W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
LIVING FAITH IN THE LIVING GOD - THE WORKING COUPLE
FAITH AND ITS VARIETIES - Preparatory
We have, in Chapter 5, been considering Little Faith and Rebellion, basis and display, with some reference to faith, but not as here, more systematically. In the end of that Chapter, the disbelieving fixation was beginning to be focussed, but now the impetus of faith in that context comes in, with flags flying in the wind of conviction. There the unbelievers with great panache are reviewing their explosive unbelief, as we saw, this with blatant irrationalism, and subjective fantasy, protesting not so much at the marvellous positivity of the facts, as at the breach of their own appalling prejudice and use of it to confront facts as though they were somehow a mere impediment.
Thus, by contrast, in Mark 5, we find that a synagogue ruler sends in desperate faith, for Jesus to come and heal his daughter before it is too late. They go on the way together. This appeal in faith is interrupted not by something withint the ruler, but outside both himself and the Saviour.
In fact, another highly dramatic event intervenes. Someone in faith touches the garment of Christ, at the hem, and she is healed. He for His part feels strength being drawn from Him (strength is the cause, healing the result), and asks to the amazement of the disciples in the jostling crowd, Who touched Me ?
The woman confesses openly (as faith does - cf. Romans 10:9), and inherits not only healing, then publicly announced by Christ, but the blessing of peace (Mark 5:24-34).
Now in Mark 5:22-25,and 35-43, we see the first drama succeed the second, and completed. Servants from the house tell the owner that his daughter being now dead, there is no point in troubling the Master. Christ however, having met the faith of the man making the appeal for her, exhorts him to believe. He does so and proceeds with Christ who disperses the mourning, on the ground there is nothing to mourn about, and going in to the dead girl, TELLS here to arise, which she then does. Had this failed, there would be no Christianity, as in all the other definitive cases such as that in Mark 2. It did not, empirically, however do that. In the laboratory of life, this did not happen. Experiments are of many types, either those analytically trying to isolate physical factors, or to find their action in a controlled situation, or else moving at different levels, whether the personal or the ideational, each according to its type.
Here the test was inter-personal. One Person was asked to heal someone who had just died; one person had just died. Witnesses of these things were persons both closely related to the One and to the other. The One declared the matter as one to issue in life. It did. There was nothing to suggest this would happen, but His actual word and identity. It did happen. This was the course with Him, the way, the mode of conduct to be observed, one of the characterisable test results. In this case, you have power and faith in application, with exhortation vitalising faith. This is Power and Faith in Concentration and Application
There is to be listed here, its opposite.
Evaporative Little Faith
In Mark 6, by contrast, as already examined, you have little faith which evaporates like morning dew, becoming merely a mode of rebellion, both empirically and spiritually, facts being bypassed, and ideological preference applied without resolution, as if in mathematics, you surmised, No suppose 2 plus 2 equalled 4.000001, how then would you solve this problem. That however is a capricious imagination, contrary to the nature of mathematics, its cogency and its conduct, its ways and its results. How would you expect this ? why would you apply it ? Caprice, pure caprice, one of the dissolution by-products of the faith of man, sulking and skulking into fabricated fantasy, while reality appeals in vain.
To fill out our list, then in the case of Mark 6:2-5, you have
Rebellion Masked as Disbelief.
In these terms, then, let us look at Mark 6:5. This, be it noted, is in the milieu of the Evaporative Little Faith, which turns out as rebellion against both reason and revelation, empirically in this application. Here little faith becomes its own blight. If you WILL not receive the obvious, the attested, the complexly and continuously rational reality, the result of innumerable tests over millenia, so be it. If you want to be spiritually egregious and empirically null, so be it: it is your choice in liberty of spirit. You are being lively in spirit in embracing death, like an infuriated son rushing out to the family car, in order to roar at 120 kph, down a street marked for 20 kph, because of rest homes. You can do it; it is an option.
The conjunction of faith and its object, God and the sinner, man and his Maker, need and its surveyor, this does not occur. This however is a test situation, like an examination. Its nature is to test, to classify. Since this does not occur, then not merely an individual but a REGION becomes so characterisable. In that region, nothing which is appropriate to a different test outcome, occurs. Some miracles happen, but these are mild by comparison, episodic more than vast (as in Matthew 4:24, 12:15, Luke 4:40, 6:17,19).
In the next Chapter, faith will become the theme, and the constructive - or at times constrictive - outcomes considered in that realm.
Some works are to lay a foundation, and create an opportunity; others are to test.
