THE STAFF AND SWORD MINISTRY
April 20, 2006
M"IPESTING CHRIST "FOR WE BALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT" (2 Corinthians 5:7)
by Nancy-TONI Youngbrandt Lately I have been reading two books, one by Andrew Murray and one about C. S. Lewis and his writings. What was quickened to me from both of their teachings was what they said about FAITH and how they defined it. I appreciated both of their insights since they fit so beautifully together and they found way to express what they knew by the Spirit of God in their own way. This isn't alwa y s easy since the Spirit of God can and does impart its knowledge and wisdom to our spirits but then we have to pray to understand and express what we know through our limited soul â€” and sometimes we succeed and sometimes we stumble a bit. Well, when I read their way of explaining Faith, I knew I had to share it with you mixed with what I have been led to share as well. The two books I'll sharing from are: 1.) A LIFE OF POWER, by Andrew Murray - Published by Whitaker House, 30 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, PA 15068 2.) NOT A TAME LION - The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis , by Terry W. Glaspey Published by Cumberland House Publishing, Inc., 431 Harding Industtrial Drive, Nashville, TN 37211
TWO SENSES OF FAITH It was C. S. Lewis that first pointed out to me that there were two senses of the word "faith" or in other words, two ways in which the word is used. The first sense he defined is:
an intellectual assent to a set of helicf_s. "In this case, just about everyone has some sort of belief system or set of beliefs by which they live â€” whether it be Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or any other number of possibilities out there. For the Christian, however, it means generally at least:
PAGE 2 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FUR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 TWO SENSES OF FAITH continued "a mental agreement with the tenets of the Christian worldview. " I would add that this first
sense of the word "faith" is based on what one can see and understand with the intellect and therefore a person has intellectually accepted certain beliefs that makeup one's faith. C. S. Lewis further qualified that faith as "an intellectual consent" is not necessarily even "a religious state." He pointed out that in James 2:19 it reveals that even the demons "believe and shudder." So, clearly an intellectual acknowledgment of God is not really enough to separate Christians from the rest of the world. At this level or sense of the word, this is the sort of faith that is produced by purely philosophical arguments for God. This leads us then to the second sense or usage of the word "faith." For a Christian this should mean, in the wo rds of Lewis: "trust or confi dence in the God whom we have come to believe in, even when our circumstances would lead us to anic or abandon our hope." This faith goes beyond the intellect and the things we can see to the unseen, to the Divine. This is a faith that works best in complete surrender to God. While it is true that we all first understand about God through our intellect, we as Christians must embrace not just the idea of God and Jesus Christ but the persons of Jesus Christ and God as our Heavenly Father as well. Ideas and head-knowledge of Jesus Christ do not change us or offer us salvation Jesus Christ Himself and His Spirit change us and save us. As Lewis believed, "we must come to see that faith is a 'gift', not an intellectual attainment. " He even said that
ultimately, it is a matter of trust. Our faith is not a system or a philosophy, but in a personal God. We trust "not because `a God' exists, but because this God exists. "
FAITH IN THE UNSEEN As a person looks at what the Scriptures say about faith a clear connection emerges between faith and that which is unseen â€” invisible to the naked eye. Take for example Hebrews 11:1-3. Here it says:
Now faith is substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things are seen were not made of things which do appear. The chapter then goes on to give examples of faith from the Old Testament by telling us â€”
B}' faith Noah, being warned of God of'things not seen as yet.., prepared an ark to the saving of his house ... (Hebrews 11:7)
PAGE 3 MAN IFE S TING CHRIST - "FOR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 FAITH IN THE UNSEEN continued Next in Hebrews 11:8, we read that, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out
into a place which he should after receive an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he wen t. " And then there is Moses who, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." (Hebrews 1 1 :27) In each of these cases (and others), faith was in operation in advance of any action taken by the individual in this world. In Noah's case he believed and knew God's warning to be true and acted upon it as he was instructed. As for both Abraham and Moses, they had faith from God that there was a land for them and their people out there in the world and even though they hadn't seen it and didn't know where it was, they had faith from and in God to make the move and act accordingly. As C. S. Lewis wrote The issue is: wilt we follow what we know to be true and the One we know
we can depend on, or will we panic and trust only in the way the situation looks? Certainly this second possibility of panic and trusting only in the way a situation looks seems to be the more common choice. Just look at those around Noah, Abraham and Moses who seemed to have had little or no faith because Noah, Abraham and Moses were all confronted by panic, fear and doubt in those with or around them as they looked at the way a situation looked instead of to God. Noah was confronted by those who would ridicule them since no one had ever seen or heard of a flood of the magnitude which Noah was preparing for. Then there was Abraham who also was confronted by an unbelieving wife, Sarah, who laughed when it was revealed that she would have a child since by all natural, worldly thinking she was well past her child-bearing years. They even went so far as to have a child through her bond-servant since it just seemed so impossible for Sarah to have a child of her own at this late stage of her life. However, in the end, she did have a child of her own â€”just showing that you can't go by what you can see when it comes to God and His Will in our lives. And then there is Moses who was continually challenged for his faith by the Israelites he was leading to the Promised Land who continually doubted and feared for their well-being in spite of all that God had miraculously done for them each step of the way. As a matter of fact, this lack of faith would bring the Israelites to murmur against God one too many times, to where the y would not be able to enter into the Promised Land and would have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. They failed to realize that, as Lewis wrote, "Growing in 4ith y means learning to believe, even in the teeth of lust,jealous , ear, boredom and indifference. It is. once again, not a blindfaith, but a faith in the character q 'the One who Invoe 71V '.
