There are two different but interrelated usages of the word “faith”: the (1) faith by which we believe the (2) faith in which we believe (USCCB, 1999).
The faith by which we believe is what I refer to as the supernatural faith of Abraham. It is the “faith” being referred to in the Bible passages, “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see. Because of faith the men of old were approved by God. Through faith we perceive that the worlds were created by the word of God, and that what is visible came into being through the invisible” (Heb. 11:1-3).
Abraham is referred to as the father of both the faith by which we believe and the faith in which we believe. In regards to the faith by which we believe, there came a time in Abram’s (Abraham’s) life where he doubted God. God had told Abram that he would become a great nation full of blessings, but there was Abram -old and childless.
“‘See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.’ He took him outside and said: ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,’ He added, ‘shall your descendants be.’
Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.”
“Faith, then, comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ” (Rom. 17). That is possible because Christ is eternally the Son of God, who was there at the creation of the world. He spoke creation into being, and in response, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge; not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard; through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message” (Psalm 19:1).
Faith is never blind. Everyone knows the truth about God –His divine nature and eternal power- by seeing what He has made (Rom. 1:19-20 paraphrased). God pointed the countless starts out to Abram, and Abram recognized that a supernatural and eternal Creator was behind their existence (Heb. 11:3). Abram willed to act in faith: for surely if God can make the stars, He can fulfill His promises to a human.
Through Abraham’s lineage God formed His chosen people, the Jewish nation, through whom was born Jesus; thus, historically speaking, His faith has Semitic origins. Jesus is both fully God and fully man; fully divine as well as fully male human. Before He ascended into heaven Jesus instituted His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church complete with His seven Sacraments. Jesus founded His Church on the faith and person of His apostle Peter and, while remaining the Head of His Church, Jesus left His Church in the stead of Peter and His 10 remaining apostles. And as He promised, His Church, His Bride, has continued to grow and blossom -now for 2000 years!
Because Jesus walked in the flesh, and yet is the image of the invisible God, we no longer have to look at creation for a reminder that there is a Creator God. Now we look to Jesus, “let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead; let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith” (Heb. 12:1b-2a).
Why did the Son of God empty Himself of His glory and become a man so that He could endure the suffering of torture and crucifixion (For surely it was not the nails that held Him on the cross!! No, it was His love for His Father and for His Bride that held Him there!!)? What is His joy? Well, what is the joy of any bridegroom? Listen to Jesus’ prayer to our Father God as He awaited His arrest, torture and crucifixion. His heart-felt prayer was for the apostles He was leaving behind, and for His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church -His Bride.
“For these I pray- not for the world but for these you have given me, for they are really yours. (Just as all that belongs to me is yours, so all that belongs to you is mine.) It is in them that I have been glorified. I am in the world no more, but these are in the world as I come to you. O Father most holy, protect them with your name which you have given me (that they may be one, even as we are one).
As long as I was with them, I guarded them with your name which you gave me. I kept careful watch, and not one of them was lost, none but him who was destined to be lost- in fulfillment of Scripture. Now, however, I come to you; I say all this while I am still in the world that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world has hated them for it; they do not belong to the world (any more than I belong to the world). I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one. They are not of the world, any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them by means of truth, ‘Your word is truth.’ As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world; I consecrate myself for their sakes now, that they may be consecrated in truth.
I do not pray for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; I pray that they may be (one) in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave me that they may be one, as we are one -I living in them, you living in me- that their unity may be complete. So shall the world know that you sent me, and that you loved them as you loved me.
Father, all those you gave me I would have in my company where I am, to see this glory of mine which is your gift to me, because of the love you bore me before the world began.
Just Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these men have known that you sent me. To them I have revealed your name, and I will continue to reveal it so that your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them” (John 17:9-26).
His joy is to share His glorious union with the Father with His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church -His Body whom He shares the full deposit of faith, referenced in 2Tim. 1:13-14: “Take as a model of sound teaching what you have heard me say, in faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the rich deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”
After He ascended into heaven, even though there were no telephones, airplanes, cars or internet, the Church was spreading quickly because She was being persecuted and martyred. She took her faith with Her and ran for Her life (for 300 years!).
Questions came forth about Her Husband, and She had to defend Him. Some people imagined Jesus was purely spirit, some imagined He was only human, and it goes on and on. So in His defense She wrote down more and more of what She believed; what Jesus had passed on to Her, and what She continues to pass on through the succession of bishops that started with Mathias (Acts 1:15-26). What an incredible love story! It should make you who are loving wonder and weep.
The supernatural faith by which we believe helps us believe the truth in which we believe: the truth about the Triune God and His Bride. It’s the truth to which human conscience and all belief ultimately points; because there is only one God there is only one truth about Him.
People of similar ideas come together. People with similar ideas about God form churches. Every church has a leader, a ‘pope’, and an organization and hierarchy –a ‘magisterium’. They write down what they believe and call it their doctrine or ‘bible’.
Regardless of what you believe, please meditate on this so that you have the opportunity to understand this exceedingly well and act accordingly prior to the Day of Judgment:
to take the sacred word of God from His Bride and titillate one’s pleasure by giving to it imaginary interpretations that She does not approve is a desecration of God the Almighty, Who is in Her and is the divine author of Her Sacred Scripture.
To read the Nicene Creed, or the Catechism or other teachings of the Bride, go to this link: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/
U.S. Catholic Bishops (1999). “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan For Adult Faith Formation In The United States”. Washington DC: USCCB Communications.
Or online at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/adult-faith-formation/our-hearts.cfm