The foundation of all Christian virtue and life is faith. Faith is the natural possession of all men who are wise and virtuous. For if a person lacks faith in man’s ability to know, to do good and to find meaning in life; if he does not believe that this is possible, profitable and worthy of man’s efforts, then nothing wise or virtuous can be achieved. The striking characteristic of all prophets of doom, apostles of despair and preachers of absurdity is the absence of faith in man’s capabilities for goodness and truth, and the absence of faith in the meaning and value of life. It is also an absence of faith in God.
Faith in God is the fundamental virtue of all the saints (cf. Heb 11). The prototype of the believer in God is Abraham, the father of Israel.
The promise to Abraham and his descendents that they should inherit the world did not come through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
That is why righteousness depends on faith in order to guarantee it to all his descendents . . . who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all . . . in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness” (Gen 15.6). But the words “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake only, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in Him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom 4.13–25).
Faith in God is fundamental for the spiritual life. And to believe in God is to believe in His Son Jesus Christ as well.
Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. [. . .] Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of My works themselves (Jn 14.1–11).
Faith in Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is the center of the Christian life and the foundation of the Church (Mt 16.16). It is the source of all wisdom, power and virtue. It is the means by which man can know and do all things, for “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9.23, Mt 17.20).
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn 15.4–5).
Faith, first of all, is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11.1). It is confidence in the spiritual capabilities of man and in the goodness and power of God. It is intellectual assent and existential everyday trust in the promises and gifts of God, given to the world in creation and in salvation in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Faith itself is a “gift of God” given to all and accepted by the poor in spirit and the pure in heart, who are open to the activity of God in their lives (Eph 2.8).
Genuine faith is not a blind leap in the dark, an irrational and unreasonable acceptance of the unreasonable and the absurd. Genuine faith is eminently reasonable; it is rooted and grounded in man’s reasonable nature as made in the image of God. Not to believe, according to the scriptures and the saints, is the epitome of absurdity and foolishness.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
to see if there are any that act wisely that seek after God.
(Pss 14.1–2, 53.1–2)
Man was made to have faith in God. Not to believe in God is a perversion of human nature and the cause of all evils. The weakness and absence of faith in God is rooted in sin, impurity and pride. It is never simply the result of an intellectual mistake or mental confusion. It is always the result of the suppression of the truth through wickedness, the exchange of God’s truth for a lie, the refusal, consciously or unconsciously, to acknowledge God with honor and thanksgiving (cf. Rom 1).
You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall see, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has drawn dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes and bear with their ears, understand with their heart, and turn to Me to heal them (Is 6.9–10, Mt 13.14–15).
The spiritual person lives “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2.20). The spiritual person is the one who, by the grace of God’s Spirit, is faithful in all things.