Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tests of Faith

Faith according to Scripture is something that is beyond belief. It involves a complete trust in the promises of Jesus Christ that are recorded in the Gospels. Such faith cannot be measured, but Pope Shenouda III has given us a list of ways we can test our faith.
1. Faith Expresses itself through love.
2. Faith is Demonstrated Through Deeds.
3. Examination of Faith Through the Purity of Heart.
4. Faith Is Tested Through The Power It Grants That All Things Are Possible.
5. Test Of Faith During Distresses.
6. Test Your Faith According To Some Commandments.
7. Test Your Faith In The Extent Of Caring About Your Eternity.
8. Test Your Faith In The Correctness Of Belief.
9. Test Your Faith With The Sound Qualities It Has.
1. Faith Expresses itself through Love
Saint Paul identifies the qualities of a sound faith based on love.  He writes:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Use this list of attributes to evaluate your faith. In addition he adds:
And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1Cor 13:2)
Our capacity for love is one of the most basic tests of faith.

2. Faith is Demonstrated through Deeds
Our faith must show through our actions by doing the work of God.  Saint James says: I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18). He also says that a dead faith cannot save anyone (James 2:14). Saint Paul echoes this when he writes, They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him (Titus 1:16). Saint John tells us that one who knows Him and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1John 2:4).

3. Examination of Faith Through Purity of Heart
If we love God based on our faith we will not sin for fear or erring in front of Him. With faith we will know that God sees, hears and records everything. As Saint John says, Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor knows Him. (1John 3:6)

4. Faith is Tested Through the Power It Grants that All Things are Possible

We must be able to say what Saint Paul has said, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)  Jesus tells us, All things are possible to him who believes. (Mark 9:23) Despair is an indication of loss of faith. If we are continually influenced by external pressures of the current situation to commit sin we do not have faith.

5. Test of Faith during Distresses
If you have faith you will not be disturbed by all the trials and tribulations of this life. You will believe they are for the good, even though you may not understand why they occur. Saint James says, Count it a joy when you fall into various trials (James 2:1). Paul tells us, All things work together for good to those who love God (Rom 8:28). And Jesus says, All things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23).
With faith we place God between us and the trial. We call to remembrance the trials of all the saints and remember what happened to Moses, Joseph, David and Job with faith. We accept the trials thrown at us and are happy the Lord gave us these trials. The Apostles give us an excellent example when after being whipped it is recorded, So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). 

6. Test the Faith According to Some Commandments
Our commitment to tithe is another indicator. If we are not doing so we may be attached to our material possessions, placing our faith in them instead of God. Our regular attendance at Sunday worship services is another test. With faith we look forward to our worship services and the opportunity to participate in the Sacraments. The nature of our daily prayer life is another way to evaluate our faith. With faith we pray daily guided by a prayer rule.  When praying with faith we are able to keep our mind from  wandering. Continual prayer throughout the day is a sign of a sound faith.

7. Test Your Faith in the Extent of Caring About Your Eternity
Jesus tells us,
Let your wast be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. (Lk 12:35-37)
Our primary orientation must be on preparing ourselves for eternity and our destiny in the world to come. If we find our primary orientation is on this world and being successful, then we will know that our faith is weak. If we are continually thinking about our every action as preparing for the life to come then we know our faith is growing.

8. Test Your Faith in the Correctness of Belief
We must make sure our beliefs are free of our own opinions.  It's essential to make sure we rely on the Scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers so we know the correct beliefs. Otherwise, we may be believing in ourselves as God.

9. Test Your faith with the Sound Qualities it Has
Our faith must be consistent and practical. Our soul must always be filled with peace and without fear. Our faith must be a living faith and not intellectual or a periodic one. It must be continually nurtured and always growing.

Reference: Life in Fatih by Pope Shenouda III

1 comment:

  1. These blog posts have helped me tremendously.

    I am very ashamed to admit that I fall constantly into despair; I do suffer from depression and anxiety and I always thought that the despair was one of the symptoms of my illness. But in reading this, my faith obviously must be weak. I feel weak and overwhelmed. I will pray for continued forgiveness and patience from the Lord to help me become stronger.