His father was an unbeliever and George grew up a liar and a thief, by his own testimony. His mother died when he was 14, and he records no impact that this loss had on him except that while she was dying he was roving the streets with his friends “half intoxicated.” He went on living a bawdy life, and then found himself in prison for stealing when he was 16 years old. His father paid to get him out, beat him, and took him to live in another town (Schoenbeck). Mueller used his academic skills to make money by tutoring in Latin, French, and mathematics. Finally his father sent him to the University of Halle to study divinity and prepare for the ministry because that would be a good living. Neither he nor George had any spiritual aspirations.
Then on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of November, 1825, when Mueller was 20 years old, he was invited to a Bible study and, by the grace of God, felt the desire to go. “I have not the least doubt, that on that evening, [God] began a work of grace in me. . . . That evening was the turning point in my life.”
Mueller became sick (thank God for providential sickness!) and in the summer of 1829 he went for recovery to a town called Teignmouth. There in a little chapel called Ebenezer at least two crucial discoveries were made: the preciousness of reading and meditating on the word of God, and the truth of the doctrines of grace. For ten days Mueller lived with a nameless man who change his life forever: “Through the instrumentality of this brother the Lord bestowed a great blessing upon me, for which I shall have cause to thank Him throughout eternity.”
“In order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer, is, to continue praying; for the less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray.”
“I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming.”
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.”
Soul Nourishment First from The Autobiography of George Muller
It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God—not prayer, but the Word of God. And here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God so that it only passes through my mind just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what I read, pondering over it, and applying it to my heart. To meditate on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed. And that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it. When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire; and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectively performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. By the blessing of God, I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trails, in various ways, than I had ever had before. How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon me! May 9th, 1841
Childlike faith looks outside itself for salvation. Salvation is a gift; man does not pay for or contribute to his salvation—it is entirely of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:1; Romans 5:1). Just as a child has to use his father’s money to pay for a Christmas gift he plans to give his father, we depend on God’s provision for everything, even the good works we do in His name (Ephesians 2:10). The world sometimes misunderstands the idea of childlike faith, thinking that Christians are childlike because they believe in myths and fairy tales. But this is not the Bible’s meaning when it compares us to children. Instead, childlike faith is a metaphor for trust, dependence and love, and an encouragement to ask for what we need (Matthew 7:11).
So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God (Rom 10:17)
Faith in God means believing in and trusting in the greatest hope—that God became man, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death for your sins, and rose again to glory so that you could have eternal life by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
The ESV Study Bible explains verse 17, “Paul now sums up the argument thus far. One can come to faith only through hearing the gospel, and the specific message that must be heard is the word of Christ, that is, the good news about Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior.”
According to the Lutheran Study Bible English Standard Version (ESV), the meaning of hearing includes, “the act of hearing, the ear, or the message heard. The message is the meaning here.” (Romans 10:17 Commentary p 1930). The ear receives the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, faith begins in the hearer.
The cross of Christ fulfilled God’s plan of salvation for the world. Those who hear this message and receive it come to understand the meaning of faith. They know that faith is a gift from God and that salvation is God’s grace poured into the hearts of the hearer through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can say with certainty, “God gives us faith as a gift, through which Christ’s righteousness is credited to us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and our sins are forgiven (Romans 3:22-24)”
Chapter 11 Questions
1. From pg 84….what does childlike faith look like ?
- What hindered George’s devotion to Scripture in his early years as a Christian ?
- Who do you like to read ?
- What obstacles are in your life that keep you from the Word of God ?
2. Read and discuss Romans 10:17
3. What do the verses on page 87 say to you on how to approach the Word of God.
4. Discuss George Mueller’s “ Soul Nourishment First “ ( in notes and mentioned on pg 86 )