Walking by Faith

In church recently we sang the famous hymn “It is Well With My Soul”  by Horatio Spafford, circa 1873. As we got to the last chorus, the words “And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight…” started me thinking.

It seems to me there is a common misunderstanding that once we “get to Heaven” we won’t need Faith any more because then we will “see” what we have been believing in.

I don’t think it works that way – and this is why…

One of my most favorite passages from the Bible is: I Corinthians 13:13 ” And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” -NIV. The word “μένει” (translated “remain”) here conveys a sense of permanence. This word is translated in the NLT as “last forever”. This is consistent with the context of the preceding passages which talk about the things that will “pass away” making clear the idea that these three will not “pass away”.

The implication is that Faith will continue for eternity (in Heaven). This is also consistent with more of the preceding verses which specifically speak of “seeing face to face” and “knowing fully” as we are known, i.e when we “see” Christ.

As we think about it, it should be clear that Faith, Hope and Love must continue in eternity to keep Heaven from becoming Hell. Eternity without Hope seems like the very definition of Hell, and it is hard to imagine a substantive Hope without Faith.

If it is true then that Faith will continue even after we “see” Him, then we may need to reconsider what it is we mean by Faith, and what “seeing” Him means.

C.S. Lewis wrote “Seeing is not believing” very early in his book “Miracles”. He went on to explain (far better than I, but in a nutshell) we interpret what we “see” through what we believe.  This is where it gets tricky. We believe things based on our experience with our senses i.e. what we “see”. To break the logic loop we may conclude that what we believe is both subjective and objective. That is, the subjectivity of our senses combined with the objectivity of shared experience. My experience is that the sun comes up every morning and this is mostly true for everyone. I believe this new day to be a gift from God, but not everyone “sees” it like that.

To bring this back around we need to be subjectively open to the perception of Christ (which requires Faith) to be objectively able to  receive the external corroboration of the experience [So great a cloud of witnesses…]. There is no context to share the experience of sunrise with someone who has not “seen” it. Christ Himself says, before raising Lazarus, “…if you believe, you will see…” (not as the chief priests and scribes said “…that we may see and believe.”). Our own experience teaches us this relationship is true just as Mr. Lewis argues (and so the reasoning is not cyclical).

So Faith is not just “believing”, it is a fundamental change in perspective that permits us to “see” things differently (for extra credit consider Job 42:5) . While there is a progression of Faith, we do not suddenly (or ever) stop “walking by faith” because we may now “walk by sight”. On the contrary, when we experience the truth of what we believe, our Faith is made stronger. The exercise of a walk of faith becomes the perception that guides our feet. Faith is not replaced by sight, sight is subsumed by Faith.

So “faith shall be sight” does not mean we no longer need faith, I think the better reading is we no longer need sight.




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