Real Faith: What’s at the Heart of the Gospel
By John Murray
For a Christian to read a primer on Christianity can be eye-opening. Sometimes we may have either been less mindful of the fundamentals or perhaps are still learning if one is young in their walk. For a non-Christian to come across such a book, one would hope it would help them become more aware of what the heart of Christianity should look like, therefore help them gain, not only an understanding, but also a new respect for the Christian belief system. That is what I found in Real Faith: What’s at the Heart of the Gospel? by John Murray.
In a world of multiple denominations and religions, anyone who is searching for what our walk through humanity could be like would benefit from the explanation and examples given by Murray in Real Faith. In a short amount of pages (approx. 200), Murray details what the walk of those after the heart of God, as detailed in scripture (found in the Holy Bible) should not only look like but also what one should strive to ascertain (spiritual peace, contentment, love).
One reference Murray makes is to the 17c Philosopher, Blaise Pascal, who suggested that there is a ‘God-shaped vacuum within the heart of man’, hence stating that “…until this vacuum is filled with a proper relationship with God, we miss life’s greatest purpose.” Murray states (in reference to other philosophers), “They are trying to fit together a jigsaw puzzle with a great piece missing.” (27) He further elaborates on how, from birth, man fights against himself to find perfect order under God’s reign in our lives.
Murray breaks down the why’s and how’s of faith; he demonstrates great courage through his honest words. Murray breaks down the trinity: what each “God-head” (God [The Father], Jesus [The Son] and the Holy Spirit) represent. He breaks down their purpose for the world and each individual Believer. He writes of salvation through Christ Jesus, it’s benefits and what is expected of a Believer or disciple of, thereafter.
Chapter 10, “What is Portrayed by our Attitude” discusses the ‘fruits of the (Holy) Spirit’ which are the behaviors and attitudes that a Christian (specifically) should take on both inwardly and outwardly, and portray to others. As outlined on page 168, Murray defines it as such:
“God has created us…he will make us into the people he wants us to be. He gives us the giftings and abilities to carry out the works he has chosen for us to carry out…His Spirit gives us guidance as to where we should serve, what we should do, and how we should do it. It is our duty to be sensitive to the direction of God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to “Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:9-10)”
Goodness, righteousness and truth, spoken of above, are born of the fruits of the Spirit; Murray goes on to discuss each characteristic, at length, to help anyone understand what they are, where they come from and how we carry them out, out of reverence to God, Christ Jesus and unto others. In doing so, Murray states, “We will experience changes in our temperament and attitude which will surprise even us.” (181)
Murray presents several accounts of people he has known and their tremendous testimonies. All of whom had endured, horrific situations and despite the odds, came out the other side holding on to their faith—and forgiving those who had a hand in it all. Walking by faith and not by sight* they were able to endure! (*-2 Corinthians 5:7)
I thoroughly enjoyed how Real Faith is laid-out. Each chapter and section is used to paint pictures for the reader. Murray thoughtfully explains what faith in God is and why it’s important for any Christian to not only understand, rather take seriously, their responsibility. This responsibility is making sure that we are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. “We cannot live a life that is a sham and expect others to listen when we share our faith.” (195)
“..it is the Spirit of God who creates that desire to be holy and who gives us the grace and strength to practice holiness.” (191)
If you are a seeker, a Christian or of any religion (or without) I can say this work from John Murray would be well worth your time and should be shared with others. It’s a great guide to living a fruitful, abundant life!
For more information on John Murray or to purchase Real Faith: What’s in the Heart of the Gospel? Visit the links below: