Bringing God Alive
Every one who believes in God is, to some degree, into theological argument — argument in the sense of developing logical reasons and propositions for various points of view about God.
We are not concerned here with the development of doctrinal arguments, nor in comparing one set with another. There is a level and degree of conviction which goes infinitely beyond all that and wordy dialogue. And beyond consulting vast tomes of theological treaties. It is the conviction which comes from an EXPERIENTIAL knowledge of God. It comes from experiencing God in our own, everyday lives. Certainly, what we “know” about God comes in some degree from what we believe. But is there not a difference between “belief” in some theological proposition and faith, which is what makes that proposition into a reality for any one of us?
FAITH BRINGS GOD “ALIVE”
It is faith which, as it were, “brings God alive” for each one of us. It is faith exercised at a personal level which makes God personal to us. It is that, rather than delving into works of theology, which make God real.
Faith is, in practice, different to belief. We can believe something and, because we never act on it, it never changes our lives. If I say “I believe God, the father Almighty”, it is open to someone without that belief to ask, “So what?” The question is really, “So what is different in your life compared to mine as a result of your belief?”
Unfortunately, there are Christians who would be hard put to answer that, because they have belief but little faith. Faith can be expressed as belief put to the test. No, we are not testing God so much as testing ourselves. We can call in God’s promises to us, but such calls are ultimately tests of our own faith, although they must inevitably also show God’s loyalty to his own word.
FAITH BRINGS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
What kind of knowledge of God does faith bring? It is a knowledge which goes beyond anything we can find in a book — or in an article such as this! It is an EXPERIENTIAL knowledge of God. That is to say, every act of faith is a personal encounter with God, a personal experience of him. The reason is that God never ignores an act of faith, not least because, apart from love, it is the greatest quality he desires from us.
We can read, say, Paul in Roman 4. 17 that God is he who: “gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (NIV) He “calls things that are not as though they were”! It is acting on such scriptures as this which brings God alive to us, which brings us into a reality of God which might not previously have existed.
THE KNOWLEDGE THAT COUNTS
That experiential knowledge is what counts! It is that which converts people from no belief to putting God first in their lives, from being nominal Christians into committed Christians — because that knowledge of God is something which cannot be acquired in any other way. And it tells us what cannot be known in any other way. You may acquire some kind of knowledge about me from reading this article or some of the books I have written. Yet all that would be far less than the knowledge gathered from the experience of actually meeting me (which some may say is a great blessing for you!!!). How much more important, and how much more life-changing is the experiencial knowledge of actually encountering God?
In Romans (as elsewhere) Paul makes the case that we are saved through faith. That is the ultimate expression and consequence of our faith. But it must not be the only one! If we can trust God for this ultimate expression of his love for us, and the dependability of his word, the consequence of which will last for eternity, we can surely trust him for a myriad of other things — things which are of much less consequence, but which happen every day in our lives.
That repeated, ongoing accumulation of (essentially loving) experiential knowledge is open to anyone who has the courage to risk the consequences of holding God to his many biblical promises — and who wants to see God “come alive” in their lives.