The Testimony and Walk of Faith: Part 2

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
(Continued from p. 190)
IT is characteristic of faith to reckon on God, not simply spite of difficulty, but spite of impossibility.
Faith concerns not itself about means; it counts upon the promise of God. To the natural man the believer may seem to lack prudence; nevertheless, from the moment it becomes a question of means which render the thing easy to man, it is no longer God acting; it is no longer His work where means are looked to. When with man there is impossibility, God must come in; and it is so much the more evidenced to be the right way, since God only does that which He wills. Faith has reference to His will, and to that only; thus it consults not either about means or circumstances, in other words it consults not with flesh and blood. Where faith is weak, external means are beforehand reckoned on in the work of God. Let us remember that when things are feasible to man, there is no longer need of faith, because there is no longer need of the energy of the Spirit. Christians do much, and effect little—why?
Verses 13-17. Not only were those spoken of here, “strangers and pilgrims,” but they “confessed” it. People sometimes wish to be religious in the heart, and not to speak of it: there is no energy of faith there. To see the world to be lost and condemned, to have our hopes in heaven—such facts must, of necessity, produce a proportionate result, that of making us think and act as “strangers and pilgrims” here. And it will be manifested in the whole life. The heart already gone, it remains but to set out. This evidently involves open and public profession of it; and herein is a testimony for Christ. Who would be satisfied with the friend that owned us not when circumstances were difficult? The concealed Christian is a very bad Christian. Faith fixed on Jesus, we embrace the things we have seen afar off; we are not mindful of the country from whence we have come out, we have at heart that which is before us. Where difficulties are in the path and the affections not set on Jesus, the world rises again in the heart (Phil. 3:7-147But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7‑14)). Paul had not acted in a moment of excitement to repent forthwith; his heart filled with Christ, he counts all but “dross and dung.” Perseverance of heart marks the Christian's affections to be onward, his desires heavenly. And God is not ashamed to be called his God.
It is either the flesh, or faith; impossible that, at bottom, there can be a stopping half-way. The aim of 11)., Christian must be heavenly things. The appetites, the necessities, of the new man are heavenly. Christianity may be used for bettering the world, but this is not God's design. The seeking to link ourselves with the world, and the using Christianity for world-mending, are earthly things. God's design is to link us with heaven. You must have heaven without the world, or the world without heaven. He who prepares the city cannot wish for us anything between the two. The “desire” of a “(better country” is the desire of a nature entirely from above.
Verses 17-19. Abraham held to the promises more than to natural affection. The strength of the trial to him was in this, that God had pointed out Isaac as the accepted seed, the one connected with the promises. Faith counts on God. God stops Abraham, and confirms His promise to the seed. In obeying, we get an acquaintance with the ways of God of which otherwise we should have had no conception. Unbelief causes us to lose joy, strength, spiritual life; we know not where we are.
Verses 24-26. The carnal heart uses the providence of God against the life of faith. Providence brings down Pharaoh's daughter to the child Moses. In the midst of the world's wisdom, at the court of Pharaoh, providence has placed him (as it might seem) to use his influence in Israel's favor. The first thing faith makes him do is to leave it all. He might have been able to succor Israel through his influence, but Israel must have remained in bondage to Egypt. Faith is “imprudent;” yet it has that eternal prudence which counts on God, and nothing but Him It discerns that which is of the Spirit; and what is not of the Spirit is not of faith, and not of God. To hold to providence thus is, at bottom, the desire to “enjoy the pleasures of sin.” The world is loved, and there is the wish to lean on circumstances, instead of on God; it is not a “good providence” when a man is ruined!
Moses appeared to be weakening himself in preferring the reproach of the people of God, and of the people of God in a bad state. He might see them in a sad condition; but faith identifies the people of God with the promises of God, and judges of them, not according to their state, but according to His thoughts. Energetic against evil, he counts upon God as to the people.
Verse 27. The world would persuade us to be “good Christians,” whilst acting and walking as others. Called to glory, faith, of necessity, quits Egypt: God has not placed the glory there. To be well off in the world is not to be well off in heaven. “All that is in the world is not of the Father.” To leave the world, when the world has driven us out, is not faith; it is to show that the will was to remain there as long as we could. Faith acts on the promises of God and not because it is driven out by the world. Moses “sees him that is invisible.” This makes him decided. When we realize the presence of God, Pharaoh is nothing It is not that circumstances are the less dangerous; but God is there. In communion, they become the occasion of a tranquil obedience. Jesus drinks the cup, Peter draws the sword; that which brings out obedience in Jesus, is a stumbling-block to Peter. Where there is lack of communion, there is weakness and indecision.
Verse 30. At the blast of rams' horns, after they have been compassed about seven days, the walls of Jericho fall down. Things which appear base and contemptible are not so when done before the Lord (2 Sam. 6). To faith, Jericho's walls are not any more than the Red Sea, or the Jordan.
Verse 31. Who would have thought of Rahab? yet by faith she acknowledges God. Faith makes nothing of distinctions amongst men; it says that God is rich in mercy towards all that call upon Him. There is no difference, for that all have sinned. In the midst of difficulties, she sides with the people of God.
The confidence of faith is manifested in the Christian life as a whole. Christians are often brought to a stand, through measuring their own strength with temptation, instead of exclusive reference to God. They go on well up to a certain point. One man talks of his family, another of the future (if any have not faith, all we can do is to pray for him); in the various concerns of life our reasonings mean but this, I have not the faith that counts on God. Faith has reference entirely and exclusively to God. Duty ever leads into difficulty; but I have the consolation of saying, God is there, and victory certain; otherwise, in my apprehension, there is something stronger than God. This demands a perfect practical submission of the will.
When the children of God are faithful, God may leave them in trial and difficulty to bring out that in them which is not of the Spirit. He may also allow evil to have its course and test us, in order that we may understand that the aim of faith is not here at all, and see that, in circumstances the most difficult, God can intervene, as in the sacrifice of Abraham, and the raising of Lazarus.
Man looks not beyond the circumstances which surround him. To tarry in circumstances is unbelief; affliction springs not out of the dust. Satan is behind the circumstances to set us on; but, behind all that, God is there to break our wills.