The Progress of Faith


     God wants contrite people. Scripture says, “…On this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word,” Isaiah 66:2. Contrition is a healthy, reverential fear bred by wisdom in those who know and love God. The Hebrew word nakeh that’s translated as “Contrite” here in the NKJV is not a very common OT word. Depending on which Bible version you use it only appears about five times. Its translation is, “Stricken, smitten.” God looks upon stricken and smitten people who know His word. As I’ve grown closer to Jesus over the years I’ve come up against more and more of my own sin. I’ve also come to know a great deal about God. I’ve become more contrite as a result. In my life, especially when I minister to others, I’m often overtaken with a clarifying awareness of my total personal inadequacy for the task. This goads me to the supremacy of Christ. There is also great cause for rejoicing therefore all the time. I love the highs and I love the lows. A progress of faith is found in the joy of knowing that believers do actually bring honor to God through obedience. He is glorified in a disciple’s fruitfulness, John 15:8.

     There’s an old Keith Green song that I really like. It has been redone quite a bit. The chorus goes:


            I want to take Your word and shine it all around,
            but first help me just…to live it, Lord.
            And when I’m doing well help me to never seek a crown,
            for my reward is giving glory to You!


     We may think of contrition as something that’s only really part of the first stage of eternal life, or something really only required of us when we were first adopted into God’s family, but I think it produces spiritual song among us. I think that we sometimes confuse the truth of perfect love casting out all fear in the end (1 John 4:18) with the truth that our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). We forget that God burns away our sin and perfects love in us with each new mercy, 1 Peter 1:7. In this we’re made contrite.

     Psalm 103:14 says God, “Knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” The progress of faith in our hearts brings contrition. We’re dust and we joyously come to know it more and more. C.H. Spurgeon said, “The branch with the most fruit hangs lowest to the ground.” Humility is really nothing but self-awareness. Self-awareness through Scripture fosters contrition. Faith reminds us that the God who knows us better than we knew ourselves knew exactly what He was getting when He purchased us on Calvary. Contrition under such knowledge brings joy to disciples. It assures us that God’s eyes are fixed upon us.


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