Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
We hear a lot in the news today about “faith.” When the media interviews someone who has been overtaken by tragedy, the person will often say something like, “I have faith,” or, “My faith will see me through this.” We hear this also as we engage in personal evangelism. Someone refuses a gospel tract with the polite rebuff, “I have my own faith.” Generally what is meant by “faith” in such a case is a religious system: the “Protestant faith,” the “Catholic faith,” the “Mormon faith,” or some other system of religious teaching.
The true believer, however, can speak of a personal faith, not just an impersonal system of truth held to. Saving faith is a personal faith. It is a faith that God gives me along with the ability to exercise it. It is, therefore, “the life of God in the soul of man.”
It is this personal aspect of saving faith that makes it real, vital, and bold, and it was out of this experience that Patrick wrote, “Sufficient is the honour which is not yet seen but of which the heart is assured; and He that has made the promise is faithful, He never lies” (Confession, sec. 54).
That Jesus saves is a blessed truth to preach, but that He has saved me is infinitely more blessed—and the heart is assured. I might be unknown in this life and have little honour, but Jesus knows me, and the Father has promised to honour me in Him—and the heart is assured. I might suffer in this life and my body be wracked with pain and disease, but I am promised a body like unto His glorious body—and the heart is assured. I might not have much by way of earthly goods, but He has promised me an “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for [me] (1 Peter 1:4)—and the heart is assured. This is the God-given faith by which I live and shall live!
“Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his need.”—John Newton