How do you know what you know? Seems like a silly question right? You know something because you have been taught or learned it. You know how to tie your shoes, change a tire, or simple mathematics because you learned them. It’s not quite like that with faith. With faith, God speaks, and we believe it. God doesn’t have to teach us that five plus five is ten. Faith is not completely intellectual. I mean this in the way that Faith saves, but if faith were simple knowledge it would not save. Even the devil and demons know that God exists and it does not save them [James 2:9]. Faith is a work of God. Faith comes from the Word by the Holy Spirit [Rom. 10:17].
God has Chosen to Reveal Himself in His Word
The Word is how God has chosen to speak to us. It’s how He has chosen to bring us to faith. Seems simple while being complex at the same time. Many times, well-meaning Christians, can get caught up into mysticism. They can say that they “felt” God in a song, a moment, or a place. They can “feel” God speaking to them everywhere. Yet, that’s not how God speaks to us. For example, If we were to try to hear from God in nature how would we be sure that He is speaking to us? You and I could go out camping and have two different messages of who God is and what He feels towards us. If it’s sunny then is God happy? If its raining is He mad? If I stumble on a rock and immediately feel a cold breeze is God angry that I disturbed the rock? We wouldn’t really know because subjective experiences can be so abstract and different. I’m reminded of something I recently read in Pieper’s Dogmatics. God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing) and yet He chooses to reveal Himself in simple things that you and I can understand. Earthly languages, bread and water, etc… God goes out of His way to communicate with us in ways in which we can understand. This means we can clearly know what He says to us and this can’t be done by a subjective feeling or hidden in a moment in our day. In fact, He’s actually commanded us to not despise His Word:
The Third Commandment.
Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.
It’s amazing how God sustains faith by His Word. God’s Word is so powerful that it created all of creation. This very spoken Word of God is what creates and sustains faith in us. God is still present and active in His creation. He directs the sun, moon, and all creation. Much can be said of God’s work and the power behind God’s Word. We could also discuss what was the sin that caused Eve to eat of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil? It was unbelief. It was this very commandment. Questioning if God really meant what He said. This in turn breaks the first and second commandment as well.
Faith comes by His Word
As for us, the Word of God brings us faith, all wrapped in a package of Words dripping with the blood of Christ. The very Word made flesh is given to you to bring life, salvation, and forgiveness of sins, by the work of the Holy Spirit. This Word, the very Word that spoke everything into creation, creates anew when bringing someone to faith. This life giving, forgiving, faith creating Word is not found in a feeling, a sunset, a philosophical pondering, He is found in Word and Sacrament.
This reminds me of what the Small Catechism says of the third article of the Apostles Creed:
The Third Article.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?–Answer.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true” (emphasis added)
Faith is a Gift
It amazes me at just how much we Christian’s can forget that faith God’s gift given to us and that conversion is God’s work. It is due to our sinful nature, our evil hearts, that wants to find our own god in a remix of Gods Word with our own desires. That god always has us doing something, that god never gives to us freely, because that type of god is an idol.
Truly, we know we have God when we have the God of Holy Scripture, this is the only true God, who though we are so quick to rush after an idol, He constantly calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us, keeps us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith, and daily forgives all our sins. This is the power of the Word of God. We know we are justified, forgiven, and righteous because God tells us so; all because of Christ’s merits given to you today, through the Word.