Even though Mack and I (and even Minus) have now come to a consensus regarding the formula for pure faith, Minus has asked that we include the following in our file.
Somewhere amid our lively banter, I recalled having seen a folder in our cold case box labeled “Hall of Faith.” I retrieved this file and spread it out on the desk for all to see. Listed there (Hebrews 11) were Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Daniel, Samson, and several others. Many of the works/actions performed by these Giants of Faith are documented for us, while others are not, but are easily found elsewhere. As we scanned this list, we were surprised to find that NONE (as in NOT ONE) of the actions completing the epic faith listed, was works of the Law! Not one!
For Noah, it was building the ark. Abraham is listed twice, once for leaving Ur without knowing where he was going, and the second time for walking up Mount Moriah with the intent of sacrificing his “only son whom he loved.” Joseph’s action was the instructions he gave on his deathbed that his bones be taken out of Egypt whenever the exodus would one day occur. We talked about that one quite a bit. Joseph was the fourth generation from the promise. We marveled at his faith. If we had seen our father, grandfather, and great grandfather go to their graves without seeing the promise come to fruition, would we still believe? Would some of our last words consist of instructions of what to do when the promise did materialize? We wondered if we had ever experienced that kind of faith.
So, you see, all of the actions/works listed in the Hall of Faith exhibit, are comparable to our getting into that storm shelter or reporting the neighbor analogies. They were actions which bore witness to something unseen (the deep conviction of truth which permeated both the physical and the spiritual).
The above discussion lead Mack and me to debate whether following the Law of Moses is therefore necessary at all! However, before we could begin to feel smugly justified in not keeping God’s law as part of our faith, we faced the following challenge to our ill-fated theory. It was actually Minus who asked the questions as he stopped by to check on our progress. “Is He God? I mean, REALLY God?” he asked. As he talked, he walked across the office and retrieved the old, worn, leather covered Bible that was part of the cold case file. Holding it up, he asked “Is this book really penned or inspired by Him – God Himself? Is He REALLY all knowing? All powerful? Omnipresent? Really? Did He create all that is, was, and will be? Did He stop the sun, send a large fish to transport a rebellious prophet, feed millions with manna, raise the dead? Really?
If so, and if you and I believe that He is Who He says He is, and means what He says He means, why would there be any question as to whether we should follow the teachings and instructions ( in other words – obey) the God of the Universe? Is He unchanging? Does His Word stand forever?”
“Well, of course” I answered. However, that was for Israel and we are not Israel.”
Oh, really? He said. He opened the Bible, and laid it on the desk.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
And with that, he turned on his heels, and walked out of our office, leaving us with more to ponder as we continue to investigate.
We are satisfied that we have made somewhat of a breakthrough in this case. We have now isolated what appears to be a formula for the power release we are studying. Here it is:
FAITH + GRACE = POWER (resulting in miracles such as healing and/or redemption)
AND, we have finally agreed upon a definition for faith.
FAITH= conviction of truth, which naturally includes actions compatible with that conviction.
Minus dipped back into our office asking if the actions taken were based upon a decision process. Minus always seems to ask the questions we would have never thought of. “For instance,” he continued, “did Abraham calculate the consequences of leaving Ur with no “plan” or even timeframe? Did he make a list of pros and cons and ask his family and friends to weigh in? Did Noah consider NOT building the ark? Did he decide to wait for confirmation in the form of rain to confirm the words he had heard before acting? Did he perhaps consult The Farmers Almanac before agreeing to follow the Lord’s instructions?”
With that he rose from the old wooden office chair and walked through the doorway, stopping to add one more thing before heading back to his office. “Next report on my desk by 8:00 a.m.” And with that, he was gone.
After careful consideration of Minus’ questions, it became clear that true conviction makes the decisions for you! Action is the natural outcome of conviction of truth. We decided that this relationship between faith and action might be compared to the reaction one would have when seeing a car barreling in their direction. To jump out of the way or not to jump out of the way is not a question that even needs to be entertained! Jumping out of the path is the natural response to the truth of the situation.
