The Key of Faith (continued)
Abraham's Tests of Faith
Now, the point and the argument of all that we see in the Bible is this: that the very testing of faith is God's way of enlargement. Fresh enlargements will come by fresh testings. That is the order of things. It ever have been so. You see, here is Abraham. With an oath and a covenant, God has announced to Him His thoughts about this great enlargement. "I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth" (Genesis 13:16). "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore" (22:17). God has not left Abraham in any doubt as to His thoughts about enlargement.
But look at the testings into which Abraham was immediately brought. He had, speaking naturally, every ground and reason for saying, 'I have made a mistake in thinking that God meant that. I have misunderstood what the Lord meant; I have been caught in some illusion.' It would have been very easy for Abraham, under the pressure and the trial, to have so reacted. But the point is this, that the Lord has done, where Abraham is concerned, far more than Abraham ever thought. For you see, all that great multitude presented to us in the last book of the Bible - 'a great multitude, which no man could number' (Revelation 7:9), 'ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands' (Revelation 5:1) - Paul says they are the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29): not Jews, but believers, the children of faith (3:7). Every one who has reposed faith in God is the seed of Abraham - a countless seed. It has come to pass. But see how Abraham's faith was progressively tested on this matter of enlargement. It was not one battle fought once and for all, and settled; but over a long life, till he was a hundred years old, in different forms, at different stages and with accentuate poignancy, again and again the test of enlargement was raised.
But every test passed meant some further enlargement. We have said that that is a way and a law of the Lord. It is something to hide in our hearts. The Psalmist said: "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11). The sin of all sins, where God is concerned, is unbelief, and here is a word that we must hide in our hearts against the day of trial - the day when we feel our faith is being so tested and tried and pressed by the situations in which we find ourselves, that it must mean limitation - it must work out to curtailment, if not to an utter end. The Bible all the way through argues the other way: that such tests of faith are ever alongside of God's expressed and revealed mind, that these tests are the way for the realization of His purpose, and that the thought of God is, in the first place, enlargement.
(continued with # 20 - (Establishment)