Thus God in HIS works may act for a definitive incarnation of Himself, using a woman as base for the plan and purpose. This is independent of test. It is announced. The case as pre-selected is sound. The result is announced at the OUTSET. The matter waits on no individual, as also with Noah. Doubtless, he had been walking with the Lord and knowing Him, so that he could discern His directions, and in the midst of these things, God CHOSE to announce a plan to Noah in which he would be a major participant, but for all that, one whose work would be meaningless and even absurd, if God did not act. What good would an ark be off the watery basis, and who would transport it, and why spend such vast resources on such a potentially chimerical project as protecting from drowing in an envisaged flood, which was unexampled at that level!
It was based on faith, which was placed in God, and in the fellowship of God in the criteria of a society drunk with devilries and ditching God as if traitors their country. For that, this was it. For this resultant harmony between God and man, in one individual, the choice was directly that of God. Doubtless, foreknowing His man, God had all consequential and analytical aspects in full coverage. Yet it was at the time, just an announcement, with explanatory note and expressive direction. These are wholly independent works of God.
Other divine actions are intrinsically in the process of testing, just as a captain of a cricket team may be chosen without specific test, whereas some members may indeed be subject to elimination contests.
Some divine actions are both to test faith and to reward it. Such was the case of the synagogue ruler, whose patience was tested as well as his faith, but who was given encouragement, the test being mellowed to what was deemed right. God is not unreasonable (Isaiah 1:18) and it is for this reason that one can give a reason for the faith (I Peter 3:15), to name but one.
Thus the dispersal of faith before a particular task cost the generation of the Exodus, 40 years of wandering in the desert region. To be sure, they were supported, but they did not go in where they had been headed. Lack of faith at the relevant level (a dog either trusts you to go in a train and to a hunting spot, or whimpers and wheedles), proved fatal as well as fateful. The whole generation inhabiting the failure of faith as in Numbers 14, did not go into the promised land. They missed the wonders to be given to the NEXT generation with miracles to expand faith and power to enlist vitality. They were humbled by what the very next people, sons and daughters, were enabled to do.
Thus in some test situations, lack of faith, or pathological little faith can remove a destiny which might have been, being a self-selective device. In parallel, whole districts - as well as peoples - can do suffer, as noted concerning Mark 6:5. In Mark 5:34, faith secures healing and leads to confirmatory sanction and blessing. In Numbers 14, lack of faith, almost disfaith (q.v. under faith), postponed a people entry and delayed an entire epoch! Yet this sort of conduct was as Moses characterised Israel at that time, in his review, in Deuteronomy 31:20ff.God is never surprised, but He may indeed lament (as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.), when another generation had an even longer subsidence and delay, for their blessing IN the Messiah then ALREADY present.
So does opportunity make fools of man, when lost, and so does suffering ask for its time by fabrication and fancy, failure to watch ALL the empirical reality, now a fad and fashion with many, not only in science, but notably so in that realm, when it comes to fairness and realism about evidence. It does not even want - at least those parts of it being systematically philosophically mildewed by the impossible idea of naturalism - and will not tolerate the fact of God and creation, and INSISTS on teaching myths only to its students, more and more, with a discriminatory and intolerant dictatorship, politically entrenched as was sexual perversion in Sodom, and unbelief in Israel when it became formalistically pre-occupied, as denounced in Isaiah 1.
There are fads and there are facts, and often they go in different directions; but never with much more irony than in 'modern science' when it comes to these themes and aspects of the empirical reality.
Before indulging little faith or disfaith, therefore, and chanting the modules of unbelief, it is well to open the eyes to the dispositions of logic (by which all the reasonings have to be made), and those of empirical facts. To put someone's face in an iron mask, as in the novel by Alexandre Dumas, is all but inconceivably horrid, in misplaced power and without pity. To do it to oneself is an event so conspicuous in woe, that one almost weeps for those so enchanted as to do it, and as to cause others to do it by monopolistic, silence-insisting indoctrination. HOW could anyone expect a better world when the education is so vicious as this is!
TYPES OF FAITH
One may then note 7 faiths, or types of faith, or approach to faith.
1. Little faith, with its little results. Matthew 9:28-29 exhibits the relevant principle in this phase. ACCORDING to your faith, be it done to you! In this case, the faith was adequate and the result was healing. Do you believe I am able to do this (the thing asked) ? was the question. Yes Lord, was the answer. It therefore happened, having been asked by directly operative faith in the first place. The cry was as to the Messiah and it sought mercy. Showing the categorical power and mercy of God, Christ chose to act; whereas at times, for precisely the same reason, mixed with illumination and teaching, a healing is withheld as in II Corinthian 12, or in Job for a time, the issues being beyond health, though involving it for a point or for a time.
It can, this little faith, therefore appear and is noted as in Matthew 6:30, where worry replaced faith, Matthew 8:26, where the lack of need for anything approaching the hysterical was in point, notably in Matthew 14:31, where Peter having had the dashing faith to ask Christ to have him join Him, in walking in the water (which with Christ had been for a strategic purpose, following a popular desire for Him to be king, and His detachment from this). The dash however went out of Peter when pressing circumstances (waves and commotion) began to internalise themselves, and he cried to the Lord to save him. Here, said the Lord, was little faith. Matthew 16:6 specifies little faith when the disciples argued about Christ's reference to a foolish leaven, meaning type of teaching, as if it were concern for actual bread. They should have realised that the past miracles put that part outside cause for concern. It was on the spiritual premises and dangers He was dwelling for their instruction. They were so -preoccupied with the non-essential, that they did not ever SEE the point at all, having 'little faith', so foreclosing on the minimal, and ignoring the major.
2. Distorting faith. This is abundantly exemplied in Matthew 16:22-23, where Peter, congratulated on his discerning that Christ was the Messiah, became for a moment too pontifical, presuming as Romanism likewise does, to instruct Christ on the direct opposite of what He has said. Christ said He was about to die in humiliation, and Peter would not have it so: This is FAR from You! he cried. Get behind Me, Satan! was the divine rejoinder. When the papacy inclines to become the master-race, with one face, so that it is "altogether necessary to salvation to be subject to the Roman pontiff", then this is flat contradiction, and absolutely contrary to Matthew 23:8-10. This takes a faith base and distorts it, enabling one point to become a contrary point to another, through failing to consider biblical teaching on a topic, throughout.
Note that this was by Christ here esteemed devilish, a direct result of an active Satanic work. Adding to or contradicting the word of God is a licence, like that taken by those selling illicit whiskey. It makes drunk, and comes from a drunken view of the law.
3. Glowing faith is exhibited with divine blessing, when good things are done in flaming realisation of the will of God, with marked willingness to fulfil it. Such was the glow as of an angel on the face of Stephen when this amazingly active Christian, full of faith, wonders in his works and good deeds, was about to be stoned to death for making it clear that Christ is central, and not the temple, and that the failure to receive Him was just one of the many murmurs and failures of Israel over time, for they were prone to resisting the Holy Spirit! His "Lord, do not charge them with this sin!" was a kindred expression of love, concern and spirituality. In this situation, the heavens opened to his sight, and he saw the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.
The same kind of glowing faith as to be seen as in Luke 10:17-20, when the sent seventy, who had gone at Christ's command into the world in testifying campaign, returned with joy at the power that went with them and the results. Christ confirmed their joy and gave them authority over all kinds of impediments; but He told them a greater thing. Rejoice, the message was, not so much at the power and authority for the work given to you, as at this, that your names are written in heaven. Here is an exuberance of obedience and a free coursing of power as in Acts 5:32!
4. Inflexible faith. This is shown in Matthew 15:24-28, and has the savour of Luke 18:2ff., where the pertinence of persistence is illustrated in a parable. In the Matthew 15 case, TWICE Christ not only refuses to grant the healing sought by a Syro-Phoenician woman for her daughter, but STATES in each case, a contrary principle! Who would even think of proceeding in the face of such a categorical refusal, repeated as there. However, the mother was deeply concerned for the girl was deeply demon-possessed.
Then, not confronting or contradicting Christ in His insistence in this case on the primary need for action within Israel, the chosen vessel of focus for the testimony of salvation at that time, the woman found a place WITHIN His stricture. If then it is as dogs that such a people were to conceived (in the sense that the children had to fed first, in the processive and progressive order of things in view), let it be so. Yet EVEN DOGS can seek for the crumbs under the table, said the inventive woman.
Now this is a principle. Do not confront and contradict God with the presumption of a contrary wisdom; but SEEK where the godly need may be met within what He says, in terms of His mercy.
Immovable in faith, imaginative and perceptive in appeal, she was rewarded with the healing she sought.
