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Nov 21, 2013

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Andrew Barker

Being born and raised in Colchester and familiar with Surgeon's Chapel where he was converted, I guess CH Surgeon should be a hero of mine. However, I rarely find I can read much of him before I start to disagree quite markedly.

I'm certainly not comfortable with quantifying faith in the way he does. Great faith? little faith? it's not the message I hear coming from Jesus who talked about faith like a mustard seed.

On the other hand I hear you say the disciples did ask Jesus to increase their faith! Well, I remembered that too so I looked it up and Jesus' response says it all.... "if you had faith like a mustard ...."

Maybe faith is a bit like being pregnant? You either are or you're not! You either have it or you don't?

peter lumpkins

Andrew,

Thanks. Personally, I see little in which to quibble with London Baptists' 19th c. preaching Kingpin about the nature of "big" and "little" faith since the gospels have it from Jesus' lips fairly often--Mt. 6:30, 8:10...26, 14:31, 15:28, 16:8; Luke 7:9, 12:28.

Bill Mac

Reminds me of the character from Pilgrim's Progress.

Andrew Barker

Thanks Peter. I still think you need to look carefully at what is being said. It could be that 'little faith' which is the often used term in the verses you quoted is as much a comment on the quality of or indeed a polite way of saying their lack of faith, rather than whether they had enough of it.

A mustard seed seems insignificant in size, so if that's enough then how much more do you want? :-)

peter lumpkins

Granted. The mustard seed analogy appears to be pointing to the presence rather than the absence of faith. But the contexts I cited are not speaking about mustard seed faith but do note variations in the degree of faith. If "great" and "little" do not denote degree, what does it denote then?

In addition, the degree of faith might also be implied in Paul's listing of faith as both a gift and fruit (cp. 1 Cor 12, Gal 5).

peter lumpkins

Andrew,

Got to run. Will pick it up later if you like. Know I appreciate your feedback, brother...

Andrew Barker

Thanks Peter. I think my scientific background may be coming into play here. I see faith very much as an intrinsic property ie it's a property of the 'thing' itself and the amount of 'thing' is irrelevant. Density for example is an intrinsic property.

I like the I Cor 12 reference too as a good balance. However, I'm tending to think along the lines of it's not so much the 'amount' of faith as such but the degree to which we allow that faith to have an effect and to operate in our lives. I guess that's probably a good compromise!! :-)

Gary

One thing that I found very troubling in my years as a Baptist is the focus on MY faith. And the measure of my faith was how strongly I "felt" God inside me; that I felt God "leading" me, "moving" me, and speaking to me in an inner voice.

The problem with all this is: My salvation is NOT based on MY faith. My salvation is based on GOD'S free gift of faith as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9, given to me by his unmerited grace through the sacrifice on the cross of his Son, Jesus Christ.

I believe too many Baptists and evangelicals have been taught falsely to look inward for assurance of faith. The Scripture teaches us not to look inwardly, but to look outward...to Jesus Christ. And where can you find Jesus? In your heart by being "moved" or led" or listening to internal voices? No.

Jesus is found where orthodox Christians have taught for 2,000 years: in the preaching of his all-powerful, supernatural Word of God and in his Supper. If you want to strengthen your faith, don't look inward, look outward to Jesus in his Word and in the supernatural "mystery" of his Real Presence in the Lord's Supper!

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