|Book One, Lesson Four
"Above all, taking the shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
Create in me a pure heart, О God. Open Thou my heart to the faith Thou hast implanted in all that seek Thy face. Help Thou mine unbelief in my God, in my neighbor, in myself. 262-13
[Based on Edgar Cayce readings 262-13 through 262-17]
What Is Faith?
Faith is an attribute of the soul. It is the inner spiritual knowledge of the Creative Forces of the universe. As we become cognizant of the physical body through the senses, so we may become aware of the soul through the activity of its attributes. Faith may be denied or renounced until it ceases to exist within the consciousness of the physical mind. It can be acknowledged and exercised until it will remove mountains. That which is brought into consciousness through the activity of spiritual forces, manifesting in and through the spiritual force of the individual, becomes the essence of faith itself. Hence, it has been termed by many that faith, pure faith, accepts or rejects without basis of reason, beyond the ken and scope of that which is perceived through-that which we bring to our activity through- the five senses.
"Faith," as defined by Barnabas, "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith knows that it has already received and acts accordingly, doubting nothing. It is the builder of the seemingly impossible. It is that which has brought into manifestation all that has ever existed. God is, faith is. It is the evidence of God's promise fulfilled. Man's divine privilege is to accept, use, develop, and enjoy the fruits of faith.
In the material world we often mistake confidence for faith. We are prone to depend upon our physical senses, forgetting that they are deceptive. This is not faith, but confidence-for confidence comes through the physical senses. When trials and disasters arise, that are seemingly beyond our power to control, we begin to sink, and immediately in hopelessness and distress we cry out, "Lord, help me, I perish!" It is then that the Voice speaks, "O ye of little faith!"
Let us examine ourselves and see whether we are holding to faith or confidence. We must view spiritual things from spiritual standpoints and accept them in a spiritual way.
Many say, "We have faith," but they begin to explain that it applies to mental and not to material things. We say, "We believe, but-" which means there is doubt, the very opposite of faith. Remember, when we entered this material plane, we became subject to material laws. It is the failure of our senses to perceive and fully to understand these laws that brings many of us to the point where we have little real faith.
There is a world before us to be understood: the mysteries of the universe, the law of love, the power of thought, and the matchless gift of faith. We stumble, we falter, even when we have the divine promise, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." With such a promise, should we not cry out, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief"?
Need of Faith
Faith is victory, for where there is faith rightly placed, there is no failure, but true success. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life"; that is, be full of faith and have as a reward life's crowning glories. We know that all our development, physical, mental, and spiritual, depends upon our faith in God, in our fellow human beings, and in ourselves. Just in proportion to the amount of faith we place in God and in ourselves, just so great is our development. Why not take God at His word, letting our faith become a living faith by acting in the manner that shows to the world that we know ourselves to be children of God. There is no other way to real victory.
Let us have more faith in our fellow human beings. We may not agree with them, but who knows whether they are not more in line with the divine plan than if they were following our lead? It is well to remember that our Ideal is manifested through our fellow humans as well as through ourselves, and it is, therefore, more necessary for us to trust them, even though appearances may be against it.
It is not only our privilege, but our duty to have faith in ourselves. We are workers together with God, and when we doubt ourselves, we doubt the God within us. He has promised, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Call to mind the words: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." In His Name we are more than conquerors. It is only by having the faith of a little child in the abiding presence of the Christ that we can hope to inherit the kingdom.
Faith is a bridge that spans the gulf from the seen to the unseen. It is often all we have left when everything seems against us. With this in mind, how diligently should we cultivate and seek to increase our faith when all is going well with us, in order that it may be a strong fortress when the storms of life begin to beat upon us. Lord, increase our faith!
How Faith Is Developed
Faith is developed by the use of it. It cannot be taught or forced, neither can true faith be destroyed. Through the exercising of faith, we are able to give enlightenment to others.
Let the mind be in us that was in Jesus the Christ; then there will come faith that is sufficient unto every need, even that faith which removes mountains, changes the destiny of nations, yea, and even brings worlds into existence. Do we believe this? Then, how may this be accomplished? By opening our hearts in meditation to the unseen forces that surround the throne of grace, beauty, and might, and at the same time by throwing about us the protection found in the thought of the Christ, we can accomplish this. (See 262-3.) Then let us add to our faith works which show forth attributes that are expressions of His Spirit in the world. Thus shall our faith develop and become to us evidence of things not seen. We must show by our actions in our daily lives that we believe, that we have faith, and that we know as we use what we have, more will be given.
