Thursday, September 24, 2015

Inherited Faith?

Sometimes I wake up with an entire blog, or article, running through my mind. In fact, probably the majority of the blogs I write begin this way. This was the case today as I woke up with this thought about inherited faith, specifically Christian and Jewish faith, so here it is...

As Christianity has perpetuated now through several generations, one may have the idea that they are a Christian by heritage. By that I mean a person thinks they are a Christian because their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc. were Christian. Somehow they think it is a family thing that is passed on and inherited, much like a race or nationality. This seems especially true today in America where we have many people who have grown up never going to church. When asked what religion they are, they say they are Christian because that's what their parents or grandparents were.

However, Christianity is a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn't come by heritage. It's not passed on like an inheritance without each individual having their own personal faith and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. In this way, the true Christian Gentiles are an example to the Jewish nation today. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." He said that salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (the Jews) jealous. (Romans 11:25, 11). Christians can be a sign to the Jewish nation that salvation does not come by heritage alone. The Jewish people themselves must each one have a personal faith in the Messiah. They, just as we, cannot rely on salvation "automatically" being passed on. 

I believe this is what God was addressing to the Jewish people through the prophet Isaiah when He said concerning the foreigners who follow Him, "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7. Even then, He was letting His people know that His salvation would be extended to all people groups. Jesus also quoted this verse in Mark 11:17.

To be clear, I do not believe in the "replacement theory" which says that the church has replaced the Jewish nation. I am not, by any means, trying to make light of the Jewish nation or culture. I do believe that the Jewish people have a very important place in God's plan and coming kingdom. I believe Christians can learn much from the Jews. I also believe that, as Christians, it is very important to teach our children the way of Christianity and to guide them in their own personal faith. We need to be sure that our children understand that they will need to accept the Lord Jesus for themselves, and grow in their own personal relationship with Him. There comes a point in time where each person, Jew or Gentile will be responsible for their own faith, and can't just rely on the "family faith."

God made families and intended for them to be the ultimate ruling authority in the earth. He has made unique people groups that are each a blessing in their own way. Quite often gifts and callings are passed down generationally and remain in family lines--skills, businesses or ministerial callings for example. Children are meant to experience a great sense of belonging through their families. However, as important as that is, no one should be overlooked or taken for granted concerning their faith. Our heavenly Father loves every one, individually, to the point where He would leave the 99 to go find the one. (Luke 15:4). May we pray for each member of our families individually and by name. May we pray for the Jewish nation to understand this as well, that each one must individually accept the Messiah, and may we pray that they know His name--Jesus.

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