Life with God is built on faith, but it is important for us to have a clear understanding of the nature of faith. It is too easy to intellectualize one's faith and consider that God is interested only in our beliefs. Faith however, requires that we act on our beliefs. Hebrews 11:6 say that "without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." This verse shows us the importance of belief but notice that even in this verse the point is that we must come to God. Our beliefs must motivate us to actively trust.
As I shared on Sunday, one of my favourite illustrations of the nature of faith comes from the story of the tight rope walker named Blondin. In this illustration the distinction is made between a person who believes in the ability of the tight rope walker and the person who is willing to actively put herself in his hands. Check out this short video on Blondin.
This video was passed on to me in response to my sermon on wisdom in conflict. It is a good illustration of how not to approach conflict. Almost any one of the Proverbs that I dealt with in my sermon could have defused this whole situation. This matter could've been let go. The confrontation could have been made with less attitude and anger. The rebuke could have been responded to without defensiveness. Instead the conflict escalates to comic proportions.
In my study regarding wisdom in our words, I came across this video which talks about the importance of moral wake-up calls. There is power in helping people see the significance of their words and deeds. This is one of the ways in which Proverbs function. They identify wisdom for us so that when we face the challenges of life, we are open to God and alert to his ways.
I am thankful that our statement of faith does not commit to specific prophetic details regarding the second coming of Christ. I am glad that we make room for a variety of beliefs in this matter. My personal understanding has changed on this topic. While at one time I favored a pre-tribulation rapture, the writings of Ladd and Gundry among others have shown me that the biblical descriptions of the rapture are connected to the second coming. The main passage which speaks of the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where we see the words "caught up". It is described in context with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet call of God. Nowhere in this passage is there a description of the timing in relation to the tribulation. If we compare other passages where the trumpet is sounded we can get a sense of the timing. We see that in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 we will be changed at the last trumpet and in Matthew 24:30-31 we see that the second coming of Christ will be announced by a trumpet and the elect will be gathered. It seems clear to me that the trumpet described in all three of these passages, must be the same. Being caught up at the trumpet call will be at the last trumpet when Christ returns. Let's not get caught up in the details, but rather rejoice in the hope that Christ will return, bringing justice and establishing his presence in a new heaven and a new earth. Amen come Lord Jesus.