If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. (Isaiah 7:9, NIV)
Have you ever heard the old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”? Well, in Isaiah 7:9, the Lord told the Israelites something very similar: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” We live in a time and place in which standing firm in your faith in Jesus is becoming less and less popular. If you believe the Bible is true and Jesus is the hope of the world, you are labeled as intolerant, narrow-minded, and actually immoral (I, personally, find it a bit ironic that the group of people who claim there is no such thing as objective morality is the very same group telling Christians we are immoral because we stand firm in our faith–but that’s a topic for another post).
My guess is that most of you (if you’re at all like me) read a verse like Isaiah 7:9 and think about not compromising on all the truths of Christianity–especially the moral truths taught in Scripture that have become highly politicized and divisive in our “tolerant” society. And, yes, it is good to remember that we must stand firm in the truths and doctrines of our faith–not compromising God’s Word or our commitment to it. If the Bible is true, then it is true whether or not it’s politically correct, whether or not it’s popular, and whether or not I like it. If the Bible is true, then it’s true. Period. We can’t change what is true simply because it doesn’t suit us. We can reject it, rebel against it, turn away from it, or try to convince ourselves otherwise, but that doesn’t change what is true. Ultimately, Christianity is not about believing what is palatable and makes us feel good about ourselves. Christianity is about discovering and living by what is true, even if it’s hard truth (in that way, Christianity is more committed to truth and reality than our “enlightened” and “scientific” society).
But that’s not actually the point I wanted to make in this post (even though it’s a message we all need to hear from time to time). When I read Isaiah 7:9, the Lord brought to my mind that faith = trust. Faith is not necessarily believing a set of true propositions or a list of doctrinal statements. This is especially the case in the context of Isaiah 7. When the Israelites were facing the threat of powerful neighboring kings who wanted to invade them, God wasn’t telling them, “Don’t worry about these stronger nations that want to declare war and destroy you. Stand firm in propositional truths and doctrinal statements, and you’ll be fine.” God’s word of encouragement to his people was, “Keep calm. Don’t be afraid. Don’t lose heart. Trust Me. Don’t try to take things into your own hands. Don’t panic and do something stupid. I’ve got this. If you don’t stand firm in your trust in Me, you won’t stand at all.”
God’s point was to trust Him. I believe every Christian should grow in their knowledge and understanding of Scripture and theology. We should know what we believe and why we believe it. We should grow in our ability to answer questions, explain our beliefs, and defend our Christianity (see 1 Peter 3:15). But, we must love God with our hearts as well as our minds. In the day of trouble when our hearts quail, when darkness seems to overtake us and we can’t see a way out, God has not left us only arguments and propositions to cling to. He has given us Himself. And it is His Holy Spirit within us Who is the sign and the seal on our hearts, marking us as children of God. It is His presence and the relationship we have with Him that gives us the strength to defend our faith, to hold fast to the truth of God’s Word in a world that is quickly turning against it. If we don’t stand firm in Him, in our trust in Him, in our relationship with Him through His Holy Spirit in us, then we won’t stand at all–no matter how logical our arguments are.
My prayer for the week is that God will be more than a proposition or concept to you, and your relationship with Him will be added to your understanding of his Word.