In my last blog posting titled I Believe – God’s Goodness Shining in Sadness I shared about my daughter’s cancer and said I would try to post an update soon.
Humanly speaking, when a loved one’s illness moves from hope of recovery, to hope for at least some quality time, to that of end stage palliative care, what does one say? What title does one use on a blog posting? Can one still talk of God’s goodness? As of this week, my daughter is end stage palliative with brain cancer. There is no more plan for chemo therapy. Her time with us in this world is likely weeks to a few months.
At times like this, it is common to speak of faith and think about what one believes happens after death. In my posting titled Faith that Saves, I tried to demonstrate that faith matters. Not the size of faith but what it is that the faith is in. For example, faith in the idea that painting one’s face green will gain access to eternal life in heaven will likely leave one disappointed, if not lost for eternity.
In a recent update on my daughter’s condition, my daughter’s husband remembers her words when she said with joy that even though she may have to die, she doesn’t have to face the wrath of God for her sins, because she has trusted in Jesus to save her from her sins. She has also recently said, “heaven is best for me.” She is looking forward to heaven. How can she know that this is good and best? Heaven is not something we see and feel. Her belief is in something not seen.
In the Bible, Faith is described as “the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is really another word for a steadfast certain belief. To have faith in something is to have a steadfast certain belief that the something you belief is true. To have faith in something is to have a certain hope in something that, at this time, you cannot see or touch but, instead, can only hold-on-to through belief.
In by blog posting titled Faith that Saves, I began to describe this faith. (As of the writing of this posting, the description is incomplete.) I will try to describe it here. In the Bible in Romans 10 it says of faith,
The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8-11)
This faith saves. An important question is “what are we saved from?” and “what are we being saved to?” Elsewhere in the Bible, we learn that life, as we know it, will come to an end and then will come a judgement and that we will be judged according to our works. He who has done well will receive a new body and enter into the new heaven and new earth. He who has not done well will enter into eternal hell, where there will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth… The Bible teaches that we need to be saved from a future of eternal hell to a future of eternal life with the Lord God.
The passage in Romans 10 teaches that believing on Jesus Christ is the way to salvation, the way to eternal life in a new body in the new heaven and the new earth with the Lord God. Of course, this is something we cannot see feel and touch before we die. We can only believe this by faith. This is saving faith. It is believing that through Jesus Christ, the way that He has laid out in the Bible, eternal hell is avoided and eternal life with the Lord God is obtained.
To know that our daughter has this saving faith is a great comfort to her mother and I and to her husband as well. How can Holly know that she has this saving faith? How can we know that she has this saving faith? Where does one get this faith? Does it really matter? According to the Bible, Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6) and there is no other way under heaven by which we can be saved. (Acts 4:12) So, it does matter.
We are not born with this saving faith. Instead, according to the scriptures we are born dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1-3) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 6:23) If we are not born with saving faith, how can we obtain this? In Ephesians 2:8-9 it teaches,
For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This faith is a gift from God. We do not conjure it up ourselves.
The passage in Ephesians goes on to say,
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
And elsewhere it is said, “And you will know they are Christians by their love.” And Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment, that is the most important thing, is “to love the Lord God with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your soul and to love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39) Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15)”
People with true faith will love the Lord God and strive to keep his commandments. Yet does it not say, true faith is a gift of God and not of works? And so it does. But a person with true faith will desire to keep the commandments of God, not to make themselves good enough but just because they know that the one they love wants them to strive to do what is right. This is why he created them. To do good works. So, they want to because they love Him.
This is a picture of our daughter, even from a very young age. She talked of her love for the Lord. She knew that she was born a sinner and needed Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for her sins, to free her from the penalty of eternal death, to the blessedness of eternal life with God in the new heaven and the new earth. She has loved to read Gods word, to talk about the one she loves, to hear Him preached about on Sunday. Our daughter confesses the Lord Jesus Christ and lives for Him. This is her love. And He is the basis for her love. By this we can know that she will be fully healed, that the day will come when there will be a resurrection, that she will be one who gets a fully restored new body with a perfect brain to join all other believers in the new heaven and the new earth with the Lord God.
This is our comfort, as we walk through the great trial of being with our daughter as she goes through the valley of the shadow of death as her current body wastes away.
May this be your comfort too. For those who want this true Faith, Jesus gives a promise.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
If you truly seek to know Jesus the giver of faith you will find Him.
A related post for those who would like to consider this topic further is – I Believe – Comfort in Life and Death