PAGE 4 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FOR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 FAITH IN THE UNSEEN continued Or, as Andrew Murray wrote: FAITH TAKES GOD AT HIS WORD. FAITH IS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD.
FAITH IS SURRENDER TO GOD.
FAITH COMES FROM A RELATIONSHIP One of the best and most succinct definitions of faith I have read was by Andrew Murray. He wrote:
Faith is the faculty of the soul that recognizes the unseen, the divine. It receives the impr ession of the divine presence when God draws near. It accepts what the Holy Spirit brings and gives to us. These words connect with me since this is how God has operated with me. I found that
as I spent more time in prayer and abiding in the Lord's Presence and the more I quieted myself there, the more I began to be aware of God's Presence and God's Spirit working in me. And while there were times Jesus or the Spirit of God would speak to me, more often I just knew that whenever Jesus or the Spirit of God was there to communicate to me was being absorbed by my spirit and was there within me even though I could not verbalize it yet. I knew that the Spirit of God was impressing something upon and into my soul which would eventually reveal itself in God's Time. I remember too, there were times I would even see Jesus in a vision and He would be talking to me but I couldn't seem to hear what He was saying. However, I didn't worry about it because I knew that my spirit-man was hearing what He was saying and it would later be worked out through my soul. I knew to just receive what God was giving me even though I intellectually did not understand a thing about what was being impressed or imparted to me. Again, though, most of the time when I pray and abide in the Lord's Presence 1 don't usually see Jesus nor do I receive words but rather I have learned to be content in just resting in His Presence and receiving whatever the Holy Spirit would bring and give me even though I may not fully understand what that is. I point this out because it is too easy and common for people to think that God speaks and works in outward, audible ways all the time when, in truth, the Spirit of God usually works in a much more quiet and subtle way. As a matter of fact, I agree with A. Murray when he said, "we must not expect the ordinary leading of the Spirit in sudden impulses or strong impressions or heavenly voices. " Instead, the Spirit of God seems to operate just the opposite â€” in the still, small voice within; in a sure and steady leading in the gentleness
PAGE 5 MANIFESTING CHRIST- "FOR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 FAITH COMES FROM A RELATIONSHIP continued and stillness of soul. The lack of strength or urgency is more the case than not. Therefore, A. Murray's definition of faith is quite to the point â€” "Faith is the faculty of the soul that recognizes the unseen, the divine." Recognition of God and His Spirit requires no great feeling or strength of will but an inward Knowing that God is there. When you come to Know the Spirit of God to where you can recognize when He is at work, then you have faith. It is at this point that your soul has "received the impression of the divine presence when God draws near. " It has accepted what the Holy Spirit brings and gives. This, of course, is basically what it says in Hebrews 1 1 - 1 where, "...faith is the
substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," however, what you may not realize is that `substance' and `evidence' is not a physical thing but rather it speaks of that `knowing' or `recognition' or 'impression' that comes from God to where our soul has acquired a thing from God to the extent that inwardly it has the substance and evidence it needs and can now trust God to bring it to pass. A. Murray also described faith in this way:
Faith is the impression made by His drawing near. It is the possession He takes of the soul by His Word, holding and preparing it for His work. Once it had been awakened, it watches for every appearing of the divine will. It listens for and accepts every indication of the divine presence. It looks , for and expects the fulfillment of every divine promise. It is only in direct and living contact with God Himself that the Word will open the heart to believe. So you see, for each Christian to really move by faith they must first open their hearts up to the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit of God to touch them and dwell within them. We must give ourselves over in surrender and complete trust to a Being (God), a Person (Jesus Christ) and to a Spirit (the Holy Spirit) which we cannot see. We must not trust in the temporal things of this life but in the unseen life of the eternal. (2 Cor. 4:18)
WALKING BY FAITH Another good point brought out by A. Murray that is important to this discussion is that:
Only the spiritual mind can discern spiritual things and can receive the leadings of the Spirit. The spiritual mind must grow spiritually to become capable of spiritual guidance.
PAGE 6 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FOR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 WALKING BY FAITH continued This goes right along with what Paul wrote in i Corinthians 2:13-14: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but
which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. " So, while faith is the faculty of the soul -- our mind, will and emotions â€” to recognize the Spirit of God and the Divine Presence, we must be careful not to let the fallen nature, the natural man or our self-nature rise up in our soul and choke out that precious seed of faith from God. Instead, as Jesus said, we must put "new wine" in "new wineskins' or in this case, we must put our faith (which is of the Spirit) in our spiritual man and not within the old wineskin of our fallen natural man. How else might this be explained? How should we respond internally to what we believe is faith from God? Well, one answer is explained best by A. Murray when he wrote: The Holy Spirit is the most intimate communication of the divine life. Here faith may not judge by what it feels or understands; it simply submits to God to let Him do what He has said. It meditates and worships. Faith prays and
trusts. It yields the whole soul in adoring acceptance and thanksgiving to the Savior's word, "He ... shall be in you" (John 14:17). It rejoices in the assurance that the Holy Spirit, the mighty power of God, dwells within. I may depend upon it â€” He will lead me. In our walk of faith each aspect of our soul needs to be yielded to the Spirit of God and not relied upon to authenticate our faith. What do I mean by that? Well, too often we expect our relationship with Jesus and the moving of God's Spirit to have certain feelings or experiences associated with it. For example, we may think that the greater the emotion we feel, the more the Spirit of God is moving. However, this may or may not be the case. True faith is not measured by the feelings associated with it, but rather true faith can come without any particular emotional reaction at all. We must realize that many times true faith means believing in spite of how we feel. EMOTIONS In Terry W. Glaspey's book on the legacy of C. S. Lewis he had a very good chapter on the topic of emotions and their place in our Christian walk. It seems that C. S. Lewis also believed, as I do. that: "There is nothing wrong with emotions, but we must never begin to look to them . for authenti/ication of our faith, or wait to 'feel like it" before we act as we know we should. We don 't have to feel charitable to act with charity!"
PAGE 7 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FOR WE WALK BY FAITI 1..." April 20, 2006 WALKING BY FAITH - EMOTIONS continued He further explained why feelings are not to trusted. Our feelings are so changeable, influenced by the weather or the state of digestion. They only register within us an emotional response, telling us nothing about how things really are. We must hold to what we know to be true, even when our emotions tell us otherwise. As Lewis wrote to a struggling correspondent: "Don 't bother much about your feelings. " Our feelings are not us, but only a thing that happens in us and to us. ... We cannot count on our emotions to help us make right decisions. This isn't to say that some day, when we have truly died to our self-life and the Spirit of Christ has manifested in us, that our emotions and thoughts will be one with God's but until that day comes, we should know that we just can't rely on them in our walk in Christ by faith. This is also not to say that we can't enjoy being in the Presence of God or experience an emotional reaction to being filled with His Love and Joy to the point that we are enthusiastic to share our experience with others — those are certainly great experiences to have when God provides them! It's just that we should realize that such experiences are a wonderful gift from God but they are not God Himself and that God is still there even when we don't feel or .experience anything. In a letter to a brand new Christian, Lewis wrote -
Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean that it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can 't usually be — perhaps not ever — experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don't depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat ... you might think that the real thing is gone too.
THE WILL Likewise, when we receive faith from God it is not to be taken and run with by an act of our will power, in our own strength. Nor are we in an entirely passive state where we sit back and wait for God to drop everything in our lap but rather we must constantly yield to God's Spirit to lead in how to walk in the faith He has given us. We must trust that since He has given us faith, that He will also guide us in how or what we need to do from there.
