To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Strong Faith.

“My faith is strong!” Is that a reasonable thing for a Christian to say? When we are feeling good, God seems to be on our side and we feel we are being used by the LORD; then we may say “my faith is strong!” But is that a biblical thing to say?

Let us initially ponder upon this issue in the light of two statements made by Paul. Firstly we read that he exhorted the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Eph. 6:10b). Secondly he told Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). Implied in each of these statements is the need for faith. During the severe weather in the UK in early 2010 there was a pressing need for salt to be acquired so that roads could be treated and remain usable. This salt could only be acquired through sending trucks to the relevant salt mines and in particular the Winsford Rock Salt mine in Cheshire. Sending the trucks was the means of getting the salt. Similarly faith is the means by which the Lord and His mighty power and Christ Jesus with His grace arrive in our lives.

One example of the transforming impact of faith is found in the woman with issue of blood (see Luke 8:43-48). Faith literally touched God as she grasped the hem of Jesus garment. We should note what Jesus says: “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (Luke 8:46). And the result of the power reaching the woman was that she was made whole. Jesus said “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48b). Faith brought the power of God into her situation which led to a radical transformation. In like manner when we with true faith come to our God we can know His power working to transform ourselves and our situations.

True faith always looks to God through Jesus Christ. Just to have faith is a meaningless concept because it begs the question; have faith in what? Or in who? “Have faith in God,” Jesus said to Peter in Mark 11:22. Faith can only have strength when it rests in a strong God. And as it rests in Him and all of His mighty being then we, through faith, can know strengthening in our God. The great danger of saying the “my faith is strong” is that there is no mention of God. So our emphasis should always be upon our God. He is strong, He is mighty!

We see some demonstration of this in the life of Abraham. Paul writes as follows: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Rom. 4:18-22). The ability of Abraham to remain strong in faith was not achieved through strength of will or “positive thinking”. Rather, it was based on his awareness that God had power to do what he promised. Abraham retained a strong hold upon God and thereby his faith was strengthened.

The more we look to God then the stronger our faith will be. Isaac Watts, in a hymn, put it like this:

When God is nigh, my faith is strong;
His arm is my almighty prop:
Be glad, my heart; rejoice, my tongue;
My dying flesh shall rest in hope.

As soon as we start looking at our faith we are headed for disaster. In fact we will be completely confused. We will lose sight of God and start focusing on ourselves. Have I got enough faith? How much faith do I need? These will be a couple of the useless questions we will be asking. The disciples in Luke 17 fell into something of this trap. The teaching of the LORD in Luke 17:1-4 overwhelmed them. They thought that this is impossible; how can we implement this teaching. So looking inside themselves: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!“. Whereupon the LORD replies “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you (Luke 17:6). The LORD here implies in His reply that they should not be focussing on the quantity of their faith. Rather they should focus on the God who has so much power that He can move trees into the sea. The strength of faith does not depend upon its size, it depends upon God. Teeny-weeny mustard seed faith can thereby achieve big things.

Finally, we need to be aware that if our focus is on our faith and through our internal evaluation of ourselves we conclude that we have strong faith then we put ourselves in a very dangerous position. Paul says to the Corinthians if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:12). Our boast should never be in our faith, but always in our God. Trusting in our faith could be calamitous. Trust in God is always glorious.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of November 2010)

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