“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”Hebrews 11:1,3
What is faith?
In the simplest manner in which I am able to express it, I answer: Faith is the assurance that the thing which God has said in His Word is true and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence is FAITH.
No feelings are to be taken in connection with faith. Feelings have neither one thing nor the other to do with faith. Faith has to do with the Word of God. It is not our feelings, whether strong or weak, which will make any difference. We have to do with the written Word and not ourselves or our feelings.
Probabilities are not to be taken into account. Many people are willing to believe regarding those things that seem probable to them. Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The realm of FAITH begins where probabilities cease, and sight and sense fail. A great many of God’s children are cast down and lament their lack of faith. They write to me and say that they have no feelings; they see no probability that the thing they desire will come to pass.
Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is whether God has spoken it in His Word.
And now, beloved Christian friends, you are in great need to ask yourselves whether you are in the habit of trusting, in your inmost soul, in what God has said and whether you are truly seeking to find whether the thing you want is in accordance with what He has said in His Word.
How faith may be increased
It gives God great joy to increase the faith of His children. Our faith, which is weak at first, is developed and strengthened more and more by us. We should, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, be willing to take them from God’s hand as a means of growing our faith. I say – and say it deliberately – trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.
Just as surely as we ask to have our faith strengthened, we must be willing to take from God’s hand the means for strengthening it. We must allow Him to educate us through trials and bereavements and troubles. It is through trials that faith is exercised and developed more and more. God affectionately permits difficulties, that He may develop unceasingly that which He is willing to do for us, and to this end we should not shrink, but if He gives us sorrow and hindrances and losses and afflictions, we should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.
The Church of God is not awakened to be able to see God as the beautiful and lovable One He is. Because of this, the blessings remain small. Oh, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, seek to learn for yourselves, for I cannot tell you the blessedness!
In the darkest moments, I am able to confide in Him, for I know what a beautiful and kind and lovable Being He is, and, if it be the will of God to put us in the furnace, let Him do it, that so we may acquaint ourselves with Him as He will reveal Himself and that we may know Him better. We then come to the conclusion that God is a lovable Being, and we are satisfied with Him and say: “It is my Father; let Him do as He pleases.”
When I first began to allow God to deal with me, relying on Him, taking Him at His Word, and set out fifty years ago simply relying on Him for myself, family, taxes, traveling expenses, and every other need, I rested on the simple promises I found in the sixth chapter of Matthew. Read Matthew 6:25-34 carefully.
I believed the Word; I rested on it and practiced it
I took God at His word. A stranger, a foreigner in England, I knew seven languages and might have used them as a means of profitable employment, but I had consecrated myself to work for the Lord. I put my reliance in the God who has promised, and He has acted according to His Word. I’ve lacked nothing – nothing. I have had my trials, my difficulties, and my purse empty, but my receipts have accumulated thousands of dollars, while the work has gone on these 51 years.
Then, with regard to my pastoral work: For the past 51 years, I have had great difficulties, great trials, and perplexities. There will always be difficulties, always trials. But God has sustained me under them and delivered me out of them, and the work has gone on.
Now, this is not, as some have said, because I am a man of great mental power or blessed with energy and perseverance – these are not the reasons.
I have confided in God
It is because I have confided in God, because I have sought God, and He has cared for the Institution [orphanage], which, under His direction, has 100 schools, with masters and mistresses and other departments.
I do not carry the burden. And now in my 67th year, I have physical strength and mental vigor for as much work as when I was a young man. I am just as vigorous as at that time. How comes this? Because in the last half century of labor I’ve been able, with the simplicity of a child, to rely upon God. I have had my trials, but I have laid hold upon God, and so it has come to pass that I have been sustained. God not only gives us permission to cast our burdens upon Him, but He commands us to do so. Day by day I do it.
Dear brothers and sisters, do not, however, expect to obtain full faith at once. Begin in a little way. At first, I was able to trust the Lord for ten dollars, then for a hundred dollars, then for a thousand dollars, and now, with the greatest ease, I could trust Him for a million dollars, if there was occasion. But first, I should quietly, carefully, and deliberately examine to see whether what I was trusting for was something in accordance with His promises in His written Word.