Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From Faith to Faith

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (NIV)

I recently heard someone speak on these verses. That phrase “from faith to faith” got stuck in my mind. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and what it means. I think I understand what it means for something to generate from faith. But for something to generate “from faith to faith,” well I didn’t understand what that was about at all. If Paul had just written, “For in it (the gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God is revealed through faith.” Well that’s easy enough to understand. It would simply say that your faith opens the door for God to show you some things, in this case, His righteousness. But Paul added two words to what he said that really change the meaning of the passage. He didn’t just say God’s righteousness is revealed through faith, or by faith, or from faith. He said, “God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith.” How many times have I skimmed right over those two words and never given them any thought? So this past week God showed those two words to me. For the first time, I wrestled with them, trying to understand this detailed intricacy of God’s word.
I think what Paul is saying here is that you must have an initial saving faith in Christ. It’s that first time that you make the step from not knowing or not believing to believing that there is a God and that He loves you with a love like no other. But what Paul is getting at is so much deeper than that. He is talking about a faith that starts at a this point as a tiny undeveloped thing. Simple belief must grow into something more if we are to be the mature Christ followers God wants us to be. The faith I had when I first believed in God cannot compare to the trust I have in God now, and I hope that what I have now cannot compare to the faith I have in 5 years. You see a saving faith does not require us to let go of the perceived control we have over our lives. We can have a saving faith, but deep down, still believe our work will get us somewhere with God. We can have a saving faith and still think that we can somehow depend on ourselves in every circumstance. But that simple belief, that saving faith, must turn into something more if we are to be mature, and when we are mature, we will realize that God wants us to depend on Him and Him alone. When this transformation takes place, that saving faith will grow into a complete and total trust in and dependence on a God who knows all, sees all and loves us beyond all measure. You see, what Paul is saying is that we must first have faith in order to have FAITH, or we must have faith (simple belief) and out of that will grow FAITH (complete, total trust and dependence on God.) 
This mature faith which can withstand the darkest nights and the fiercest storms of life will only come by walking through difficult, sometimes impossible, and even worse, heartbreaking times with God, and coming out on the other side seeing that He had it in His hands all along. Faith will grow into a deeper, richer faith when time after time we place ourselves under God’s authority and say the words, “I trust You, Lord, even on my darkest, stormiest nights. I will not row this boat, I will not curse this wind, I will rest in the promise that you have even this in your hands, and I trust you.” We put our faith in God as an act of our will when we are in our darkest nights.  It will not come naturally, but when we place our trust in Him, out of that faith grows more faith. But this faith, the faith that grows out of faith, is deeper, richer, and more intimate than the simple belief we started with. So I leave you with a challenge today to examine your faith. Can you, as an act of your will, trust God in the middle of your darkest, stormiest nights? Can you stop rowing the boat and cursing the wind long enough to say the words, “I trust You, Lord. Even with this, I trust You.”