Thursday, July 29, 2010

Having Faith in One's Faith

At our Sunday School class last Sunday, we considered Romans 3:27-31, where justification by faith is distinguished from justification by works. I particularly like Tom Wright's translation of the matter in verse 28: "We calculate, you see, that a person is declared to be in the right on the basis of faith, apart from works of the law."

One of our class members, while not rejecting at all the matter of justification by faith, expressed concern whether his particular faith was enough faith. As he said, "I am having trouble having faith in my faith." I thought that was an issue very well put.

What came immediately to mind at the time is the passage in Matthew 17 about the mustard seed:

20[Jesus] replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Macon and his family are visiting, and I talked to him about this issue last night. He had three passages to offer, in addition to the mustard seed passage. One is Hebrews 12:2:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.[My bold]

The Lord is not only involved in the birth of our faith, however small and weak it might seem to us to be, but he is also involved in its "perfection." What a blessed assurance that is!

Macon also referred to the incident in Mark 9, where a father asks Jesus to heal his son, who suffers from convulsions:

21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"Since he was a child," he answered. 22 "The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us. Please help us."

23 " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for the one who believes."

24 Right away the boy's father cried out, "I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!"

On the basis of the father's belief/unbelief Jesus heals the father's son.

The third passage Macon recalled concerns Rahab, not a Jew but a citizen of pagan Jerico, in Joshua, Chapter 1. As he summarized her faith, "She had heard about the Lord and she was afraid of him." That was enough. Of course, she was involved in an important work for the Israelites, but knowledge of the Lord, perhaps relatively little knowledge, and fear of him, was the basis of her effective faith.


Scott said...

I particularly like the Hebrews passage; but don't neglect Heb 12:1 in conjunction with v2. The NASB actually has v1 and 2 as one sentence. So as we are running the race, we are fixing our eyes on Jesus. Who is He? Well, He's the author and perfector of our faith and He went all-the-way (the cross) to be so.

I believe! Help me not to doubt!

Paul Stokes said...

Got it!