In times of trial, let us think of the faith that has sustained others in troubles far greater than ours. When our conscious minds would magnify our doubts, let us awaken our faith by rising above the cries of the flesh. Are we not children of the Most High? Let us hold steadfastly to this gift that is God-given, that will lead us upward along the way of life.
In studying and applying cooperation, in using the knowledge we have gained in knowing ourselves, in holding to our ideal, and in never letting our faith falter, we are building step by step that which may become living truth in the lives of individuals with whom we come in contact. As we apply what we know, there is given a greater understanding of how our faith may increase and become a living thing in our experience. We are in our daily lives reflections of what we worship. Let our light so shine that others seeing the light in us may glorify God.
Where Faith Abounds
Only into the heart that is free from selfish love can there come a faith that will sustain in all conditions of life. Our faith must be a sustaining faith, a living faith, one that we can try out daily and know to be sure and steadfast. Where there is real faith, there is no fear, for with faith in the abiding love of the Father, what cause is there for us to have an anxious moment?
Every step of the way is shown to us who are faithful, for His word is a lamp to our feet. When the way is dark and barriers seem impassable, then the light of the Sun of righteousness shines forth to us who abide in the promises He made.
When faith abides within, we have true freedom and the assurance that we have no master save Jesus the Christ, and that we are protected by the strong arm of the Father. The feeling of security, protection, and peace that passes understanding is found nowhere else. Faith is the promise sent on before to show that whatever we ask we have.
The solution of mental problems is more important to us than physical, although this does not seem true to the average individual lost in the twisted paths of materialism. Free the mind and the battle is almost won. Mental anguish is far greater than physical, for the mind can conquer physical pain, but it is necessary for the spiritual forces to aid the suffering mind.
The savages worship a god who will send rain and sunshine and protect them from lightning. The philosopher seeks a god who will give peace in mind and soul. Do we know in whom we believe? If so, then the ideal or standard toward which we move becomes the basis for the activity of faith in constant action from the mental, imaginative, and spiritual forces. Thus we may express or bring into manifestation that which is held as our ideal- not for self-exaltation, but rather to show the blessings we have received and to see them manifested in the lives of others.
Let us look within ourselves and know that we are workers together with God. We should analyze ourselves to find out just where the flesh is weak, where we are most likely to fail, and then seek a constant reinforcement of spirit that will make us hold on with unwavering faith to our Ideal.
Evidences of Faith
"When the day is dark and the way is obscure and we can still hold on, there is evidence that there is faith. When the sea of life is rough and we have the courage to step out boldly on the troubled waters, it is because there is still the divine gift at the very center of our being that is saying, 'Peace, be still,' for 'I am with thee and will not leave thee.' We have heard it. We can hear it always, if we will only take the time to listen."
"When doubts arise and the clouds of despair are thick, do we not call out in the night, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Does not an answer come? Are we not stronger by having an experience that gives us a better understanding of our neighbor who suffers in the same manner?"
"Some years ago, I was with a party that was visiting a noted cavern. Everyone seemed very happy. After being in the cavern for a short time, I became very much frightened. The thought came to me, 'How terrible, how dreadful it would be, if we could not find our way out!' The very air seemed to press in upon me. Ages seemed to pass. Then came the Voice that has sustained me so often: 'Lо, I am with you always.' 'Bе not afraid.' With these words there came the strengthening of my faith."
"When loved ones are lingering in pain and no earthly help is nigh, are there not evidences of the faith of our fathers revived, when we pray and receive help? It brings the greatest comfort to us, not only in the trying times but at all times, to know inwardly that His promises are sure."
Reward of Faith
Our rewards are in proportion to the faith we exercise. "According to your faith be it with you." "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." There is no limit to the reward. It is ours to measure, and ours to claim. "Prove me ... if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Let us open ourselves as channels, and have complete faith in God, for the battle is the Lord's. It remains to be seen what we can do when we give ourselves unreservedly into the hands of the Father. "And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, who will guide you into all Truth."
"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises ... And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."