During our last session, we discussed that the “faith” – in which the ancients (Old Testaments heroes like Abraham, David and the Prophets) were commended for, literally means living within a world, although unseen by many, immersed by God’s reality (or Kingdom Rule). They are confident, that in spite of misleading apperances of this-world, they have always seen with their hearts the ultimate reality of other-world.
Paul is also trying to convey the same message to the disciples in Rome. He said that this same kind of understanding of the word “faith” (seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom) was credited to Abraham righteousness. It is a righteousness from God, apart from the law(it means the written law), has been made known (through Christ by his life) , to which the Law and the Prophets testify. The righteousness from God that comes from seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [faith] made known by Jesus Christ to those whom he revealed it. (Romans 3:21-22)
We need to understand that these people are not seeing something imaginary or unreal. They are also not crazy to believe in something they just made up. No, they are witnessess (direct knowledge and experience) to the reality since it was directly passed unto to them by their Rabbi Jesus when they were still apprentices to him and after ascending to the heavens, he charged them to reveal the same reality to others.
Nowadays, the word “faith” has been deduced to a mere expression of allegiance to specific church, practice or creed. It has been passed on as sure ticket to heaven only to be used when we die. Faith has been confined as: something we need in order to get through difficult circumstances, a thing we can call upon when we are in great need, conveniently available to us by simply accepting a simple prayer whether we believe it to be true or not. Faith has been either unattainable or detached to real life experience. It has become an outward expression rather than an inward reality.
Lost in translation? A little paraphrasing of famous verses on faith would help.
1. [After failing to drive out demons, his disciples asked Jesus, Why?] He replied, “Because you have a diminished view of the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [so little faith]. I tell you the truth, if you increase it even [have faith] as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:19-20
2. Consequently, seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [faith] comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. ~ Romans 10:17
3. We live by seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [faith], not by [eye] sight ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7
4. Examine yourselves to see whether you are seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [in the faith] ; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
5. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [faith] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20
6. For it is by grace you have been saved, through seeing the unseen reality of God’s kingdom [faith] —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ~ Ephesians 2:8
And the most famous of all…
7. In the same way, seeing the unseen rule of God’s in our lives [faith by itself], and not living on it [if it is not accompanied by action], doesn’t make any sense [dead]. ~ James 2:17