Faith links our souls with God. Abraham believed God, and following in the line of faith, we believe in the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this dispensation of grace, what a blessed and privileged relationship to be able to draw near to the infinite God, saying “Abba, Father”, Rom. 8. 15, in the conscious sense that we are His children. Faith affects the whole of our lives, and is evidenced in our behaviour, works and friends. Walking by faith and not by sight, 2 Cor. 5. 7, means that we have confidence in God to direct our way, and that we are not disturbed unduly by external circumstances. Faith helps us to look at circumstances in the light of our knowledge of God, who is love and is in control. If we judge God through circumstances, our confidence will waver; rather, our faith is confidence in God, believing and receiving what He has revealed. Quite apart from our works, this faith is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification, Rom. 4. 25.
Your faith will be tested during the whole of your life. From the moment when you were born again, sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and called into the fellowship of God’s Son, 1 Cor. 1. 9, your enemies were ranged against you. Satan will tempt you, the world will lure you, and unregenerate men will despise and reproach you, as men previously despised and reproached the Saviour, But God is greater than all; He is our Refuge in danger, our Help in trouble, and our Father who loves and cares. Peter writes of the trial of faith, which is more precious than gold which perishes, but which will be found unto praise and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1. 7. During any trial or suffering, God comforts, strengthens and encourages; He is glorified in the lives of godly men and women on whom rests the spirit of glory and of God, 1 Pet. 4 14. Like those in Hebrews 11, we should covet to merit the commendation of the Holy Spirit, “of whom the world was not worthy”, Heb. 11. 38.
A consideration of some men of faith will help us to remind ourselves again of what God is doing in us in prospering us spiritually, what He is doing through us in testimony to the world, and what He is doing for us in preparing the redeemed to share in glory.
In Psalm 4 1, David is under pressure. He was often in danger, hunted and betrayed, experiencing most of the human feelings of despondency, disappointment and despair, but he always turned to God, committing his way to the Lord, and waiting patiently for Him. This trust and confidence in God; this piety during pressure and reproach; this experience of going through suffering with God; all led to enlargement of soul, spiritual prosperity, and refinement of spirit. God worked in David, and He works in the redeemed both the willing and the doing of His good pleasure, Phil. 2. 13. Although aware of his enemies, David knew a gladness in his heart which God gave him, with a restful peace and a sense of security, even when surrounded by danger, Psa. 4. 7, 8. Jude’s doxology is, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen”, Jude 25. How happy when we can say with David, “thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress”.
What brought Job to a much deeper appreciation of God s power? “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from them”, Job. 42. 2. Here is faith in the overruling power of the Almighty God, and knowledge that God could not be hindered in any of His thoughts, marg. Job had suffered the loss of his property, his family and his livelihood; subsequently he experienced personal humiliating suffering. His wife taunted him to curse God and die, 2. 9; his friends misunderstood his sufferings, asserting that he must have been doing evil to be treated as he was. Each of these was a peculiar test in itself, and Job passed through them almost simultaneously. In the present day, we can look back and see the end of the Lord, but how could Job in his day, perfect and upright as he was, have understood that this testing was allowed by God, who drew the attention of Satan to Job? “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth …?”, 1. 9. Yet there was still something that Job had to fathom - himself! Only after God spoke to him, revealing His majesty and power. did Job stop justifying himself, but rather abhorred himself and repented. The exercises, pressures and grief, the listening to what God had to say to him, resulted in an enriched knowledge of the God with whom he had to do. From it all. he emerged into far greater blessing, becoming a greater man.
Paul gives encouragement by reminding us that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”, 2 Cor. 4. 17. Based on the Christian’s pathway of suffering, Paul also evaluates what God is doing in us, for us, and for His glory. In Romans 8, 18 he writes. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. We need the help of the Spirit of God to arrive at our own spiritual evaluation, both as to being dead to sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and to all that enters into our lives.
Daniel had a good heritage, deriving from the tribe of Judah and possibly from the royal family of David. But Judah had become tributary to Babylon, and Daniel with a few other youths had been taken captive, Dan. 1. 1-3. In his new surroundings, his faith was soon put to the test. Trustworthiness and availability for further service depended on how he answered to each test. Learning the language of the Chaldeans did not present him with any problems of conscience; it made communication easier, and communication is necessary in conveying God’s message. Eating the king’s food and defiling himself would be compromise, and a challenge to Daniel’s faith. It took courage to refuse food, because he was a captive, and the king of Babylon was no mean person in prestige and power. But Daniel was firmly faithful to God first, to his faith and also to his people. He was not arrogant in word or spirit, something that is so important when giving account of faith at any level; rather, Daniel was firmly faithful. His sincerity was recognized, and God honoured him for his faithfulness. If Daniel had given way once only, his subsequent testimony would have been weakened, as Samson’s strength had been sapped away in the lap of Delilah when he compromised his Nazariteship, which meant separation to God and avoidance of defilement, Jud. 16. 17-20
Daniel and his friends had the benefits of early correct training and education, but the time came for them to stand on their own feet, and to act for themselves. Their future depended on their own course They honoured God. and continued as shining lights in the courts of Babylon. The kingdom of Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, rose, declined and was taken over, all within the lifetime of Daniel. The names of the kings have faded, but the memory of Daniel and his friends’ names has been perpetuated by the God whom they honoured, and their faith is recalled in Hebrews 11. 33-34, “the prophets: who through faith … stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire”. Similarly, the name of the emperor who banished John to Patmos, whether Nero or Domitian, we may never know with certainty, but the name of the beloved apostle is remembered and loved by all God’s people. One of the wise sayings of Solomon is applicable to this present life: “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot”, Prov. 10. 7.
The Christian’s early home life, his Christian fellowship and his food with others so often builds spiritual character and calibre, which can stand the test. But one thing is sure - we cannot continue hiding our faith in a crowd. There comes a time when each of us has to take a stand, to be counted clearly as on the Lord’s side. To the saints at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”, Eph. 6. 13. He continued, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”, vv. 14-15.
These are thoughts that comfort and encourage; God’s mercy limits suffering within bounds that we can bear. The Lord’s grace is sufficient because our High Priest has been here; God has glorified His Son, and His glory we shall share, John 17. 22. As this truth moves us, we can say, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen”, 1 Tim. 1. 17.
Your Basket Is Empty