DAILY CATHOLIC -    Tuesday, January 13, 1998   volume 9, no. 9



by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F.

Faith: Key to the Heart of God

Twenty-First Installment: Steak and Potatoes Faith stage one - the pablum menu for believing

      There are atheists who believe that Jesus died on the cross. There are pagans who might believe Jesus actually died as a martyr to save the world, but it doesn't necessarily mean they accept it. For that matter, there are so-called Christians who believe that Jesus died to save mankind but they have not accepted that fact personally. I John 5:1 says that if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, that He is God's Son and the Savior, then you are a child of God.

      Hebrews 10:39 says our faith in Him (primary faith) assures our salvation. I Corinthinans 15: 1-3, I John 5: 13, and many other Scriptures affirm the same thing. That is the basic level.

      You may say you've done that. You've watched Christian television and prayed the sinner's prayer ("All you people out there in television land get down on your knees now and take Jesus for your personal Savior"). You've done that, perhaps many times. That's beautiful, and it's good to have it renewed. The problem, however, is this: a person who makes that act of faith often thinks that is all there is to faith - getting saved. "Saved" is a relative term because Paul in Ephesians 4:30 implies a second level of salvation. He says, in effect, that our salvation is not completed here, it is completed when we get to Heaven. And again in Philippians 2:12 he says to work out one's salvation in fear and trembling, implying that we have not fully arrived yet. We have security because Jesus said, "Those the Father has given Me, no one will snatch from My hands." And I John 3:9 says no one who has become part of God's family makes a practice of sinning because Christ, God's Son, holds him securely "-saved-" and the devil cannot get his hands on him. Such a one is saved in the sense that he is locked into a path to Heaven, and that's beautiful.

      But to think that is all there is to faith is to cultivate what I call kindergarten spirituality. Hebrews 6:1 says not to stop there: "Stop going over the same old ground again and again, always teaching those first lessons about Christ. But let us go instead to the other things and become mature in our understanding as strong Christians ought to be." Let's stop eating the baby pablum of Christian spirituality, as important as that is to get started. In the next column I'll talk about the second stage as we graduate to more substantial food for thought and faith.

Next Week: Steak and Potatoes Faith stage two - a more substantial diet of faith

January 13, volume 9, no. 9         DAILY CATHOLIC - COLUMNS