II ROMANS 9
There is a great deal of difference between “what” and “why”. In fact, “what” you do is only important if you know “why” you do it. I am afraid there are too many religious people who carry out a lot of rituals, perform many symbolic acts, and recite liturgical quotations,
without ever thinking about, or even knowing, what they mean. It is not improbable that even the most devout acts of worship are often
performed while our minds are on other things.
God does not give us arbitrary commands. He expects us to obey each admonition for a purpose. When the Hebrew writer says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him”, we should all say, “Why?”, and then search the scriptures to find the answer. Paul says, in Romans 3:21-22, “…a righteousness from God, apart from the Law, has been made known…this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe”. On the road to Jericho, when the Eunuch asked Phillip if he could be baptized, Phillip said, “If you believe, with all your heart, you may”. Why couldn’t the Eunuch be baptized unless he believed? This may seem an obvious question, but the answer is profoundly important.
God created man with whom to have a loving relationship. To have that relationship it was necessary to give man the power of free choice. We are not created to be robots or tin soldiers but creatures of choice, so that we can decide between right and wrong and take the one that fulfills our desires. We can love good or evil, and we always choose the one that we believe can satisfy us the most. This is the basis upon which our choices are made.
In order to cause us to love Him, God left the spiritual realm, called Heaven, and came to earth. He made the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross to show His love. Only when one realizes what that meant, and responds by believing in God’s love, can the relationship of love be established between the creature and his Creator. As Paul says, the righteousness we must have to dwell with God, as impossible as it is for man to be righteous, is being freely given by God. But only those who believe this and commit their lives to it can be so blest.
God is Spirit, and our relationship to him is spiritual. Therefore, no physical act, nor ritual words and deeds can establish that relationship without our heart being in it. Our faith is not just our tacit acceptance of the fact, but our heartfelt commitment to it. Jesus’ death on the Cross was a real fact, but the implications of it are the things we must believe and put our trust in. So “faith”, as we are going to find in our next few essays, is much more than just believing the facts. It is understanding the “why” of “what” was done, and the “why” of “what” the Father requires of us if we are to be acceptable to Him, and be fitted to dwell in the perfection that must surround God.
The “tin soldier” knows that the one giving the order is the authority, and he obeys. The committed soldier knows why the order was given, and what is to be accomplished by it. His obedience is more than an act of following an order. It is a commitment to a purpose, of which he is a part. We do not just obey commands from God. We join hands with our Father in letting Him make us whole, and in loving fellowship with Him.