in free will - 'yes God I do want a relationship with you' - I exercise my free will and say 'yes please'. The 'little lift' often requires huge sacrifice, huge cost. Basically 'huge faith' (Huge is relative - i know its nothing in comparison to what we owe!)
Once again, I am not bitter about the need to have faith, I know it may sound like that but I am not. I am simply trying to work it all through in this logical brain of mine!