Thursday, January 14, 2010

Systematic Theology

Sometimes I feel like faith is work.

Trying to walk by faith, to keep thoughts aligned to faith, to make faith the motivation for works; these things are more than hard. They are treadmill of my days, the siege I find myself dragged awake to in the morning, and collapsing exhausted with at night. Except when I'm not.

For me, faith is both the weight and the wings. It emboldens me and grieves me by turns. And it has only been with study that an inkling of why this paradox exists has become apparent to me. It is when I am reminded of love that my feet are lifted with the power of faith. When my mind forgets to season faith with love; that is when I fall to my knees under the press of guilt and strictures.

My searching in this area, led me back to an old staple: Charles Finney's Systematic Theology.
"It should never be forgotten that the faith that is the condition of justification, is the faith that works by love. It is the faith through and by which Christ sanctifies the soul. A sanctifying faith unites the believer to Christ as his justification; but be it always remembered, that no faith receives Christ as a justification, that does not receive him as a sanctification, to reign within the heart. We have seen that repentance, as well as faith, is a condition of justification. We shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification."

Powerful words make a powerful reminder.

It is when I leave the leaven of love aside that my walk becomes of works and not of faith. When walking in works and not faith, it becomes a plight, a trudge through the barren landscape of life without a Savior.

Interestingly enough, this is more than just with my Christ. In all my relationships, when I fail to keep love at the forefront of each exchange is when those exchange become unhealthy and a hindrance. It is easy to serve when you start with love and a burden when you're loveless.

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