Faith and Providence

Faith is resting on the known mind of the Father which He has communicated, assured that whatever be the difficulties in the way of its fulfillment, or however great the opposition, it will ultimately be established. If everything here were in full uninterrupted righteousness, there would be no need to rise from the visible in order to rest only on the invisible. But the contrary is the fact. Everything has been diverted from its divine place, and the more this anarchy has prevailed, the more faith has become the true and only principle of action for the man of God.

Yet our Father has not deserted the earth. He rules and keeps it in check, and this is His providence; but this is evidently a different thing from faith. Faith rests on the mind and will of the Father, and not on the way in which He in His wisdom stems and controls the elements of disorder on earth. Faith soars into the undisturbed regions of His blessed, unalterable will, and bides its time here, assured that it has the key of the position, and that in His time all will open out and be as it has been intimated.

The moment man fell, and another rule besides God’s, and irrespective of God’s, obtained a place, God must either altogether suppress man, now acting for himself and supported by Satan; or, while allowing this evil rule, to a certain extent, to exist, He, as the only source of power, must check and control it as His wisdom and ultimate purpose require.

The latter is what our Father has done; and every intervention of His power here on earth is His providence. Such interventions are to check and limit the rule of self-will which has sprung up against Him; and faith of course recognizes them as of God, for the purpose intended by Him; but faith itself rests on the Father in quite another region, and on quite another ground beside that of intervention put forth to check the progress of evil and self-will.

The simple issue raised is this: Am I to live by faith, resting in God’s Word above all the evil and opposition here, or am I to depend on His providences only for a knowledge of His will and of my walk through the world according to it? Nothing can be plainer than the faith is a far higher and more spiritual path, as also the only true and safe one. Faith is always intelligent and assured; but often the providences of God are mysterious and unaccountable.

It is not that I am to despise or disregard providence, but I am not to surrender faith and adopt the providence instead. If I am walking in faith, and persistent in the path of faith, the providences will eventually suit and confirm me, not by carrying me outside faith—which, if I make them my guide they must do—but by proving that the God whom I rest in, and whose Word I follow, is the same God who checks and controls the evil here by His providential hand.

Paul in Acts 27, resisted every influence which could move or reach a man in order to shake his faith in God. Providence, too, was at first against him, for “the south wind blew softly,” thus confirming the master of the ship in his rejection of Paul’s counsel (vs 10-13); but this in no wise altered Paul’s conviction. And why? Because he acquired it from faith in God. Afterwards providences justified his faith. “Not long after there rose a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon” (v 14). Providences will confirm and justify faith, but lead to faith they never will.

—J B Stoney