Saturday 27 August 2016

From Fear to Faith

These studies in the prophecy of Habakkuk were originally given in the 1950s, when the chief objects of fear and foreboding in national life were Communism and Atomic Warfare. Against this backdrop, and occupying a prominent position among evangelicals as minister of Westminster Chapel at the heart of London, Martyn Lloyd-Jones pointed his congregation to the same place as Habakkuk was brought to look to - the God of the Bible. This is no less our need in 2016, when Brexit and International Terrorism fill the news. But Lloyd-Jones was also careful to point out that this applies equally to all sources of fear and concern in the individual Christian's life.
After setting out the structure of the prophecy, Lloyd-Jones expounds the theme of Habakkuk's experience: his distress at Israel's sin, his perplexity at God's plans, his agonising over God's justice, his fears for the future, and then the triumph of his faith. How did Habakkuk overcome his concerns such that he finishes the book with confident praise? The answer is by not focussing on the immediate problem, but by fixing his eyes on God. He reminds himself of what he does know for sure - God's nature and character. He knows then that all is under God's control, all sin will be judged sooner or later, Israelite or Assyrian, and yet that in wrath he will remember mercy to sinners. Lloyd-Jones states that when it boils down to it there are only two ways in which to be, the way of reason or the way of faith, and that Habakkuk exemplifies the latter amid his turmoils. 
Lloyd-Jones goes on to make a study of the elements of true prayer - humility, adoration and petition, which are seen in Habakkuk. Incidentally, in his remarks on reverence in prayer, I feel that many of today's evangelicals would do well to heed Lloyd-Jones as he decries the attitude of 'easy familiarity'.
This slim book is easily read, but packs a punch. Pack it with your holiday things and you will find it a great help. I did.

From Fear to Faith by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by IVP, paperback £4.99.

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