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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The End of Faith

There is some talk in recent times, with the many and varied aspects and implications of the word 'fulfilled', that certain things have come to an end, or ceased, as a result of their fulfillment. In most cases, when a thing, such as a contract is fulfilled, it is necessarily brought to an end, the agreement being 'filled up'. For instance, one party may contract to do a certain thing for another party, such as build a house for them. When the house is built, and all the terms of the contract have been met, or fulfilled, the contract usually ends. Another example on the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, is the contract between a prostitute and her 'John'. Time is usually of the essence in these situations; the contract, whether simply being spoken or written, is often, from what I understand, made for a certain amount of time ( feel free to correct me if I'm wrong ). When the time is up, and the prostitute has held up her end, so to speak, and fulfilled the contract, her duties have come to an end and the contract ceases!

Contracts may lead to a relationship of whatever sort, to whatever extent, and they often do so in the case of house-building because of maintenance and up-keep. More and more though, a separate maintenance contract will be offered, and so the relationship, of whatever sort may continue ( that's what it's all about, 'relationship'! ) Somewhat the same may happen in the case of a prostitute and her 'John'. She may became his favorite ( and usual ) 'fling', and thus the relationship will continue, whether purely business or otherwise. In certain cases, the two parties involved may covenant to 'quit' any third party involvement, and the 'John' may end up rescuing her from her death-style!

Most contracts, though, are meant to be of a temporal nature, and although they can lead to a further relationship ( beyond the terms of the contract ), when the terms of that contract are fulfilled, it ceases to be, and there are no more obligations on either party.

Not so with covenants! 

Covenants, especially biblical covenants always involve a third party, usually a mediator, or Higher Power. In the case of the Marriage Covenant, two parties agree together, before God, to live together as man and wife, and to become one in word and deed. Some marriages have more of a contractual aspect, in that when either party feels that his or her purpose in the marriage has been fulfilled, the marriage is most often brought to an end, like any other contract! In fact, some so-called marriages are actually contracts, which may involve certain agreements having to do with money, or with certain requirements to be performed by either or both parties.

The Mayflower Compact, as I understand it, was formed more as a contractual agreement than a covenant. It was, as I understand it, made consensually and acknowledgedly before God, and could thus almost be considered more a covenant than a contract! In that this contract, or 'compact' was made to preserve the union of the parties, and to bolster a society, you may well say that they covenanted together!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 ( NIV )

What is the end of faith? 

First of all, maybe we need to clarify what we mean by 'the end'! By saying that it is fulfilled, do we mean that it has ended, that there is no more need of it? Or, speaking of 'the End' of Faith, are we referring to the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us ( John 11:26 )? If this is the End of which we speak, then yes, I agree, Faith is Fulfilled! Like I told a friend, 'it is filled up in us'. Because it is part of an everlasting ( age-during ) covenant made by an eternally infinite Being; it is forever. Although I ordinarily prefer the NKJV, I quoted the NIV in this circumstance because it uses the word 'confidence'. Is He not still our confidence? Do we not still exercise confidence in Him as the God and Master of the Universe?? The Faith that the Old Testament saints exercised was a confidence in the hope, the religious belief that one day a Messiah would be revealed, One who would lead them to True Freedom! Their faith was fulfilled! The Messiah that they looked for was revealed and did lead them to True Freedom! Eschatologically, the Hope that they had did come to an end; their hope in a Deliverer to come out of Zion was made evident, and so in that sense ended! The Object of that Faith, just like the Object of that Hope, and in fact Faith and Hope personified, are met in the person of Jesus the Christ, God Himself, Who is eternally infinite and existent!

But, one might argue, since that biblical faith in the hope of the Messiah was fulfilled, is it not true that faith is no longer necessary, and thus is no more? We've already seen that this cannot be so, for people must still exercise faith in Christ, in order to believe religiously, in other words to live out their beliefs. There must be a confidence in the word spoken if there is to be a belief, especially an active belief, in the Person. Thus, Faith, even though it be fulfilled eschatologically, is not ended, but as we saw earlier, is rather filled up in us!

 A covenant, like a contract, requires faith, faith in the fact that the other Party will do what He promised. If faith, being fulfilled, is no longer necessary, then we no longer need a covenant either. If we have just an agreement to live together, work together, etc., what we have is simply a contract, which when fulfilled, is brought to an end. Maybe this is why we have so many marriages within the realm of what is called Christianity, that have fallen apart, making a mockery of the bond between Christ and His Bride, between God and His people! Maybe if marriage, as well as other relationships were viewed as the covenants they are, or should be, the world would look more like the Kingdom of God and Heaven it is!

Maybe if we practiced our Faith, rather than discarding it as used up, and pertaining only to biblical figures, as those we read about in Hebrews 11, then maybe we would begin to see the Kingdom expand, as more real and lasting relationships are formed, and covenants, not just contracts, are formed and fulfilled!

I have Faith that this WILL happen!

Amen,
Charles Haddon Shank






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