Blog # 281 The Year of Faith (2012 - 2013 ) - 3
A good place to start in the process of gaining spiritiual profit from our experience of theYear of Faith is to establish the meaning of faith. In its strict theological sense faith is identified with an act of believing, that is, an act of taking something as true on the word of another. It must definitely and clearly be distinguished from an act of taking a guess, having a certain opinion, an act of hope, or of superstition. In a less strict sense faith is sometimes used in a sense of having confidence or trust in another person independently of the element of taking that person's word as true. In this sense it is seen as a preparation or condition for faith in its strict sense. Faith is refered to as natural or supernatural depending upoon whether the revealer of the truth is human or divine.
I looked up the word faith in my concordance and found that it occurs 494 times so it must be important in our task of working out our salvation. In fact some of the texts identified faith not only as more important in a similar category as other virtues that are helpfull on our way , but most important and essentially important in that faith is the foundation for our knowledge of the very reality of God our Creator, and hence of all that stems from and is rooted in that basic truth.
Here are just a few samples of the texts that help us come to our conclusion as to the importance of faith in the Christian economy of salvation. (Wis. 1: 2) "the Lord is found by those who test him not, and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him." (Mat 17: 19) "...if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, "Move from here to there", and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you." ( Gal 5: 6 ) "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself through love." (2 Tim 4: 7) I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." (Heb 11: 6) "...without faith it is impossible to please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe he exists." ( James 2: 26) " Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath." (Eph 2: 8) "...salvation is yours through faith." (Rom 4: 20 ). "Abraham never qustioned or doubted God's promise; rather he was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God, fully persuaded that God could do whatever he had promisd."
Faith is a tool, like an alphabet, a saw, a map, a recipe book. A saw hanging in the garage is a saw, but not in its complete meaning until it is sawing. So with the letters of an alphabet, A to Z. Strung togeher they can share the truth of a history book, the beauty of a poem, the wonderful taste of fresh baked Irish soda bread , the memory of home made peach jam and a prayer of thanks for the tree in your back yard and the goodness, skill, and love of your mother when you were just a boy 75 years ago. In these instances the alphabet 'lives', to use the term James gives us in reference to faith.
Here is how the term 'living' works for faith. Let me pose as the revealer. I come before you with a claim that God is real, the sole Creator of us all and of all that exists. Do you believe it? I claim there are and have been many witnesses among us that help us believe and invite us to believe, lives of holy men and women who suffered a great deal and sometimes torture and death for the sake of their faith yet were, through faith, among the happiest of those living around them. Then come the ordinary people like most of us who, through faith, praised and thanked God in prayer and generous love for their neighbor and tasted the joy of believing God's word. The sun helps me believe because it speaks to me of God's power. The bees help me believe because they speak to me of God's wisdom. A mother's self-giving generous love helps me believe because it speaks to me of God's wonderful goodness and love.
There are a few more insights in reference to the Year of Faith we want to consider so hang on for blog # 282.