The Victory of Faith
Ross 0. Spears
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5: 4). John speaks of "overcoming" which implies struggle, and of "victory" which suggests conflict and combat with the foe. We remember well when we were standing shoulder to shoulder, as a united people focusing our attack on the citadels of sin and error in denominational ranks. Little did we think then that the enemy would infiltrate our own ranks with its attendant discord and strife that the battle of truth against error, of light against darkness, and of love against hatred would have to be fought out among ourselves. But it has been necessary.
God in all ages has tested his people. From the time of Cain and Abel, until time shall be no more, man's faith will be tried. Hebrews 11 reveals the power of faith to overcome this and is demonstrated by the cloud of witnesses that make up the honor roll. They are the ones that respected the right of God's authority. They believed God; that He would keep his promise and that ultimate victory would be theirs. The divine record reveals that God did keep His promise and this gives us today a "strong consolation" that He will also stand by all who remain faithful and endure the afflictions.
It takes strong faith to overcome our adversary the Devil. His devices are many, and many in the church today are ignorant of them. Before the former digression of 100 years ago, when men were leading people back to the beginning in restoring the Lord's church, truth was gaining a great victory over error. At the very height of the movement, the Devil devised a plan to stop the movement by deceiving some brethren into thinking that they could improve and augment the cause by adding human machinery, namely the Christian Missionary Society. The ultimate result is a sordid history; envy, strife, confusion, division and saddest of all, the loss of many precious souls. But as in other ages, there arose a remnant of men of faith who stood the test and began to build again the spiritual walls of the church. To endure the slurs, ridicule and loss of friendship took courage, but they overcame by the power of faith.
Today we are engaged in the same struggle against sin and error in the present digression. The same attitude toward the scriptures, and the same arguments used to justify human institutions are being manifested. The same bitterness, the same name calling toward those who have held out for "precept and example" and will not compromise truth is being witnessed. The only exception is that there are more faithful gospel preachers and congregations that have not "bowed the knee" now than there were before. They have, however, gone through the refining fire of persecution without wavering and are thus equipped to face the currents of digression without quarter. With the same God who has ever stood by his people who respected His authority, through faith in His promises the cause of the Lord will remain and victory will be assured. As the ten tribes of Israel who relied on human arrangements lost their identity among the nations, as the digression of the last century known as the "First Christian Church" lost their identity among the denominations, in like manner those who have embraced the liberal views, preaching and practicing things without precept or example, cannot escape a like fate.
Those of us who "put on the whole armour of God" that we may be able to stand in the evil day, can take courage in knowing that we are standing where others have stood. Christ, the captain of our salvation, has left us an example. He stood for truth even with his life as the price. Heb. 12:3,4 tells us to "Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds". He was victorious. He is the author and finisher of our faith, "Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). Paul's faith enabled him to stand alone, forsaken by all but the God whom he trusted (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:16,17). By that faith he overcame and gained the victory. He kept the faith and was kept by faith. Although we who contend earnestly for the faith once delivered feel altogether unworthy by way of comparison with Christ, Paul, or the holy men of old, yet there is a sense of satisfaction when we proclaim and uphold the truth they preached. When we have the same courage and faith we be assured that victory will be ours; that the gospel of Christ will be kept free from the corruption of human wisdom and human authority for generations to come.
"Oh the faith that will not shrink though pressed by every foe; that will not falter on the brink of any earthly woe."
This is the faith that brings victory by overcoming the world of deceitfulness, sin, and corruption.
Truth Magazine VIII: 2, pp. 8-9 November 1963