Last week the well known Baptist preacher, Dr. Charles Stanley, died at age 90.
Christianity Today announced his passing with this headline: “Died: Charles Stanley, In Touch Preacher Who Led with Stubborn Faith.”
The description “stubborn faith” grabbed my attention and prompted reflection. It was not meant as a criticism, but a compliment. Stanley was well known both within his denomination and without as a conservative
“He frequently repeated his life motto, which he learned from his grandfather: Obey God and leave all the consequences to him. That kind of obedience wouldn’t come without cost, Stanley said, but God rewards stubborn faith.”
The author of more than 50 books, Dr. Stanley once wrote: “Granddad told me, ‘Charles, if God tells you to run your head through a brick wall, you head for the wall, and when you get there, God will make a hole for it.’”
When he was the President of the Southern Baptist Association, he made headlines for his conservative Biblical positions. The New York Times reported:
He brought staunch beliefs — among them that the Bible was infallible and that women should not be ordained — to a continuing battle over control of the convention between conservatives, who were in ascent, and moderates.”
During this time, Dr. Stanley was asked about his positions against abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, and in being in favor of prayer in public schools. He told The Associated Press that he took those stands as a “strong Christian citizen and not a right-winger.”
While I certainly didn’t subscribe to all of Dr. Stanley’s theology, or agree with some of his personal, family decisions, I did appreciate his conservative stand on moral issues. Possessing a “stubborn faith,” is something we should all strive for.
“Stubborn faith” is not the same as being cranky, contentious, or quarrelsome. It is not being inflexible in matters of opinion and expediency. Nor is it a hardheadedness that is unreasonable, unapproachable, or irrational.
Biblically speaking, “stubborn faith” is founded in “the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). It is faith in the faith, by which we obtain justification, experience peace, receive grace, and rejoice in hope (Rom. 5:1-2). It is the “one faith” of Ephesians 4:5 which provides for us the “unity of faith” (Eph. 4:16). It is the faith for which Jude commanded we should “earnestly contend” (Jude 3).
The “stubborn faith” of which we write traces its origin beyond moral movements, human organizations, or religious labels. It is the faith founded in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). And the Bible as the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
“Stubborn faith” finds its expression in Peter’s defiance to the command to cease preaching Jesus, when he responded, “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Ax. 5:29).
“Stubborn faith” issues itself in courage like first century Christians who Luke writes, “spoke the Word of God with all boldness” (Ax.4:31).
“Stubborn faith” declares, as Paul did, the “whole counsel of God,” and seeks to teach, establish and ground its hearers in truth, not tradition. In God’s power, not man’s wisdom. And in Jesus Christ, not preachers or politicians (Ax. 20:27; 1 Cor. 1:10-25).
Today, we need mothers and fathers, preachers and pastors, and Christians young and old, who claim allegiance to Christ to develop a “stubborn faith.” One that is not deceived by humanistic theories, swayed by popular carnal enticements, consumed by materialistic pursuits, or compromised by ungodly lifestyles.
“Stubborn faith” is guided by the unseen, instead of what we see (2 Cor. 5:7). As Corrie Ten Boom once wrote, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.” Of course, with God “all things are possible,” so one day faith will be lost in sight.
Biblically-based “stubborn faith” provides the power to “overcome the world” (1 Jn.5:4).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
2 responses to “A Stubborn Faith”
Great thoughts. God grant us all a “stubborn faith”.
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