Standing On The Promises

There is unquestionably an element of understanding to faith. But there is more to it than that. For Luther, Faith is fundamentally trust. He uses the word fiducia, which means confidence. Faith is about trusting a God who makes promises, and whose promises may be relied upon.

Luther wrote in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, “Where there is the word of God, who makes promises, there must necessarily be the faith of the person who accepts those promises.”

Faith lays hold of promise. Assurance is not established on reason or science but on the apprehension and acceptance of the word of God.

Witsius comments on Hebrews 11:1 by stating that there is ‘substance,’ or hypostasisor existence to the objects of our faith, “the properties and circumstances of things have a hypostatis, that is, really exist, and are not mere figments of our imagination. Accordingly, faith causes the thing hoped for, though not yet actually existing, to exist in the mind of the believer; who assents as firmly to the promises of God, as if he saw the blessings promised already present.”[1]

Calvin also used this term hypostasis when referring to the object of our faith. Calvin states, “Faith is the hypostasis, that the support or possession, on which we fix our foot.”[2]

Witsius also states that, “We understand by the term [faith], a principle which pervades all the faculties of the soul, and is the proper mean of uniting them to Christ, and of thus quickening, and making them holy, and happy.” [3]

The final resurrection of all men has not yet occurred, nor does it exist in itself, but faith gives it substance in our mind, because we believe God’s promise. The object of our faith; God’s promise of the resurrection, becomes a fact, a historical event just like the battle of Gettysburg.

Likewise, this principle works backward in time to lay hold of the promises of past events. Christ’s declaration in John 19:30 that “It is finished,” though stated in the past and fulfilled in the future, has substance or existence as truth in the present by faith.

Also, in communion we believe that Christ is present in the elements because He said He is, and faith in those words makes the communion, not a figment of our imagination, but something substantive and real. We believe and by believing we come to know that it is not merely bread and wine we hold. And this faith animates our spiritual life and relationship with Christ.

Faith lays hold of God’s words, objects both past and future, and makes them present.  This supports the soul, upon which it steadfastly fixes its foot and stands firm.

[1]The Apostle’s Creed, Vol. 1. Witsius, Herman. 43

[2]The Apostle’s Creed, Vol. 1. Witsius, Herman. 44.

[3]The Apostle’s Creed, Vol. 1. Witsius, Herman. 35.

The Light of the Mind

How does man know what he knows? How does man think? How does the mind process information? Augustine’s influence on man’s understanding of his own understanding can’t be overstated[1], especially when it comes to philosophy, theology and culture. Augustine thought deeply about how man thinks. Given Augustine’s classical education, thirst for philosophical inquiry and deep religious faith, he was particularly equipped by God to teach the Church what Athens has to do with Jerusalem; becoming the second founding father of Christianity[2].  Ronald H. Nash’s contribution to the ongoing debate about exactly what Augustine thought about how man thinks is an important scholarly work. What makes Nash’s work The Light of the Mind[3], so valuable to Augustinian and epistemological studies, is Nash’s approach. Nash accepts the fact that it was never “Augustine’s plan to construct a systematic theory of knowledge.”[4]So Nash’s approach to Augustine’s work is to formulate a system for evaluation. Augustine sometimes said very complicated things about faith’s relationship to knowledge [5]leading some to wonder if, as he aged, Augustine perhaps changed his position on truth, knowledge and faith. But Nash collects Augustine’s ideas into buckets to show exactly what Augustine taught about each idea and then proceeds to show how the buckets; skepticism, truth, faith, sensation, cognition and intellection flow forth into a consistent whole. Nash both attempts and accomplishes his goal. To show that “one can find throughout his [Augustine’s] writings the same general framework of knowledge. From some of his earliest letters to the definitive writings of his mature years he accepted approximately the same position.”[6]Augustine did not write a systematic work of philosophy, aesthetics or theology, but produced works in each with a systematic and poetic mind. Nash suggests that if we break down Augustine’s statements about various aspects of knowledge, we can develop a systematic and defensible Augustinian view on knowledge. Continue reading “The Light of the Mind”

Dead in Adam or Alive in Christ

Who are you? How do you define yourself? By your Job, your sin, your socio-economic circumstances, your familial relationships, your personality traits or your birth order?

There are two kinds of people. Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The first Adam turned from the Father in a garden; the last Adam turned to the Father in a garden. The first Adam was naked and unashamed; the last Adam was naked and bore our shame. The first Adam’s sin brought us thorns; the last Adam wore a crown of thorns. The first Adam substituted himself for God; the last Adam was God substituting himself for sinners. The first Adam sinned at a tree; the last Adam bore our sin on a tree. The first Adam died as a sinner; the last Adam died for sinners. Continue reading “Dead in Adam or Alive in Christ”