I had been taught through the years the Bible and the gospel. But external teaching does not save. It may be fuel for the lamp of the Spirit, that is all. How does God speak then, and how do we believe? I don’t know, because it all comes from the Other Side.
That precisely is faith. The nearest we can say is that through the human faculties of mind and heart there come to all (I believe) hidden communications of the Spirit, disturbances of the status quo, of our rationalizations, our funk holes in which we try to hide our sinfulness from ourselves and from Him, our false pursuit of satisfaction in things of time and sense, our build-up of a human ethic, religion, philosophy or idealism which crumbles when matched with the actual realities of our self-centred lives, or our pretended and endeavoured forms of communion with God.
As we respond to these pricks, which was the name given to the goadings of the Spirit in the apostle Paul, further revelations of inner truth come to us, revelations to us if to no one else, revelations which have their ultimate source and guarantee in the Scriptures: “if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.”
But the moment comes when we settle it, or rather God settles it in us. We can prove nothing. The wise of this world may be able to shoot holes in our logic or reasons. We readily grant that the One in whom we now have put our faith is unknowable to the world, invisible, and we can never say we know or see Him except by faith. Historic facts are available, but again we admit that history is unprovable. We have only the word of the historians or eyewitnesses. We have no ultimate grounds upon which to base our belief in the reliability and infallibility of the Bible; indeed plenty can be brought against it.
We further admit that certain facts concerning the life and death of Christ are altogether beyond human probabilities—His deity, His incarnation, His physical resurrection, His ascension. Pile question mark upon question mark, we admit all. But faith has nothing to do with these. Faith is itself from the Other Side, and is as inexplicable and absurd as that in which it believes. Faith has nothing to say for itself beyond the bare statement that from certain inward convictions which are convictions to it, it stakes its all on God as truth in His revelation through the Bible and supremely the Christ of the Bible.
For myself I have stated the two main convictions which constrained me forty-seven years ago to gamble my life on God: first, what was the obvious, that I was a 100 per cent self-centred person; and second, that God was the wholly opposite, 100 per cent self-giving, so that He actually gave Himself in the Person of His Son to change me into His likeness. That final fact convinced me. I said I could follow to eternity a God who is forever the Servant of His own creation, even to the point of giving His own life for His enemies; and I could wish for nothing higher than that such a Person could and should live that same quality of life through selfish me. And so say I today. [From God Unlimited, 1962]