Saturday 27 March
Hebrews 11: 1-16
Why is it that some believe and others do not? And why is some believers’ faith so strong? If the way of salvation is the way of faith, could any question be more important than how we come to faith?
Love may be the first commandment in the Law but faith is the first commandment in the Gospel. Granted we are saved by love, yet it is God’s love not ours that accomplishes this salvation (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). How then are we to arrive at a saving faith in the crucified Saviour and the risen Lord? The Bible answer is that true saving faith is a response to reliable evidence. But it doesn’t take much faith, for Jesus declared that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, if it is real and has the germ of life, it will evidence itself.
We cannot, however, come to a saving faith in him in exactly the same way as Peter and Paul, James and Cleopas, Mary and the others (1 Cor.15:5ff.). For example, the risen Lord will not extend to us the invitation given to Thomas: “Reach out your hand and put it into my side”. (Jn. 20:27), nor to those in the Upper Room that Easter Evening: “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see” (Lk. 24:39). There is a simple reason for this viz. that our Lord has taken his incarnate body back to glory.
But what about those who seem to come to faith through a contemporary vision of Jesus? Many such instances are reported in the Muslim world. We can concede that is wonderful. But a supernatural vision is not a physical appearance. What is more, the vision itself does not bring salvation unless there is someone to explain who the figure is and what he has done. Cornelius had an authentic supernatural experience of a man in shining clothes “standing before him”, but he still needed to have the Good News explained to him by the Apostle Peter (Acts 10:30;34ff.).
If we cannot come to faith today, as did the earliest witnesses, we might ask how is authentic faith then secured? The simplest way to describe a saving faith is that it is trust in the testimony God the Father has given to God the Son which the Holy Spirit reveals to us. Whilst we cannot encounter a physical appearance of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit who has come to reveal Jesus to us.
For reflection: Jesus said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”(Jn. 20:29). We have the Holy Spirit to come alongside us and enable us to believe. That is God’s word for us to-day. Only believe!