Turns out, there’s more than one way to make the wrong hotel reservation. Just last week I took a trip to the east coast to attend a conference for my work. The month before I had planned my trip; booking my airline tickets, and hotel reservations. I was planning to stay at the same hotel where the conference was held, and I thought I had carefully chosen the right hotel, for the right dates, in the right city. But I had not. When I arrived at the hotel after a long day of travel the front desk informed me I was not registered. However, I did have a room at another hotel of the same name, which was about a ten minute cab ride away. Thankfully, after a couple of hours, several phone calls, and some begging and pleading I was able to rebook my room. While this was just a hotel reservation, a minor detail in life, how carefully do we consider decisions when it comes to spiritual truth?
When I made that reservation, I had 80% of the criteria right: the right name, right dates, right price and right city, but that was not enough. I neglected to check the address, and that made all the difference. When looking at our spiritual life the same principle applies. What we believe about who God is and his Word matters. We can have all the right information about God, but we have nothing without resting in the salvation that only Christ gives (Romans 10:1-13, John 14:6).
Faith That Gets Close….
The first step in saving faith is believing in the true God. Yet, we see in James 2:19 that belief in itself is not sufficient, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” Clearly a knowledge of the existence of the one, true God is not a saving belief. In Hebrews 11:6, we find that wholehearted faith in God is required, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
We often hear in our culture that spirituality is an important part of life, but we can be tempted to confuse spirituality with the faith we are commanded to have in the Bible. Paul warns us against having an “appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). In contrast to spirituality, faith is placing the full weight of your desires, hopes and love in God. We see this faith in Abraham described in Romans 4:20, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” What does your faith look like, are you unwavering in your hope in the promises of God?
Faith That Hits the Mark
Before I came to a saving faith in Christ, I believed in the God of the Bible, and even pursued a spiritual life in church, but I did not fully realize the truth of the gospel. Before I saw God as a righteous ruler who gave us life in Christ, but must still be appeased by our efforts to sin less and do good works. Basically, I understood 80% of the gospel, I believed in God, and desired salvation, but I responded by attempting to earn my salvation from then on. I came to see salvation as an undeserved, unmerited gift and this made all the difference for me. I now understand the complete work of Christ on the cross, where not only was my sin pardoned through Jesus’death, but his righteousness was also imparted to me in his sacrifice. In theological terms, I was justified before God. When I began to understand this: that our God is so full of love and rich in mercy so that He not only paid for my sin, but gave me the reward that Christ deserves, my only response was awe and a pure desire to pursue and serve this great God for all of eternity.
As I now know, there are many ways to error in reserving a hotel room, and the importance of reserving the correct one, and I also believe the Gospel, which is a truth of far greater worth. Jesus describes this worth in Matthew 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”