The Complete Green Letters, chapter 1
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6a)
Faith is such a tricky thing, though I don’t think it was meant to be, or even has to be for that matter. The basis of faith is quite simple: believe what God has said. After that, it’s a whole different story.
I seem to run into problems in two areas: 1) exactly what was mentioned above: believing what God says, and 2) even if I do believe it…believing it applies to ME.
For instance, I genuinely believe God heals people. I struggle to believe he desires to heal me. Where does that place my faith in healing? Probably a 2 out of 10 or so. For faith to be rock-steady, it has to be based on the WHOLE truth, not just parts. And the WHOLE truth is that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), and if one person qualifies for healing, all do. Therefore, if God would heal a blind man, why wouldn’t he heal my impaired vision?
Anyway, I love how Stanford’s writing just seethes scripture…and quotes of others. He isn’t so much trying to establish his own ideas as he is compiling and reflecting on the ideas of others.
“Unless our faith is established on [scriptural] facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation, or presumption,” he says. “Faith standing on the facts of the Word of God substantiates and gives evidence of things not seen.”
Good stuff. I’d love to just type out the chapter for you, because it really speaks for itself. So, a few more highlights and then final thoughts.
- “Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The providence of faith begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is: whether God has spoken it in His Word.”
- “‘Faith must be based on certainty. There must be definite knowledge of God’s purpose and will. Without that there can be no true faith. For faith is not a force that we exercise or a striving to believe that something shall be, thinking that if we believe hard enough it will come to pass.’ That may be positive thinking, but certainly not biblical faith.” (Standford quoted Alexander R. Hay)
- “Real faith is always increased by opposition, while false confidence is damaged and discouraged by it.” (Stanford quoted J. B. Stoney)
- “Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness and defeat. And only then do we find we have learned the lesson of faith; to find our tiny craft of life rushing onward to a blessed victory of life and power and service undreamt of in the days of our fleshy strength and self-reliance.” (Standford quoted James McConkey)
- “The more you find Him in your sorrows or wants, the more you will be attached to Him and drawn away from this place where the sorrows are, to Him in the place where He is.” (Stanford quotes Stoney)
Faith takes work. It takes studying and learning the Word and allowing it to penetrate our often stony hearts. It takes a continual yielding of our agenda and will to God’s. It takes a surrender of things we hold dearly to–namely our understanding of ourselves and our perception of how the world operates.
I think that is sometimes why it takes pain and hurt and discomfort for faith to grow. It’s often only in our brokenness that we allow God to enter into our hearts and whisper honest, faith-foundational truths that build us up and recreate us.
I know this is what happened just a week and a half ago. I emerged from a situation quite broken, identity shattered, self-esteem nil. But in that state, the Lord was able to minister to an old wound and mend it properly, allow for true healing to occur and faith to emerge. When I was stripped of my reliance on my utterly-unstable self, he was able to situate me on his universe-expansive foundation and assure me that I didn’t have to worry about falling and hurting myself again.
That, folks, builds faith…because it is based on the Word’s truth of his love for me and the promises that I’m a new creation in him and the fact that He’s always working for my good.