The Stuff Faith is Made of
Faith is an abstract concept. We can put our faith in something (like works) or someone (like Jesus), and have faith when things get tough, or demonstrate faith when we give sacrificially, but the nature of faith is something entirely different.
Jesus categorizes faith. He says some people have (or demonstrate) “great” faith, while others demonstrate little faith. Also, Jesus says the faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to move mountains. Perhaps it is not the quantity of faith you have, but the quality.
If the value of faith is quantity or amount, then the responsibility is ours. If our faith is strong enough, big enough, heart-felt enough, etc., then we are the ones who accomplish through faith. It’s all about us having “enough” faith, whatever that means. This is worldly faith.
However, if the value of faith is quality, then it only matters if that faith is genuine. True faith is genuine faith whether old or new, tested or untested, well informed or childlike.
“To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours…” Indeed, Peter writes to a people whose quality of faith mirrors that of the Apostles. The quantity of faith is not entirely relevant as little faith is true faith, as Jesus tells us, but faith by itself is lacking. We must start in faith but can add to it in our sanctification. Peter will encourage them to add to their faith various characteristics, but the adding increases the quantity of the spiritual life not the quality of the faith. The faith itself remains unchanged but other things must be added which are missing. This is also why “just have faith” is not enough in the spiritual life of the believer. It is the beginning of life, not the end of it.
This faith came by the righteousness of God as Peter tells us. It did not come by their works, nor can we work to gain greater standing or more salvation than our faith has already granted us.
Hebrews 11 tell us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Romans, Galatians, and the book of Hebrews quote Habakkuk when they say, “The righteous will live by faith.” That assurance, that evidence, and that reality existed for Peter’s audience because their righteousness originated in the righteous one in whom they had put their faith.
Is your faith of the same quality as that of the Apostles? Perhaps in humility or dread or both you say, “No! No! Surely my faith isn’t like theirs!”
Then what is it? If your faith differs in kind, then it is a different faith in a different God. If your faith differs in amount, be of good cheer! For the smallest amount can see done whatever God himself can do, and early in their careers, the disciples had not even that!
Knowledge of God multiplies grace and peace. The virtues to add ensure your own mind of your calling. But your faith IS or it IS NOT. There is no in between. And any faith that IS is sufficient unto salvation and stands as the same quality as that of Peter, James, John, and the rest of the early church pioneers.