Chapter 3 - The Naked Trust of Faith
by Addresses from the Leominster Conference
Mr. Muller read Gen. 1. 24-26, and spoke on Faith-its naked trust, and its triumph in darkest hours:
In these verses we have a most precious illustration of what we are to understand by faith. The God of heaven had made promise to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob that He would give them the land of Canaan; and it was added that the descendants of Abraham were to sojourn long in a strange land. Now this man of God, Joseph, believed that God would be as good as His word. Although there was not the shadow of a natural appearance that that word would be fulfilled, yet he stayed his mind upon God-he took God at His word, and made the elders of Israel swear that they would take his bones with them to Canaan. "God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence."
Now just in the proportion in which we are enabled to believe that God will do just what He has said is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions; it has nothing whatever to do with probabilities or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we no longer are resting on the word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind.
"Oh, if I could only feel so-and-so!" "If I only had the impression that God would do so-and-so;" "If I saw the least probability of it," are words often used. But, I repeat, faith needs no feelings, no impressions, no probabilities, but rests on the naked word of God, and has to do only with the revelation which we have in our hands. As in these days of darkness in which we live men will become more and more daring in their departure from the revealed will of God, let us see to it that we are satisfied with "It is written." As the disciples of Christ, the word of God is enough for us; and if we want more, we practically say that His revealed will is not enough, and thereby we dishonour Him.
We have also particularly to keep before us, that faith has not to do with this part of truth or that part merely, with this or that promise, but with all the revelation that God has been pleased to make of Himself, as much in the Old Testament as in the New. Whether it be prophetical books or historical books, the gospels or epistles, we take God at His word in every part. We only know God by the revelation that He has made of Himself, and faith has to do with revelation. When we take Him at His word the heart is at peace.
Now, beloved brethren, I will give you a few hints with regard to the increase of our faith. I have sought to explain what we are to understand by faith. Now let us see how it can be increased. God will do His part to increase our faith, but the means which He uses we oftentimes do not like. Trials, difficulties, disappointments, losses, bereavements, sickness-all these things are employed by our heavenly Father for the exercise and the increase of our faith. If an infant never used his limbs, they would always remain weak; but they are strengthened and invigorated by exercise. So it is with faith, and God delights to exercise our faith-first for blessing in. our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without.
But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come we should say, My heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards. Trial is the very food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children. He is an infinitely wise Father who knows what suits His children, and He orders all for blessing to us, as well as glory to His own name. And it is for this very reason that trials and afflictions come, and thus He shows how true is that word, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Through our trials there is not only the exercise of patience, but the development and strengthening of faith in the degree in which all the other graces grow. You remember when Peter asked the question, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?" The Lord's answer is, "I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven." And what was the result of such an answer? We should have thought and said, "Lord, increase our love, our patience, our readiness to forgive the offending brother." But no, the answer is, "Lord, increase our faith;" Because if faith be in exercise, and we lay hold on the truth that we are ourselves forgiven, we shall always be ready to forgive one another.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised, and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Holy Scriptures, that we by them may acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His word. And what shall we find? That He not only is God Almighty, and a righteous God, but we shall find how gracious He is, how gentle, how kind, how bountiful He is; in a word, what a lovely Being God is.
Are you able to say from the acquaintance you have made with God that He is a lovely Being? If you are not able to say so, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and His kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children. Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost soul the more ready are we to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes we shall say, "I will wait to see what good God will do me by it, assured that He will do it." Thus shall we bear an honourable testimony before the world, and thus shall we strengthen the hands of others. But if we faint under the trial we shall weaken their hands.
In order to trust in God we must acquaint ourselves with Him, as He has in the Scriptures revealed Himself. You know Psalm ix. 10, "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee." It is not said that those who preach about God, or those who write about God, will put their trust in Him; but those who know His name-those who have learned from His word what He is.
Now, by way of illustration, I will refer to myself. The promises we have in Matt. vi. as to food and raiment, and all the affairs of this life, are given that we may have no anxious care for the morrow, knowing that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. All this I have for fifty-four years found to be literally true in my own happy experience. I have found during all these years that God has always acted according to His word. Therefore if any are tried let them remember the word of promise, and let them stay themselves upon it; and they shall find that God most assuredly will act according to His word. This I have found in my own experience; so I stay my heart upon God, trusting Him to help me through every difficulty; and I have never been allowed to sink, because I rested myself on the Word. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee;" "As thy days, so shall thy strength be;" so that I am able to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Difficulties have vanished away, or if they did not vanish away, God did so help and strengthen me that they did not trouble me. These precious promises are given to every child of God; and we have to take them and to say, They belong to me, poor, wicked, hell-deserving though I am. And so I say, these promises belong to George Muller, this poor sinner who never deserved anything but hell; and I have found that God is as good as His word. This I have found for the last fifty years, during which time I have required hundreds of helpers in my work, and these God has given me. For you are unable to make helpers, and there is no society that can provide them for you; but God by His Spirit can fit and qualify them for the work; therefore I have given myself to prayer, and have not sought to obtain them by advertisements, and God has shown me how He delights to answer, and has provided me with suitable helpers.
Then in all the little things connected with this life I have found what a blessed thing it is to have the heart stayed on God. I do not carry the little trials myself; and you know that life is made up of little things. If we do not take them to God we are not happy, the mind is ruffled, and we are in danger of becoming irritable. But if the little things are taken back to God we shall find how ready He is to help us with them. And all this has to do with the revealed will of God.
One point more. Simply in answer to prayer I have received more than a million pounds sterling, simply by looking to the Lord; but far more than this: in like manner I have trusted Him for spiritual blessings, and in answer to prayer I have received tens of thousands. Many thousands of souls have been given me from the Orphan-houses and various schools, who are now walking in the ways of the Lord, and thousands have gone before. All this also was obtained by trusting in God; for He gives souls also, not only money. We have to trust God for everything. Let me say to you then, Learn more and more, more and more to trust in God.
Now it may be said, "But you have the gift of faith, and we have not." The reply is, "I have no gift of faith; my faith is precisely the same as yours; only while it is the same it may have been more exercised, and therefore having been more exercised is a little stronger; but it is the self-same faith which we all have who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh, seek, beloved in Christ, to have your faith developed arid strengthened! Be satisfied with all God's dealings with you, and be sure that He intends them for blessings to your souls.