Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life Of Faith - 2 - What Is Faith?


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit One God. Amen.

CHAPTER 2

WHAT IS FAITH?

Any worshipper of God can use the word `faith' if when he does not believe in the Truth. He may have the name of a believer, but does not have the heart of one.

Faith does not automatically make you a believer if you are born a family which believes in the existence of God. But faith has a much deeper than this, it encompasses the whole spiritual life, performs miracles.

At one occasion, the disciples of the Lord were unable to heal a epileptic boy from the demon, so they asked the Lord for the reason and He answered them "Because of your unbelief" (Matt. 17:20) and rebuked them by saying "O faithless and perverse generation" (Matt 17:17).

A generation be unbelievers, which God came for, but where they really unbelievers? How alarming! Here the Lord says to His disciples "I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it will move" (Matt. 17:20). Truly, what is this faith of a seed which can move a mountain? As the apostle says "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5).

The Bible tells us of something strange, more dangerous... what is it? It is the state of a human being who seems to be believing in God, he prays and performs miracles but he does not believe in Truth! and even not accepted in the eyes of God! Here is what the Lord Himself said "Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 7:21).

The Lord continues "Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matt.7:22-23).

What shall we call those who say 'Lord, Lord... in your name we did this and that'? Are they really believers? Maybe it's only an apparent faith, or faith by name, or only mental faith, but it's not the real faith accepted by God.

What then is the real faith which is accepted in the eyes of the Lord? We ask Him and He answers "Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' ... but he who does the will of My Father in heaven " (Matt. 7:21). This also reminds us of the story of the five virgins who also used the expression 'Lord, Lord,...' and they stood behind the closed door saying "Lord, Lord open the door for us", and they heard from the Lord the clear and terrifying answer "I tell you the truth, I don't know you".

The expression 'Lord, Lord' does not necessarily help if you are awaiting the bridegroom with a lamp without oil, or if you arrive after the door is closed.

Therefore what is faith? and what is its connection to oil which signifies the Holy Spirit? and what is its connection with the will of God who is in heaven?

This faith is alive and is accepted by God as we'll see later... Faith is not simply a belief but also a life.

You can test it by its fruits in your life... as the Lord said "You will know them by their fruits....every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matt. 7:16-20).

This is how you can test yourself: Does your faith bear fruit? Because 'by their fruits you will recognise them'.

This is what John the evangelist teaches us "Now by this we know that we know Him" how? "If we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him " (1 John 2:3-4). Faith is tested through a life of obedience to God's commandments, and he who does not have this obedience is not considered a believer of Truth, and can not claim to know God.

The apostle Paul lists in his letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 11) wonderful examples of faithful men. They show practical faith in their private lives. Enoch for example; the bible did not say that he defended his belief like other heroes of faith. But Enoch was a hero of faith because he "He pleased God." (Heb. 11:5) and "Walked with God" (Gen. 5:22,24).

You may not be as spiritually knowledgeable as were the apostles, but no doubt you can also lead the same life as our father Enoch, who walked with God. You can live like other men of faith who St. Paul mentioned "They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth... they desire a better, that is, a heavenly
country." (Heb 11: 13,16).

Our father Abraham was a man of faith who "Obeyed when he was called to go out " (Heb. 11: 8), and went out after God "Not knowing where he was going." He was a man of faith in accepting God's timing and even when he was to sacrifice his only son, confident that God can raise the dead (Heb. 11:17-
19).

His wife Sarah is also considered a hero of faith because she believed the Lord for "She judged Him faithful who had promised." (Heb 11:11).

Heroes of faith are not only those who defended their belief, but are also those who believed in the Lord, walked with Him, who were righteous and pleased Him (Heb. 11:33). Also those who
"Were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." and those who "Had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. .. of whom the world was not worthy " (Heb. 11:35-38) "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith" (Heb. 11:39). In all these examples, the bible gives us a wide spectrum of the meaning of faith.

Paul tells us that faith "Is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

You hope for many things after death. You hope for eternal life with angels and the saints, to see the Lord in Paradise and resurrect from the dead into a spiritual body. You desire eternal peace after the general resurrection. Faith is without any doubt, complete confidence that these matters exist without having seen them.

