“To sum up: When first even the least drop of faith is instilled in our minds, we begin to contemplate God’s face, peaceful and calm and gracious toward us. We see Him afar off, but so clearly as to know we are not at all deceived. Then, the more we advance as we ought continually to advance, with steady progress, as it were, the nearer and thus surer sight of Him we obtain; and by the very continuance He is made even more familiar to us. So we see that the mind, illuminated by the knowledge of God, is at first wrapped up in much ignorance, which is gradually dispelled. Yet, by being ignorant of certain things, or by rather obscurely discerning what it does discern, the mind is not hindered from enjoying a clear knowledge of the divine will toward itself. For what it discerns comprises the first and principal parts in faith. It is like a man who, shut up in a prison into which the sun’s rays shine obliquely and half obscured through a rather narrow window, is indeed deprived of the full sight of the sun. Yet his eyes dwell on its steadfast brightness, and he receives its benefits. Thus, bound with the fetters of an earthly body, however much we are shadowed on every side with great darkness, we are nevertheless illumined as much as need be for first assurance when, to show forth its mercy, the light of God sheds even a little of its radiance” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.2.19, Ford Lewis Battles, trans.).
Not exactly the shallow platitudes we are so accustomed to reading in modern evangelicalism, eh?! Thought-provoking material–for sure! I had to read it several times to fully appreciate Calvin’s point.
Weak faith is real faith.
A few years ago, I attended a Desiring God National Conference. The theme was “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.” I distinctly recall one of the speakers state that some days we should be encouraged if we are faced in the right direction. We may not be running the race in full-stride. We might not be moving along at a healthy pace. In fact, we may not even be making perceptible progress. But if we are facing in the direction of Christ, of all things good and righteous, our “weak faith” will not be in vain. However, if we continually…advance with “steady progress” we shall indeed be rewarded. As Calvin states, we will see God more clearly and understand Him and His ways more than previously.
Aren’t these great motivations for growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)?! My heart’s desire is to know and show God. This is why I remain committed to both public and private worship. This explains my level of involvement in my local church as well as my morning times of meditation and prayer. I want to know God more than I do presently. I want to glorify Him more than I do currently.
Today I am grateful that my weak faith is real faith. Thanks be to God! By His grace, I am faced in the right direction today!