Certainty of my faith

Much has been said recently about having a certainty of God. Must we have certainty? Can It be left as just a mystery for some and just something hoped for?
I have listened the last several years to a certain Christian music artist. The depth of her lyrics and music have been such a comfort and help in my faith. Recently she has come out with the fact that she is no longer certain of her faith and trashed evangelical faith in an interview. ( during the recent interview she jokingly made the comment that, maybe she has been an agnostic all along) Those songs were precious to me, but i haven’t been able to listen to them. I do pray for her, and especially her family.
There are times I struggle with doubt, but I am so certain of my faith in my God, His grace, forgiveness, blessings. My adult children question my certainty. This disconnect between us is that my faith is based on my life experiences and my belief in the truth of scripture. They are coming from an academic, intellectual perspective.
Any ideas of how I can I bridge that gap with them?
This is very troubling to me. As I read or listen to these people I can see that the further they move from The truth of scripture the further from any certainty of their faith.

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Hello Lynn,

That is an awesome question and certainly one that I believe every Christian has dealt with, or will at some point deal with, in their life. I would like to draw your attention to a couple of passages of scripture which deal with faith.

First of all, what is faith? Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
We all certainly hope for the redemption of Christ and an eternity with Him, but mere hope does not provide us with the foundation that we as human beings truly need. If I hope for something, then I must acknowledge that there is something out there that is worth hoping for. Now can I just leave it there? It would not make much sense for us to say that we hope God is real and all the promises that He gave us are true, and then do nothing else. So how do we find that assurance that the things we hope for are true? It is stated right here in Hebrews that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction(some translations use the word evidence) of things not seen. To leave our spiritual life simply as something hoped for is, I believe, not enough to sustain us. While we certainly do hope for the day of His return and our redemption, it should not remain a complete mystery to us or simply a hopeful dream in our minds. Faith is our assurance of that hope that we have in Christ, of all that we hope for in Him, and it should be certain.

Ephesians Chapter 2 verses 8-9 state, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
God’s grace is available to us all. But can we accept it without admitting faith it Christ? No. Paul tells us here that it is THROUGH our faith that we have been saved. Faith is our assurance, and our very connection to Christ. Faith is not simple belief, it is quite beyond belief, and what holds us to our beliefs when we are challenged. This world is full of evil forces which desire to destroy our belief in Christ, hence, it is quite vital to us that we be certain of our faith. So to go back to your first question, yes, I believe that we must have certainty. Can mere hope hold us to our beliefs when we are challenged and beaten down? Often we lose sight of hope in these times, but it is our faith that strengthens us and holds us to our beliefs, even when all around us feels as if it is hopeless. To refer back to Hebrews 11, faith is our conviction, or evidence, of what we cannot see. So, even in the hardest of times, we have something that can always be that guiding light to us in the darkness. Certainty in faith is very important, but such certainty can only come from experience, both in our lives, and in His word.

In Romans Chapter 3 Paul tells us, "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Through our faith we find salvation, justification, and forgiveness. Not by anything that we do in this life, but by our faith in Christ, whom God put forth as the payment for all sins. Arguing for faith from an academic or intellectual perspective will be difficult because our educations tend to focus us on improving our abilities in this world. They focus on what we do, but when we look to the idea of faith, one of the first things that it teaches us is how there is absolutely nothing that we can do. There is no good work, no great education, no way to solve the problem other than to first accept that we are hopeless without the saving grace of Christ. Then we must be saved, if we so desire, by the only means available that can save us, Faith. You cannot teach faith and, I find, that often the more educated one becomes, the farther they move from having faith and begin to rely more on themselves. This may sound strange, but as I said, much of our education teaches us to rely internally upon ourselves and our skills to solve problems in our lives and in the world. The real disconnect here is that when we come to the ultimate problem of our salvation, Paul tells us here, there is nothing that we can do. All our skill, our good works, our knowledge will not bring us to the Father. Only when we let go of our attempts to solve the problem and come to Christ and confess our faith in Him do we then obtain true salvation.
One of the biggest obstacles in our lives to coming to Christ is our own pride. Anytime that we start to look within ourselves for a way to be saved, we are guaranteed to fail. Faith in Christ is the only way that we can be saved and if we are focused within ourselves, we will never see Him. That is one of dangers of academia that we face, if we are not careful, it can lead us to believe more in the reliance on ourselves than what we truly need, which is Christ.

