I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.– Romans 10
Give me the faith that can remove; and sink the mountain to a plain – Charles Wesley, Hymn
I went to see a doctor today, a Jewish lady with a slightly new age understanding of Jesus though she did mention faith; I was able to share with her some passages in Romans that hopefully clarified who Jesus was (she was delighted he was Jewish) why he is still important (Grace rests on atonement) and how she might respond (repentance and have faith in who he is and what he did). I pray, in faith, that God will draw her towards the truth of his Son and wait expectantly.
The book of Romans, indeed most of Pauls entire writings are filled with this single concept, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and nothing else. This blog exists solely to point people to that truth. Why is it then, we struggle to grasp that, and our faith is so weak? I am in the midst of listening to what the Almighty has to say on the matter and it could be a long conversation.
In Romans 1, Paul speaks of ‘obedience unto faith,’ in itself challenging. Faith as the objective belief (the faith) or subjective (I trust); obedience as a result of faith or included in faith? We could go on.
Surely though, it is the subjective nature of our ‘faith’ in God, that has most running to add some formula or other to sure up the foundations. My faith in God is incomplete, slightly restless, growing (at times) and even tenuous. Where I am today, may be different to where I am tomorrow. Worse still, the incorrigible nature of God seems to rest easily with that. What shall we do with all this?
What we most often do, is to put a framework around the subjective nature of faith. We allow others to define it through their set of rules, that put it on more of a concrete footing. Dogma, tradition, interpretation – all that defines our faith. Regrettably, in fact horribly so, our ‘faith’ in God is weak because it is based on our “doing stuff” to get his nod of approval. It totally misses all that faith is.
My faith in God, is the foundation of a relationship with the living God of the universe; it says, because of my belief, however tenuous or fallible, I still have the right to call God ‘papa.’ That his Son has committed the ultimate act that enables that to happen, and my faith must encompass that as part of the relationship. God accepts that my faith may waver at times, in fact he will test me to see if it does. All of that though, is part of the deal of faith. It must be alive.
For his part, God reserves the right to do a little shaping himself, stretching my faith in him, such that our relationship can become even more intense, more alive. He says, if I can just get you to trust me with all the details of your life, if instead of praying to me without the slightest notion that I might answer, you would walk through each day looking for my answer. If you would just trust me, test me even, in this area. Do you not believe that you are an heir to my Kingdom, my child, and that all that is said in the Bible of my fatherly nature towards you is really true?
Instead, let’s be honest here, our preference is to put our faith in more tangible assets than God; what test on our faith is there when we have a house with no mortgage, a decent car, constant food, water, money…really, is our faith ever tested, yours or mine?
When a woman of small means, offered her entire inheritance of 500 pounds to George Mueller (at a time when he really needed it) he advised her to go away and pray about it again for a few weeks just to be sure. He prayed about it for 134 days straight, confident that whatever the Lord’s (and her) decision would be it would be the right one. On the very day the money finally arrived, a suitable building came up that would allow them to expand the orphanage work, as Mueller knew the Lord had been directing him to pray for over several months.
You, me – we long to see this, to experience it in our lives. If we have any relationship with God, this is what we want. We long to see the shackles of tradition and dogma fall off, and to experience faith in a huge God such that when we pray, unworthy as we are, we would see God move mightily. To have such a relationship that we believed in unwaveringly, that when we prayed about something or better still someone, we would see him move. Oh, that you and I had that relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Do you know Mueller didn’t believe for one moment, that his gift of Faith was extraordinary or unique? Indeed, he wrote that it was every child of God’s birthright to expect God to answer and provide for their every need, and he warned everyone about the deception of Satan that tells us otherwise, makes us believe we are unworthy.
Let us keep going – and sharing. We need more faith in a faithful God. He will not let us down. Do you live like that?