What is Faith?

Hudson Taylor

Another short article from the online Kairos Journal. A picture of truth lived out in the crucible of life, this story from missionary Hudson Taylor’s life is encouraging both for its simplicity and its practicality. 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Firm Faith—Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905)

The spread of the gospel in nineteenth-century China owed much to one man—Hudson Taylor. As the founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1865 and a great encourager of missionaries, Taylor blazed a trail for the gospel, leaving 125,000 Chinese Christians at his death. Men such as C. T. Studd heeded his call. Despite many temptations to trust in human schemes and solutions, Taylor remained a man of daily dependence, trusting God to breathe life into his missionary ventures. Unlike many of his day, he did not see faith as something mysterious; faith was merely relying on a reliable God.

What is faith? Is it not simply the recognition of the reliability or the trustworthiness of those with whom we have to do? Why do we accept with confidence a Government bond? Because we believe in the reliability of the Government. Men do not hesitate to put faith in the Government securities, because they believe in the Government that guarantees them. Why do we, without hesitation, put coins into circulation instead of as in China, getting a lump of silver weighed and its purity investigated, before we can negotiate any money transaction with it? Because the Government issues the coin we use, and we use it with confidence and without difficulty. Why do we take a railway guide and arrange for a particular journey? . . . Well, one has confidence in the reliability of these official publications. As a rule we are not put to shame!
Now, just as we use a railway guide we must use our Bible. We must depend on God’s word just as we depend on man’s word, only remembering that though man may not be able to carry out his promise, God will always fulfil what He has said. . .1
[The work] is either of Him, and for Him, and to His glory, or else it had better come to nought . . . it could not hold together for three months if the great mainstay—God’s own faithfulness, God’s own help, God’s own power—were taken away. We have nothing else to depend upon, just as we have no-one else to serve . . . Faith has often been tried, but God has ever made these trials of faith such a real blessing to me that they have been among the chief means of grace to my own soul, as well as the chief help to my work.2

Footnotes

1 Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Legacy: A Series of Meditations, ed. Marshall Broomhall (Philadelphia: The China Inland Mission, 1931), 123.
2 Ibid., 90.

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