Today I wish to give you a little reading on the subject of faith. I am certain there is nothing more essential and perhaps nothing we know so little about as faith. I do not propose to give any exhaustive treatise on this subject, I simply desire to offer a few practical and I trust helpful thoughts. We will first read Hebrews 11:6:– “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” You see that nothing can take the place of faith. A man may have morality and have good works and many commendable qualities, but “without faith it is impossible to Please Him.” As a definition of faith you may read Hebrews 11:1:– “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” You see that faith is a substance and is the substance of the very things hoped for and is itself an evidence — “the evidence of things not seen.” If I were to give the definition of faith, I would say, “Faith is believing what God said and believing it because God said it.”
I will give you an acrostic of faith that has helped me. You will see the word has five letters, — f-a-i-t-h. “F” stands for the word FORSAKE. “A” stands for the word ALL. “I” stands for myself, “T” stands for the word TAKE, and “H” stands for the word HIM. — “FORSAKING ALL I TAKE HIM.” Whenever you reach the place where you are prepared to forsake all as the hope of your justification and take him, you have faith. Whenever you forsake all as the hope of your sanctification, and take Him, you have faith. Seeing that faith is so important, the question naturally arises-is faith inherent or is it a gift of God. I answer, it is both. Faith is the gift of God just as your breath is the gift of God. God has given you the power to breathe and He has given you something to breathe, but He will not breathe for you.
So God has given to us the power to believe — the faith faculty, and has given us something to believe, but will not believe for us. You will have to do your own believing. Please read Romans 10:10:– “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” By the term heart, we understand the affections, the sensibility and the will. I want you to see that the will enters into this matter of faith. A man can will to believe certain things and can will not to believe. There is no need of a man saying, “I cannot believe,” for we are so constituted that we can believe if we choose to do so. Our faith might be said to represent our right hand, and our will to represent our left hand. God proffers me His grace on condition that I lay hold upon it with my right hand, which represents faith, but I discover that this arm of faith has been paralyzed by sin, and that I am unable to reach up and take the blessing He offers me.
What must I do? Oh, I remember, — I have another hand, my will. I still have the free use of this arm and hand, so I place my left hand, the will, under my right arm, which has been paralyzed by sin, and sing, — (pushing my right hand upward with my left hand) “I can, I will and I do believe.” You see that I have obtained the blessing and have obtained it by my hand of faith, or by the use of or exercise of my will. So when Satan whispers to you that you have not enough faith and cannot believe, instantly turn from him and say, “I can believe. I will believe.” Remember the definition I have given of faith. It is simply believe what God has said and believe it because God said it. I will give you a little thought here that has been worth many hundreds of dollars to me; indeed, I would not be willing to sell it for any consideration, could I not have the use of it hereafter, and that is, that God’s word is a creative word. When God wanted light, what did He do? Did He set up a dynamo somewhere back yonder in the secret chambers of eternity and go to manufacturing light. No, He simply said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. His word made it so; it was so because God said so. As the little boy said of his mamma, “What my mamma says is so even if it ain’t so.” God’s saying so makes it so.
You may now read Romans 10:17:– “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Here is the secret of faith. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Persons who know how to exercise faith, know the word of their God. The word of God is the fulcrum upon which faith must rest; faith is simply the lever. I am quite sure that we frequently confuse seekers at the altar when we urge them to simply believe, only believe. The poor souls not knowing what to believe, are trying to believe they have something they know they do not have. This would be very difficult Believe you feel awful good when you know you feel awful bad, another very difficult task. Believe you are all right when you know you are all wrong. This in like manner they cannot do. Then what must they believe. Believe what God says about your case; but how can they believe what God says concerning their case, if they do not know what God says.
To illustrate:– Here is a sinner seeking pardon. We say to him, “Only believe.” Now what should he believe? Well, God hath said, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins. Now if he has confessed his sins, he should believe that God does exactly what he said he would do–not believe it because he feels it, but believe it because he has met the conditions and because of the promise that God has made. In like manner, if a believer seeks sanctification, what should he believe? Well, God has said, “The altar sanctifieth the gift.” “If we walk in the light… the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Now when you have conscientiously placed your all upon the altar and are walking in all the light that God has given, so having fully met the conditions you should believe that God is faithful and does just what be said he would do. Not because you feel it, but because He has so promised. Remember this definition of faith.