God wants every child of His to be led by the Spirit every da y . Begin the path of following the Spirit's leading by believing, not only that the Spirit is within you,
PAGE 8 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FOR WE WALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 WALKING BY FAITH - THE WILL continued
but also that He does at once undertake the work for which you ask and trust Him. Yield yourself to God in undivided surrender. Believe with implicit confidence that God's acceptance of the surrender means that the Spirit is in charge of you. Through Him Jesus guides and rules and saves you. To this quote of Andrew Murray's writings, I would add that the soul must also be careful not to take credit for the faith which it has now received but rather be mindful that while "we have this treasure in earthen vessels (us), that the excellency of the power (and the faith) is of God, and not of us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)
THE MIND The mind and going by sight seem to me to be quite closely connected since it is the mind that processes what we see. In this area we must be careful of letting doubt , fear and reasoning with our natural mind to cloud or even choke out the faith God has given us. I mention these three things specifically because when I did a concordance check on the word "faith", I found that when Jesus was speaking to those that had little faith, these were all used in connection with a lack of faith. For example, in Matthew 8:23-27 we see the disciples are in the boat with Jesus, who is asleep. While they are in the boat, a great tempest arises and the disciples begin to fear for their lives so they go and wake Jesus up. Jesus' responses is: "Why are ye so fearful. Oye of little faith... " Well, they were fearful because they had more faith in the storm they could see than in the power of God to keep them safe. Following this, in Matthew 16:6-12 we see Jesus attempting to warn the disciples about a spiritual danger in the `leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Unfortunately, they missed Jesus' deeper point and it says that they `reasoned among themselves' that it was because they had taken no bread with them. This brought Jesus, who perceived what was really going on in the disciples, to say: "0 ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?" Jesus then goes on to explain that it had nothing to do with whether they had bread or not but rather to beware of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Eventually the disciples did understand but not until after Jesus clearly explained what He was trying to warn them about. Here the disciples got distracted by the temporal things of life like eating bread and initially missed the spiritual truth being presented to them. This is an example of when reasoning can be a hindrance to faith. Lastly, in Matthew 14: 22-26 we see that doubt is also a danger to look for as an enemy of faith. This is where Jesus is walking on the sea and Peter asks if he can walk on the water too. So Jesus bids him to cone to him and Peter does indeed walk on water out towards Jesus until he saw a wind storm coming and then faith seemed to disappear as Peter went
PAGE 9 MANIFESTING CHRIST - "FOR WE W ALK BY FAITH..." April 20, 2006 WALKING BY FAITH - THE MIND continued into the water. Jesus then stretched forth His hand and caught him, saying to Peter, "+0 thou of little faith, wherefore didn't thou doubt? " In other words, Peter had no real reason to doubt but he did the moment he saw the storm off in the distance and he became afraid — so there is fear involved here too. Also, at that moment when fear and doubt took over, Peter then had more faith in the storm that he could see than in Jesus and the power of God that He couldn't see. So in cacti of these lessons we see that once we receive faith from God/Jesus, then we need to be watchful and protective of that faith so that fear, reasoning and doubt don't cause us to lose that precious faith given to us. It is also a good lesson to remember to not be fearful or doubtful when storms arise in our lives or circumstances look bleak because Faith is recognizing and believing in a God that you can't see and knowing that God, His Son and His Spirit are more powerful and more capable of keeping you than anything or anyone in this world.
CLOSING THOUGHTS BY ANDREW MURRAY To bring this article to a close, I thought I would just share some more of what Andrew Murray wrote since he says it so well. Faith is the spiritual vehicle of the soul through which it waits on the living God, Himself, and has communion with Him. As this f listens to Him, takes His words from habit of soul is cultivated, as the whole life we live is by faith, the Spirit can enter freely and flow filly. y If you long for the power of the Hol Spirit to reveal Jesus as the ever present Savior from sin, all you need to do is believe. Begin each day with a quiet act of meditation and faith. In quiet reflection. turn inward, not to see the work the Holy Spirit does, but to yield your spirit to Him who dwells there in secret. Say in deep humility, "I have within me, small and hidden, the seed of the kingdom, the seed of eternal life. .1 know now where it dwells. " Bow before God in , fear and trembling because He works in you, and let faith take time before Him to become confident that "I have the Holy Spirit within me this day. " Our Holy God, draw us mightily into Your holy presence and keep us Prayer: _ there. Deliver us from the terrible fascination with the world and the flesh so waiting that Your divine glory may be our all-absorbing desire. May our whole hea rt be emptied to receive the Holy Spirit's revelation of Christ within. We desire to take Your words and let them dwell richly in us. We desire in stillness of soul to be silent unto God and wait for Him. We desire to trust and believe that the Father has given us His Spirit within us and is in secret working to reveal His Son. We do live the life of faith. We do believe in the Holy Spirit. Amen.