CHURCH IN COMMUNITY
St George’s, Georgeham; St Mary’s, Croyde; Croyde Baptists;
St George’s House; Christian Surfers UK
Page 2 of 2
When Hudson Taylor, a missionary, first went to China in the 1850s, he was on a sailing vessel, and their vessel had come very close to the shore of cannibal islands because the ship was caught in a calm, and it was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the natives were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for God’s help. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. But Taylor said, ‘Well, I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And so, that is what the Captain organised.
While he was still praying, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who’s there? Taylor ask” and the captains replied, ‘Are your still praying for wind?’ ‘Yes.’ said Hudson. ‘Well, you better stop praying’, said the captain, ‘we have more wind than we can manage.’
Hudson Taylor had faith in what was unseen, and that faith was rewarded! His inward conviction enabled Hudson Taylor to believe in things that he could not see, and that is the conviction that only faith can bring.
In conversations over the years, these sorts of awesome events have been questioned by people who say, ‘well’, in this example, ‘Hudson Taylor and others, prayed for what they ‘hoped’ might happen, but that ‘faith’ had very little to do with the outcome’, that we merely celebrate the effect of coincidence!
But I cannot accept that in the slightest, and maybe it’s my own faith that allows me to see God’s hand in the answer to his prayers, as much as I can see God’s provision in a vaccine ! Hudson Taylor ‘hoped’ that his ‘faith’ would result in the answers to his prayer that ship received.
And one cannot have hope without faith.
When people have hope they have faith, because they hold a belief that says “I believe that God is in control, and at work, and listens to the prayers of His servants.” And while they have no grounds to “prove” that hope-filled assumption, they have faith in it. And whilst faith without hope is possible, hope without faith is not.
True faith isn't just a notion that some people hold onto in tough times; true faith is what helps to get us through, illuminating the pathway in times of darkness, helping to give us strength in times of weakness. Without faith, we are nothing.
A famous Baptist evangelist once told the story of an elderly lady who was very upset by all of her real troubles in life. Out of frustration, her family told her, "Grandma, we’ve done all we can do for you. You’ll just have to trust God for the rest." A look of despair spread over her face as she replied, "Oh, dear, has it come to that?"
As the people of God, we must understand that it always comes to that. To start with God, IN FAITH, is so much better that only turning to him, when we’ve explored and exhausted all the other options!
But faith is not the way around life’s problems and challenges, but is the way through those issues.
The Apostle Paul writes... 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
(1 Peter 4: 12-19
faith in Christianity is often discussed in terms of believing God's promises, trusting in his faithfulness, and relying on God's character and faithfulness to act.
Faith is generally understood to be closely associated with ideas of belief, trust, and reliance. And not just in a what, but MORE in a who, in the person of Jesus!
And so a saving faith is understood in terms of a belief of, trust in, and reliance on the person of Jesus and his work of atonement accomplished through his death on the cross.
Hence, having authentic 'faith in Jesus' leads to changes in how one thinks and lives.
I’d like to end today with a quote from a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel, which is well worth a read. It quotes Romans 1 verse 17... where we read, ‘For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’
Luther had been pondering this verse when it is understood the Reformation began, like a light suddenly being switched on. So quoting the book, ‘Like many Christians today, Luther wrestled with the core question: how could the gospel of Christ be truly called ‘Good News’, if God is a righteous judge rewarding the good and punishing the evil?
But as Jaroslav Pelikan notes, ‘Luther suddenly broke through to the insight that the ‘righteousness of God’ that Paul spoke of in this passage was not the righteousness by which God is righteous in himself (that would be a passive righteousness,) but the righteousness by which, for the sake of Christ, God made sinners righteous (that is, active righteousness) through the forgiveness of sins in justification. When he discovered that, Luther said it was as though the very gates of Paradise had been opened for him.
This is an example of what another theologian called the ‘furious love of God’. Again from the book, ‘He (God) is not moody or capricious; he knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us; HE LOVES US!
And faith as we will see over the next few weeks is built on that very wonderful truth!
Next Week - Theresa will be helping us to consider that Love of God, and you might like to look at John 15, and Psalm 8 in readiness for that!!
But let me close now with a prayer...
our lives, and the reality of our faith,
are laid open before you:
rescue us from the chaos of sin
and through the death of your Son,
and a true faith in Him,
bring us healing and make us whole
in Jesus Christ our Lord.