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2014 is the year of growing faith
2014 is the year of growing faith

Great is thy faithfulness

Faithfulness and trust rely on one another. Wendi Sargeant explores God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to God.

In his book, The Faith of the Church, theologian Karl Barth explains that trust is the “essence of faith”. Trust or confidence, as in placing all our trust in God, comes from the Latin fiducia. Fiducia, he says, “is a term of jurisprudence: it designates the act whereby a person transfers a property to another without securing a written receipt from him; he (sic) thus presumes that the other person is trustworthy and will give back the property, although that person is not bound by any formal commitment.”

Wendi Sargeant, Lecturer in Apologetics and Evangelism at Trinity College Queensland. Photo by Osker Lau.

Wendi Sargeant, Lecturer in Apologetics and Evangelism at Trinity College Queensland. Photo: Osker Lau

Faithfulness in God means trusting that God will take care of our lives in this way, without really knowing what will happen in the future. Barth continues, “We have given ourselves to (God), in an unconditional surrender … and it is up to him that we keep faith.” This illustrates the faithfulness of God. God sets the boundaries for faith and also helps us to keep those boundaries.

In Hebrews 11:1 and Acts 17:31, for example, “faith” is translated in the NRSV Bible as “assurance”. This understanding of “faith” is often discussed by New Testament writers and comes from the Greek word pistis. God assures us (or is faithful to us) in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. In this we are given God’s perfect revelation of faithfulness—Jesus.

Jesus is the picture of faithfulness, so to speak. By the definition above, Jesus demonstrates trustworthiness without expecting anything in return. This is what grace means. It is God’s grace that enables us to be faithful at all. As the writer to the Ephesians reminds us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9). This is good news. When we are unfaithful, God is still faithful.

How are we supposed to be faithful, then? Augustine said that faith is “thinking with the giving of assent”. It is about figuring out that it’s okay to trust in God and practising that by living as a trustworthy person confident in God’s faithfulness. The figuring out means being open to continually learning who God is and what God is like. It’s remembering that we can only be faithful with God’s help, and that God is ever faithful to do it!

Wendi is Lecturer in Apologetics and Evangelism at Trinity College Queensland. Find more grow faith resources by registering at abigyear.net

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