Lord willing, what follows coalesces the BIG POINTS of my pastoral theology.
(Note: This post hasn't been edited so read with grace)
Knowledge through Experience - A Pastoral Epistemology
We have discussed our static faith. Static faith is the faith we have about our relationship with the Father when we are “quite and still” in prayer. If our faith is biblically sound, we will learn to have a Gospel orientation toward God. God is giving grace to us. We are on the receiving end of His love. God is not a perfectionist nor is he distant or abusive. God is love.
The second and vital point we must understand is that we do not know this static faith of our relationship with the Father until we experience it. Knowledge is experience. This is what people mean when they say the farthest distance on earth is the distance from the head to the heart. Note that in my examples, our experience happens when the Holy Spirit applies biblical truth to specific examples in our lives. I gave the example of learning God’s sovereignty as the Lord taught me forgiveness in suffering. As I forgave, I realized that this knowledge of God could not have come to me without this experience of pain and sin. Our need to experience personal application of biblical truth as the road to knowledge is actually the biblical argument for the existence of evil. Evil is part of God’s manifold wisdom to help us know the pleasure of His mercy “to the glory of His grace”.
This knowledge of God is learned as a practice not as a theory. Theology and practice are linked like we learn gymnastics through practice not theory. It is one thing to know the biblical passages that support the theory of “justification though faith”. It is quite another thing to know justification through faith by having the experience of being “simultaneously saint and sinner”. This knowledge is learned in the practice of prayer. In the same way, a gymnast needs to continually practice to say he can do a double back flip so too we continually practice prayer to know justification through faith. This practical theology regarding our position and relationship to God through the gospel is the practice and experience of our static faith. This relationship is immutable.
The next great lesson in our Christian faith is coming to know our dynamic faith. Dynamic faith is the faith for God’s power while we are, not still in prayer, but moving in the activities of life. For the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven that means I need a faith for God to encounter my activities with power to change my behavior and the outcomes of my activities.
Lets look at Abraham’s faith. - Dynamic Faith
Hebrews 11 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.
Abraham’s faith is not just that God accepted Him ot of the nature of who God is and the mercy to be offered in the coming Messiah BUT his faith was that God would do the impossible in his life. Abraham and Sarah had tried over and over again to have a baby boy. They were as good as dead in regard to child rearing, yet God promised to accomplish this work in their lives. So they stepped out and left their homeland and traveled into the promised land. Ten years later and still there was no child. But they continued to hope against all natural hope.
Paul says it this way,
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." 23The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Against all hope, seeing his personal history, Abraham believed God was able to change his story, a story of barrenness, into a story of fruitfulness. Abraham believed God was able to perform and that God has the power to accomplish the promise. Faith for God’s power to encounter our activities and our personal history and bring about the impossible is dynamic faith. The content of this dynamic faith is faith for the heavenly pattern of life namely His will being done and His name being hallowed.
Dynamic faith is faith for a Christianity with Power.
Moral Beauty as the Coalescing Principle
Faith has been given a bad name by the word of faith movement. I personally cannot look upon such preachers for even one second without being grieved. The reason is because this faith is not based on faith for a Morally Beautiful life. The gospel clearly proclaims that the enemy is sin. Jesus waged His ultimate battle against man’s moral depravity. It is our morally repugnant propensity from which we have been and are being delivered from. When we pray “hallowed be your name”, we are praying that the lives of believers would manifest the moral attributed of “Our Father”. God is perfect in His moral attributes.
To possess these attributes seems to us to be impossible. As I rise from prayer, have I yet learned to experience power and the attainment of the impossible with respect to my character and the quality of my life? In each relationship, do I know the method of seeing God’s person move through me to that other person so that I am like Christ to them? This is a lesson in dynamic faith. Do I know what it means to keep no record of wrongs? Do I know forgiveness as a lifestyle? In the heat of an argument, do I bring up a person’s wrongs and the laundry list of past shortcomings? Or do I know what it means to keep no record of wrongs?
This new life is impossible in the same way it was impossible for Abraham to have a child. So we come poor in spirit, beggars before our Father.
“Your Kingdom Come”. Father, teach me a faith that brings power into my every day existence.
Then we come to learn through our story the reality of dynamic faith. Then we learn the compassion and love of God that comes from faith in a Christianity with power.