The Christian life is a life of faith. This is something we have been challenged with recently in our study through the book of Genesis. We have faith in or trust people every day even though we have not seen what they are saying. We trust people even though they have not yet done what they say they are going to do. We actually plan much of our life around people and things that we must simply trust will be. What is at the bottom of this trust? Why do we trust certain people? It may be helpful to ask why we do not trust some people. Why is it that two people could say they are going to do the same thing and we will trust one and not the other? Most often it has to do with the fact that we have had some insight into who they are and what their character is like. Something about what we know of their character is either an encouragement toward trust or a hindrance toward trust.
We need to apply this to our relationship with God. When God saves someone He opens their eyes up to who He is as revealed by Christ and they come to know that He is utterly trustworthy. At salvation God graciously and sovereignly persuades us of His own trustworthiness. By His grace we are given illumination into the character of God and we are wonderfully wooed to Him. Faith in Christ sets us on a path of walking everyday by faith.
The person who is in relationship with God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is on a path of trusting God more and more explicitly in every area of life. If we grow in our trust toward another human being through being confronted with their character, then how should we expect to grow in our trust of God? There are many biblical answers to that question, but we are going to focus in on two. One is positive and one is negative.
First, we should expect to grow in our trust of God through consistently and generously being confronted with His character. If we are going to really come to know the character of God we are going to have to be consistently and generously exposed to His revelation: The Bible. Do you know what is happening when you believingly sit down and read your Bible daily? When you gather with God’s people and you sing? When you gather with God’s people and pray? When you hear the public exposition of God’s Word? When you read a book that is saturated with Scripture and not just saturated with Scripture but saturated with rightly interpreted and applied Scripture? Assuming that all of these things are carried out in harmony with Scripture you are being confronted with the character of God. If we trust people whom we have had a glimpse at their character, then to grow in trust of God we need to have generous and consistent glimpses into His character from His Word.
Consider just one small example of how God reveals His character to us through regular believing intake of His Word. As Jesus was getting closer to His “hour” of the cross the gospels record what we call the “Triumphal Entry.” Our focus on considering this is to notice how just reading this account gives insight into the character of Jesus which gives insight into the character of God (John 1:1, 1:18):
“After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it'” (Luke 19:28-31).
It is obvious that this colt was not necessarily tied there for this purpose originally, but that Jesus knew it was there and knew that if they did as He said the colt could be used for His own entry into Jerusalem. The disciples had been around Him long enough to have some confidence about His character and so they went into the village trusting that what Jesus said would in fact be so. Were they disappointed? Certainly not.
So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them (Luke 19:32).
Do you see how just reading this passage confronts you with the character of God? In just a few words you are told that everything Jesus said was true. This short verse cries out to us “everything Jesus says is true, He is trustworthy, and living your life by faith in all of God’s Words is the most reasonable thing to do.” The Bible is packed with such verses. We trust people we know; the more we know God through His Word the more we are capable of trusting Him even when His Word crosses our natural desires, our circumstantial ease, or what others are saying around us. Which leads us to the second answer to our question: How should we expect to grow in our trust of God? First, be consistently and generously confronted with His character as revealed in the Bible.
Second, learn to guard that acquired knowledge of Him by identifying and eliminating where possible and right those things in your life that are calling His character into question. If trusting God is a direct result of believingly being confronted with His character in Scripture then whatever hinders that believing intake of God’s word is the enemy of our soul. Jesus is clear that we are in the world, but we are not to be of the world (John 17:13-16) and that while we are in the world but not of the world it is God’s Word that sanctifies us (John 17:17). Since we are in the world we are going to be confronted with things all the time that are a danger to our trust in God. Many of those things are unavoidable. Which means we must recognize what they are and battle their wrong influence on us, but it also means that God has a purpose in that battle. By the way, the best way to battle these unavoidable influences is by being on mission with the gospel. In fact, the great commission tells us to be going into the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). The world is not likely going to negatively influence our faith if we are constantly challenging it with the gospel. But here is the problem; we often subject ourselves to things of this world that by their very nature are faith killers. Have you ever been around someone who calls into question the character of one of your best friends? You know your friend to be a good person and completely unlike what this person is accusing them of, but the more you hang around that person that is falsely accusing the character of your friend the more susceptible you are to their deceptive lies. The same is true of this world that hates God and either explicitly or subtly calls His existence and character into question. That is why not being conformed to the world but being renewed in our minds is so essential (Romans 12:1-2).
How should we expect to grow in our trust of God? First, saturate yourself in the Bible. Second, identify those things in your life right now that are not necessary and which are calling God’s character into question. If you love God and you value your soul you will not unnecessarily hang around anything that is the enemy of your faith. A right and believing knowledge of God through Christ is the soul’s most precious possession. Guard it in and with your life.