What is faith?

As I learned from my previous classes in MAPAC through Sir Francis Castro, it’s interesting to note that life after death was not in the “theology” of the early Jewish tradition. Before, when Jews die, they believe that that was it. The end. No more life after death. Somewhere along the way, they developed this idea of life after death. Notice that in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament), only in the second book of Maccabees will you find the word “resurrection”, the rising of the dead, of those who have fallen “asleep” (2 Maccabees 12:43-45). That was in the context of a family who was forced to eat “swine’s flesh” (2 Maccabees 7). For them, to eat pork is to abandon the faith of their forefathers, surrendering to false gods and idols. So when they die as witnesses to their Jewish faith, shall they die in vain? No. These family died with the hope that, through Lord God’s compassion, they will rise from the dead.

Reading Maccabees is teaching me of faith. It is not about certainty. It is groping in the dark. By believing, I surrender to whatever will happen. And through this darkness, God will be walking side by side with me.

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6 thoughts on “What is faith?

  1. Faith is all about not seeing. But we must know that there are many faiths and not all are according to Biblical Truth.

    We also should come to see that ” life after death was not in the “theology” of the early Jewish tradition” but that certain Christians their belief of “after life” is still not in the Messianic writings and therefore should considered also a false teaching and be abandoned by real Christians. Already in certain Jewish groups and for sure in many philosophical groups the Greek thought of an alternative life had attracted many people, but Jews, Christians and Muslims should come to understand what is written in the Holy Scriptures and should put their hope in the future. It is only when Jesus returns that he shall call the living and the dead, to be judged. Only after that action people shall be allowed to enter the small gate of the Kingdom of God.

    • For me, I’m already content that “life after death” is a mystery. I too am aware of the “heresies” of other Christian traditions when it comes to “life after death”. If could go deep into studies to these but I’ll leave the work to the theologians who specializes in soteriology and parousia (salvation and second coming of Jesus). My Catholic faith tells me that the communion of saints in heaven, all the souls in purgatory are also part of the Church together, of course, with all the faithful here on earth. My faith tells me to realize the Kingdom of God now; God reigning in the hearts of all. And since God reigns my heart, I would heed to what our Redeemer told me: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I don’t worry about what will happen to me when I die (but still making effort to be vigilant and stay “awake”). Besides, our Father is so good to me and us all, so lavish, in loving us. For us still here on earth, let’s do the building of the City of God and let Christ do the welcoming. I’m content with that too. 🙂

      • did you ever think about purgatory and hell and the loving God? Would a loving God Who said the penalty for sin is death demand some other penalty afterwards as well and would a loving God have His creatures being tortured after they have already paid for their sins with death?

        • Before I answer, let me first welcome you to my humble blog. 🙂

          I must admit that my sense of apologetics is poor since I am a “revert”. Though I borrow lots of theologies, I am not a theologian. And as I am typing this, I consider this as a friendly conversation. If you are here physically present, I might offer you a seat and give some drinks and snacks. 🙂 Pardon my limited vocabulary and poor grammar.

          Before, I thought that hell and purgatory is a “punishment” or a “torture”. I even know a close friend, a practicing Catholic who don’t believe in purgatory and even hell. Though I believe in their mysterious existence, I don’t believe that they are “places” or “states” of punishment or torture. Whether hell and purgatory are “places” or not, I am not sure (or rather I am open to the possibility that they don’t exist as “places”). 

          Hell and purgatory, even if you don’t believe in its existence or not, is worthy of reflection. What messages does it tell me? Though I haven’t read the Dive Comedy series in totality (just parts of it), I like the image of Dante’s Purgatory and Hell.

          In Purgatorio, I got the lesson that all sins comes from love – the ” false” or “disordered”. Purgatory is synonymous to purification. In my own words, it is like a “school” where souls unlearn looking after “false consolations” and learn how it is to truly love. During a confession, I was invited to ask for their prayers (those in purgatory). I believe that they are even closer to heaven than I!

          In Inferno (Divine Comedy), Dante’s image of hell is not a burning furnace but a “cold and chilly” one. On the bottom of hell, Dante and his guide encountered Satan, aloof and apathetic, who didn’t even bother to look at them. Satan is a contrast of our God who is loving and reaches out to all.

          If hell and purgatory is about torture and punishment, then I too don’t believe in them.

          Geez, this is hard. I was trying not to sound too defensive (or offensive) and just pour out what I think and feel about hell and purgatory.

          Now, it’s my turn. 🙂

          I have a question. You said that the penalty of sin is death. Is physical death the only death we (will) experience?

          Your little brother,
          Allen

          • Dear Allen,

            Thanks for your welcoming gesture. We too would offer you some drinks and some snacks and also welcome you to our many places and at our ecclesia.

            You mentioned the book of the marvellous writer Dante? This is also what we should remember that there are books of the world, like Dante’s Inferno, which just bring stories, but not reality and like the philosophers their writing we always should consider as human thoughts and not godly thoughts. The bible on the other hand is God’s Word, which is inspired and infallible and always tells the truth. We should keep to those words and not to the stories and fairy-tales of man.

            You questioned about death and the dead.

            According to the Bible when we die it is all finished, than we shall not feel anything any more and shall we be unable to do something. Everything shall be finished.

            “1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? 10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.
            …. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18 I said in my heart, [It is] because of the sons of men, that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are [but as] beasts. 19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1…19-20 ASV)

            “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 ASV)

            “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 ASV)

            “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalms 146:4 ASV)

            “Let me not be put to shame, O Jehovah; For I have called upon thee: Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol (hell = the grave = the place were death people are burned for safety not having them infect others, or to be kept or placed under the ground or in sarcophagus).” (Psalms 31:17 ASV)

            “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4 ASV)

            “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ASV)

            “There the wicked cease from troubling; And there the weary are at rest.” (Job 3:17 ASV)

            “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4 ASV)

            “7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9 ASV)

            Those who have sinned shall die and find an end to their life or to their being … they will not be any more.

            Psychological death, is also one of the deaths man encounters. But that one can occur already long before man receives his physiological death.
            Next to those deaths there is also the “second death” which will not be a death all people would undergo. Best is we shall not receive a second death. Therefore we do have to work hard not to be part of those who are not able to enter the small gate of the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave many parables where he talks about our duties and warns for not having a faith without works because that also shall mean death.

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