Faith Is Beyond The Level Of Our Senses
Faith does not contradict but beyond our senses. Faith is a higher power than our limited senses. Our senses are only capable of detecting physical or materialistic things, but there are other matters, which are beyond the material sense. The senses are also limited in what they can physically detect.

Instruments are often used to sense details and gain information which the senses alone can not accomplish. How much more is it for the non-physical, which the apostle called "invisible things". Faith is not what is seen by the human eye (2 Cor. 5:7).

The soul can not be seen or felt by the senses. The fact that the senses do not feel the soul does not mean that it does not exist but rather, unable to detect it. The senses are limited in scope and the level of the soul.

Faith Is Beyond The Level Of The Intellect
The intellect may guide you to the beginning of the way but faith continues with you on the way to the end. Faith does not contradict the intellect, but leads it to a higher level the mind alone cannot reach.

What the mind cannot understand is called unattainable. We often describe God as infinite because He has no limit. The human mind is limited, and can only understand the limited matters. The mind can bring you to know God and some of His qualities but of faith, "God has revealed... to us through His
Spirit." (1 Cor. 2:10). God shows Himself to the believer to what they can bear to comprehend.

The mind may not grasp many things but must accept them. By nature, the mind does not refuse all that it does not understand.

There are for example in our physical world, many inventions only experts can understand. In spite of this, the normal mind can accept and deal with these things without knowing how they work. The mind accepts death, and speaks about it, but does not understand it.

If the mind accepts many things in our world without understanding them, then clearly nothing should deprive the mind from accepting other matters not of this world.

The mind does not understand how miracles happen, but it accepts them and finds joy in them.

A miracle is called a miracle because the mind fails to grasp it and cannot explain it. But the mind accepts it by faith... faith, with infinite power, greater than that of the mind, can perform things the mind fails to understand. This power is the power of God the almighty.

We respect the mind, and at the same time we know its limits.

We can not accept the proud mind which desires to understand all things, refusing that some are beyond comprehension.

The mind should be humble to know its limitation "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12.3). The mind should submit matters beyond its
level of understanding to faith.

If the mind wanted to nullify all that it does not understand it would end up destroying itself, lose the element of faith and put itself in a very narrow circle of very limited range of understanding.

Believers are moderate, they esteem the mind and use it in religious and spiritual affairs. There are philosophers and people of high intellect among the believers, who do not depend on the mind in pride or trust in its ability to understand all things.

However, in simplicity and humility they confess that their minds are limited and are unable to understand all this associated with God. With faith, their hearts and minds accept all that is beyond the level of the mind.

The simple and humble mind accepts faith and miracles.

We mean humble in the sense that the mind is not proud of its own understanding or destroys all that is does not understand.

But does not complicate matters or insist on placing everything within its own limits. We will refer to this point later when we speak about the simplicity of faith.

Faith is not only a prayer said, but a life we live. If you are living a life of faith, the fruits of faith apparent in your practical life. Examine your faith against the virtues which are clear in the believer's life and these are many. As the apostle says, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5).

Conviction Of The Unseen
The apostle said about faith: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). We want to know what this verse means:
Conviction: is certainty, confidence and belief without doubt. It is not simply an idea, opinion or knowledge gained from reading or hearing about it, but certainty that unseen matters exist.

Here is a clear difference between believers and men of science.

The things that are not seen are not in the working field of the researchers. If they are not sure of something, they investigate it thoroughly with their instruments and apparatus. The same also
applies to men of material beliefs.

Believers are not like this, they follow God's saying "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

The believer accepts the creation from nothing. The scientist's research refuses this matter, and refuses that five loaves of bread fed five thousand men (excluding the women and children) and that twelve baskets full of bread where left over.

The believer accepts all this.

The believer accepts firstly that God is powerful. He also accepts everything in a certain range of this unlimited power.

The believer frees himself from the doubts of the researches and the investigations of the unbeliever. Not only does he accept the unseen, but moreover, he lives according to and focuses his mind and affection on the unseen according to what the apostle's words. "While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18).

You will ask, how can I see the hidden? And I tell you by faith.

What are then those unseen matters? The first is probably God Himself, His qualities, His works, and all things pertaining to Him.

1- God, His Qualities And Works
God is unseen, as John the evangelist said "No one has seen God" (John 1:18). Actually who can see the divinity? No one!

