What it means to have faith

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

Mark 11:22

The biography of Hudson Taylor contains an amazing little passage about what it means to have faith, which I have been thinking about a lot (and I therefore decided that it merited its own post).

Taylor studies the verse above, puzzling over the fact that he would be glad to have an increase of faith in God, if only he knew how. He considers that perhaps he has been putting the emphasis in the wrong place. The emphasis is not to be put on the ‘having’ of faith, but in the ‘faith in God’, in the character of God as faithful . To have faith is to count upon His faithfulness.

This is what he writes:

“Let us see that in theory we hold that God is faithful; that in daily life we count upon it; and that at all times and under all circumstances we are fully persuaded of this blessed truth.

Want of trust is at the root of almost all our sins and all our weaknesses; and how shall we escape it but by looking to Him and observing His faithfulness? The man, who holds God’s faithfulness will not be foolhardy or reckless, but he will be ready for everything. The man who holds God’s faithfulness will dare to obey Him, however impolite it may appear. Abraham held God’s faithfulness and offered up Isaac, ‘accounting that God was able to raise him… from the dead’ Moses held God’s faithfulness and led the millions of Israel into the waste, howling wilderness…

Satan, too, has his creed: Doubt God’s faithfulness. ‘Hath God said? Are you not mistaken as to His commands? He could not really mean just that. You take an extreme view, give too literal a meaning to the words.’ How constantly, and alas, how successfully are such arguments used to prevent whole-hearted trust in God, whole-hearted consecration to God! How many estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources and thus attempt little. All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them.”

Our faith is built on the character we know God to have. Our faith lays a hold on the faithfulness of God.


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