5. Ready faith. This is attested in Luke 9:28. Christ was nearing the time of His sacrificial death. He went to pray and took what was ready to hand with Him, and this became that Transfiguration on the Mount, which became so famous for millenia. He was transfigured, with shining and lustre supernaturally imparted, and a voice from heaven identifying Him, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"
The disciples were almost stupefied with awe. If then they had not been ready, had been eaten by various problems, indecisions, unprocessed problems or the like, haunted or hunted or confronted within by a torrid mess of mangled, tangled or wrangling components of spirit or mind, then they might not have been chosen, being pre-occupied and not ready for other occupation! This teaches us to be ready at all times. If we have to have a testing time, as at a Gethsemane (though by the nature of that actual case, there is nothing the same), in type, then let us as did Christ, face and overcome it in prayer, and not lie about in a jaded or faded condition, but awake, prevail by the power of the Spirit of God working on the promises of God, and be ready! Much is ready to attack; be ready to reply. Much is ready for service, so that one needs to be ready to capitalise of such opportunity.
faith. You see this in Genesis 6:3-8, in the
case of Noah. He was as noted above, taken by grace for his pivotal role in a
work of God in which though he had work to do, it was God alone who could make
it epochally significant as it was: by 1) having the flood and 2) using the ark
constructed by Noah according to precise specifications (just as in China, some
things are said to be made by the precise specifications of some company not in
China). In what WAY did God use it ? In making it so float that the waters
did not overcome it, and its precious cargo in categories, were enabled to
preserve their genetic inheritance. Without that, Noah would have looked an
example of religious mania; since he was, as we who believe must be, merely
acting on orders, there was no possibility of this, and surrounded by the power
and independent action of God, he became one of the faith's most notable
citizens! (cf. Philippians 3:20ff.).
7. Generational faith. In this case, there are new types of norms. Under Moses, there were indeed notable and even sustained miracles, such as the continued presence of food and drink for millions, as it appears, in the desert over 40 years. However, these were - following the Exodus, mainly sustaining miracles. With Joshua, through his obedience at the testing time of Numbers 14, situated to become leader in the postponed entry to the promised land, there were divinely donated works of vast and unexpected scope. If there is a river to be crossed, it can bank up and give just enough space and time for a successful military move. If the day needs extending to exploit a victory as the race set for a divine judgment on the land, at length managed to enter it by faith, then the day is extended. God as commander in chief even appeared to Joshua in an inner commissioning, just as Moses had commissioned externally before.
In this way, the mode of divine operation in an entire generation may be made clear. The faith to receive such a commission is given, and it is exercised, as one might exercise a dog, given as a gift at Christmas.
Living faith in the living God is a form of marriage, of colossal friendship, of marvellous grace, and its inhibitions are against its breach, not its reach!
This, the faith that works. Its scope, like that of the word of God in all departments, is vast and intermingles beautifully with the rest of the foundational and testing works and words of God. This it does as myriads of flowers, shrubs and waters make up some famous botanical gardens; but these, they are spiritual in type.
Faith IS the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidential conviction of things not seen (but heavily attested, as for that matter is love and courage, in their places). Such we learn from Hebrews 11:1. The things it embraces are to be hoped for, they are sane, and sound, and positively refreshing, explain all things, move all things, cover all things in principle and in perspective, are reductionist in nothing, resolve personal longings with a felicity that is not only great but foundational, dissolving mists and allowing the sunshine of goodness and grace to the uttermost to display themselves in their fountain and foundation. They are to be believed because the evidence, its attestation, confirms and demonstrates what is believed, without displacing, but rather as gracing faith.
Without faith, you are hopeless. Without faith anchored in reality, you are misled. Without faith that finds your Maker, you are lost. With faith that Christ has something to offer, you are on your way. Without faith in His sacrificial cover and presentation of Himself as the site for pardon, because He is the sin-bearer offered by the loving God to the lost race, as many as receive Him as such, you are still lost. With this faith, which is IN HIM, the Eternal Word of God, SENT, SHOWING GOD, SACRIFICIALLY SAVING, TRIUMPHANTLY ARISEN FROM THE DEAD, leaving death subjected to immortality and corruption demonstrably overcome by mercy, in God only, by grace only, you find life that is not merely explained (helpful), and pardoned (necessary), but eternal, the additive which overturns the macho powers of man, and the deceitful ploys of the race, its corruption and its corrosion. Eternal life with the God of all comfort who made it is to be surrendered for neither devil nor fear, neither things present or to come; nor once given, does it lapse. HE says Hebrews will never leave you nor forsake you. When it comes to God, one can think of nothing conceivably better!
You run; but He will not leave you, so He catches up. You behave proudly; but He will not leave you, so He disciplines you, as He did Amaziah. You feel faint, so He strengthens you, and as you wait, perhaps reproved, you rise up with wings as eagles (Isaiah 40), and as you seek with all your heart to follow His word out of love, His abode in you becomes manifest, His nearness self-declarative and His kindness like a vision come alive.
Faith, it is important;
saving faith, it is vital; but it is God who is all-important, and His salvation
which is the very crux of His kindness and the gift of eternity to believing