Faith as a Subjective Experience
1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 say, “And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and encourage you for the sake of your faith, that no one would be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed for this.” I appreciated seeing in this week’s Bible study that we need to be those who are established in faith. On the one hand, as we saw in 1 Thessalonians 1 and 2, faith is something we markedly experience at the beginning of our Christian life – it is what grounds us and incidentally, propels us into a living that has love as its construct and hope as its consummation. On the other hand, faith is something we continue to experience throughout the rest of our Christian life. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” There is an indication here that faith is not just something we experience once and for all at the beginning of our Christian life; faith is something we continue to touch, in a subjective way, day to day, as we go on. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 mentions a completing of “the things that are lacking in… faith.” In conjunction with verses 2 and 3, we see that Paul is articulating the need for the action of believing to continue within us. He says this to the young believers in Thessalonica for the sake of their going on, but it also very much applies to us today. In everything that we go through, in all the situations we are inevitably placed in, there is a need for us to look away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. There is a need for us to recognize His sovereignty over all things (Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” – I love this verse. It specifically says God. We need to know Him as God!) and to trust that He is working all things together for good (2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory”). If we recognize this, the enemy will not be able to shake us by afflictions. Rather, these afflictions will work out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory, and they will be opportunities for our God to gain us in the particular ways He seeks to gain us. These afflictions will also be opportunities for our God to perfect our faith. May we all go on in this way!