Truth, Knowledge, Faith
1999 by Natalie Pappas

It is good to question a belief system that was passed to you by your parents. That's true regardless of whether it is Christianity, Paganism, or even Atheism.

The walls of any belief system, indeed, the very foundation, will either stand or fall under examination--but you'll never know unless you examine that belief system.

The person who honestly examines their belief system is better off than a person who accepts without checking for structural soundness and flaws. We wouldn't buy a car that way, nor would we buy a house that way. We shouldn't buy into any type of religious way of life without using our intellect.

Yet, faith never takes intellect out of the picture. We don't always have to completely reason something out to believe it is true. For example--I don't have to be well versed in the subtleties of how electricity works in order to have faith that it exists. When I flip on the lights in my house, I find they work. However, at any time I can take a course and learn more and more about how electricity functions in any given situation. Of course, that electricity is going to function in exactly the same manner regardless if I understand it fully or not. My intellect does not take a back seat to my faith. We all sit up front as companions in the driver seat of my life.

There are three types of faith: saving, growing, and knowing. Saving faith is utter reliance upon God, upon His ability to save people from their personal sins. It is when we throw up our hands and give up trying to be good. It is when we realize we can never please Him. We place ourselves into His hands of forgiveness and He forgives us. It really is that simple.

Knowing faith is an intellectual assessment of our belief which is based on actual historical verifiable facts or events. An example of this could be if someone claims the Bible was mistranslated. You might begin searching to see if they are right or wrong. After examining the data, you find that the manuscript evidence for tampering is non-existent (as I did), that the available manuscripts numbers in the tens of thousands and each one agrees with each other doctrinally absolutely perfectly. This knowing faith combined with saving faith (which you already had), produces growing faith.

Growing faith is our day to day walk with God. It is trusting Him to provide our every need, big or small. Is God capable of helping us to overcome our bad habits? From hurting others? From hurting ourselves? Can He arrange things in this particular bad situation? Of course He can--and He does. He knows better than anybody the very hopelessness of a particular situation we can find ourselves in at times. He takes inventory and has outlined in the Bible the things we can do about it (i.e., apologize where you can, right a wrong, run from temptation, etc...), then there are those things that only He can do: change a heart, provide the way out, right a wrong, etc. With every step we lean on Him more. Because He was faithful in that previous step, we trust Him more with each future step.

Blanket Statement of the Century: All truth is true!

We would not have a concept of truth if it wasn't true in the first place. Thomas Aquinas repudiated all forms of dualism including that between nature and grace. James W. Fowler, a developmental psychologist believes a full scale of a personal re-examination of our beliefs is necessary for full maturity. I did this at 23 years of age. Although I was taught the unimportance of religion and that its impact upon my life had little or no value, I began to see that being spiritual was important in the light of eternity. The big picture came into view: what was life if it had no set of eternal consequences for the 'good people' (rewards of some sort), the 'bad people' (surely Hitler deserves some sort of punishment for exterminating nearly 12,000,000 people), and the in-betweeners (those who were only 'kinda' good or 'kinda' bad).

It seemed to me that life had to be based on 'fair' or 'unfair'. Was death only the supreme equalizer of all people? HOW UNFAIR! I couldn't accept that. Yet, I also realized that it would be circular thinking to wish such a thing into existence. There had to be some standard of good and bad, but what was it? And who kept the records? Could it be the God of Everything that was? Who was He anyway? I wanted to know Him better. Thus, my journey began, my search for truth. It was to end up at the very feet of Christ with a new beginning. It started with wanting to know the truth, eased into justice, and wound up with grace mixed with His mercy.

It is difficult, indeed, it is impossible to convince others of their need of Jesus and the salvation He offers if they are plagued with doubts of whether the Bible speaks the truth or not. Such a walk is not based on trust, so there will be no ability to look to God for help when faced with life's difficulties.

If you are plagued with doubts, do not ever be afraid to search for the truth, for whoever seeks, does find. Even if what you believe to be true is or isn't, you will end up inadvertently finding what is true by sheer virtue of finding out what is false.

When my search first began, it began with a westernized/new age form of Hinduism. When I examined karma, I realized it was like a hamster running around on a wheel which could never slow down or stop. It is far better, as Paul the Apostle states, 'to run the good race' and have an eternal victory that will never fade or perish rather than expend all my energy and thoughts running for nothing.

Let me explain: karma theoretically will evolve a person into perfection, but practically it has no value because if the perfect we strive for is the perfection of Christ, we can never be good enough to leave the wheel. Christ never once committed a sin. Period. We have. We run and run to no avail. The Bible says that only Christ can take away our sins, so according to the Bible, karma can't do it. There is simply no getting rid of sins.

In contrast, Hinduism teaches we can do more good and outweigh the bad with good, and after many many lives, eventually the scales tip more towards the good than towards the bad.

Suppose our karma does wipe out sin debt by serving others, doing good deeds, and not hurting others. Yet, don't other people work out their sin debt by enduring the hardship that they inflicted on others in previous lives. This is an endless circle of torment. Nobody forgives anybody. There is no such thing as mercy and grace. If you help another, you prolong their stay in the wheel. If you don't help another, you end up prolonging your own. It is a no-win situation. In the meantime, we wear ourselves down and are left to ourselves in that religious cage of our own making. We are helpless in the face of a hopeless destiny, and the Bible claims that destiny is the Lake of Fire.

Contrast this to the hope in Christ who conquered sin and death for us. With one big, "IT IS FINISHED!" from lips of Christ on the cross, the sin debt was paid for all who will believe (John 3:16). I believe and as I continue to examine my faith, I find it stronger than when I first believed. My faith stands because God is faithful and what He says is true. Does yours?