Multitudes have trouble concerning the matter of feeling; I certainly believe in a heart felt religion, but a man can not feel something he does not have, and he can not obtain these blessings until he first exercises faith for them. God never told us to feel, and no matter what your experience is, you will not always feel the same. Your feelings may vary, but God’s promise ever remains the same. But, says some one, “I am seeking for a witness;” we insist that the Holy Spirit cannot witness to something you do not have, and you cannot receive the blessing until you believe God. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” Faith precedes the witness. The witness is on the divine side of the question and when you have met all conditions and trust God with all your heart, He will attend to that matter. Persons seeking the witness usually have in mind a certain emotion, a certain feeling, and the very fact of their seeking the witness is an evidence that they do not believe God. To illustrate:
Now suppose that one of your brethren should relate some matter to me and I should say, “Well brother I want to believe you and I am trying to believe you, but I am such a doubting Thomas, I have such a struggle with my unbelief, I want a witness to this matter.” Would you not be grieved? The very fact that I insist upon having a witness would prove that I did not believe you: but you say, “You may consult my wife in the matter” and refer me to her as a witness. So I speak to your wife and she confirms your statement. I now come back and say, “Brother I believe what you told me now; I have the witness.” Did I believe you? “No, I believed the witness.” And so if men could first have the witness, they would simply believe their feelings or emotions instead of believing the word of God; and the moment the emotion subsides their faith wavers and their experience is gone. If I believe you, why should I insist upon having a witness? And right here I desire to emphasize the thought that no person can always feel the same. I doubt not but 90 out of every 100 who have lost the experience of sanctification have lost it at this point. Satan takes advantage of our moods, and when you are under “heaviness because of manifold temptations,” he steps up and places his black wing in such a way as to throw a shadow over your soul and whispers, “You don’t feel as you used to. You don’t feel as brother Jones says he feels.” And you give attention to that suggestion and instantly your thought is diverted from Christ and his promise to yourself and you proceed to analyze your feelings. Having gained your attention, he again puts up his black wing and most adroitly whispers and insinuates, “The probabilities are that you have lost your experience, for you know you do not feel as you used to, or as others say they feel.” Having consented to entertain his suggestions and proceed to analyze your feelings, thus doubting God, of counsel you begin to feel very bad, and at this point Satan will place his black wing the third time between you and the light, casting a shadow and placing you on your honor, will whisper, “You know you do not feel as you used to, and the probabilities are that you have lost your experience. Now you do not wish to be a hypocrite. You certainly do not wish to profess something you do not have. Now if I were you I would say no more about this subject of sanctification until you feel different.” And so he robs you of your testimony. Having given up your faith and having given up your testimony, you have laid down your weapons of defense and are left in darkness and doubt.
Sanctified people need to remember that the spirit of heaviness is entirely compatible with the spirit of holiness. You read 1st Peter 1:5-6: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a reason, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” Who is it that is kept by the power of God? the very persons who are in “heaviness through manifold temptations.” These temptations, which occasion heaviness may result from your physical condition or your social condition or your financial condition. Satan takes advantage of such conditions, but you should insist on believing that what God has said is true, even if you do not feel so exuberant and enraptured as you have at other times. You need to learn to live in the exercise of a present tense faith. When Satan says you did not obtain the blessing of sanctification as you thought you had or insinuates that you have lost the blessing, do not stop to argue the case with him. I would simply examine my consecration and make sure that all is on the altar and say to Satan, “Well if I did not obtain the blessing then and there, or if I have lost the blessing, I am all on the altar and so trust the blood to cleanse me now. It is immaterial whether He sanctified me ten years ago or not, I believe He sanctifies me now,” and then by your testimony declare your faith. “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Rev. 12:11).
Please read Mark 11:22-24:– “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe those things which be saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” I want you to notice in the 24th verse, he does not say, “believe that you did receive nor believe that you will receive,” but “believe that ye receive. A present tense faith-I believe He does it now. A present tense faith will bring present tense victory.
I will now call your attention to seven aspects of faith though we may not have the time to enlarge upon or fully explain the same. They are viz: 1st, receptive faith; 2nd, active faith; 3rd, passive faith; 4th, retentive faith; 5th, conquering faith; 6th, assurance of faith, and 7th, the gift of faith.
As an illustration of receptive faith, please turn to Hebrews 4:2:– “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” A moment ago we read that faith cometh by hearing, and yet here is a people who heard the word preached and yet it did not profit them. They lacked this first element of faith; while they heard it they did not receive it as having any reference to themselves. Multitudes hear the gospel today in whom it does not generate faith, because they do not receive it as having any reference to themselves. They hear the gospel for other people, and the very message that they should receive for their own heart they hand over to their neighbor. They use the shovel instead of the rake. The only sermon that ever profited you was the sermon that meant you. To illustrate: Suppose while we are seated here today some one should sound the alarm of fire. While you might believe in a general way that there is a fire, you would not receive the alarm of fire as having any reference to yourself, and yet it may be your home that is being reduced to ashes. What did it profit you that you heard the alarm of fire? So long as I heard the preacher say “sinner” to those around me, it did not profit me, but upon a certain occasion as he was speaking of the sinner, I discovered he meant me; that I was in peril and needed a Saviour, that it was for me that Jesus died, and I at once became alarmed. It would seem to me that a sinner who will believe that what God says in this book concerning the sinner has reference to himself, must at once have all the conviction he will need. This principle of receptive faith must continue with us through life. This is why some persons get more out of a sermon or more out of the Bible than others; whatever they read or hear they appropriate to their own hearts, while others will say, “This is what God said to Moses or to the Israelites or to the Apostles, etc.,” and so fail to appropriate it to their own hearts. Every promise in this book is for me.
