Monday, May 18, 2009

0 The Gift of Faith and its Growing Strength

William Gurnall continues in Part I of The Christian in Complete Armour to discuss the connection between the strength of the faith God has granted us and our obedience to Him and our comfort in Him. He makes what seems to be a very natural (and Biblically correct) statement - that "Our obedience and comfort are strong or weak, as our faith is on this principle." (p. 32, William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour) When one's trust in the author and finisher of our faith is strong, obedience naturally follows, as with one's trust firmly placed in God's high tower, obedience comes more easily; consequences of a life led in obedient following of the Lord can more readily be ignored and scorn despised when one's faith is strong. Comfort, too, naturally follows from the seed of a strong faith - for the more firm one's trust is, the more comfortable in the trials of life one can be.

Concerning obedience in connection to faith, Gurnall goes on to write:
"Our obedience, that being a child of faith, partakes of its parent's strength or weakness. Abraham, being strong in faith, what an heroic act of obedience did he perform in offering up his son! His faith being well set on the power of God, he carries that without staggering which would have laid a weak faith to the ground. No act of faith more strengthens for duty than that which eyes God's almighty power engaged for its assistance. 'Go in this thy might', said God to Gideon, 'have not I called thee?' As if he had said, Can I not, will I not, carry thee through thy work? Away goes Gideon in the faith of this, and doth wonders. This brought the righteous man from the East to God's foot, though he knew not whither he went, yet he knew with whom he went, God Almighty." (p. 32, William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour)
Faith, that which Paul clearly states is the undeserved gift of God, in Ephesians 2, germinates - and produces, according to its strength, thirty-fold, sixty-fold, one hundred-fold... all that increase is Gods - and all that increase is fruit. As Gurnall will argue in subsequent parts of his work, the strengthening of faith produces a more bountiful harvest of the fruits of obedient labor and comfort - and the strengthening of faith is bound to the means of grace - God's Word and Sacrament. Sanctification can never be separated from either the growth in one's firmness of trust/faith, or from the means of grace which God has ordained for the purpose of strengthening our faith and producing the spiritual growth that He has designed for us. Most importantly, we are drawn back to remembering that our justification, which comes by faith and not by works, does not stand or fall on how strong our faith is - but on the perfect righteousness of the sacrifice in whom our faith is placed. Yes, we can clearly see the strength of faith in the life of a believer... yes we can understand that he whose faith is growing grows in comfort... but let us take care to see the facts and connections rightly - Biblically - according to God's Word.



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