Title: The Christian Life 7: Faith II and III[i]
Subject: Our salvation lies with God.
Age: 15+ years
Prerequisites: The Christian Life lessons: 1. The Beginning, 2. Humility, 3. The Struggle, 4. Tools for the Struggle, 5. Unseen Warfare, 6. Faith I
We said previously that once man realizes that he must risk everything, he enters into the second level of faith. This second or intermediate level is a faith which is hope against hope. It arises out of the realization that salvation lies not within himself. And so, man hangs everything onto the mercy of God, and he puts his trust in God who alone is able to raise even the dead. This is supported by Romans 4:17. "…God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;"
So having turned his whole being towards God, and having realized that his deep heart is the target of God, and having experienced an internal divine sensation beyond thought, words and rational thought, and knowing God's grace animates men, man embarks on this next part of the journey of faith.
The next level of faith is hoping against hope in God alone. 1 Corinthians 1:9, reads, "Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead…" If man reaches this level of faith, he can make great progress. This is a faith that is totally dependent on God and forsakes human logic. For example, we read in Romans 4:18, that Abraham exhibited this type of faith, "[Abraham], contrary to hope, in hope believed…"
A way to understand this next level of faith is to examine it then in the person of Abraham. "Abraham's hope was authentic, being based on faith which was not just an intellectual acceptance of the mystery of God's power. His wholehearted faith led to such inner conviction as enabled him to surrender his whole being to the word of God and to deliver his whole life to the will of God" (Page 28).
This faith is a total acceptance of God and a complete trust in Him who alone can raise the dead. Like Abraham, this faith is tested; and even severely it was tested with Isaac. Yet if we stand fast it is a faith that overcomes the world and death. This process strips man of his old self and purifies him so that he can enter the Kingdom. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
In each man, then, is the panorama of scripture enacted so that for each person the journey of faith is as it was in Abraham. "For God desires greatly to deal with every single one of us as He did with Abraham and with all His chosen. Indeed the whole of Scripture, which is the history of God's dealings with man, should be re-enacted in each person" (Page 30). This development is essential to the maturation and salvation of man.
This faith brings us to believe as true that, "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). It brings us to believe in a faith that even conquers death. We can say that this type of faith brings us past faith in things created to a faith in the uncreated (See pages 32-33 starting with, "The fulfillment of this second type of faith…").
Where does this end? It ends with the final stage of faith, a faith that comes after we have proved steadfast and focused. After we have lived in stability and righteousness, this is the faith of the just. This conversation of faith must be left here since I speak of things I do not know and of things I have not experienced.
Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas
[i] "Remember thy First Love," Archimandrite Zacharias, Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, 2010, this work forms the basis for this entire lecture, predominately from pages 27-35.