The Nature of Faith

“The Nature of Faith is to be certain. Any measure of doubt or uncertainty is not a degree of faith but an assault upon it. Faith, therefore, must rest on something more sure than an inference of probability.”
J.I.Packer, from his “Fundamentalism and the Word of God,” p.117

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Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 2:00 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. “When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.’ … Acts 27:39
    “The Nature of Faith is to be certain. Any measure of doubt or uncertainty is not a degree of faith but an assault upon it. Faith, therefore, must rest on something more sure than an inference of probability.” J.I Packer.
    This statement by Packer is profound and at the same time helpful. It is spurring me on to respond. My thoughts go in the direction of sovereignty. Allow me to explain and go a little further than where Packer’s reflecting quote ends.
    As a point of distinction from false faith (that turns faith into a personal, moral voyage expedition of psychological subjective sentiment), true faith … (‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’), is often forgotten for what it is. And we can also be self deceived away from true faith’s object.
    In light of the frailties of our fallen nature and self condemning tendencies as sinners, how is it that we can have a hope against hope as the Scriptures state? … Only if the dispensing origin of it is conceived and sustained supernaturally outside of man’s ability and creation itself (Rom. 5:5). Too many of us lose sight of the fact that the faith we have … has been given to us as a gift. Too many of us do not attribute the grace of God to this gift. To many of us turn faith into a work by making false assumptions about its origin, character, and operation.
    An idea to help illustrate what I am attempting to point out would be to use the example of a boat on the high seas. Ha! Yes … You are the boat. Your life is turbulently fighting against the war of sin in and around you, which is attempting to toss you to and fro and destroy you. In the overwhelming opposing turbulence and forces against every scintilla of your being, when you are about to drown under the waters of the mighty sea, you are remarkably drawn to look up and see the beautiful sky. You are granted clarity in the middle of this life threatening mess (within and without).
    What is the explanation for this being drawn? Its accounting, origin, character, operation? Well, you see the reality that you are no match for your sin and the struggle against it and that you cannot sovereignty control your circumstances no matter what disciplines and effort you employ to create your own fantasy land of ‘peace’. After all, you are brought to the end of all assumptions of ability! The reality of this further immobilizes you with relentless fear as you approach the inescapable precipice of the current that would condemn even your own conscience, your very life.
    But true faith is not abandoned or ship wrecked. It cannot be. It is entirely impossible. In fact, the clarity by which you see and understand the offense of the waters of your sin and the means to look away from its depravity and the consequential turbulence of it at its greatest point and tug and then look to the beauties of the sky, is the work of His faith in you (1 John 3:20). It bares testimony to the realities of the election of grace and salvation. All of which is incorporated in the fruit of Christ’s labor (Heb. 9:14) which He provides as the only means that saves your life and keeps you alive (Heb. 10:23).
    I am thankful for Christ’s comfort of words to me concerning the Gospel message’s tie into the Christian life. ‘Faith, therefore, must rest on something more sure than an inference of probability’ … is a statement of truth as Packer makes. This ‘something’ is specifically answered to from Scripture and is irresistibly affirmed in every Christian’s heart. True faith rests on the quality of God’s immutability. The immutability of His counsel and His will rebukes your own supposed immutability and will, with convicting clarity. ‘This we have as an anchor of the soul’! His mercies reveal to you that your counsel is no match to His counsel and He gentle chastens you under His righteousness by which we draw near (Heb. 4:10; Gal. 5:5).
    ‘For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith’ … So faith is constantly exercised by the realities of our own frailties and the desperate need of our deficiency. We are granted by His loving kindness the essential knowledge that accounts for the many times we sinfully subjugate and bring down faith to degrees of human measure of doubt or uncertainty. He grants us repentance for presuming that faith is something I conceive and manage.
    As our ‘Forerunner’, our High Priest entered, and even now enters, ‘behind the veil’ always interceding, always engaging, always loving, and will so for eternity.
    ‘ … that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power …’ (Eph. 1:17 – 19)
    Every Christian is like Paul and even Abraham. There is no such thing as a super Christian or hierarchism in the economy of true faith. They were frail sinners as you and I. No Christian in fact is ‘off the hook’ to make such an appeal. Paul’s experience is yours’ and mine. We are enlisted to the same campaign fighting against the same foes under the same Savior by the same power of faith.
    ‘ … who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.’
    Amen,
    Steve Corsello

    • Amen, Steve! Well said!


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