“From Fear to Faith”
This is the title of a fine set of sermons by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, first published in 1953. Dr. Lloyd-Jones, originally a medical doctor then later called to be a pastor, led a flock at London’s Westminster Chapel amidst the bombings of WW2 and during the Cold War. Those were challenging times for his flock. This little book (republished by InterVarsity press in 1997) explores the OT prophet, Habakkuk, and seeks to learn how God leads his people from fear to faith in very challenging times.
He begins by admitting that history presents a problem to believers, who seek for understanding. Central to the prophet’s faith is the knowledge that history follows a divine plan. Lloyd-Jones states, “Every nation on earth is under the hand of God, for there is no power in this world that is not ultimately controlled by Him. Things are not what they appear to be.” In Habakkuk’s time, it seems that the military might of the Chaldeans was running the world. Today, we may deceive ourselves about who is running the universe. However, believers react in faith, knowing that God is in heaven, history is following his plan, and the future is bound up with God’s kingdom.
Faith, as he expounds the second chapter of Habakkuk, does the following:
- Commits the problem to God;
- Believes an answer will come from God;
- Believers are to watch and wait for the Lord.
These are steps to apply in this coming week.
In Dr Lloyd-Jones’ exposition of Habakkuk 2:5 (“The just shall live by faith”), he makes the following major points:
- Historical events must be interpreted in the light of God’s Kingdom.
- Perplexity at current events is no new experience.
- There are two possible ways to interpret life and its events: the way of reason or the way of faith.
- It is unavoidable to choose one of these ways or the others, where Lloyd-Jones asks: “This is our position as Christians today. The choice is being forced upon us more and more. Is there anyone still foolish enough to bank on this world and what it has to offer?”
- It is absolutely certain that God will destroy evil and triumph.
Worth noting, as Lloyd-Jones says, is that God has placed his church “at the centre of this plan; let us never forget the pride and arrogance of the church in the nineteenth [ed., or for us in this] century. Behold her sitting back in self-satisfaction, . . . feeling just a little ashamed to mention such things as conversion and the work of the Holy Spirit. Observe the prosperous Victorian . . . [with] his faith in science and his readiness to substitute philosophy for revelation. How constantly he denied the very spirit of the New Testament! Yes, the Church needed chastisement, and it is not at all difficult to understand this century when we consider” the story of our recent century.
That may be a challenge to ponder. How will we think about the Lord’s acts in our history? Some in Habakkuk’s time thought God to be guilty of inaction. Surely, we will trust in his providence. I share these things with you to make these points: God’s people have a long history of meeting challenges and facing difficulties. And our Lord is the true Sovereign. May we look to him in the coming days.