Faith of a Mustard Seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Acts on pistis/faith? 14 occurrences.

12th. (Acts 20:18-21): “And when they came to him, he said to them: ‘You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’” Paul is having to remind the Elders, (or maybe a self reminder of how much he has given)— of his humility, his tears and his trials. Humility that, in their world, was forced and understood of the poor and the slave. The tears, so deep, that the word usage is unknown elsewhere in New Testament. For Paul, in relationship to the trials, the tests, the temptations of faith in a hostile environment.

13th. (Acts 24:22-24): “But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he (Paul) be kept in custody but should have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came and his wife Drusilla, who is a Jewess; and he sent for Paul and heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus.” In speaking to Felix and Drusilla about ‘Faith in Christ Jesus’, he spoke about righteousness, temperance and (God’s) judgement to come. Righteousness: both observance of law and fulfillment of duty. ‘Doing what is right’ in the legal life, in the political, the ethical and above all in the religious life. One of the ‘Four Cardinal Virtues’ ‘righteousness/justice’ has a major place in the Ethics branch of Philosophy where it becomes clear that righteousness implies relationship. Temperance? Yeah, that too! Cardinal, Virtue! And ‘God’s Judgement’? That too! Paul’s ‘so very personal’, ‘least common denominator’, ‘on the fly’ treatise ‘On Faith’ given at a critical moment to one who held sentence over his life. Felix was conscience-smitten. He sent Paul back to his cell.

14th. (Acts 26:13-18): “At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?; And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles— to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” ‘The Twelve’ can speak about their historical experience knowledge with Jesus. Paul now, called to witness in a new direction— revealed truth; faith based knowledge; conviction; confession.

The end of this matter— ‘Sanctus’, the essence God. A ‘state’ and never an ‘action’. A conscious transference to the possession of God. A divine state of holiness, cleanliness, sanctification in which life must be lived! An ‘abiding’. Only possible as a personal being taken up into the existence of God. This ‘place’ among those who are “sanctified by faith” is the ‘inheritance’.

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