Building a Secure Faith-title

    One of the most common challenges posed to me on the e-mails we get is the question of how to build a dynamic faith that makes a difference and equips one to deal with the challenges of life. There are so many things in life that can cast doubt on a person’s belief system — hypocrisy in church leaders, claimed errors or illogical stories in the Bible, new discoveries that seem to contradict the Bible, stupid explanations by people who represent the Bible, human suffering and personal tragedy, sexual temptation, the seeming success of people who have no belief in God at all, boredom and lack of doing anything at church, bad attitudes and judgmental spirits among Christians, etc., etc., etc. It is no wonder that church attendance is at low levels and that doubt and apathy towards the Church are high in our country.
    It is ironic that with all of those things going on, there is more reason to believe and there are more tools to build a dynamic working faith than ever before on this planet. We CAN be convicted Christians whose faith can sustain us through the hard times in life. We do not have to be wavering, insecure, wishy-washy people whose lives and work are awash in doubt and inactivity. What we would like to do in this discussion is to make some practical suggestions about how to build a secure faith.


Three heads   
Lord Kelvin, the great British thermodynamicist once said, “If you study science deeply enough and long enough it will eventually convince you there is a God.” That statement is even more true today than it was in Kelvin’s time. We now have tools that enable us to see further out into space with great visual acuity. We have microscopes that can see smaller things than could even be imagined in Kelvin’s day. We have come to understand that there is a whole new set of physical laws which govern the world of the very small — quarks, mesons, neutrinos, and dark energy. We now understand the incredible complexity of the genetic material that comprises living things, and we have been able to map our own genome and in doing so to get a picture of how complex life really is. I had a fellow science teacher who used to tell his biology classes, “Science is about trying to understand how God has done what He has done.” Our theories are frequently off base, and sometimes in the early stages of a theory it may appear that the theory is at odds with what God has told us. microscopeThe lesson of history is that when the research finally bears fruit and we come to an understanding of what really happened, we find that the facts are 100 percent in agreement with what the Bible actually says (not what a theologian may say it says).
    Real scientists understand the limitations of what they do. For us Christians there should be an insatiable thirst to learn more about the creation and to see what the handiwork of God is all about. Chemist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer III said it well, “The significance and joy in my science comes in those occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, ‘So that is how God did it.’” Albert Einstein said, “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe — a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” He also wrote, “In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.” (See more on page 20.)
    Approaching science with religious fear and trepidation is destructive to scientific learning and to faith. We should not fear facts or evidence, and should grow in our awe and appreciation of the creation around us, This is one of the main objectives of the Does God Exist? ministry. There are also excellent materials available from other Christian apologists who do the same thing. We review their books from time to time in this journal, and it is important for people to build a library of positive Christian apologetic works. We have mentioned people like William Lane Craig, Douglas Jacoby, John Oakes, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Ross, to name just a few.


    It is a fact that if you tell somebody something often enough, he will usually believe it. Children who have been told they are worthless or unable to learn all through their childhood, will come into a classroom convinced that they cannot learn the material. This is an issue every public school classroom teacher faces on a daily basis. Young people who attend churches or have elementary school teachers who denigrate science two crackpotswill enter adulthood very jaded about any scientific claim. Young people who have grown up in an environment that denigrated the Bible and ridiculed and villainized preachers and church leaders will very likely be jaded about religion. A large percentage of atheists, especially those operating on the Web, fall into this last classification. Many creationists fall into the former one. It is important not to immerse yourself in either group’s materials. Even people like Richard Dawkins, who is a very good biologist, can have a most unfortunate and inaccurate view of God, religion, and the Bible.
    It is important to our physical health to have a balanced diet. I had a friend who had cancer and went on a diet that involved eating nothing but carrots and drinking nothing but carrot juice. Her skin actually turned the color of a carrot due to the massive amount of carotene she was ingesting. Reading nothing but wild, uninformed atheist propaganda about God and about the Bible can turn a person into a nonbeliever. Reading extremist religious material and nothing else can badly distort our ability to understand the issues and the evidence that is available. It is vital that we look at the credentials of the people we are reading. We must distinguish between people who have an ax to grind and people who are dealing with evidence, and have the background to understand the evidence they are presenting.


    There are lots of issues that concern us all when it comes to faith in God. If we do not find a reasonable answer on these issues, they can be agents that weaken our faith and our resolve to serve God. Things like the problem of human suffering and tragedy need to be studied and resolved. That study needs to involve not only looking at the biblical answers, but also at what solutions atheists offer and how satisfying their explanations are. We have a whole Web site ( dedicated to this question, and have written several books and have a video (available on dealing with this subject. Many other people have addressed the question from philosophical and theological positions. There are other issues that we need to be satisfied about, such as: how God answers prayers, how we approach morality and moral choices, how we know the Bible is the word of God, how we know we have the “right” Bible, how we are to deal with violence and human and animal rights, and how Christians handle politics and legal issues.
    This does not mean we do not grow or consider new data, nor does it mean that we cannot change our understanding of the issues. In our day and time we have seen issues like cloning, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, organ transplants, and evolution bring new questions and challenges to us as Christians. Questions like these should never weaken or disturb our faith. We may not know everything involved in cloning, for example, but the basic principles of the Christian system allow us to consider the possibilities. No matter what we decide, it will be an application of our belief system, not a challenge to our faith. It is good to hear how mature ChriOld & young womamstians deal with issues like these. All of the subjects I have listed in this article are subjects we have dealt with in the past several years in this journal. You might not agree with my understanding or beliefs about these things, but you should at least realize that mature Christians know about the issues and have studied the issues and their implications. At the same time they have not allowed those issues to challenge their basic belief in God, the Bible, or the Christian system. As you form your own belief system about these issues, the final product should strengthen your faith.


young woman & man    Perhaps the most important step in this whole process of becoming a stable, productive Christian with a belief system that sustains you is to do something! Being a Christian does not mean going to church three times a week. Having a stable faith is not sustained just by our worship, our giving, or even our prayer life — although all of these things are important. Christianity is a way of life. It involves doing, not just hearing or reading. James talks about this exhaustively in James chapter 2 as he deals with faith and works. The point of the passage is that we do not just have faith and we do not earn our way into heaven by our works. Faith and works are symbiotic in nature. James says, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17, NIV). Our faith without activity will die. We have to be involved.
mother & children    The involvement we are talking about is so broad that all of us are included. There is no ministry that is any more important than any other ministry. In Romans 12:3 – 8 Paul lists a sampling of ministries. It includes some of the common things like teaching and preaching, but it also lists such ministries as giving, encouraging, leading, showing mercy, and serving. Paul made the point in verse three that no one of these is any more important or more valuable than any other. One of the beautiful things about the Christian system is that we do not have to ask permission to do ministry. Our service to others,our encouraging of others, our giving to others, and even our teaching of others can be done without having to submit to a bureaucratic system of supervisors. The more Christians get involved in using whatever their talents are, the more they will grow. God promises that His Spirit will be active in supporting us so that our ministry will be productive. Active, growing churches are made up of Christians doing things where every member’s talents and abilities are used to reach out to a lost and dying world.
--John N. Clayton

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