Faith “comes by hearing, and by hearing the Word of God,” (Romans 10:17), but how often we fail to believe the one thing that changes everything. What is it that we specifically believe? We should have faith in God’s faithfulness. Our faith is based on God’s faithfulness to do what He said, to be faithful to His promises, and to keep His Word. He watches over His Word to perform it! (Jeremiah 1:12).
Years ago, a short article changed my life. I want to share it with you, and I’ve edited it slightly for modern readers:
“THERE are commonly three stages in any work for God,” said James Hudson Taylor (the great pioneer missionary to inland China): “first impossible, then difficult, then done.”
“We believe… that the time has come for doing more fully what the Master commanded us; and by His grace we intend to do it — not to try, for we see no scriptural authority for trying.”
“Try” is a word constantly on the lips of unbelievers. “We must do what we can,” they say, and too often the same attitude is taken up by the child of God. In our experience, to try has usually meant to fail. The Lord’s word in reference to His various commands is not “Do your best,” but “Do it”: that is, do the thing commanded.
Hudson Taylor then declared against impossible circumstances: We are therefore making arrangements for commencing work in each of these nine Chinese provinces — without haste, for “he that believeth shall not make haste,” but also without unnecessary delay….
“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good of the land.”
“Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”
Hudson Taylor had a new conception of the use and application of faith, upon which a flood of light had been thrown by a passage in his Greek Testament . A letter in 1870 showed that he had already made a discovery which was to be a mine of wealth through all his later life. It was just in his daily reading that he was struck with the words, “Ekete pistin Theou.” The Holy Spirit impressed on him a new insight! “Have (or hold) the faithfulness of God.” It was a passage he had never seen before! Turning to the corresponding words in English he read (Mark 11:22): “Have faith in God.” How gladly he would have an increase in faith in God, if only he knew how!
But this seemed entirely different. It laid the emphasis on another side of the matter in a way he found surprisingly helpful. It was not “have” in your own heart, however you can get it, “faith in God” but simply “hold fast, and depend on His faithfulness.” He saw a great difference between the one and between the other.
As to the accuracy of his modified translation, Mr. Taylor noted the translation of “God’s faithfulness,” in Romans 3:3, where ‘the faith of God’ clearly means His faithfulness. The verb translated ‘hold,’ is translated in Matthew 21:26, ‘all hold John as a prophet.’ In the corresponding passage in Mark 11:32, it is rendered ‘ count’; and in the parallel verse in Luke 20:6, a different Greek verb is used, which well illustrates the meaning, ‘They are persuaded that John was a prophet.’
We need to see and depend on the fact 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.”
Not my faith alone, but God’s faithfulness. Faith in God’s faithfulness — what a rest it was. He wrote “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 every emergency. The man who holds God’s faithfulness will dare to obey Him, however impossible it may appear.
Abraham had faith in God’s faithfulness and offered up Isaac, “accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead.” Moses had faith in God’s faithfulness and led the millions of Israel into the waste, howling wilderness. Joshua knew Israel well, and was ignorant neither of the fortifications of the Canaanites nor of their military strength, but he had faith in God’s faithfulness and led Israel across the Jordan… The Apostles had faith in God’s faithfulness, and were not daunted by the hatred of the Jews or the hostility of the heathen…. ” And what more can we say? for the time would fail to tell “of those who, holding God’s faithfulness, had faith, and by it “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises … out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the invaders!”
“Satan, too, has a constant strategy: Doubt God’s Faithfulness. “Has 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 how successfully are these arguments used to prevent whole-hearted trust in God, whole-hearted consecration to God! How many measure difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail in the little they attempt.
All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they depended on His being with them…. Taylor says, “Oh! beloved friends, if there is a living God, faithful and true, let us have faith in His faithfulness… Holding His faithfulness, we may pursue every endeavor. Holding His faithfulness, we may face with calm and sober but confident assurance of victory every difficulty and danger; we may count on grace for the work, on financial aid, on needed facilities, and on ultimate success. Let us not give Him a partial trust, but daily, hourly serve Him, counting on His faithfulness.”
I trust you will meditate on this truth and have faith in God’s faithfulness! Notice in the Greek how Paul uses a triple negative to defend the faithfulness of God. Read it over and over until it burns inside you: “For He has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5,6 Amplified Version).