Tuesday, May 19, 2009

5/19- Faith as Confidence and Trust

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12

Calvin: “Unbelief is so deeply rooted in our hearts, and we are so inclined to it, that not without hard struggle is each one able to persuade himself of what all confess with the mouth: namely, that God is faithful… The apostle derives confidence from faith, and from confidence, in turn, boldness. For he states: “Through Christ we have boldness and access with confidence which is through faith in him” [Ephesians 3:12 ]. By these words he obviously shows that there is no right faith except when we dare with tranquil hearts to stand in God’s
sight. This boldness arises only out of a sure confidence in divine benevolence and salvation. This is so true that the word “faith” is very often used for confidence. (3.2.15)

Faith is basically trust (fiducia) for Calvin based on knowledge, but empowered by the Holy Spirit. Calvin does speak about the human struggle against doubt. But faith enables us to have confidence even in the midst of the uncertainties and problems of life.
John Ortberg (a PCUSA pastor) has an excellent little book called “Faith and Doubt” (Zondervan 2008). He speaks extensively in one part about the idea of faith as trust (pp. 73,74). I want to quote and paraphrase a bit from these pages below:
“The idea of a leap of faith (associated with Kierkegaard) does not mean choosing to believe an impossible thing for no good reason…The leap of faith is a “leap” because it involves making a total commitment. It can be made for good reasons, but we have to commit in spite of our fears and doubts.”
He speaks of Mortimer Adler, the great philosopher, who believed in God because of the argument of design, but did not worship him. “He believed in a god as he believed in the ozone layer.” But one day in a hospital bed a friend prayed for him, and he found himself praying. He said his “leap of faith was not a ‘jump to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.’ But it was a leap from assent to devotion.
Ortberg speaks of his hang gliding friend taking him to the parking lot near a cliff and telling him about hang gliding. He heard of how strong the harness on the hang glide was, the aerodynamics of hang gliding, and the very slight chances of death by hang gliding. Ortberg was convinced it was safe- in the parking lot. But when his friend took him to the edge of the cliff and invited him to hang glide, his doubts and sense of certainty plummeted. It was not a matter of argument or evidence at that point. Despite his doubts there was to be a leap of faith- and he did leap and was safe.
Ortberg concluded, “If I leap I don’t know for sure what will happen. But if I don’t leap…I will never soar. I will live and grow old and die standing on the side of the cliff.”

Prayer: Lord, in these uncertain times, grant me confidence, faith, trust. Give me the grace to live my life in worship of you.

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