|Preface|| Table of
We live in challenging times. Ours is a fast-paced, stressful society where many people lack strong, long-term personal relationships. We are bombarded with so much secularism that Christian beliefs and values can become eroded. As a result, it is more difficult to deal with health problems, personal crises, and other hardships. Now, more than ever, Christians need to be solidly grounded in their faith so that they can stand firm in the face of difficulties.
What I am dealing with in this book is some changes that I believe need to occur in the minds and hearts of many Christians. These changes are necessary if we as individuals are to survive in this challenging world, and if we, and the church as a whole, are to play an effective part in stemming the tide of secularism in our nation.
I tend to emphasize the demands of Christianity because I feel that, in our affluent society, there is great danger that our faith will be flabby and apathetic. But I must also say two other things, which I hope you will keep in mind.
First, Christianity is tremendously rewarding. To those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, it promises eternal life in heaven with God. It promises forgiveness of our sins, and freedom from many things that have held us down. It promises an abundant life on earth, in which we can overcome every adversity. It promises peace, joy and true fulfillment. These are not empty promises. I have seen them realized, in greater or lesser degree, in my own life and the lives of others around me. Whatever Christianity may cost, the rewards are much greater.
Second, God expects us to change, but he also accepts us and loves us as we are. His love is not conditioned on our changing. We don’t have to earn his love and acceptance. They are just there for us. Wherever we are in our Christian life, God is there for us.
We can stand firm on the words of the Bible. The Bible is true and reliable, and it can and should be the guide for everything we do. In my book Standing Firm in the Faith, I give my reasons for believing this. You can read the entire book online at
Belief in the truth and reliability of Scripture underlies everything else I say. If we accept Scripture on its own terms, as an authoritative revelation from God, then we have a solid rock to stand on. If we do not accept it as authoritative, then it becomes merely one among many expressions of fallible human opinion. It is largely because many Christians, today, do not accept Scripture as authoritative that we find such wide divergences of opinion among those who call themselves Christians.
The Bible tells us very clearly certain things about God, about Jesus Christ, and about our relationship with God. These basics of our Christian faith are things we need to stand firm on and not compromise.
Then we need to be able to apply what we believe to what is happening in our lives. If we can’t apply it to the life situations we face, it is probable that we either don’t understand it, or don’t really believe it, or both. It is in our actions that our faith becomes real.
Faith that does not result in action, that does not make a major difference in the way we view and respond to everything around us, is not real faith. The teachings of Scripture give us guidance, confidence and strength in dealing with many practical issues.
I want to say something about that word “believe.” We Americans often use “believe” to mean intellectual assent. In Scripture it means much more than that. The Biblical words for “believe” and “faith” mean to put our entire trust in, and obey. They imply a total commitment. In the Biblical sense, belief is something we do, not just with our mind, but with all of us. Jesus told us,
I think it fair to say that the whole Bible also tells us to believe “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The belief that Scripture talks about is a belief that shows itself in action. It shows itself in your whole life.
One other thing about belief should be kept in mind. It is important for us to be clear, and Scripturally sound, about what we believe. It is even more important to know whom we believe. Paul wrote,
Our Christian faith is not primarily a belief in doctrines. It is a belief in a person. It is a relationship with a person.
It is because we know who God is that we can put our trust in him. It is because we know who God is that we can say, with the Psalmist,
No matter what happens, we will not fear.
We are not victims of the circumstances. They are temporary and God is eternal. God is greater than the circumstances, he is faithful to his promises, and he wants what is best for us. He has promised us that, in him, we can be overcomers (1 John 5:4-5).
No matter what happens, we can depend on God.