However, in spite of this, you believe in Him with all your heart, and with all certainty. This faith does not at all rely on your physical senses. You may say you see Him with your trained spiritual senses (Heb.5:14). This non-physical senses were trained to see the unseen, and we have the following examples from the Bible:

David said "I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved." (Ps 16:8). So how did he see the Lord in front of him and at his right hand all times? No doubt he saw Him with an eye of faith. In some of the translations it is written "I have seen the Lord...." that
means that he is continuously seeing the unseen and focusing on Him with mind and feeling.

With the same meaning Elijah said "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand"(1 Kin 18:15). How was he able to feel that he stands before God? And how was he able to always see the Lord in front of him? Not through the bodily senses since they can not arouse a believer's heart. But it is by faith that the Lord is before him. It is faith that sees the unseen.

If you are in faith, you will have confidence that God is always before you and will act according to this belief, that God sees you and hears you...

If you live in faith, you are sure that God is in the midst of His people, according to His promise "...I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) and "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt.28:20). You do not see Him with the eye of your body, but you believe that He is in our midst. You do not need to see Him physically to believe. You believe without seeing, or you perceive the unseen.
What is a spiritual life my brothers and sisters? It is not simply a shift from what is felt and visible to the unseen.

We live the unseen with confidence that He is in front of us.

This becomes the difference between the believer and the non-believer.

The non-believer desires to see everything with his eyes, or else he can not believe. The believer does not allow his eyes, senses, or external happenings shape his beliefs. But his heart believes in the existence of unseen matters. On one occasion, God rebuked His disciple Thomas who would not believe without seeing when God said to him "Do not be unbelieving, but believing", "Because you have seen Me, you have believed.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:27,29).

We mentioned earlier, faith in God is among the conviction of unseen matters. Not only faith in the existence of God but also faith in His attributes and in His works.

You believe in His goodness and choices for your good, the almighty who has dominion over all things. You believe that He is able to do everything, for "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27), and you believe in God's love for you and for others.

You may not see all these qualities physically, but you believe in them. You believe that God takes care of the universe, and preserves its beauty. You believe that He labours and takes care
of every individual. You will either see His work or the results of His work or you will not see anything at all.

2- The Timing Of God
The following were described as men of faith "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. " (Heb. 11:13), these people waited for the things promised in faith, and believed in what the Lord said to them.

And things promised "Which God has prepared for those who love Him" were all unseen matters, as explained by the apostle as "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the
heart of man" (1 Cor. 2:9).

God's warnings are also unseen things. Noah believed the Lord when He said that He will flood the whole world even though floods were unknown to Noah. No flood had ever happened before in his days or the days of his ancestors. However, he believed that this which never happened before, would happen.

He laboured to complete the ark, enduring the mockery from others, these were years of faith.

Noah heeded to the warning of God, and was therefore considered a man of faith. Through faith he had seen the flood before it happened. Through faith, he entered the ark with his wife, his sons and his son's wives. Our teacher Saint Paul teaches us, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not
yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household " (Heb. 11:7). The others, who did not heed God's warning, and had no faith in God's truth were destroyed.

Lot and the city of Sidom also experienced God's warning before it happened. As this was the first time that fire came down from heaven, it was also the first time that a flood happened in the time of Noah.

The people of Sidom who did not accept the warning of God were destroyed as were who also did not believe it in the days of Noah.

God's warning in regard to eternity and judgement lies ever before us. Inspite of this, many are still immersed in evil and sin as if God had not warned them. They do not fear God in their hearts or judgement in eternity.

We spoke about God, His attributes and works, His promises and warmings as unseen matters, we should also add that:

3- Dwelling Of The Spirit And His Work In Us Are Unseen Matters
Samuel anointed David with oil and the spirit of the Lord came upon him (2 Sam. 16:13). No one saw the unseen Spirit of the lord, but it happened.

No one was able to see the Holy Spirit descend on the new believers when the disciples place their hands on them (Acts 8:17). The Holy Spirit also came on those anointed (1 John 2:20,27). No one saw the Holy Spirit but its fruits showed in their life.

You may be aware that there is an inner power working in you and for you, without your seeing it. It is what the Lord said "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8). This power, the power of the Holy Spirit, guides you to do good, helps you and protects you from sin.

