Faith

None of us would be able to live our lives effectively without a greater or lesser degree of faith and an absence of it would leave us uncertain and afraid. Confidence and trust are closely allied to faith and are essential to our well being. In certain situations we presume that things have been done and we trust others to do them. When we take a journey on an Aeroplane we have faith that somebody has filled the tank with aviation fuel. We routinely have faith in what we are told about products advertised on TV, the accuracy of the news, the advice we receive in magazines yet we often do not know for sure if supposed fact or opinion are true.

In a material world we trust what our five senses tell us despite the fact that they are not always reliable, which is seen in the various perspectives offered when a number of people recount the same event. A scientist may have faith that the universe arose from the big bang event despite not knowing what went bang or how the universe arranged itself into such complex forms. The theory of evolution is considered best explanation as to the development of biological life on earth but despite a number of unanswered questions many people still have faith in it.

The Christian idea of faith is the recognition that there is more to life than that which can be seen through human eyes or by scientific experiment. Indeed recent surveys have shown that in excess of 70% of people believe in an ultimate power, mind or person that is beyond our understanding and which we cannot see. The Bible tells us that we only see dimly in this life as if through a cloudy mirror. It is a conviction that there is a God who is not seen by us but who we can experience in a life of prayer, through his Holy Spirit and that he can impact our lives and the world.

There are a number of stories in the bible that illustrate the nature of faith.  Faith was an important factor in Jesus being able to perform healings. In one village he could not heal because the level of faith was poor. The women with the issue of blood was healed just by touching his garment. Jairus’s daughter was raised from the dead on account of her faith. Jesus gives an example of the lillies of the field as an example of how God cares for us and he asks those gathered  "Why do you have such little faith". He is assuring them that God will care for them also, if only they have faith. One of the most well known stories in the bible is that of Peter who attempts to walk on water in the midst of a violent storm. Whilst he focuses on Jesus in faith he is able to do so but when he becomes afraid and takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to worry about the storm he begins to sink. Jesus rescues Peter in the same way that he can rescue us. On another occasion Jesus describes faith as small as a mustard seed being able to grow and move mountains.

Many Old Testament characters were deeply flawed and of dubious morals and in fact a large part of the bible centres around three murderers Abraham, Moses and David but all were redeemed by their desire to reform and by their faith in God. The bible tells us that we cannot be liberated into the spiritual life without complete trust and faith in him, that we can trust his word and that he will keep his promises. Paul tells us in Romans repeating the scripture from Isaiah that faith comes from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. The practical application of faith is to be obedient and do things Gods way, that we are to learn from scripture and in a life of prayer desire to love and worship God and love our fellow man.

God desires our heart more than anything. Faith is closely aligned to Grace, hope and love and these were the key ideas which sparked the reformation because Martin Luther realized that we could not earn our salvation by works or by obeying the law alone, because Jesus had already done the work by dying on the cross. Faith simply required that we love him and show that love in our dealings with others. Good works are not necessary to be saved but are rather the evidence of our faith because James tells us that faith without good works are dead.

In Ephesians we are told that faith is our shield in the armour of God and that we become righteous and right with God through faith. Faith is also required that we know our sins have truly been fully forgiven by God, in this way a strong faith minimizes feelings of guilt about our own wrongdoings or bitterness toward others who may have wronged us in the past, from these things we can be liberated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        THE LEAP OF FAITH                                                                                       There are many things to consider before making a decision to follow Jesus. Many people relate to the ethics of Jesus. Not to judge people, The call to non-violence, The command to tell the truth, but may find it harder to commit to somebody they cannot see or touch, or have difficulty believing miracles such as walking on water, turning water into wine or in Jesus returning to life from the dead. It is when we take a leap of faith to believe with all our heart in those improbable or what some would deem impossible things that a process of change begins within us. Some might say that this is just having faith in faith but we rather believe in what faith does in the practical sense of changing our lives. We do this in our prayer life and through study of the bible during which we confess our shortcomings, where we ask forgiveness for ourselves and the strength to forgive others. Essential to this is being honest with ourselves about who we really are because much harm is caused by our own sin both to our own spirit and others and much emotional baggage can impede our own personal growth and yet we can be healed through prayer in faith. This spiritual change can be evident straight away and be quite dramatic or may be gradual becoming evident over a longer period of time. It is through faith in God that we can be transformed for better.

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