Reflections

Faith—what is it?

Faith is knowledge and trust. It has seven characteristics:

  • Faith is a sheer gift of God, which we receive when we fervently ask for it.
  • Faith is the supernatural power that is absolutely necessary if we are to attain salvation.
  • Faith requires the free will and clear understanding of a person when he accepts the divine invitation.
  • Faith is absolutely certain, because Jesus guarantees it.
  • Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love.
  • Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.
  • Faith gives us even now a foretaste of the joy of heaven.

[153-165, 179-180, 183-184]

Many people say that to believe is not enough for them; they want to know. The word “believe”, however, has two completely different meanings. If a parachutist asks the clerk at the airport, “Is the parachute packed safely?” and the other man answers casually, “Hmm, I believe so”, then that will not be enough for him; he would like to know it for sure. But if he has asked a friend to pack the parachute, then the friend will answer the same question by saying, “Yes, I did it personally. You can trust me!” And to that the parachutist will reply, “Yes, I believe you.” This belief is much more than knowing; it means assurance. And that is the kind of belief that prompted Abraham to travel to the Promised Land; that is the faith that caused the →MARTYRS to stand fast till death; that is the faith that still today upholds Christians in persecution. A faith that encompasses the whole person.