Here we say that our whole life becomes in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).

What is this fellowship? How does it take place? How can we be in fellowship with the Godly nature, this an unseen nature?

We believe in God's active spirit working in the church, we do not see it but we believe in it.

The apostle said, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"(1 Cor.3:16), "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?" (1 Cor. 6:19).

We do not see the Spirit, but we see its fruits.

The Lord said that through the fruits of the holy spirit, we can stand before governors and kings, "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matt. 10:20).

How does the Spirit of the Father Spirit speak through us? All these things are unseen matters.

4- The Grace Of God In Us Are Things Unseen
We attain visits of grace, which fill us with God's love. We do not see it but we feel it. Grace working in us, is without doubt is the work of the unseen things.

Saint John the evangelist said "Grace and truth came through Jesus." (John 1: 17). What is this grace working in us? And the grace that Saint John enjoyed. He said "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain." (1Cor. 15: 10), and he also says about us "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Rom. 6:14), and urges Timothy to "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 2: 1).

We do not see this grace with our physical eye, it is amongst the unseen matters, but we feel its presence in our lives. The grace of God in us is beyond our senses as we accept this grace from
God. The church grants grace every time it repeats Saint Paul's words "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2Cor. 13:14).

Here we move to another point, the element of blessings

5- Blessing Are Unseen
A blessing can be directly from God, from parents, from the church through the priest and all these are unseen matters.

God said to Abram father of fathers "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you ... And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:2,3).

Abram saw the fruits of this unseen blessings in his life. Isaac blessed his son Jacob and he became blessed. Esau lamented because he lost this blessing (Gen.27). Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh by saying "The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads" (Gen. 48:16). Ephraim became
exceedingly blessed, more than his brother when Jacob placed his right hand on Ephraim's head (Gen. 48:17-20).

What is this blessing? How was it passed from the hands of Isaac and Jacob? How was it given through the apostles, and from the hands of the men of faith?

All these unseen matters we believe in and in its blessings although we do not see them. We ask for the blessings of our mothers, fathers, from priests and men of God. Abram was a blessing to the world according to the Lord's promise to him.

Joseph was also a blessing in the house of his master and to all Egypt, as was the blessings of Elijah.

Through all the above examples, we would still be unable to give a precise meaning to the word blessings, for it has wider meaning than our limited vocabulary can describe. An unseen matter, which we can only see its fruits. However, a blessing itself, who can see it and define it?

How was Jesus Christ able to bless through His hands the five loaves of bread and the two fish? This food given out was enough to feed thousands of people, and despite this, twelve full baskets were left over? How did this happen? What was the cause and its effect?. All these things are unseen matters.

6-Faith In The Presence Of Angels And Their Works
We believe in the existence of angels, and the unseen spirits. We may not have seen an angel in our whole life, but despite of this, we believe they close to us "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. " (Ps 34:7). We believe that the angels fill the church, and have confidence that they are with us in all that we do "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb. 1:14).

Many are glad if they see the Virgin Mary or the saints in a revelation.

It is far greater to believe that they are around you without seeing them. It is not necessary that God sends you a white dove during your evening church meetings, but you believe without seeing that the church is full of the spirits of angels.

And the wings of the saints flutter upon it, the saints that God sent to serve humanity.

Gehazi the disciple of Elisha was afraid when he saw the enemies surrounding the city, but Elisha, the man with opened eyes saw the angels defending the it against the enemy. He comforted his disciple by saying "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kin 6:16).

Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of Gehazi to see and the conviction in unseen matters.

7- Belief In The Spirit And The Other World
We can not see the spirit, but presume its existence. When a person dies, we say that his spirit, which we have not seen, has left his body.

Faith is concerned with the destiny of this spirit, if it will go to heaven or to hell. Likewise, with the return of this spirit to the body in the general resurrection, and the destiny of the resurrected person in eternity after the last judgment.

All these matters, the spirit, resurrection, eternity, judgment, heaven, grace, hell, are all unseen matters and through faith we have a conviction in those things. Actually, no one can speak about the eternal life, and all things associated with it, except by faith. Likewise, he who believes in the second life believes in
unseen matters.

8- People Believed In The Coming Of Christ Without Seeing Him
Even the Samaritan woman said to the Lord "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things" (John 4:25).

