Thursday, 13 November 2008


Do we understand faith? Do we really get what faith really is? I don't think many Christians, let alone people in general, do actually get it. They make faith a feeling, something we do, rather than an object, a thing we have been given. They make their faith the stand point of their salvation, rather than Jesus - that's faith in faith, which is rather recursive and inward looking (and our faith is rather untrustworthy). Faith looks outwards to it's object.

What is faith?

"Complete trust or confidence." (Oxford English Dictionary definition 1)
"Faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God... Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favour that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith." (Martin Luther, from his introduction to the Book of Romans)
"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

It's not a vague feeling that something is true! I think when confronted with these definitions, the cry of the Father of the demon-possessed boy "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:22) comes into play for so many of us.

What does it do?

It's a pipe where grace can flow!

"You were also raised with [Jesus] through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12)
"for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." (Galatians 3:26)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith." (Ephesians 2:8)
"in [Christ] we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." (Ephesians 3:12)
"that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:17)
"we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:14)
"the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe." (Romans 3:22)
"the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." (Romans 3:24-25)

Through the pipe of faith, we receive all the blessings of God: redemption, resurrection, the Spirit, adoption as sons of God, salvation, Christ dwelling in our hearts, boldness and confident access to the Father, God's righteousness and because "The one who by faith is righteous will live" (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, alternative translation) then also life (though I've already kind of mentioned that).

How do we get faith?

It's a gift:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)

It's offered to disciples:
"And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God."" (Mark 11:22)

It's delivered, once for all, to believers:
"the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 2)

It doesn't come from ourselves:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)

It is founded (and perfected) by Jesus:
"Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2)

If I have a piece of post delivered it doesn't come from me and it is mine unless I go to the effort of getting rid of it (which I have the choice of doing) - there's no work in receiving it. It's like something being placed in my pocket - I have the choice to keep it there, however while it is a work to remove it, it involves no effort to keep it there, belonging to me.

Faith isn't a work, isn't something we produce, it's something we receive without effort. We cannot boast of our faith, only boast in the object of that faith, who gave us that faith in the first place.

Our standing point, our place where we find assurance cannot be in how much we believe and trust in God, that's not even the faith we've been given. The way we get conviction of things unseen is by following that pipe of faith to where it's all coming from. We find assurance in the trustworthiness of God, rather than anything to do with us. As John Newton wrote "The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures".

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