After all, we have already learned that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The thing unseen is the conviction within the heart and the belief within the mind. Actions reveal both. As James said, faith without works is dead.
Mack placed the Greek dictionary back on the shelf, and started to turn away when he suddenly paused, retrieving it once more and returning to his desk. “Oh no, Pleeeeeze Mack. No more word searches tonight. I’m exhausted! Put the book back where it belongs, let’s file the report, and go home!” But I knew better than that. Mack was on the trail of something and could not be dissuaded. “Well, are you going to just stand there whining, or are you going to help?” he groused as he shoved the Webster’s Dictionary across the desk. “What are we looking for now, Mack?” I asked in a not-so-cheerful tone. “Grace.” he mumbled as he moved the wooden toothpick on which he had been chewing since lunch from one side of his mouth to the other.
I slammed the dictionary shut and stared at him incredulously. “Grace? Really, Mack? Grace? Now this is a waste of time. You and I have known what grace means since we were both in booster band together when we were in kindergarten. Grace is undeserved favor. There. Mystery solved. I’m going home!” “Oh, that’s okay, M.J. You’re right of course. Go on home. After all, we did know what faith meant, now didn’t we???” I had been headed out the door but that stopped me in my tracks. I hate it when Mack is right.
“Okay, okay, Mack,” I said resignedly. “Grace. Okay. I’ll play along. This should just take a minute and we can return the dictionaries to the shelf and go home!” I quickly found the correct entry in the Webster’s English dictionary and shoved it across the desk. No surprise.
(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
synonyms: favor · good will · generosity · kindness · benefaction · beneficence
I smugly tap the entry, waiting for him to concede the point and call it a night. He glanced at the Webster’s as he continued to search for the correct entry in the Greek Dictionary. “Okay, he says. Just bear with me. Let’s just confirm that the Greek word translated as grace in the New Testament means the same thing.”
I paced around the room, stretched, looked at my watch, and waited. Once he had located the correct Greek word, he held his hand up as if to shush me as he concentrated on what he was reading. Staring at the entry for what seemed like five minutes, he at last glanced up from the page with an expression of obvious disbelief. The toothpick dropped from his open mouth as he pushed the book across the desk for me to see and awaited my reaction.
My first thought upon reading the entry was that this must be one of Mack’s not-so-funny jokes. Surely, he must be pulling my leg. As I resumed reading, he reached across the desk again, highlighting the entry as I read.
G5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
Total KJV occurrences: 156
WHAT! Not in all my years in church, nor in any of the many Sunday School and Bible study groups of which I had ever been a part, had I EVER heard this definition of GRACE! Divine influence upon the heart? Its reflection in the life???? Could this mean that God’s grace to us is demonstrated in the fact that He influences our hearts towards Him and His ways? Is this another way to express His wooing of our hearts and souls? Hmmmm. I know there was something I saw in the evidence box that may be relevant to this discussion. I ran to the box and thumbed through the papers until I found it. It was in the “Hebrew Writings” folder.
Eze 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Hos 11:4 I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.
Php 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Wow! Mack and I stood for what seemed like hours staring down at the page, trying to take it all in. Then suddenly, Mack gasped, reached across the desk, and began tapping the bottom of the yellowed page with the end of his pencil. “Why, look at that!” he said.
When working a cold case, each subsequent investigator to work it is to initial any file that he or she reviews. If he is the one who entered the original file, it will be so noted and signed. There had been more than a dozen cold case units from just our precinct who had worked this case over the last 30 or so years. And there at the top of the list, dated some 37 years ago, were the initial E.M. (Edgar Myling, otherwise known as – Minus)! Minus had worked this case when he was just a young rookie in the cold case division! Why hadn’t he said anything?
We were excited! We were exhausted! We definitely needed time to digest all of this information. Surely we were almost ready to begin the part of the investigation we liked most- the reconstruction of the scene! But for now, a hot meal and a soft pillow were definitely in my future. Mack might stay through the night if he so chose, but THIS investigator was pushing for home.