The Nature of Faith

     “Faith” is a word that everyone seems to like.  I hear people say that they’re not religious, but that they do have faith, which makes me wonder…Faith in whom? In what?  It’s kind of like the word “love.”  We like to throw it around because it’s positive and non-threatening.  Yet often we have no idea what it actually means, as if its some abstract, feel-good notion, but faith which has no object is no faith at all.  

     Nor is faith mere ascription to a certain belief system.  I am certain that a person could intellectually comprehend the message of the Bible, grasp the most complex and difficult theological truths and still be without saving faith.  Scripture tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1  It then goes on to describe the heroes of the faith who endured great trials because of their faith.  Thus, faith implies more than belief in the truth of something.  It is an investment in the truth of those beliefs, often an investment of our very lives.  It is a trust that the promise of what is to come is of greater value than anything which now is.  

     Nor is our faith of our own working.  I cannot make myself have faith and “my faith” is not about me though I can try to make it that way.  Jesus Christ Himself is “the author and perfecter of our faith.” -Hebrews 12:2 When I was yet dead in my sin and unable to to see the supreme worth and beauty of Christ, He opened my eyes and and allowed me to comprehend the truth of the Gospel, the source of my salvation.  The seed of my faith has been planted by the Sovereign hands of God. He has rooted it in the truth of the Gospel and will continue to make it grow.  

     And grow it does, but it does not grow aimlessly.  My faith is not a mere assent to some kind of abstract set of beliefs.  My faith is in someone.  Just as a plant grows towards the sun and the sky which give it life, faith grows towards the Person which can sustain it.  Christ Himself is the object of my faith and He lives within me.  

     Consider how wondrous that really is.  If we struggle with faith in this present life, it can feel as if we are sending our hope out into some distant sphere without assurance of a return.  Yet we must remember that our faith has an object and that object is a Person who now dwells within us.  If I struggle, if I founder, I need not go far for the rejuvenation of my faith.  For the One in whom I put my faith is near, ready to commune and tend the plant which He Himself has caused to grow..  

     And yet, though Christ is near and with us, our faith is not yet fulfilled or it would not be faith.  Faith is aimed toward something.  It has a goal and that goal is not heaven or freedom from suffering.  Those things will come and they will be glorious, but no the goal is Christ Himself.    Paul often speaks of the “good fight” of faith and obtaining the “prize” and in Philippians 3, he tells us what the prize is.  Paul says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.” -Philippians 3:7-9  Jesus Christ was the goal which Paul pressed on toward, the prize which he strained to win, the treasure for which he considered all else rubbish.  

     This is the nature of our faith.  We first believed because He made us to believe.  He “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” -Ephesians 2:5  We continue to believe now “because we know whom we have believed, and are convinced that he is able to guard what we have entrusted to him for that day.”  -2 Timothy 1:12  And we believe with faith that that day will come for “having believed, we were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1:13-14

     Thus we find that God is at the beginning, the middle, and the end of it all.  Jesus Christ is the Author, the Object, and the Goal of our faith.  “In the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'” -Romans 1:17  And so we shall for we have been justified by faith in Christ, we live by faith in Christ, and one glorious day our faith in Christ will become sight and we shall see Him whom we have believed and so gain the prize, the treasure of surpassing worth which we have run to obtain.  

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