The Spirit of Faith
The most fundamentally valuable possession of man is faith in God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Without it no one can please Him; with it we may so respond to its impulses and directions as to enjoy the full assurance of our acceptance by Him. There is no one thing emphasized by -the Word of God as so basically essential as a condition required by God of man. The gospel of Christ is God's power to save those who believe it, and there is no record that God has any other power to save anyone. If, then, God has provided the gospel as His power to save man, but restricted its saving power to those who believe, we are confronted with the conclusion that without faith there is no salvation for the lost. Too, it is inconceivable that God would graciously redeem anyone who at the time of salvation was displeasing to Him. Equally evident is it that at that point wherein our faith fails do we cease to be pleasing to God; for without faith it is impossible to please Him. Christians are warned against the danger of having an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. (Heb. 3:12).
The Lord is able to perceive the presence and appraise the vitality of faith as resident in one's heart. He rebuked the disciples for their little faith, and marvelled at the great faith of the centurion, (Matt. 8:10, 26). James challengingly states "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." (Jas. 2:18.) He concludes with the familiar statement that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. From these and other passages of similar import we are led to the persuasion that faith inust express itself in obedience to the will of God in whom we believe. Faith, then, justly stands between the Word of God on, the one hand and -the keeping of the commandments of that Word on the other; the order is, first -the Will of God, second the Word of God as the expression of that Will, third the hear ing of that Word, fourth the believing of that heard, and fifth, the expressing and executing of that believed by the doing of God's Will. Thus can clearly be appreciated the iiecessity of courageously avowing at all times that which is believed
In 2 Corinthians 4:13 we read: "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak, knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you." The spirit of faith in, this passage is not "according as it is written," as I have heard suggested, but rather "according as it is written" is the introduction of a quotation, and that which is quoted is identified as the spirit of faith. That is, "I believed and therefore have I spoken" is the spirit of faith. It is a quotation from Psalms 116:10, and Paul cites this as descriptive of the spirit of faith which he professes to have. He says we have the same spirit of faith, and because we thus have the same spirit of faith we believe and speak; that is, believing we speak that which we believe. In view of the widespread timidity, if not outright cowardice, that is evidenced by many believers, Christians, and even a substantial number of preachers, it could well be worth cur time and thought to give serious consideration to the import of this statement by Paul.
We would all con,cur in the censure justly pronounced against those who profess faith in the truth that is in Christ, and yet remain disobedient to its requirements. To acknowledge the belief that the saints should assemble on the first day of the week to break bread and neglect such assemblies is to con,demn a child of God. Just as the single condition of faith, apart from works of faith, cannot save us, even so to hold our faith silently within our hearts for fear of being rejected by those who do not believe it is to invite the rejection of our Lord. The action of Peter in denying Christ has always been regarded as a specimen of cowardice, but with the resurrection of Jesus there came a resurgence of his faith which gave him boldness to proclaim the gospel under adverse situations and before hostile audiences. Paul, in this statement, relates the possession and expression of this spirit of faith to the confidence he entertained in our ewn resurrection as founded on the fact of Christ's resurrection. How, then, can one who believes Christ was raised from the dead, and rejoices in, the assurance afforded thereby of our own triumphant and glorious victory over death, be timid or cowardly in proclaiming any revealed truth? The craven cowardice of those who believed on Christ but would not confess him, lest they be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praises of men more than, the favor of God, was no more execrable than those today who are too weak and fearful to stand firmly and boldly for the truth, the whole truth, and press its righteous claims on the hearts and lives of their f ellows. It matters not one whit -whether the particular subject matter in the body of Divine Truth is related to, and in opposition, to denominational errors outside the church, or those or other corruptions which have intruded within the church of our Lord.
There is nothing more sickening than for some preacher to loudly proclaim his devotion to the Word of God, piously affirming his conviction of its sufficien,cy, and calling on his auditors to speak where the Bible speaks, to do Bible things in Bible ways, and then actively support or silently acquiesce in those things which constitute a departure from the very principles he so strongly gives lip service to. He politically pursues the course of generalizing and never particularizing in his fight against error. Such men are not possessing and possessed by the spirit of faith which Paul said he had. They are men-pleasers and hirelings. Often I have heard that one who can be hired to preach the truth can, also be hired to not preach it; and just as described by Paul there are those who heap and gather unto them teachers who will teach only that which coincides with the fancy and prejudices of those who engage them. Such a spirit is the opposite of the spirit of faith. And I believe to have faith without the spirit of faith is as deficient as having faith without works, and in, either instance it is a faith that cannot save.
One prominent preacher in recent times is alleged to have said that congregations should refuse to employ preachers who aren't favoring and advocating the centralized operations in vogue so prominently today, and that when such preachers got hungry they would change. Such a statement is an inerrant insight to the character, purposes and motives of this man as a preacher, and shows that his is a religion of the belly rather than of the heart. He thus indicts his brethren as being without genuine conviction and therefore susceptible to change by material pressure and economic sanctions rather than by instruction from the word of God, which alone is capable of creating the faith that saves and should direct us.
With all the prominence being given the epithet of "anti" as descriptive an,d definitive of many preachers and churches today, the truth of the matter is simply that such is employed for prejudicial reasons only, and but means that it serves as a substitute for an appeal to the scriptures in justification of the practices under question. Being unable to competently do the latter they take recourse to the former. This causes some to be af raid to voice their real convictions, and thus they manif est a destitution of the spirit of faith.
Why should anyone be either afraid or ashamed to avow any position of doctrine or practice they believe to be the truth of God's Eternal Word? Rathex how can men restrain themselves from, not only avowing but earnestly pressing the advocacy of all truth, iriespective of the degree of popularity or lack of it either within or without the church? The more entrenched and widespread any error becomes in the church, the more zealously and energetically should the opposing truth be proclaimed and pressed home to the hearts of honest souls. There are yet many such people in the world and in the church, and to them should the appeals of truth be directed. It is vain to address any others, whether in the family of God or yet among the lost of the earth. We, then, must have the spirit of faith, with our faith, not only to save ourselves but to enable us to be worthy servants of Christ in saving others.
Truth Magazine I:7, pp. 4-5, 22