Thus, everyone knew, according to God's promise that the Messiah was coming. They were eagerly awaiting for Him.

They understood what had Isaiah said, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). They believed nevertheless, although they never saw the Virgin.

The wait by the Old Testament people through faith for the Messiah is like our wait for the Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament. Waiting for Christ's Second Coming on the clouds according to the Lord's promise (Mat. 24:25) and the two angels who appeared to the disciples (Acts 1: 11).

We probably have not seen the Lord on the clouds in the glory of His Father and His saints. And through faith, we believe in His Second Coming in this form although we have never seen it.

9-Redemption Is Also From The Unseen Matters
Jesus redeemed us by taking away all our sins and dying for us through His love "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6). John the Baptist also said about Him "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world!" (John 1:29). John the evangelist said "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:2). St. Paul said "Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us." (Col.2:14), and "having made peace through the
blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20).

We only see the cross; some may see it superficially! But, all gifts the cross has from love, redemption, forgiveness, cancelling of the written code, taking away the sins of the world, and also what the cross carries from peace, all these are unseen matters. We see them through faith.

Peter - before believing in all this - saw the cross as loss and as shame! Therefore he said "Never, Lord" (John 16:22). The Lord rebuked him because Peter did not see the unseen matters...

The cross represents the goodness of God to us. The rulers at that time did not see this because their eyes were blinded, "For had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Cor. 2:8).

10- The Hidden Benevolences Of God
We only thank God for the benevolences we see and know.

However, there are also unseen things we should thank Him for.

When we enter the life of faith we automatically enter in a life of perpetual appreciation, as the apostle said "Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20).

In our life, we also have to thank for the temptations, because we feel that they have hidden benevolences in them from God that we do not see. And if we saw them we'll no doubt be singing with James "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2).

From this, we see that faith gives a spiritual meaning to suffering, pains that God allows for the special grace that is in them. All from unseen matters, but we accept them in faith having confidence in God's love who does good. We also have confidence in what the Bible says "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God." (Rom. 8:28).

11-The Existence Of God In Our Lives And His Power Working In Us
How beautiful is the Lord's saying to Jacob "I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land." (Gen. 28: 15). The Lord was with him and watched over him wherever he went although he has not seen the Lord physically. It is very comfortable for the soul to feel that the
Lord is with us and to believe it. This allows us to live in serenity and joy.

The above was not only a blessing to Jacob but the Lord says "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20).

Our feeling that God is with us, gives us a feeling that a Godly power is walking with us and protecting us.

This power is working in you and is with you from the moment you receive the Holy Spirit and He then accompanies you for the rest of your life. In the time of the first church the people saw the kingdom of God being established in power (Mark 9: 1), "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31). It was said that St. Stephen was "Full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs" (Acts 6:8), and that he stood before the synagogue "And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke" (Acts 6: 10). That is the power in faith. He who believes but is afraid to show his faith is a person with weak faith, he does not believe in the power of God working with him.

The woman who was bleeding for twelve years felt that if she could just touched the edge of the cloak of Jesus a power would come out of Him to heal her, and that is what happened (Matt. 9:22, Lk 8:46).

If you believe in the power of God and hold steadfastly to it, you will surely obtain it.

Let it be that you have this faith and this feeling in all aspects of your life: in your service, prayer and works.

Even in your fall, believe that there is a power to save you. If you are weaker than the devils then believe that God who loves you is stronger, and that He is able to save you from sin. And in strong faith pray to God to grant you the power you need to succeed in your spiritual life, ask Him who "always leads us in
triumph in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14).

Even if you have been waiting long time, just believe that the power of God will reach you and save you. This power of God is unseen, but it exists, and is ready to work with those who ask for it by faith. You need to experience this power which is accompanying you, not only in the life of repentance but in all
aspects of your spiritual life so that when you speek, others will feel the strength and the effect of the words you are saying.

The believer is a strong person believing in the power of God working in him.

Paul said, "To this end I also labour, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." (Col. 1:29) and he says about God "To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." (Eph. 3:20).

It is faith in the unseen power of God that prompted Saint Paul to claim confidently, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13).

We ask ourselves: is this phrase only applies to Saints like Paul?

The Lord answers "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23).

Perhaps this power is a test for our spiritual lives. Are we in faith? Is it a power we are glad of and live in serenity with?

In the church, we rejoice in the many unseen things.

12-What Happens In The Baptism
Saint Paul says "For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27). How great is this sacrament! Who has seen its promise? Ananias told Saul, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptised, and wash away your sins." (Acts 22:16). Who saw these sins being washed away? These are unseen matters, which we accept by faith, as the apostle about Christ, "He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit. 3: 5). The salvation we obtain by rebirth is an unseen matter, but we believe in it according to the Lord's saying, "He who
believes and is baptised will be saved." (Mark 16:16).

What is the meaning of a second birth? Moreover, what does it mean to be born from above, from God, and to be born from water and spirit? The Lord spoke about it in (John 3:3-6). They are all unseen matters; the rebirth from God is an unseen sacrament. We see a person immersed in the baptism font but we do not see how he is reborn from the spirit. Blessed are those who believe without seeing. This, the church calls a sacrament.

The apostle says "Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith ... forgiven you all trespass" (Col. 2:12). He gives the same meaning in his letter to the Romans, and he adds that the old person was crucified with Christ, that we may live with Him (Rom. 6:3-6). Who has seen this death, burial, resurrection, forgiveness of sins, the new life, crucifixion of the old self... these are all unseen matters, but we believe in them.

13-The Sacrament Of The Holy Eucharist
You see in faith the bread and wine in front of you transform into the body and the blood of the Lord. Here you can not rely on your senses to judge, because the bodily senses see only the visible matters. But the spiritual senses heed to what the Lord says "This is my body... This is my blood" (Matt. 26:26,28),
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you... My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:53-56).

I do not dispute what the Lord said but I accept it in faith.

In faith we are sure of what we do not see for what is seen is bread and wine. This is what Saint Paul says "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16), and he also says "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Cor. 11:27,29).

How can we know if this is the body of the Lord, so as not to gain judgment upon ourselves? Here, by faith, we go beyond the level of the senses, and the level of the intellect.

Our minds make us tired when we accept the sacraments of the church. Our senses do also tire us. We need the simplicity of faith to believe all what Jesus Christ and the apostles said without discussion.

14-To Accept The Sacraments Of Christianity
To accept the laying of hands that Barnabas and Saul obtained from the disciples, so that they could go on to service (Acts 13:2,3), and also the laying of Saint Paul's hands on Timothy (2 Tim. 1:6). We believe that this is a sacrament.

We accept the power the Lord gave in His saying "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained " (John 20:23) "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 18:18).

This honour is unseen but we see it through faith. It is not for everyone and no one can take it by himself, but he who is called by God just like Aaron was (Heb. 5:4).

Seeing the unseen is the real spiritual sight: maybe it is what the Lord meant in His saying to his disciples "But blessed are your eyes for they see " (Matt. 13:16). What do they see? It sees Jesus Christ and His miracles. It sees the unseen just like the revelation, which Saint John saw. Further, how Saint Paul saw
the third heaven and many other signs (2 Cor.12: 2,7).

The Lord rebuked those who did not have this spiritual sense by saying "And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes " (Matt. 13: 15) the disciple also wrote the same thing about them (Acts 28:27). The expression they closed their eyes could mean that they did not train themselves to see the spiritualities or that they refused to see the spiritualities because of their interest in material things.
Gehazi did not see what his teacher Elisha saw (2 Kin 6:17).

The companions of Saul did not see anything during the Godly vision he saw, the Bible said that they "Stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." (Acts 9:7).


Pope Shenouda III

----------

Title: Life of Faith

Author: H. H. Pope Shenouda Ill.

Press: Dar El Tebaa El Kawmia.

Edition: August 1989 - First edition.

Legal Deposit No.: 5606/1989

Revised: COEPA 1997


Also See:
Life Of Faith - Introduction
http://coptorthodox.blogspot.com/2012/07/life-of-faith-introduction.html

Life Of Faith - 1 - How Great Is Faith
http://coptorthodox.blogspot.com/2012/07/life-of-faith-1-how-great-is-faith.html


Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

King James Authorized Version Bible

Online Chapel - Orthodox Christian Daily Readings

Daily Bible Verse

There was an error in this gadget
Word of the Day

Quote of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News