Faith Rooted In God
Looking out over the ocean I once saw distinctly both ends of a rainbow coming up out of the water, as it were, and forming an unbroken arch. Through this beautiful symbol the Holy Spirit interpreted to me the relationship faith has to grace in salvation as revealed in Ephesians 2:8: "By grace are ye saved through faith."
The arch of salvation is all grace from the Godward side and all faith from the manward. Godís grace is always perfect. But how imperfect is manís faith! Grace has provided in Christ all that is needed for a life of habitual spirituality. But to make such salvation experimental faith must appropriate the provision. Grace provides; faith possesses. Faith makes experimental what grace made potential to every believer.
God tells us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Some of Christís severest rebukes were to unbelief in His disciples. To have His presence, His words, His works fail to inspire faith grieved the Lord Jesus exceedingly.
You remember when He was in the ship and the storm arose and they cried out in fear. What a word of rebuke He spoke. Even though the tempest raged and the waves dashed high and He was asleep, yet He was there. Why should they fear? Fear and faith are incompatible.
"And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm" (Matt. 8:26).
At another time Peter was walking on the water at the Lordís command. The wind became boisterous and Peter began to sink. But why should he doubt? Had not the Lord on the sea said, "Come," and did not the power of His protection accompany the command? Doubt and faith are irreconcilable. If we have doubt we havenít faith; if we have faith we havenít doubt.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matt. 14:31). The disciples had crossed the lake after witnessing Christ feed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes. They were greatly concerned because they had forgotten to take bread. Why should that cause worry? Had they not just seen Him feed more than four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fishes with seven baskets full left over? Would He not be equal to furnishing an evening meal for twelve people if need be? Worry and faith cannot dwell together.
"Which when Jesus perceived, He said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?" (Matt. 16:8-10).
Oh! how we crowd Him out of our lives by that triumvirate of evil Ė fear, doubt and worry! Failing health, financial losses, overwhelming burdens, tempests of affliction and adversity come upon us and we become insensible to His presence, doubt His Word and forget His works.
Some of Christís sweetest words of commendation were called forth by faith, and strange to say they were spoken to those who knew Him the least. The centurion, whose servant lay sick, appealed to Christ to heal him. Christ promised to go to him. But the centurion answered, "Lord...speak the word only and my servant shall be healed" (Matt. 8:8). Oh! the joy such faith brought to Jesusí heart and the sweet commendation to His lips, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (v. 10).
There is no record in Godís Word and no instance in human experience where grace and love have failed to respond to faith and trust. God would be untrue to His nature, which is love, if He failed once to respond to real faith. To some of you such faith may seem impossible. But faith is the simplest thing in the world. Faith is just looking unto Jesus Christ and taking Him at His word. Why isnít it easy then to have faith? It is because we look at the difficulties instead of Christ, and the more we look at them the bigger they become. They shut Christ out of our vision. Faith in itself has no power whatsoever to save or to keep us, but it links us to Christ who has the power. Let us now consider two ways in which faith operates.
Faith Is Rooted in Godís Great Facts
Walking along a wooded path in the mountains of Switzerland I saw an interesting tree. On a steep slope was a tall pine tree with a huge boulder lodged right underneath it, lifting the main trunk several feet from the ground. The tree was fairly sitting on top of the rock, yet it shot straight upward fifty feet. How could such a position be maintained? The secret was not hidden from our view. The roots of the tree had spread themselves over that rock and had gone down, deep, deep into the earth around, so that even the boulder lodged at its very heart could not overturn or overwhelm it.
What a lesson it spoke! Afflictions, adversities, sufferings, sorrows, temptations, trials, doubts, disappointments roll in upon us. How can we go on in peace, patience and victory with such things in our life? Are they not enough to overwhelm us? No, not if faith spreads itself out over them and sends its roots down into the rich soil of Godís great, eternal facts.
What are some of these facts? I can mention only a few, but I hope you will search Godís Word and find many more of them for yourself.
God is love..."He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 John 4:8). This is one of the greatest of Godís eternal facts, for us to root our faith in. It may seem as though God had forgotten or that His hand of chastening were too heavy upon you. It may seem as though He had closed His eyes or deafened His ear. It may even seem as though He were altogether indifferent to the burden you carry and the heartache you endure. But, friends, it isnít so, for God is love and the love of God shines as the brightness of the sun, whether you are warmed and refreshed by its rays or not.
Godís grace is sufficient..."And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:9).
God never promised that we would not have temptations and trials, but He did promise that with every temptation there would be a way of escape, and that with every trial there would be strength to endure. When our weakness is most pressing His strength is most perfect.
Christ is able to save to the uttermost... Perhaps some of you have said, "I cannot live a yielded life" Ė you thought of your non-Christian home, of your social circle with its gaiety and worldliness, of your business life with its temptations to dishonesty and graft, and you said, "I canít live a yielded life in such surroundings." Yes, you can if you let the roots of faith reach into the soil of this eternal fact, "Christ is able to save to the uttermost" (see Heb. 7:25). He has both the power to cleanse from sin and to keep from sinning.
Think of the boulders that rolled in upon the life of the Apostle Paul: stripes, stonings, shipwreck, perils, and persecutions of all kinds. But his faith spread itself over all these testings and trials and rooted itself in the eternal facts of Godís love, grace and power, thus enabling him to grow up to magnificent spiritual stature. What the glorified Christ did for Paul He stands ready to do for you and me.
Faith Reckons on Godís Faithfulness
Our faith may falter but His faithfulness never. Peter failed Christ, but Christís faithfulness to Peter remained unshaken. The heavenly Father cannot forget His promises nor can He deny Himself by failing to keep them. "If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself" (2 Tim. 2:13, RV).
We may be ready to give up in defeat to the enemy, to lay down our task in sheer discouragement or even to take our hand from the plough and turn back altogether. But Christ is not dismayed or discouraged. He will not give up in despair. He acknowledges no victory on the devilís part. He has assumed responsibility for us and He abideth faithful.
"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thes. 5:24).
In Switzerland I watched two girls cross a glacier. The path was not marked out; there were great gaping holes in the ice; they were not properly shod with spiked shoes. Yet they tripped along unafraid and in safety, because they were roped to one who knew how to avoid the dangers and surmount the difficulties of that icy path and they reckoned on the faithfulness of their guide.
Our pilgrim journey is beset with dangers and difficulties, but we need have no fear for we, too, are roped to a Guide, who is especially appointed by our Father to lead us safely the entire way.