Thursday, May 27, 2010

Faith and Hope

The beginning of today's reading is really the end of what we read yesterday of Calvin refuting false claims by different scholars.  This last claim that Calvin addressed was the notion that one could have God's grace in this life, but not attain salvation.  Calvin uses Scripture passages such as Romans 8:38-39 as evidence that God's grace never deserts us.  He concludes through the use of Scripture " absurd it is that the certainty of faith be limited to some point of time, when by its very nature it looks to a future immortality after this life is over!" 

The final sections of chapter 2 deal with the relation of faith to hope and love.  The writer of Hebrews 11:1 gives us a concise definition of faith, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Calvin explains that this things hoped for are related to our salvation.  He writes, "...the things pertaining to our salvation are too high to be perceived by our senses, or seen by our eyes, or handled by our hands; and that in the meantime we do not possess these things in any other way than if we transcend all the limits of our senses and direct our perception beyond all things of this world and, in short, surpass ourselves."  Our salvation is beyond what we can see or feel, however it is very real.  We will experience it in the end.  Calvin later continues, "The mysteries of God, and especially those which pertain to our salvation, cannot be discerned in themselves, or as it is said, in their own nature.  But we contemplate them only in his Word, of the truth of which we ought to be so persuaded that we should count whatever he speaks as already done and fulfilled."

Calvin quotes a theologian by the name of Bernard.  He said that the "testimony of the conscience" mentioned in 2 Corinthians 1:12 consists of three things. (1) "In is necessary to believe that you cannot have forgiveness of sins apart from God's mercy."  (2) "You can have no good work unless he gives it." and (3) "You cannot merit eternal life by any works unless that is also given free."  Bernard adds and Calvin points out that these three things are not enough by themselves, but they are the beginnings of faith.  For instance, just believing that it is through God's mercy that our sins are forgiven does not automatically forgive us of our sins - we must confess our sins and repent. 

Faith and hope are like peas and carrots according to the 20th century theologian Forrest Gump.  Well, maybe not exactly.  Calvin does write, "Yet, wherever this faith is alive, it must have along with it the hope of eternal salvation as its inseparable companion."  Where there is faith, hope always follows.  Hope is "the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God."  Hope is faith's faithful companion.  Calvin tells us that hope restrains faith so that it may not "fall headlong from too much haste."  Hope strengthens faith so that it does not doubt the truth of God's promises.  Hope refreshes faith and see it through the final goal.

Often, Scripture uses the words faith and hope as synonyms and uses them interchangeably.  Other times you will see the words paired together in Scripture.  They do have the same source or foundation which is God's mercy.  Not only is it the source or foundation, but God's mercy is also the single goal of faith.  Calvin ends this chapter with a statement about hope, "But for our part, when we as sinners see that we are commanded by the oracles of God to conceive of hope of salvation, let us so willingly presume upon his truth that, relying upon his mercy alone, abandoning reliance upon works, we dare to have good hope.  He will not deceive, who said, 'According to your faith be it done to you' [Matthew 9:29]."

Tomorrow's reading: 3.3.1-3.3.4

No comments:

Post a Comment

Presbyterian Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf