Unknown, yet intriguing.

Dangerous, yet exciting.

The future.

So much effort invested to determine it.

So much time spent to secure it.

Yes, our actions today have consequences that extend into the future, but the future is much larger than what we can personally control. If we ever succeed in making the future certain, it would be our greatest defeat. For the untold possibilities of being would be replaced by a boring existence in which nothing is ever new. The future would be enslaved to be an endless repetition of the past.

Possibility can never be reduced to certainty. And certainty can never contain the intrigue and dangerous excitement of possibility.

Most lives are spent pursuing the security of certainty only to find meaningless emptiness. Few have the courage to recognize possibility from afar and embark on the dangerous journey towards it.

So what does my future have to do with faith?

Is faith not the conviction of what is true; the certainty of what is right?

I intend to show that faith is not synonymous with certainty, but the very opposite thereof.

Faith is not synonymous with certainty, but the very opposite thereof.

It is easy to mistake our beliefs with faith.

When that happens faith becomes synonymous with certainty. It becomes the conviction of what is true and what is right. It manifests itself in concrete statements and indisputable arguments.

But real faith is more than the things we believe.

In fact faith becomes most visible in the face of uncertainty, in situations of danger and circumstances that require great courage.

Have you noticed how often faith is linked to the future in scriptures?

Hebrews 11 must be the most famous chapters on faith. Here are a few extracts:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 11:1

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household 11:7

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going … For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God 11: 8,10

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised 11:12

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar 11:13

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God 11:16

By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones 11:20-22

Faith inspires the most unlikely actions based on a possible future, a future that calls, a future that looks nothing like the past. This faith has more to do with the possibilities of the future than the assurances of the past.

To illustrate, Moses once had an encounter with God in which he was given some radical instructions. Moses, understandably, wanted some assurance and asked: “Who am I that I should go…” What is it about myself, my past, that qualifies me for this task or gives me assurance that I have heard from God correctly? Yet God gives him no such assurance, but simply the affirmation that “I will be with you”.

And so Moses seeks the assurance somewhere else, saying that the people will surely ask him what the name of this God is. People need some sort of handle, some way of getting hold of this God. Yet God does not even give them the benefit of an assurance based on his reputation. “And God says to Moses, I Am that I AM.” Hebrew linguists tell us that it can also be translated “I will be, what I will be”. In other words there is no assurance in Moses’ personal past, neither in the steadfast reputation of the God who is speaking to Him. But rather “this will be a sign unto thee, that I have sent you, when you have brought forth the people from Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain.

The only assurance Moses is given, is an event that is still in the future! Instead of supplying certainty, God calls for faith. Instead of a solid past on which to plant our feet, we are grasped by a possible future … by the God of infinite possibility. 

And we will only know if we have truly heard from God once these possibilities have been realized. Reminds me of a similar saying by Jesus – you will know a tree by its fruit.

There is a beautiful humility to the kind of faith that is based on possibility rather than certainty. This faith is not a mental persuasion based on dogma or text, but a faith that demonstrates itself in action, inspired by the pioneer of our faith.

The one who faced death with courage and so showed us that we need not fear it. The one who allowed his enemies to exhaust their unjust fury upon him, and when he was raised and made to be their judge with every opportunity to take revenge, he chose to forgive. The one who surprised us by entering the most final and hopeless end, yet rose again to show us that every end is also a new beginning.

This is why faith and the impossibility of the resurrection are so closely related. In fact Paul says that without the resurrection faith would be empty. ( 1 Cor. 15: 14)

The resurrection is so much more than a historic event. It is the continual unfolding of an impossible future made possible by the God who always surprises us. It is the event that nullifies death, that overcomes all our fearful predictions and dreadful expectations. Its the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God … and to live in honor of this love … to love in honor of his life, is more meaningful and lasting than life itself.

20 Responses to “The Future of Faith”

  1. Roger on

    Your words add even more hope than our own expectations on God’s promises. They leave room for Father to continually surprise us, such joy!
    Thank you Andre

    Reply
  2. Kristen on

    This is really good. We can’t have faith in a certain outcome- true faith can only come when we have a relationship with God and we can enter his rest in any and every situation in life. Our faith rests in the goodness and love of our God. He is our faith’s reward always and forever. I believe there’s a great link between faith and God’s rest.

    Reply
    • Patricia Pollock on

      Hi Kristen!

      Now I may be wrong but I believe that faith and God’s rest are one and the same thing!
      It is so good having Andre and Mary-Anne to open up these wonderful avenues of thought to us isn’t it!

      I never realized how destructive certainty can be. I an 64 years old and came into an awareness of the reality of God at the age of about 23/24. Through the many trials and tribulations that followed the one thing I was certain of, and what kept me going was that God was good and could only do good. I guess that is a positive certainty or is THAT faith? (Help please Andre)

      Reply
    • Andre Rabe on

      Yes! Love it Sheila. I can see how the claims that the past pretends to have on our futures are dissolved through forgiveness.

      Reply
  3. Patricia Pollock on

    Hi Andre, thankyou once again!

    I love that word “honor”. It IS indeed meaningful! God honors us and we cannot but honor Him with our faith.

    Reply
  4. Rick Torres on

    This line sparked great joy in me:

    “There is a beautiful humility to the kind of faith that is based on possibility rather than certainty. This faith is not a mental persuasion based on dogma or text, but a faith that demonstrates itself in action, inspired by the pioneer of our faith.”

    Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Patrick on

    For me this is a most timely post as I am embarking on a number of meditation sessions. These have little to do with “Christianity” in the broad sense, but for me they have much to do with bringing folk into the area of stillness, the realm of the heart. So for me personally, it is a matter of trust, of trusting my heart and not any doctrine. Trusting to Love and looking beyond my fears. As you’ve mentioned Andre, it is more “faith in action” than anything else. Scary yes, no mental persuasion, no certainty at all! But hoping to see these ‘fruits’.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous on

    Ok, here is a bit of a personal story that highlights how difficult faith can be when you don’t actually see what you have faith for this side of heaven.

    Many years ago I had a really encouraging word from a stranger…one of those timely words that really feels like it was spoken right from the Father’s heart.

    It was as follows:” God knows that you have always felt separate from your family. He put you there for a reason and through your life they will all be saved”.

    This man did not know at all that when he said this to me I was a newish Christian and that at that time my brother was serving twice life in prison and that my parents just got devotes do and that we lost everything (house etc) as my parents spent it all (including my inheritances) on fighting my brothers case.

    I took this word very much to heart and held on to it through the very hard years to come till today. The years to follow that event included my mom dying estranged from me living a very destructive life. My sister committing suicide, my brother still today not speaking to me and my dad ending up homeless. I ended up being able to get him into a catholic home for older people and I now live in the UK with my wife and kids.

    Over the last 5/6 years God lead me to this AMAIZING (and I mean that word in it’s fullest since) revelation of how they (TRINITY) love us all unconditionally and that the entire human race (past, present no future) is all wrapped up in Him.

    Anyway…I have very little (almost no) evidence to say that my entire family will be saved through the witness of my life as that man once spoke to me so beautifully, BUT I have faith that Jesus gave me (His faith) that He has it all in hand …that we are all wrapped up in Him and one day when this mortal coil breaks we will all be together in glory.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous on

    Ok, here is a bit of a personal story that highlights how difficult faith can be when you don’t actually see what you have faith for this side of heaven.

    Many years ago I had a really encouraging word from a stranger…one of those timely words that really feels like it was spoken right from the Father’s heart.

    It was as follows:” God knows that you have always felt separate from your family. He put you there for a reason and through your life they will all be saved”.

    This man did not know at all that when he said this to me I was a newish Christian and that at that time my brother was serving twice life in prison and that my parents just got devotes do and that we lost everything (house etc) as my parents spent it all (including my inheritances) on fighting my brothers case.

    I took this word very much to heart and held on to it through the very hard years to come till today. The years to follow that event included my mom dying estranged from me living a very destructive life. My sister committing suicide, my brother still today not speaking to me and my dad ending up homeless. I ended up being able to get him into a catholic home for older people and I now live in the UK with my wife and kids.

    Over the last 5/6 years God lead me to this AMAIZING (and I mean that word in it’s fullest since) revelation of how they (TRINITY) love us all unconditionally and that the entire human race (past, present no future) is all wrapped up in Him.

    Anyway…I have very little (almost no) evidence to say that my entire family will be saved through the witness of my life as that man once spoke to me so beautifully, BUT I have faith that Jesus gave me (His faith) that He has it all in hand …that we are all wrapped up in Him and one day when this mortal coil breaks we will all be together in glory.

    Reply
    • Patrick on

      Wow, Anon. That’s some story.
      “Is all wrapped up in Him” – Do you ever follow Sparrows, “Under the Waterfall of Grace” Blog? http://underthewaterfallofgrace.blogspot.co.uk
      Here’s a quote from her Christmas Eve blog, i think you’d like, “HE has always been our heart, and is the heart of ALL things, ALL history, ALL existence, ALL life, ALL reality, ALL comes from Him, exists in Him, and returns to Him.”

      Much Love, P

      Reply
  8. susan on

    How lovely to ponder this word, especially this time of year when we remember how this helpless baby, was born into the chaos and turmoil of a country oppressed, the Son of God in our midst, yielding to the will of men, yet knowing all things are held together by him. The undogmatic God, who is still that same Jesus who slept through the storm, o i will go with him wherever

    Reply
  9. wayne rogers on

    In the recent discussion on violence and today’s topic of uncertainty the 23 Psalms has come rushing in to my mind. David finds himself “tasked” with only two things- not wanting (coveting) and not fearing. Despite the presence of his enemy (perhaps sitting on either side of him) at the Lord’s table or the shadowy (something not actually real) awareness of death, David declares a sense of peace . That is living in the” kingdom at hand”. It is something I believe we have all experienced at one time or another, but to reside there 24/7 seems to be another story. The second to last line about goodness and mercy “following” us use to bother me a bit. It’s as if it had to catch up to us somehow. We seem to live there more often. Yet the image it is actually presenting is like the wake of a boat and we are securely being lead by goodness and mercy. We can find ourselves in the midst of this protected space despite the raging seas around us. It is a mystery we follow; so life can be exciting or scary. It’s kind of a choice. We can trudge through a desert or we we can see lush meadows spring up from our footsteps from the same arid, lifeless ground. I like watching grass grow.(chuckle, chuckle)

    Reply
  10. Sellappan on

    A really wonderful piece on certainty vs. faith, seeing the unseen and yet believing just like Jesus did. He is our faith and we have His faith residing inside us. Waking up to that reality and experiencing helps us discover more of the Christ in us. Yes, as someone posted earlier, He has everything and everyone in his palm. That is the beauty and marvel of incarnation. We are just discovering more of that Jesus. Thanks to the Holy Spirit. Thanks Andre for giving us a deeper insight on this very important subject. Blessings. May we all experience an even deeper relationship with Him in 2016.

    Reply

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