Foundations: Faith by Jason Gaboury

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith … (Romans 1:16)

“I don’t have faith.” Justin said. We’d had many long conversations about faith vs. science, faith vs. doubt, and Christian faith vs. other faith traditions. I began to wonder if our conversations were missing the point.

“Justin,” I said, “You seem to think faith is some kind of character trait that allows people to shut off their rationality and jump into a mental abyss of some kind.” He smiled. “What else could it be?”

leap of faith2

Ever since the rise of existentialism, a nineteenth century philosophical movement wrestling with the heightened rationalism of the enlightenment, faith has been understood in this way. Religious, moral, aesthetical categories can’t be ‘proved’ scientifically so the only way to access them (human beings seem to need these things to survive) is to jump outside of our rational cage…to faith.

What else could it be?

Paul uses the word faith (pistis) in the first chapter of Romans four times. Gentiles are called to “the obedience of faith” (v5). Paul rejoices that the faith of the Roman Christians is proclaimed “throughout the world.”(v8). He sees faith as a source of mutual encouragement (12) and as a sign of salvation (16). What can we learn from this?

1. Belief & Behavior – For Paul faith connotes belief in the gospel as well as action consistent with that belief. If Jesus is the messiah of Israel and lord of the world, then we are summoned not just to believe something, but also to reorder our inner life, relationships, and cultural participation in accordance with this truth.

What would it look like to weave together belief and behavior in communities on campus? What impact might it have if our communities were to practice life on campus as though Jesus was king?

2. Public Truth – Paul’s announcement of Jesus as Lord could only mean that Caesar wasn’t. Paul wasn’t announcing a private spirituality that good Roman citizens could try on to improve their lives. Paul was announcing the good news that Jesus, not Caesar, was ultimately in charge.

This rules out the popular (enlightenment) idea that faith is a private thing that should have no bearing on public life. What would it look like for our communities to practice sharing the good news of Jesus as public truth?

3. Gospel, not Faith – Conversations about faith miss the point. As followers of Jesus we do not point at ourselves but at the God revealed in Jesus. It is possible for women and men to look at Jesus’ life, claims, death, and resurrection and conclude that he isn’t messiah or lord. This was true in Paul’s world, and it is true in ours. On the other hand Jesus is globally relevant. His life, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension have changed the world and continue to change it. There is plenty of evidence to justify belief and trust.

What would it look like for us to start, build, and multiply communities where the global relevance of Jesus can be seen and experienced?

Question: What’s one experience you’ve had of exercising faith, even when you didn’t “feel” faith-filled. Share your experience in the comments to encourage others.

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Foundations: Where does the power come from? — Jason Gaboury

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith… (Romans 1:16)

Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission, established a daily ½ hour prayer meeting for his organization.  Every day at 11:00 the whole office stops work, gathers in the conference room, and prays.  When asked about this Gary responds, “We had to ask ourselves a question, ‘What power do we really believe is going to set people free?’”

on buttonOn campus, what power do we really believe is going to set people free?  Is it our great proxe stations, or our winning personalities?  Is it our campus strategy, or our excellent program?  Or is it something else?

Paul says that the gospel is the power of God.  Paul’s expectation for fruitful ministry (that I may reap some harvest among you…v14) is not ultimately tied to his skill as a messenger, but the message itself.  What is this message?  Paul’s gospel is the announcement that Jesus the messiah is risen from the dead and is lord of the world.  (v1-4)  As Paul is faithful to announce this gospel, he knows and expects that God will act through him to, “bring about the obedience of faith… (v5)”

What implications does this have for us on campus?

1.    Center our Hope
I love and value the work we’re doing to improve our outreach.  We need to be constantly improving our strategies, plans, and programs.  We can’t just dust off last year’s NSO and hope for a better result.  And yet, our hope must not be centered in our activities but in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What do we really believe is going to set people free on campus?  If we really believe it is the gospel, what implications would that have?  What would we change? 

2.    Clarify our Message
Too often I hear students sharing the gospel in ways that are unclear.  If the gospel is the power of God for salvation, then we need to get crystal clear about this message.  How do we teach students to share this message?  How do we coach them so that they can share it clearly, concisely, and compellingly? 

3.    Call People to Faith
“Would you like to become a follower of Jesus today?”  This is a powerful question that is under-utilized.  In Romans 1 Paul describes his ministry to call the Gentiles to the obedience of faith, and then immediately adds, “including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”  Paul does not simply communicate the gospel he calls for a response.  What would it look like if every time we shared the good news of the gospel we called people to faith? 

Question: When have you experienced power & boldness in your witness? What was its source?

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