The Example of Christian Speech-Act of Faith
Whenever God speaks, truth is asserted. His word then is the basis of what is right and wrong, even the foundation of meaningful human responsibility. Thus, when God speaks, the proper and reverent response is faith. This kind of faith is not a leap in the dark, but a leap in the light of God’s declaration. It is an intelligent faith – a faith based on solid facts. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Perhaps, this “conviction of things not seen” is admirably exemplified by a Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. According to this account,
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
The Jews and their religious leaders have the Old Testament scriptures to guide them in identifying the coming Messiah. But their outward assessment of Jesus hindered them from believing his messianic assertions. Despite the display of irrefutable miraculous works, they judged him as a man possessed by the spirit of Satan (Jn. 5:43-47; 10:38). This is the reason why Jesus in this scenario marveled at the confident assertion of the Centurion’s faith. Think about it: Jesus marveled! It pleased him so much that he praised the faith of the Centurion by saying that no one in Israel had such kind of faith. Of course, what Jesus said here was not an exaggeration but an exact commendation of the Centurion’s faith. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (Jn. 1:11). Thus, it is a very solemn warning then to the religious that religion in itself cannot bring him into a right relationship with God. If religion becomes a set of human rules and regulations – like the Judaism of the Scribes and Pharisees – it will turn away people from a correct view of God. Such kind of religion is not uplifting God’s scriptural assertions but establishing human traditions.
The reason why the Centurion was able to express an admirable faith to Jesus was because he viewed him according to his own speech-act assertions. The centurion’s belief was pure and focused. It wasn’t manipulated by the religious assessments of the Pharisees. It was single-mindedly focused on Jesus. Hence, when he humbly asked the Lord to heal his servant, he did not bother Jesus to go to his house personally. The centurion believed that the speech of Jesus is mighty and active. It has an imperative power over the unseen things of the universe. Thus, it was enough for him to hear the words of Jesus. Distance doesn’t matter – “but only say the word, and my servant will be healed,” he said.
As you can see, faith is an assertive response to what God has said and done – a divine speech-act. With this kind of assertion, we also express our human speech-act to God in the form of praise and obedience. Therefore, if you want to offer an admirable expression of faith, marvelous or pleasing in the sight of God, the key is to follow the faith of the Centurion (Heb. 11:6).
Experience the Power of Prophecy as a gift to open your mind to receive the Mind of Christ.
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