What is faith?
Romans 5:1-10 Matthew 6:22-33
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord tells us today, brothers and sisters,
“The light of the body is the eye. If thine eye be therefore sound, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.”
He is speaking about the eyes of the soul. We have two kinds of eyes: those that see things in the world, of matter, and those that see spiritual things. Now how is it that we can have our spiritual eyes seeing things in the light?
It comes from understanding about God and about ourselves.
First of all, you must understand why you were created and live on this earth. God created you so that you would know Him intimately, and you would see Him and be glad eternally. This is the purpose of your earthly life: to be able to know God, to be able to see Him with gladness, and with a joy that no one can take away from you.
Second of all, the world and our flesh is temporal and everything can be taken away. We can have wealth one moment and poverty the next, health one moment and sickness the next, happiness one moment, and then a tragedy befalls us and we are sad. We might have friends at one time and these same friends may at another time turn upon us and treat us as enemies.
If a person can see with spiritual eyes that are sound, one can see the spiritual nature of things, the true nature of everything that you do from the time you rise in the morning to the time you lay your head on your pillow. You can see that everything that is happening to you has a purpose.
Now if you know that the purpose of your life is to know God, then everything must somehow contribute to your knowing God, but you cannot know someone unless you become like them, and share in their life. The Apostle Paul refers to this sharing in Christ’s life in a mystical way in today’s Epistle reading. He says,
“We are justified by faith, and therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
What is this faith that He speaks of?
Most people in the world don’t know what faith is. They think faith is belief about or being very sure about something. This is not faith! In another place, the Apostle Paul says,
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose, for whom He did know He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
Faith is to be conformed to the image of His Son. Faith is to live as His Son taught us to live.
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us all that is necessary for eternal life, and, more than a mortal teacher, He made us able to do what He taught us. He taught by example, and then He made that example possible, and we have access to the ability to become righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith is not only believing dogmas, such as: He was born of a Virgin, was crucified, died and resurrected, and that the Holy Spirit came. Faith is attempting, because of His beauty, to be conformed to this beautiful image, which means desiring to change, put off anything that is corruptible, or is incomplete in us, or dark, and to become beautiful.
He has promised us that we will be adopted as sons and daughters. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had the glory of divinity before all the ages, and all the privileges of a Son of God, before the ages, has promised us that we will be adopted, and be sons and daughters, by grace, because our nature cannot withstand such things, but by grace God makes us capable.
And the way we are made capable is by our cooperation with this grace, by our entering into the life of Christ.
Then our eyes see things as they really are. When someone slanders us, we don’t see this as some sort of slight against us -- how dare such a person say such a thing against me? -- we see this as evidence that we’re unworthy ourselves, and we rejoice that we can, if only just a little, bear slander, as our Lord bore slander. For any other circumstance in our life, any other difficulty, we should always see such things in this way. God allows, or God brings about, things in our life, and all is according to God’s providence.
“All things work together for good, for those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose.”
And what is the purpose to which you are called, brothers and sisters? It is knowledge, joy, completeness -- things that cannot be taken away from you, because they abide eternally.
Now, how do we enter into this knowledge? There is no substitute for experience. We must experience our Lord Jesus Christ, and taste Him, to see how sweet He is.
To the world, He is bitter. To the world, the things that He says are nonsensical. When your brother smites you on the cheek, turn the other cheek to him also, but the world would want to smite. Love your enemies? Do good to those who hate you? No, the world doesn’t want these things. He was a king, and yet He allowed Himself to be crucified, to be mocked. The world thinks that when you have authority, you should have the tokens of authority—the respect of others, or at least the fear of others.
Our Lord’s message is not understood by the world, even by most of those who call themselves Christians, because they don’t understand that faith is living according to His life, becoming as He is, changing ourselves, being conformed to His image of perfection.
This is what the Lord wants for you and I -- perfection, not merely belief in dogmas, but to be completely changed, to be “all eye”, able to see things as they really are, able to see the beauty of God and not be afraid, but be glad. And the only way that we can see His beauty and be glad is to have obtained some of His beauty here on earth, with our efforts, our toil, and our desire. He makes us capable. All we need do is struggle, even in things that are difficult.
The apostle says, “we have access by faith,” that is, by living according to the way Jesus is, “into this grace wherein we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”.
Shouldn’t we rejoice? The Lord is going to make us complete, lacking nothing, nothing changing anymore, no sadness, no insecurity, no infirmities. Knowledge and joy are what He promises us, and that we will be His sons and daughters. This is the hope that we have, and should make us rejoice, and such a hope should make us endure anything for this hope -- even when our ego is pricked, or when someone is unfair to us, or in any other tribulations.
Now, when the apostle spoke, or wrote these words, there was tribulation in the church. There were people who were sometimes being killed by the government. It’s continued till this day, in various times and epochs of our history. But he says,
“we glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience--experience, and experience -- hope.”
If you don’t enter into the life of Christ, by entering into the way He lived, the way He thought, the way He breathed, what He considered important each day, then you will not have His experience. You must enter into His life, a life full of tribulation. We must not be afraid of tribulation, because tribulation produces patience, and patience -- experience, and from experience -- from seeing God work in our lives, seeing God change us, and feeling His beauty, and seeing a little of it -- we have hope, hope that we will be completely changed someday, completely happy, completely full of knowledge.
This is the purpose of our life. This is what the Lord promises to us. He has made us sons by grace, but we must enter into this grace, we must stand in this grace, by faith.
And what is faith, again?
It is to live, with desire, as Christ lived; to enter into His life - to forgive your enemies because he forgave us, to pray for others, to give way to others, to lay down our life for others, since He lay down his life for us.
What a glorious thing it is to be a Christian! We who are unworthy, the Lord has taken to Himself, given us all that we need, promised us happiness and perfection, things that we could never obtain on our own and by ourselves. What a glorious thing it is to be a Christian! Is there any greater name, than that one is a Christian? What a glorious thing, if we live by faith.
Brothers and sisters, enter into the life of Christ, in everything you do, in every circumstance of your life. Let thine eye be whole and sound, and see the true nature of things, in every circumstance, so that you can live, and react, as our Lord Jesus Christ would have reacted to each circumstance.
May God bless you and help you to live by faith. Amen.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2002.
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