The Two Facets of Faith

Faith is both, or not at all.

From earthly things lift up
your heart’s eyes;
love the most loving
host of angels;
blessed family
which dwells on high,
where the old does not groan
nor the infant cry,
where of God’s praise
no voice is restrained,
where there is no hunger,
where there is never thirst,
where on celestial food
the heavenly folk are fed,
where none dies,
because none is born...
where life green
and true shall be,
which neither death nor of sorrow
the fear shall destroy.

  - Columbanus, Poem on the World’s Impermanence, Irish, 7th century[1]

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

  - Hebrews 11.1

Christian faith consists of two parts, an inward conviction coupled with outward expressions.

The first component of faith is that with which we are most familiar. It consists of those hoped-for things that we read about in God’s Word – forgiveness of sin, heaven, eternal life, a dwelling-place with God forever. This is the inward conviction of faith. We believe in our hearts and minds that these promises and realities are true, and we hold to them.

When we truly believe, we experience a measure of “the substance of things hoped for.” We engage spiritual truths and beings, and dwell beyond the veil in that unseen realm, at least, to a certain extent. The peace and joy that we know will prevail always then, we experience truly and in part here and now. And this gives us a sense of assurance of salvation – that we really do believe and are saved.

But this inward assurance of hoped-for blessings is only half of faith. Another way to say this is, if your faith only consists of this inward assurance, you do not yet have full faith, a true saving and sanctifying faith. Where faith is concerned, half-faith – no matter how sincerely you feel it – is actually no faith at all.

For faith is also the “evidence of things not seen.” The Greek says that literally – the evidence that comes out in our lives flows from the inward assurance of things not seen. Inward assurance of unseen things is completed by the outward evidence of a life lived from that perspective and vantage point, lived in the presence of Christ and departed saints and holy angels, lived to refract the glory of that realm into every moment and activity of our lives. No wonder Paul commands us to set our minds on those unseen things that surround the throne of Jesus Christ (Col. 3.1-3).

What are those unseen things? Columbanus suggests some, but, of course, there are many more (cf. Rev. 4, 5). More important, what does it mean to show evidence of unseen things? We can’t see angels (normally, but Heb. 13.2), but apparently true faith consists in practicing angelic existence in some way. We can’t see Christ enthroned at the Father’s right hand, but true faith consists in practicing that exalted presence. We can’t see – except with the eye of the heart (Eph. 1.15-23) – the glory and beauty and wonder and majesty of the landscape and inhabitants of the heavenly realm, but true faith consists in practicing that beauty and majesty in every aspect of our lives.

To what extent do you feel confident your faith is more than mere assurance of things hoped for, but goes on to the daily, vital practiceof things not seen?

Half-faith is no faith at all, no matter how sincerely you believe or feel like you are saved. Full faith – inward assurance and outward evidence: This is where real faith comes to light, flooding your Personal Mission Field with the reality of those unseen things, made real and visible in this world through your every word and deed.

If you’re living only half of faith, dear friend, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Psalm 110.1-3, 5-7 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
“Sit by Me at My right hand,” the LORD says to my Lord,
“until I make Your foot stand on all who hate Your Word.”
From in His Church the Savior rules all His enemies,
While those who know His favor go forth the Lord to please.

The Lord at Your right hand, LORD, in wrath shall shatter kings,
when judgment by His strong Word He to the nations brings.
Then, all His foes defeated, He takes His hard-won rest,
in glorious triumph seated with us, redeemed and blessed!

O Lord, let Your Spriit bring forth the evidence of faith in me today as I…

The Landscape of Unseen Things

The more familiar we become with the unseen things of faith, the more our faith will increase, and the evidence of true faith will be seen in us. Our workbook, The Landscape of Unseen Things, provides a tour de force of the unseen world, and invites you to enter and make yourself at home there. This is a great study to work on with friends. Order your copy by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, p. 185.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore