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Dear COA Family,

What is faith?

This question is actually very important because we are told in the bible that without faith, “it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

Yet the whole concept of faith is much more mysterious and deeper in meaning than most people can grasp.

The first and obvious meaning of having faith is “to believe”. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which means to believe or to trust something or someone. This is a correct and important meaning as we are called to believe in the saving grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can become children of God (John 1:12).

Yet faith is more than just a cognitive belief in the truths of the bible or the fact of the resurrection of Christ. It encompasses a deep trust in our heart in the Person and work of Jesus in our lives as well as a continual growing in our relationship with Him.

Just this week, I was speaking with a Chaplain of a nursing home specialising in care for psychiatric patients. All of the residents in the home were suffering from mental illness. Yet in spite of their limited abilities to understand concepts, they were able to know deeply in their hearts that prayers by the Chaplain for them were important. As a result, they treasured being able to attend the weekly services and found partaking in the Holy Communion a most faith-building endeavour.

Can we say that they have no faith because they are unable to grasp cognitive truths? Definitely not! In fact, they may even be possessing greater faith in God than most rational and thinking people.

So what is that they have that can be termed as “faith”? I believe that it is the deep assurance in their hearts of the reality and presence of God in their lives that guides their walk with God. And this deep assurance transcends pure rational thought.

Hebrews 11:1 confirms this understanding of faith. It defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”

If this is the case, then ultimately, true faith is the gift of God the Father through His Holy Spirit in our lives to be fully assured of the saving power of Jesus the Son of God for us. It is not of our own strength or doing to achieve it – which is why no one can boast before God. God is the one who graciously provides all things for us and for salvation!

May we grow in true faith and trust in Christ our Lord by depending on the Holy Spirit for the daily renewal of our faith, and be daily filled with thanksgiving on our lips and in our hearts for the gracious and good gifts of the Father for us!

Revd Ian