Now as an illustration of active faith you may read Luke 17:12-14:– “And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” They might have answered, “Of what use is it that we should show ourselves to the priests, they can only pronounce us unclean and banish and isolate us” and insist that they must first be cured: but Jesus had said, “Go show yourselves to the priests,” and “as they went they were cleansed.” They obtained the blessing “a-wenting,” and every blessing I have yet obtained, I have obtained it “a-wenting.” That is one advantage of this mourner’s bench. You notice the people who sit back and look on with questioning do not obtain the cleansing. It is the people who are “a-wenting.” To return to my former illustration of having heard the alarm of fire, the next thing to do is act as though you believed your house was on fire and in so doing you may save your furniture or your home. It was not sufficient that you receive the alarm and sat there in agony and wrung your hands in distress, but believing that your own building is on fire, you would instantly rush to your home and so act as though you believed. So by going forward in obedience to His word, you are sure to obtain the blessing.
As an illustration of passive faith, you may read Hebrews 10:34:– “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” Passive faith will enable you to acquiesce in all the will of God, and amid the afflictive providences look up in confidence and say, “Thy will be done.” We have a most excellent illustration of passive faith in the case of Job: after his all had been swept away, we hear him say, Job 1:21:– “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The secret of passive faith is losing sight of second causes; although Satan was the indirect cause of Job’s calamities Job refuses to recognize Satan at all and says, “The Lord hath taken away: ” Job is simply doing business at headquarters and recognizes the fact that if God did not send these calamities, He did permit them. You do well to remember that Satan could not touch Job until God granted him permission. Nothing can overtake you or I without first passing through Father’s hands for inspection. Our Father knows, and he has a check rein on the devil, and assures us in 1st Cor. 10:13, that He “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” When you reach the experience of Col. 1:11:– “‘Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness;” you may know you have passive faith. Not only “all patience and long suffering,” but “all patience and long suffering with joyfulness.”
By retentive faith, we mean the faith that enables you to stand. Just as you obtain the blessing by faith, so you must retain the blessing by faith. You may read 2 Cor. 1:24:– “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” And 1 Peter 1:5:– “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We stand by faith and are ‘kept by the power of God through faith.’ Faith is to the soul what your breath is to the body. It is not simply an act but as you breathe and keep on breathing, so you need to believe and keep on believing. A man who is resuscitated from drowning, may, at first, experience some difficulty in breathing, but directly it will become very easy and natural. I have gotten so I can breathe while asleep. I have done it on several occasions; and so it will be with faith, it will become the natural habit of the soul.
By conquering faith, we refer to that faith that enables you to do exploits. Read 1 John 5:4:– “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Also read Ephesians 6:16:– “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” This does not say we shall quench some of the fiery darts, but all of the fiery darts of the wicked. We should be more than conquerors; no artillery in earth or hell can penetrate the shield of faith. It makes you invulnerable and invincible. Faith is the victory over every difficulty.
As a reference on assurance of faith, you may read Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” You will observe that this assurance is the result of having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. It is conditioned upon experience:– or rather the result of experience.
By the gift of faith, I understand a special or instantaneous quickening or illumination of the faith faculty for given purposes, which comes as one of the gifts of the Spirit. While a man may have saving faith at all times, he may not have the gift of faith at all times. In closing please read Romans 5:1:– “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here we are justified by faith. Also read Acts 26:18:– “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Also read Acts 15:8-9:– “And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them purifying their hearts by faith.” Here you see that precisely as you were justified by faith, so you are sanctified and purified by faith. Turn again to Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Did you ever receive one of these blue post-office money orders? In presenting it for payment, the clerk having compared it with his advice, returns it to you, asking you to sign your name on a blank line. Just above that blank line, you read the words “Received payment in full.” “But,” you say, “how can I affix my signature to this as having received payment in full when as yet I have not received it.” But he will insist that you affix your signature and refuses to pay one cent until you do. But the moment you begin to sign your name, the amount of your order is “counted” to you and instantly you will hear something jingle. So affix your name to God’s promise and the blessing will be counted to you. It is very interesting to note the case of Abraham, Romans 4:18, 20:– “Who against hope believed in hope… And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Against hope he believed in hope and refused to “consider.” If you believed God you would not stop to consider some points. He refused to consider the very things that one might naturally suppose must be taken into consideration. He considered not, and “staggered not,” but went to shouting ”giving glory to God.” Abraham was not only saved from sin but he was saved from the staggers.
You have doubtless observed these large arc lights. There are two carbons, the one supplies what we will term the negative and the other the positive current. God’s promise represents the positive current, your faith representing the negative current. A recent message from the power house assures me the current is on:– so you simply need to back your faith up against the promise of God and instantly there will be light.