February 20, 2013

The Obedience of Faith

Catechism Paragraphs 142 – 184

This section of the catechism focuses on what we mean, when we say: “I believe”.  “To obey in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.  144   The Letter to the Hebrews lays special emphasis on Abraham’s faith:  ‘By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out … not knowing where he was to go.  By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the promised land.  By faith, Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise.  And by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.  145   Hebrews 11:1:  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  146   The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith.  By faith, Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel.”  148  

“Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God.  At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.  150   For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his ‘beloved Son,’ in whom the Father is ‘well pleased.’  The Lord himself said to his disciples: ‘Believe in God, believe also in me.’  Because he has seen the Father, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.  151   One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is.”  152

“Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.  153   Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit.  But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act.  Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed are contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason.”  What the catechism is saying here is that faith is not hocus-pocus, believing without any reason to believe.  From my readings about the faith of Islam, they believe that God is unknowable, as are his ways.  So if, in their belief, God said the sky is brown, they would agree it is brown although that does not seem reasonable.  They do not see God as something which can be known by man.  The Catholic Church (and most Christian faiths) would disagree.

Amen, as said at the end of prayers, means “I believe.”  “What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe ‘because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.’   So that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.  156   Faith is certain.  It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie.  To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives.  157   It is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love.  In the words of St. Augustine, ‘I believe in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.’  158   Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason.  Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.  Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.”  159 
“To be human, man’s response to God by faith must be free, and therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will.  The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”  160  

The necessity of faith:  “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the one who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.  Since without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life but he who endures to the end.  162   To live, to grow, and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be working through charity, abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.”  162  

“Now, however, we walk by faith, not by sight, we perceive God as in a mirror, dimly and only in part.  Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test.  It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who ‘in hope believed against hope,’ to the Virgin Mary, who, in her pilgrimage of faith walked into the night of faith in sharing the darkness of her son’s suffering and death; and to so many others: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:1-2)” 164-5 

“’I believe’ is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism.  167   It is the Church that believes first and so bears, nourishes, and sustains my faith.  Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord:  ‘Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you,’ as we sing in the hymn Te Deum; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: ‘I believe.’  168   The Church, the pillar and bulwark of the truth, faithfully guards the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  She guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles’ confession of faith.  The Church, our Mother, teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.  171  Through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples, and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father.”  172

“Faith is necessary for salvation.  The Lord himself affirms:  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  (Mk 16:16)  Faith is a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come.  (St. Thomas Aquinas, Comp, theol. 1,2)  183-4

1 comment:


    The Israelites spoke against God and Moses, so God sent fiery serpents among them because they sinned and many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-7)

    God gave them a plan to escape death.

    Numbers 21:8-9 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (NKJV)


    1. Not one Israelite said "Looking at the bronze serpent did save me from death, because I was saved the minute I believed in the message of Moses."

    2. Not one Israelite said "I was saved from death by faith alone, and looking at the bronze serpent was just an act of obedience."

    3. Not one Israelite said, "Looking at the serpent of bronze was a testimony of my faith, however, if had no bearing on my sins being forgiven by the Lord and I was saved from death before I looked at the bronze serpent."

    4. Not one Israelite said, " Looking at a serpent of bronze is a work and works cannot saved anyone from death."

    5. Not one Israelite said, "Moses meant that we were to look at the serpent of bronze because we were already saved from death."

    6. Not one Israelite said, " You must look at the serpent of bronze in order to join the local synagogue, however, it has nothing to do with being saved from death."

    7. Not one Israelite said, There are three modes of looking at the serpent of bronze. 1. Looking at the serpent of bronze. 2. Talking about looking at the serpent of bronze. 3. Reading a book about looking at the serpent of bronze.

    8. Not one Israelite said, "Looking at the serpent is an outward sign that we have already been saved from death."

    You notice, that unlike the denominational churches of today, the Israelites did not write down some man-creeds in order to be saved from death from snake bites. They believed the words of Moses, as spoken by the Lord.

    If only men today would simply believe what God says about the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.

    THE TERMS: 1. Faith-John 3:16 2. Repentance-Acts 2:38, Acts 19:3 3. Confession-Romans 10:9 4. Water baptism-Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com