Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Strength of Faith

"Where lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is—an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, 'My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain his Word will be fulfilled.' Then faith thinketh, 'Who gave this promise?' It considereth not so much its greatness, as, 'Who is the author of it?' She remembers that it is God who cannot lie—God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludeth that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction. She remembereth, why the promise was given,—namely, for God’s glory, and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that he will never stain his own escutcheon, nor mar the lustre of his own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand. Then faith also considereth the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfil his word. 'He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?' Moreover faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that he never did once fail any of his children. She recollecteth times of great peril, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, 'No, I never will be led to think that he can change and leave his servant now. Hitherto the Lord hath helped me, and he will help me still.' Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and, because she does so, can with assurance say, 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!'" ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, July 8.

I like this devotion from Spurgeon because it brings to light an important truth about faith. The value of faith is not found in its strength but in its object. Faith is useless if it is not placed in something faithful and deserving of that faith, and this kind of useful faith is nothing more than the proper response to the faithfulness of that to which it looks. You can have the strongest faith in the world in a mushroom but that mushroom cannot forgive your sins. You also can have unsteady, weak faith in Jesus, but if He alone is the object, He can and will forgive your sins. Today you often hear people say, "I have faith." "Faith in what?", I want to ask. You might also hear people say, "I am a person of faith." Again, I would ask, "Faith in what or who?" Nebulous faith is useless faith. Faith is only meaningful if it is placed in something or Someone who is deserving of that faith. Again, that alone is where the value of faith lies; it does not lie in the strength of the faith.

Allow me to share a classic illustration of this. Let's say you are next to a cliff and a bear is running at you. You look down the side of the cliff and there below you are three branches that you could grasp to escape the reach of the bear. All that matters in this situation is the strength (faithfulness) of the branch. Whether you leap off the cliff and grab the branch or climb down slowly and cautiously to it, all that matters is the strength of the branch. If you choose the wrong branch, a bold leap or a cautious climb will not make a difference, you will die either way. If you choose the right branch, a bold leap or a cautious climb will not make a difference, you will be held up. Such is the case with faith.

By His Grace,

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