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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The precious gift of faith

My grudge with the charismatics
I have many charismatic friends - whether they view me in the same light, I know not. One grudge against them is the downplaying of certain spiritual gifts and the uplifting of others. Our good friends will big up speaking in tongues, healing, words of knowledge and the like, but I have yet  to hear a single charismatic friend extol the glories of the precious gift of faith.

I guess we are all imbalanced somewhere, though I can't think.......

"Saved by grace... by faith... not of yourselves.. it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8,9)

What is the gift of faith?
Quite literally the ability to see things and believe things otherwise invisible. It is a believer's way of "knowing". The mind is one way of knowing. The world knows things through the approval of the mind. A man reads a book about flowers and his mind agrees with what he is reading, and he now knows this fact, that gardening technique. Experience is another way of knowing - we may learn the hard way something that the mind ignored or refused to accept.

Faith is a spiritual gift which enables us to know certain things with absolute certainty, but without the use of reason or experience.

So for example, we believe God created all things by faith (Hebrews 11:3). (So, if the world taught that the universe just came about by itself without God, we would not accept that belief, because we know, through the gift of faith, that God is the great Creator.)

For example, we believe in life after death. There is no way experience or reason could lead to that truth, unless you buy into NDEs,  Near Death Experiences. There are some faith-truths that are just not open to reason or experience, they are beyond the weak powers of reason and experience. That's why we need faith, because reason is so weak, not to mention fallible.

Faith is supported by reason and experience
This does not mean that reason and experience are irrelevant to faith or opposed by faith. Since God created the world, we should expect to find lots of reason-evidence and experience-evidence around us, and my oh my, so we do.  (Proper) Reason and (Proper) Experience will always support Faith.

Reason and Experience always rely on a kind of 'faith'
Critics of faith will always say that they don't need faith, because they rely on the tangible and 'more sure' methods of reason and experience for their truer 'knowledge'. But of course this is entirely untrue. All reason relies on faith of a kind, not supernatural faith, but trust (faith) in others. Take research in any scientific field. The researcher relies on (i) other people's research, (ii) the laws of nature, (iii) the stability of natural law, (iv) the present paradigm in which that science is operating; none of which he or she has the time nor ability to "prove."

A divine gift that comes through hearing
Faith - an incredible supernatural gift from God - comes through hearing God's word. This is a mysterious and wonderful thing. If we don't have faith, we need to read God's Word, listen to preaching, and somehow, mysteriously, wonderfully, God gives us the gift of faith.

And this gift is more precious than any of the other spiritual gifts God gives, because it opens the door of eternal life.

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