Real faith excludes self or the wisdom of men. It is rooted in the Rock through intimate knowledge of God and of His awesome power to achieve the impossible
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)
The very idea of faith is a little like the proverbial cake of soap in the bath. Just when you think you’ve got a hold on it, off it goes again. All too often we find ourselves in a difficult place, and it seems the faith we believed we had is inadequate to the challenge. If we accept that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), how can we then be sure that what we have is real faith or simply the semblance of faith? As I meditated on this, I had an image of a plant on the side of cliff, and I felt God saying that real faith isn’t measured by its outward appearance but by what is ‘inside’ or below the visible surface. Faith is defined by where and how it is rooted.
Real faith is rooted in the rock.
To all intents and purposes, the scrubby looking plant that clings tenaciously to the cliff face isn’t worth a second glance. The reality, though, is that come rain, hail, wind, or shine, those roots are dug deep. Outwardly, it seems tenuous and vulnerable and easily destroyed. But it’s rooted in the rock. When the outer, visible portion may be stripped away, the root remains to grow once again after the storm. That’s real faith. It doesn’t deny the elements, the danger, or the impossibility of things, but it’s rooted in the rock. Our God our Rock isn’t simply a pretty metaphor. It’s a spiritual reality that the only unshakeable source of faith is God. Faith isn’t so much about what I believe but about whom I believe. We cannot believe God’s promises if we don’t know and believe who and what God is.
To be fully rooted in the rock means to have the full and absolute assurance that everything we believe is backed by the unshakeable, unchangeable God of heaven and earth. Real faith makes knowing God the priority. That little plant isn’t rooted overnight or by a single miracle. It slowly digs in, entwining itself with the rock and securing itself at every available point. Our relationship with God is a lot like that. We start by simply ‘sitting’ on the Rock, but as our relationship deepens, the tiny root of our faith begins to secure itself in Him. The more we spend time with Him, getting to know Him and learning His nature and character first-hand, the deeper the root goes. There, within the rock, there is no place for self or the world. Real faith has its perfect hiding place in the heart of God Himself.
Knowledge of God grows real faith.
We all have been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) but this doesn’t mean it is finite. Today’s measure should never be the same as tomorrow’s measure. If our faith doesn’t grow, it means our relationship with God isn’t what it should be. God gives us the measure we require at the beginning of our journey with Him. But as we walk with Him, talk with Him, and get to know Him, He grows our faith by increments to meet each challenge on the road. If every believer was stuck with the measure of faith they had at the beginning, there would be no real spiritual growth. Real faith continually responds to a growing knowledge and deeper intimacy with God. As the roots of the plant reach for the moisture within the cavities of the rock, so our faith is fed by the ‘deep places’ of God.
Of course, knowledge of God is obtained through His Word – the written revelation of who and what He is. In the same way that our knowledge of God comes through the Word, so our faith does too. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Real faith grows by thanksgiving, praise, worship, intimacy with God, and a knowledge of His Word. While it’s absolutely true that the Spirit works in us to guide us and reveal things to us, it cannot replace the Word. God’s Spirit works to quicken the Word within us – to make it real and bring it to life – but it always works with the Word. A believer who doesn’t know the Word will struggle with faith. Without the Word, we have hope – a worldly hope of our own making – not real faith.
Real faith believes for the impossible.
If we look at our little plant, worldly wisdom immediately recognises the impossibility of its situation. It’s exposed and vulnerable to the extremes of weather and climate. There is no ‘real soil’ or apparent means of sustenance. And yet that plant not only grows and ‘hangs on,’ it toughens up and develops the inner strength to achieve the impossible. Better still, it even produces flowers like little flags of defiance waving in the face of impossibility. This is the nature of real faith. It always believes for the impossible because it’s not concerned about the wisdom of the world. Conventional wisdom is the enemy of faith. It takes our eyes off the rock and directs it to the circumstances. Had the little plant listened to that kind of wisdom, it would never have rooted itself in the rock and defied all expectations.
Real faith can believe for the impossible because it fully acknowledges the challenge and the situation. This is godly wisdom. We cannot exercise real faith if we pretend there isn’t a problem. Spiritual wisdom faces the impossible and declares that God is bigger. It recognises the almighty power of our God, who holds this universe and everything in it in the palm of His hand. Our rock will enable us to stand firm in the knowledge that nothing in heaven or earth can withstand His power. Real faith knows God for who and what He is. It knows His nature and His character, and it knows that He moves on behalf of His people. When our faith is centred on God alone, we know that what is impossible for us is easily possible for Him. Faith knows that God can and that He will.
There is no room for self in real faith.
Today’s verse reminds us that real faith excludes self. It has nothing to do with us or our abilities. In fact, real faith rejects the ‘wisdom of men’ – our attempts to either have faith or to fix the problem. If we’re still digging within ourselves for solutions, we don’t have real faith. It’s only when we’re all out of self and acknowledge that God alone, through His awesome power, is able that real faith operates. We struggle with faith because we struggle with self. Natural wisdom constantly intrudes when all we should do is dig deeper into the rock and let God do what He does best. It takes courage to hang on the cliff face and not keep trying to do something ourselves. But if we learn to dig deep into the Rock, He’ll even bring flowers in the right season. Nothing is impossible with God.
Father, thank You for the reminder that You are our Rock and that real faith is all about You. Help us to acknowledge our weakness and Your infinite power and teach us to remain deeply rooted in You. Forgive us for the times we try to exert our own wisdom. Draw us into Your Word and stir it within us so that we begin to see only You. Above all, help us to let go of self and to hold only onto You. Thank You that You are the God with whom nothing is impossible, and that Your mercy, grace, and power will always respond to real faith.