I have children myself Lynn, and while they are not yet very old, I always think of how much I need to show them that example of faith in my life. It may take time, as they grow children have to go out and find their own experience, but that example that you give them is so very important. It can be easy to become discouraged but don’t let that stop you from being certain. Pray for your children and continue to be an example to them of what faith in one’s life truly should be and trust that God will work in their lives, even if it takes time. We live in a world that is constantly having a fire sale of truths. The problem is that there is only one truth, which we find in the Scriptures, and the more we lose focus on that, the less certainty we have. But you know THE truth Lynn. Seek His help in these situations and pray for those who need Him, and continue to be an example of what kind of certainty faith in Him gives us. I will pray for you and hope that this helps you, and if you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask them. God bless you Lynn and thank you.

Thank you so much for allowing God to speak through you to my heart. Seeing my children not walking in their faith doesn’t just take me to my knees, it floors me. I want so much to be strong, and for Christ to show in me, but I think all they are seeing is my fear for them. I just can’t find peace about this.

Thank you for your prayers for me.

I am grateful for the certainty that God has given me as I look back at the piles of stones along my path. Reminders of His grace and love for me. I pray my children will find that certainty.

Lynn

@Lindylou Hi Lynn! Thank you for bringing this question to the Connect community.

Straight out of the gate, I think certainty is a very sticky word. We tend to circulate vital terms—like hope, faith, belief, knowledge, and certainty—without clear definitions between us, and therefore have a lot of underlying assumptions going on in our conversations on things like this. Words are a bit like buckets with labels. We can see that someone has a bucket with the same label we have (say, faith) but until they give us a look in their bucket, it is entirely possible that theirs has a different content than our own word-bucket. This is one reason why many conversations come to an impasse and we can’t seem to bridge gaps in understanding between ourselves and our dialogue partners. When we cannot find a constructive way to talk about things, and feel we are talking past one another or dismissing one another, it may be a good time to ask questions and listen carefully. A great way to get past this exchange of words (and assumed meanings) is to inquire, “Would you be willing to help me understand what you mean when you use the word faith? What is the content of that word for you?” You might find that you have to adapt your vocabulary— choose different words—to be able to communicate well with another person. This “translation” is an act of love and service to the other, and can open new possibilities in communication.

Re: the educated / intellectual perspective of your children, this shouldn’t be a cause for intimidation. While many people do tend to oppose faith and knowledge, I think this is a mistake. The playing field is a lot more level than you think: everyone trusts someone. We all rely on an authority. The question is not whether we have faith; the question is where we put it.

I unpacked this a bit more in a reply on another thread I’ve linked here. I hope it can raise some new questions for you, and provide new avenues to approach these important engagements with your family.

One last thought on a mother’s faith and her children’s intellectual approach to seeking truth: I would commend to you St. Augustine’s Confessions, as he unfolds the story of how even his pagan education became part of God’s preparation of his heart for the gospel…and how he eventually came to share the faith of his unceasingly praying mother, Monica, even though their paths to Christ (and engagement with him) differed substantially. I think you will find this ancient testimony has a deeply contemporary resonance for both all praying mothers, and many a restless and truth-seeking heart.

Lynn,

I look back on my past very often and think of how gracious God has been to me. Especially when it comes to our children it is so hard sometimes to deal with these issues but God is faithful and He knows our struggles. If we pray for His guidance and wisdom we can be sure that He will answer us. I will keep praying and hoping for God to reveal Himself in a special way to your children. It sounds like they have a great example of His grace and assurance in you. Stay strong Lynn and trust that God will guide you through this challenging time. Sometimes I look back on my parents and their example to me of Christ’s love and can see what a strong influence they had on me and my return to His grace. Never doubt that He is listening and is in control no matter the circumstance. God bless you Lynn and my prayers are with you. If you have anything else that you need please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you so much for trusting this to the community here.

A favorite verse from Philippians - The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God bless you and thank you.

Thank you Liz. This is so helpful!

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