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Trust in the Lord

By Rev. James Gracie

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 21, January-March 2001.

TRUST IS a very precious thing. Jeremiah describes the blessedness of the man who trusteth in the Lord: "For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jer. 17:7-8). It is this trust alone that leads to safety, deliverance, prosperity and spiritual rejoicing.

The wicked do not know such trust. It is not as though they are altogether bereft of such knowledge. On the contrary, the Bible assures us that the wicked are aware of what it is to trust. Job speaks of the hypocrite when he says, "whose trust shall be a spider's web" (Job 8:14). How apt a description. The spider wraps himself up in his own web, a home which is a very nice and curious piece of workmanship, yet which is very slight and thin, and will bear no weight.

Yes, the ungodly know trust; but their trust is not 'in the Lord'. They weave their web of trust around idols, men, selfrighteousness, wealth, carnal weapons etc. Indeed, everything but the Lord. They would rather make lies their refuge than shelter under the shadow of the one true and living God. They would prefer to rest on an arm of flesh than trust in the power of His might. Redeeming grace alone brings a man to lean on the beloved, and to trust in him for time and for eternity. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, such wisdom as brings an assured confidence.

"In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge." (Prov. 14:26)

What is it that engenders such trust?

The Knowledge of God

Trust will not rightly be placed in a stranger. However, assured knowledge of God comes through a lively faith. Faith gives reality and substance to the existence of God. Thus, the apostle could suffer reproach, "because" he says, "we trust in the living God..." (1 Tim.4:10). The Psalmist was equally assured of the reality of Jehovah when, rejoicing in His providence and justice, he asserts: "The LORD is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men." (Ps. 11:4) Yet faith goes further. It gives assurance of who God is. This is essential for trust to be exercised.

When Paul stood on Mars Hill, he saw where mere superstition had led the worshippers of Athens - an altar to THE UNKNOWN GOD. The light of nature guided the Athenians. In this light, they were yet ignorant of the nature of God's essence, the perfections of his nature, and the unity of his being. Pagan worship thrives on such ignorance. The Epicureans and the Stoics of the apostles day, both of whom denied the existence of a personal Creator, have their present-day equivalents. Theophrastus describes how the Jewish doctors at Athens continually asked the question: 'what new thing' have you in the divinity school today? Present-day divinity schools ask the same question. Yet such uncertainty and ignorance can never be the basis for a well-grounded trust.

Paul preached to the Athenians the personal and intimate nature of God. (Acts 17:23-31) God made the world and all things therein (Omnipotence); he dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Omnipresence); he hath determined the times before appointed (Omniscience). As their Creator and kind Benefactor, who has appointed their time of life and their habitations for them, they should be engaged to seek to know him who has done all this for them, to fear and serve him, and to glorify his name. A knowledge of God's goodness, lovingkindness, mercy, strength and rich bounty is paramount. Only such a God can be the object of true trust.

The Knowledge of Christ

Trust will not rightly be exercised unless we are convinced that the recipient of our trust has our best interest at heart. A saving knowledge of Christ furnishes us with such a conviction.

Satan cannot be trusted because he hates his own children let alone the children of God. He does not seek their good but their destruction. When they ask him for bread, he gives them a stone; when they ask a fish, he gives them a serpent. Is this not at the heart of what he offered our first parents in the garden of Eden? He did not have their best interests at heart. On the contrary, he offered them nothing but death. Not so the Lord.

God sending his Son into the world as a covenant of the people, an irreversible and unspeakable gift and sacrifice, his own Son by nature, of the same essence, equal to him in power and in glory; begotten in a way incomprehensible to us; the Son of his love and delight, and in whom he is ever well pleased; and yet, such is his love to his people that he has given him up into the hands of sinful men, to justice, and to death itself. This gift of the Father for hell deserving sinners is alone sufficient evidence to show God's love for his people, that he always has their best interest at heart, and that our trust can safely be placed in him the way it can be placed in no other.

Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily giving himself for his people, pouring out his soul unto death, being numbered with the transgressors, bearing the sin of many, is ample evidence of the love of Christ to his people. Even when he was crucified and the disciples were scattered - when they doubted him - yet he loved them unto the end. He did that which was for their best interest even at the expense of himself. We can therefore cast ourselves wholly upon him, confident that he will always deal with us in a way commensurate with our good, because he has demonstrated his love in the most practical way: the Shepherd giving himself for his sheep.

This confidence extends to 'trust in his blood' for pardon and acceptance with God. It is this trust that is strong consolation even at the prospect of death:

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Ps. 23:4)

The Knowledge of His Word

Trust will not rightly be placed in a deceiver. Thus, trust in the devil is the height of folly. He has proven himself to be unfit to receive our trust. He deceived our first parents with a lie. The Lord Jesus sums up his character: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)

We have every reason, however, to trust in the Lord. His Word and promises never fail. The Lord promises he will never leave nor forsake his people, therefore the Psalmist could reflect: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Ps. 37:25)

As a young man, David was anointed by Samuel: one day he would be King of Israel. How often David doubted this promise. He even said in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul." (1 Samuel 27:1) Yet David was to witness all the tribes of Israel come to him in Hebron and anoint him their King. Even they acknowledged, "The Lord said to thee....thou shalt be a captain over Israel." (2 Samuel 5:1-2) God's promise to David was fulfilled.

The promises given in the Old Testament regarding the coming of Messiah are a wonderful example of how we may trust the Lord's promises. All these promises, to the finest detail, are fulfilled in the coming of Christ: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matt. 5:17-18) Indeed, so faithful is God to the promises he has given that he has magnified his word above everything by which he has made himself known in creation and providence. Thus the Psalmist could say: "thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." (Ps. 138:2)

A knowledge of such faithfulness is the basis for our trust in Him. How can the believer answer the reproaches of the world? The Psalmist could say, "So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word." (Ps. 119:42) The apostle Paul hoped in that eternal life "which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." (Titus 1:2) To have such an assured confidence can only be derived from the sure foundation of the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures.