Sermon 1609. Faith-What Is It? How Can It Be Obtained?
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JULY 17, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"By Grace are you saved through faith." Ephesians 2:8.
I MEAN to dwell mainly upon that expression, "Through faith." I call attention, however, first of all, to the foun-tainheadof our salvation, which is the Grace of God. "By Grace are you saved." Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven,converted, purified and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved, butbecause of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy and Grace of God. Tarry a moment, then, at the wellhead.Behold the pure river of Water of Life as it proceeds out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb. What an abyss is the Graceof God! Who can fathom it? Like all the rest of the Divine attributes, it is infinite! God is full of love, for "God is love."God is full of goodness-the very name, "God," is but short for, "good."
Unbounded goodness and love enter into the very essence of the Godhead. It is because, "His mercy endures forever," that menare not destroyed. It is because, "His compassions fail not," that sinners are brought to Himself and forgiven. Right wellremember this, for otherwise you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvationas to forget the Grace which is the fountain and source of faith itself! Faith is the work of God's Grace in us. No man cansay that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Spirit. "No man comes unto Me," says Christ, "except the Father which has sentMe draw him." So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of Divine drawing!
Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation and faith, important as it is, is only an important part of the machinerywhich Grace employs. We are saved "through faith," but it is "by Grace." Sound forth those words as with the archangel's trumpet-"ByGrace are you saved!" Faith occupies the position of a channel or conduit. Grace is the fountain and the stream-faith is theaqueduct along which the flood of mercy flows down to refresh the thirsty sons of men. It is a great pity when the aqueductis broken. It is a sad sight to see, around Rome, the many noble aqueducts which no longer convey water into the city becausethe arches are broken and the marvelous structures are in ruins.
The aqueduct must be kept in tact to convey the current and, even so, faith must be true and sound, leading right up to Godand coming right down to ourselves, that it may become a serviceable channel of mercy to our souls. Still, I again remindyou that faith is the channel or aqueduct and not the fountainhead. We must not look so much to faith as to exalt it abovethe Divine source of all blessings which lie in the Grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith, nor think of it asif it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in "looking unto Jesus," not in looking to our ownfaith. By faith all things become possible to us, yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies.
Grace is the locomotive and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul is attached to the great motive power. Therighteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps andappropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from the contemplation of our own faith-it comes to us from Him whois our peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches-and virtue comes out of Him into the soul. However, it is a very importantthing that we look well to the channel and, therefore, at this time we will consider it, as God, the Holy Spirit, shall enableus. Faith. What is it? Faith. Why is it selected as the channel of blessing? Faith. How can it be obtained and increased?
I. FAITH, WHAT IS IT? What is this faith concerning which it is said, "By Grace are you saved through faith"? There are manydescriptions of faith, but almost all the definitions I have met with have made me understand it less than I did before Isaw them! The Negro said, when he read the chapter, that he would confound it, and it is very likely that he did so, thoughhe meant to expound it. So, Brethren, we may explain faith till nobody understands it. I hope I shall not
be guilty of that fault. Faith is the simplest of all things and, perhaps, because of its simplicity it is the more difficultto explain.
What is faith? It is made up of three things-knowledge, belief and trust. Knowledge comes first. Romanist divines hold thata man can believe what he does not know. Perhaps a Romanist can, but I cannot. "How shall they believe in Him of whom theyhave not heard?" I need to be informed of a fact before I can possibly believe it. I believe this, I believe that-but I cannotsay that I believe a great many things of which I have never heard. "Faith comes by hearing." We must first hear in orderthat we may know what is to be believed. "They that know Your name will put their trust in You" (Psa. 9:10). A measure of knowledge is essential to faith and, therefore, the importance of getting knowledge. "Incline your ear, andcome unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live"-such was the word of the ancient Prophet, and it is still the Word of the Gospel!
Search the Scriptures and learn what the Holy Spirit teaches concerning Christ and His salvation. Seek to know God-"that Godis and is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." May He give you "the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord."Know the Gospel! Know what the Good News is, how it talks of free forgiveness, of change of heart, of adoption into the familyof God and of countless other blessings. Know God, know His Gospel and know, especially, Christ Jesus the Son of God, theSavior of men, united to us by His human Nature and united to God, seeing He is Divine and thus able to act as Mediator betweenGod and man, able to lay His hands upon both and to be the connecting link between the sinner and the Judge of all the earth!
Endeavor to know more and more of Christ. After Paul had been converted more than 20 years, he tells the Philippi-ans thathe desired to know Christ and, depend upon it, the more we know of Jesus, the more we shall wish to know of Him, so that ourfaith in Him may increase. Endeavor, especially, to know the doctrine of the Sacrifice of Christ, for that is the center ofthe target at which faith aims! That is the point upon which saving faith mainly fixes itself, that, "God was in Christ, reconcilingthe world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Know that He was made a curse for us, as it is written,"Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree." Drink deep into the doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ, for thereinlies the sweetest possible comfort to the guilty sons of men since the Lord, "made Him to be sin for us that we might be madethe righteousness of God in Him." Faith begins with knowledge, therefore the value of being taught in Divine Truth, for toknow Christ is eternal life.
Then the mind goes on to believe that these things are true. The soul believes that God is and that He hears the cries ofsincere hearts; that the Gospel is from God; that justification by faith is the grand Truth that God has revealed in theselast days by His Spirit more clearly than before. Then the heart believes that Jesus is, verily and in truth, our God andSavior, the Redeemer of men, the Prophet, Priest and King unto His people. Dear Hearers, I pray that you may at once cometo the understanding of this. Get firmly to believe that "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's dear Son, cleans us from all sin,"that His Sacrifice is complete and fully accepted of God on man's behalf so that He that believes on Jesus is not condemned.
So far you have made an advance towards faith and one more ingredient is needed to complete it, which is trust. Commit yourselfto the merciful God; rest your hope on the gracious Gospel; trust your soul on the dying and living Savior; wash away yoursins in the atoning blood; accept His perfect righteousness and all is well! Trust is the lifeblood of faith-there is no savingfaith without it! The Puritans were accustomed to explain faith by the word, "recumbency." You know what it means. You seeme leaning upon this rail, leaning with all my weight upon it-even thus, lean upon Christ! It would be a better illustration,still, if I were to stretch myself at full length and rest my whole person upon a rock, lying flat upon it. Fall flat uponChrist! Cast yourself upon Him, rest in Him, commit yourself to Him! That done, you have exercised saving faith.
Faith is not a blind thing, for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing, for faith believes facts of whichit is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing, for faith trusts and stakes its destiny upon the truth of Revelation.Faith ventures its all upon the Truth of God. It is not a pleasant word to use, but the poet employed it, and it suggestsmy meaning-
"Venture on Him, venture wholly. Let no other trust intrude."
That is one way of describing what faith is-I wonder whether I have "confounded" it already. Let me try again. Faith is believingthat Christ is what He is said to be, that He will do what He has promised to do and expecting this of Him. The Scripturesspeak of Jesus Christ as being God, God in human flesh-as being perfect in His Character; as being made a Sin Offering onour behalf-as bearing sin in His own body on the tree. The Scripture speaks of Him as having finished transgression, madean end of sin and brought in everlasting righteousness.
The Scriptures further tell us that He "rose again," that He "ever lives to make intercession for us," that He has gone upinto Glory and has taken possession of Heaven on the behalf of His people and that He will shortly come again "to judge theworld in righteousness and His people with equity." We are most firmly to believe that it is even so, for this is the testimonyof God the Father when He said, "This is My beloved Son; hear Him." This also is testified by God the Holy Spirit, for theSpirit has borne witness to Christ, both by the Word and many miracles and by His working in the hearts of men. We are tobelieve this testimony to be true. Faith also believes that Christ will do what He has promised- that if He has promised tocast out none that come to Him, it is certain that He will not cast us out if we come to Him.
Faith believes that if Jesus said, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlastinglife," it must be true, and if we get this Living Water from Christ, it will abide in us and will well up within us in streamsof holy life. Whatever Christ has promised to do, He will do, and we must believe this so as to look for pardon, justification,preservation and eternal glory from His hands according as He has promised.
Then comes the next necessary step. Jesus is what He is said to be. Jesus will do what He says He will do. Therefore we must,each one, trust Him, saying, "He will be to me what He says He is and He will do to me what He has promised to do. I leavemyself in the hands of Him who is appointed to save, that He may save me. I rest upon His promise that He will do even asHe has said." This is a saving faith and he that has it, has everlasting life! Whatever his dangers and difficulties; whateverhis darkness and depression; whatever his infirmities and sins, he that believes thus on Christ Jesus is not condemned andshall never come into condemnation. May that explanation be of some service. I trust it may be used by the Spirit of God.
But now I think, as it is a very hot and heavy morning, that I had better give you a number of illustrations, lest anybodyshould be inclined to go to sleep. If anybody should be drowsy, will his neighbor just nudge him a little, for it may be well,while we are here, to be awake-especially with such a subject on hand as this! The illustrations will be such as have beencommonly used and perhaps I may be able to give one or two of my own. Faith exists in various degrees, according to the amountof knowledge, or other cause. Sometimes faith is little more than a simple clinging to Christ-a sense of dependence and awillingness to depend.
When you are down at the seaside, as we might, all of us, wish to be, you will see the limpet sticking to the rocks. You walkwith a soft tread up to the rock with your walking stick and strike the limpet with a rapid blow and off he comes! Try thenext limpet in that way. You have given him warning-he heard the blow with which you struck his neighbor and he clings withall his might. You will never get him off, not you! Strike and strike again, but you may as soon break the rock. Our littlefriend, the limpet, does not know much, but he clings. He cannot tell us much about what he is clinging to-he is not acquaintedwith the geological formation of the rock-but he clings! He has found something to cling to-that is his little bit of knowledge-andhe uses it by clinging to the rock of his salvation! It is the limpet's life to cling!
Thousands of God's people have no more faith than this. They know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul-andthis suffices. Jesus Christ is, to them, a Savior strong and mighty and like a rock, immovable and immutable! They cleaveto Him for dear life and this clinging saves them! God gives to His people the propensity to cling. Look at the sweet peawhich grows in your garden. Perhaps it has fallen down upon the gravel walk. Lift it up against the laurel or the trellis,or put a stick near it and it catches hold directly, because there are little hooks ready prepared with which it grasps anythingwhich comes in its way-it was meant to grow upwards-and so it is provided with tendrils. Every child of God has his tendrilsabout him-thoughts, desires and hopes with which he hooks on to Christ and the promise.
Though this is a very simple sort of faith, it is a very complete and effectual form of it and, in fact, it is the heart ofall faith and that to which we are often driven when we are in deep trouble, or when our mind is somewhat befuddled by ourbeing sickly or depressed in spirit. We can cling when we can do nothing else and that is the very soul of faith! O poor Heart,if you do not yet know as much about the Gospel as we wish you to know, cling to what you do know! If as yet
you are only like a lamb that wades a little into the River of Life, and not like leviathan who stirs the mighty deep to thebottom, yet drink, for it is drinking-not diving-that will save you! Cling, then! Cling to Jesus, for that is faith.
Another form of faith is when a man depends upon another from a knowledge of the superiority of that other and follows him.I do not think the limpet knows much about the rock, but in this next phase of faith there is more knowledge. A blind mantrusts himself with his guide because he knows that his friend can see and, trusting him, he walks where his guide conductshim. If the poor man is born blind, he does not know what sight is, but he knows that there is such a thing as sight and thatit is possessed by his friend and, therefore, he freely puts his hand into the hand of the seeing one and follows his leadership.This is as good an image of faith as we can have-we know that Jesus has about Him merit, power and blessing which we do notpossess and, therefore, we gladly trust ourselves to Him and He never betrays our confidence.
Every boy that goes to school has to exert faith while learning. His schoolmaster teaches him geography and instructs himas to the form of the earth and the existence of certain great cities and empires. The boy does not, himself, know that thesethings are true except that he believes his teacher and the books put into his hands. That is what you will have to do withChrist if you are to be saved-you must know just because He tells you and believe because He assures you it is so-and trustyourself with Him because He promises you that salvation will be the result. Almost all that you and I know has come to usby faith. A scientific discovery has been made and we are sure of it. On what ground do we believe it? On the authority ofcertain well-known men of learning whose reputations are established! We have never made or seen their experiments, but webelieve their witness.
Just so you are to do with regard to Christ. Because He teaches you certain Truths of God you are to be His disciple, believeHis Words and trust yourself with Him. He is infinitely superior to you and presents Himself to your confidence as your Masterand Lord. If you will receive Him and His Words, you shall be saved. Another and a higher form of faith is that faith whichgrows out of love. Why does a boy trust his father? You and I know a little more about his father than he does and we do notrely upon him quite so implicitly. But the reason why the child trusts his father is because he loves him. Blessed and happyare they who have a sweet faith in Jesus intertwined with deep affection for Him! They are charmed with His Character anddelighted with His mission. They are carried away by the loving kindness that He has manifested and now they cannot help trustingHim because they so much admire, revere and love Him.
It is hard to make you doubt a person whom you love. If you are, at last, driven to it, then comes the awful passion of jealousywhich is strong as death and cruel as the grave-but till such a crushing of the heart shall come, love is all trust and confidence.The way of loving trust in the Savior may thus be illustrated. A lady is the wife of the most eminent physician of the day.She is seized with a dangerous illness and is struck down by its power. Yet she is wonderfully calm and quiet, for her husbandhas made this disease his special study and has healed thousands similarly afflicted. She is not in the least troubled, forshe feels perfectly safe in the hands of one so dear to her, in whom skill and love are blended in their highest forms. Herfaith is reasonable and natural-her husband from every point of view deserves it of her.
This is the kind of faith which the happiest of Believers exercise towards Christ! There is no physician like He! None cansave as He can! We love Him and He loves us and, therefore, we put ourselves into His hands, accept whatever He prescribesand do whatever He bids. We feel that nothing can be wrongly ordered while He is the director of our affairs, for He lovesus too much to let us perish, or suffer a single needless pang! Faith also realizes the Presence of the living God and Saviorand thus it breeds in the soul a beautiful calm and quiet like that which was seen in a little child in the time of tempest.Her mother was alarmed, but the sweet girl was pleased. She clapped her hands with delight. Standing at the window when theflashes came most vividly, she cried in childish accents, "Look, mamma! How beautiful! How beautiful!"
Her mother said, "My dear, come away, the lightning is terrible!" But she begged to be allowed to look out and see the lovelylight which God was making all over the sky, for she was sure God would not do His little child any harm. "But listen to theterrible thunder," said her mother. "Did you not say, Mamma, that God was speaking in the thunder?" "Yes," said her tremblingparent. "O," said the darling, "how nice it is to hear Him! He talks very loud, but I think it is because He wants the deafpeople to hear Him. Is it not so, Mamma?" Thus she went talking on, as merry as a bird, was she, for God was real to her andshe trusted Him! To her, the lightning was God's beautiful light and the thun-
der was God's wonderful voice, and she was happy. I dare say her mother knew a good deal about the laws of Nature and theenergy of electricity-and little was the comfort which her knowledge brought her!
The child's knowledge was less showy, but it was far more certain and precious. We are so conceited, nowadays, that we aretoo proud to be comforted by self-evident Truths of God and prefer to make ourselves wretched with questionable theories.Hood sang a deep spiritual truth when he merrily said-
"I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high.
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky.
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm further off from Hea ven
Than when I was a boy."
For my own part I would rather be a child, again, than grow perversely wise. Faith is to be a child towards Christ- believingin Him as a real and present Person-at this very moment near us and ready to bless us. This may seem to be a childish fancy,but it is such childishness we must all come to if we would be happy in the Lord. "Except you be converted, and become aslittle children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." Faith takes Christ at His word, as a child believes hisfather, and trusts Him in all simplicity with past, present and future. God give us such faith!
A firm form of faith arises out of assured knowledge. This comes of growth in Grace and is the faith which believes Christbecause it knows Him. It trusts Him because it has proven Him to be Infallibly faithful. This faith asks not for signs andtokens, but bravely believes! Look at the faith of the master mariner-I have often been amazed at it! He looses his cable;he steams away from the shore. For days, weeks, or even months he never sees sail or shore, yet on he goes, day and night,without fear, till one morning he finds himself just opposite the desired haven towards which he has been steering! How hashe found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted in his compass, his nautical almanac, his glass and the heavenlybodies! And obeying their guidance, without sighting shore, he has steered so accurately that he has not to change a pointto get into port. It is a wonderful thing, that sailing without sight!
Spiritually it is a blessed thing to leave the shores of sight and say, "Good-bye to inward feelings, cheering providences,signs, tokens and so forth! I believe in God and I steer for Heaven straight away." "Blessed are they that have not seen andyet have believed"-to them shall be administered an abundant entrance, at the last, and a safe voyage on the way. This isthe faith which makes it easy to commit our soul and all its eternal interests into the Savior's keeping. One man goes tothe bank and puts his money into it with a measure of confidence, but another has looked into the bank's accounts and hasbeen behind the scenes and made sure of its having a large reserve of well-invested capital-he puts in his money with theutmost assurance! He knows and is established in his faith and so he cheerfully commits his all to the bank.
Even so, we who know Christ are glad to place our whole being in His hands, knowing that He is able to keep us even unto theend. God give us more and more an assured confidence in Jesus until it comes to be an unwavering faith, so that we never doubt,but unquestioningly believe! Look at the farmer-he labors with his plow in the wintry months, when there is not a leaf onthe tree nor a bird that sings to cheer him and after he has plowed, he takes the precious corn from the granary, of which,perhaps, he has very little, and he buries it in the furrows, assured that it will come up again! Because he has seen a harvest50 times, already, he looks for another and in faith he scatters the precious grain. To all appearances, the most absurd thingthat ever was done by mortal man is to throw away good corn, burying it in the ground!
If you had never seen or heard of its results, it would seem the way of waste and not the work of farming, yet the farmerhas no doubts-he longs to be allowed to cast away his seed-in faith he even covets fair weather that he may bury his corn!And if you tell him that he is doing an absurd thing, he smiles at your ignorance and tells you that thus harvests come. Thisis a fair picture of the faith which grows of experience-it helps us to act in a manner contrary to appearances-it leads usto commit our all to the keeping of Christ, burying our hopes and our very lives with Him in joyful confidence that if weare dead with Him, we shall also live with Him. Jesus Christ who rose from the dead will raise us up through His death untonewness of life and give us a harvest of joy and peace!
Give up everything into the hands of Christ and you shall have it back with an abundant increase. May we get so strong a faiththat, as we have no doubt of the rising and setting of the sun, we may never doubt the Savior's working for us in every hourof need! We have already trusted in our Lord and have never been confounded, therefore let us go on to rely upon Him moreand more implicitly-for never shall our faith in Him surpass the bounds of His deserving. Have faith in God and then hearJesus say, "You believe in God, believe also in Me."
II. Thus far I have done my best to answer what faith is. We shall now enquire WHY FAITH IS SELECTED AS THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION"By Grace are you saved through faith." It becomes us to be modest in answering such a question, for God's ways are not alwaysto be understood. But, as far as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of Grace because there is a natural adaptationin faith to be used as the receiver. Suppose that I am about to give a poor man an alms. I put it into his hand-why? Well,it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear, or to lay it upon his foot, the hand seems made on purpose to receive.
So faith in the mental body is created on purpose to be a receiver-it is the hand of the man and there is a fitness in bestowingGrace by its means. Let me put this very plainly. Faith which receives Christ is as simple an act as when your child receivesan apple from you because you hold it out and promise to give it the apple if it comes for it. The belief and the receivingrelate only to an apple, but they make up precisely the same act as the faith which deals with eternal salvation! What thechild's hand is to the apple, that is your faith to the perfect salvation of Christ. The child's hand does not make the apple,nor alter the apple-it only receives it. And faith is chosen, by God, to be the receiver of salvation because it does notpretend to make salvation, nor to help in it, but it receives it.
Faith, again, is no doubt selected because it gives all the credit to God. It is of faith that it might be by Grace and itis of Grace that there may be no boasting, for God cannot endure pride. Paul says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."The hand which receives charity does not say, "I am to be thanked for accepting the gift"-that would be absurd! When the handconveys bread to the mouth, it does not say to the body, "Thank me, for I fed you." It is a very simple thing that the handdoes, though a very necessary thing-but it never arrogates glory to itself for what it does. So God has selected faith toreceive the unspeakable gift of His Grace because it cannot take to itself any credit, but must adore the gracious God whois the Giver of all good.
Next, God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a sure method, linking man with God. When man confides inGod, there is a point of union between them and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling toGod and so brings us into union with Him. I have used the following illustration before, but I must repeat it because I cannotthink of a better. I am told that years ago, above the Falls of Niagara, a boat was upset and two men were being carried downthe current. Persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them heldfast to it and was safely drawn to the bank, but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go of the ropeand clung to the log, for it was the bigger thing of the two and apparently better to cling to.
Alas, the log, with the man on it, went right over the vast abyss because there was no union between the log and the shore.The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it-it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So whena man trusts to his works, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved because there is no connectionbetween him and Christ. But faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hands of the great God on the shore!Infinite power pulls in the connecting line and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith becauseit unites us to God! Faith is chosen, again, because it touches the springs of action. I wonder whether I shall be wrong ifI say that we never do anything except through faith of some sort? If I walk across this platform it is because I believemy legs will carry me.
A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food. Columbus discovered America because he believed that there was anothercontinent beyond the ocean-many another grand deed has also been born of faith, for faith works wonders. Common things aredone on the same principle-faith in its natural form is an all-prevailing force. God gives salvation to our faith becauseHe has thus touched the secret spring of all our emotions and actions. He has, so to speak, taken possession of the batteryand now He can send the sacred current to every part of our nature. When we believe in Christ-and the heart has come intothe possession of God-then are we saved from sin and are moved towards repentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration andevery other gracious thing!
Faith, again, has the power of working by love. It touches the secret spring of the affections and draws the heart towardsGod. Faith is an act of the understanding, but it also proceeds from the heart. With the heart, man believes unto righteousnessand, therefore, God gives salvation to faith because it resides next door to the affections and is near akin to love. Andlove, you know, is that which purifies the soul. Love to God is obedience! Love is holiness! To love God and to love man isto be conformed to the image of Christ-and this is salvation!
Moreover, faith creates peace and joy. He that has it rests, is tranquil, is glad and joyous-and this is a preparation forHeaven. God gives all the heavenly gifts to faith because faith works in us the very life and spirit which are to be eternallymanifested in the upper and better world. I have hastened over these points that I might not weary you on a day when, howeverwilling the spirit may be, the flesh is weak.
III. We close with the third point-HOW CAN WE OBTAIN AND INCREASE OUR FAITH? This is a very earnest question to many. Theysay they want to believe but cannot. A great deal of nonsense is talked upon this subject. Let us be practical in our dealingwith it. "What am I to do in order to believe?" The shortest way is to believe and if the Holy Spirit has made you honestand candid, you will believe as soon as the Truth of God is set before you. Anyway, the Gospel command is clear-"Believe inthe Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." But still, if you have a difficulty, take it before God in prayer. Tell thegreat Father exactly what it is that puzzles you and beg Him, by His Holy Spirit, to solve the question. If I cannot believea statement in a book, I am glad to enquire of the author what he meant, and if he is an honest man, his explanation willsatisfy me. Much more will the Divine explanation satisfy the heart of the true seeker! The Lord is willing to make Himselfknown! Go to Him and see if it is not so!
Furthermore, if faith seems difficult, it is possible that God the Holy Spirit will enable you to believe if you hear veryfrequently and earnestly that which you are commanded to believe. We believe many things because we have heard them so often.Do you not find it so in common life, that if you hear a thing 50 times a day, at last you come to believe it? Some men havecome to believe that which is false by this process, but I should not wonder but what God often blesses this method in workingfaith concerning that which is true, for it is written, "Faith comes by hearing." If I earnestly and attentively hear theGospel, it may be that one of these days I shall find myself believing that which I hear, through the blessed operation ofthe Spirit upon my mind.
If that, however, should seem poor advice, I would add, next, consider the testimony of others. The Samaritans believed becauseof what the woman told them concerning Jesus. Many of our beliefs arise out of the testimony of others. I believe that thereis such a country as Japan-I never saw it and yet I believe that there is such a place because others have been there. I believeI shall die-I have never died, but a great many have done so whom I once knew-and I have a conviction that I shall also die.The testimony of many convinces me of this fact. Listen, then, to those who tell you how they were saved, how they were pardoned,how they have been changed in character-if you will but listen you will find that somebody just like yourself has been saved.
If you have been a thief, you will find that a thief rejoiced to wash away his sins in the fountain of Christ's blood! Youthat have been unchaste in life, you will find that men who have fallen that way have been cleansed and changed! If you arein despair, you have only to get among God's people and inquire a little, and some who have been equally in despair with yourselfwill tell you how He saved them! As you listen to one after another of those who have tried the Word of God and proved it,the Divine Spirit will lead you to believe. Have you not heard of the African who was told by the missionary that water sometimesbecame so hard that a man could walk on it? He declared that he believed a great many things the missionary had told him buthe would never believe that.
When the African came to England it came to pass that one frosty day he saw the river frozen, but he would not venture onit. He knew that it was a river and he was certain that he would be drowned if he ventured upon it. He could not be inducedto walk the ice till his friend went upon it. Then he was persuaded and trusted himself where others had ventured. So, perhaps,while you see others believe and notice their joy and peace, you will, yourself, be gently led to believe. It is one of God'sways of helping us to faith. A still better plan is this-note the Authority upon which you are commanded to believe and thiswill greatly help you. The authority is not mine, or you might well reject it. It is not even the pope's, or you might evenreject that. But you are commanded to believe upon the authority of God Himself! He bids you believe in Jesus Christ and youmust not refuse to obey your Maker!
The foreman of a certain works in the north had often heard the Gospel, but he was troubled with the fear that he might notcome to Christ. His good employer, one day, sent a card round to the works-"Come to my house immediately after work." Theforeman appeared at his employer's door and the man came out and said somewhat roughly, "What do you want, John, troublingme at this hour? Work is done, what right have you here?" "Sir," he said, "I had a card from you saying that I was to comeafter work." "Do you mean to say that merely because you had a card from me you are to come up to my house and call me outafter business hours?" "Well, Sir," replied the foreman, "I do not understand you, but it seems to me that since you sentfor me, I had a right to come."
"Come in, John," said his employer, "I have another message that I want to read to you." And he sat down and read these words-"Comeunto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Do you think after such a message from Christthat you can be wrong in going to Him?" The poor man saw it all at once and believed because he saw that he had good warrantand authority for believing! So have you, poor Soul! You have good authority for coming to Christ, for the Lord, Himself,bids you trust Him! If that does not settle you, think over what it is that you have to believe-that the Lord Jesus Christsuffered in the place of men and is able to save all who trust Him. Why, this is the most blessed fact that ever men weretold to believe! It is the most suitable, the most comforting, the most Divine Truth of God that was ever set before men!
I advise you to think much upon it and search out the Grace and love which it contains. Study the four Evangelists. StudyPaul's Epistles and then see if the message is not such a credible one that you are forced to believe it! If that does notdo, then think upon the Person of Jesus Christ-think of who He is and what He did-and where He is now and what He is now.Think often and deeply. When He, even such an one as He, bids you trust Him, surely your heart will be persuaded! How canyou doubt Him? If none of these things avail, then there is something altogether wrong about you, and my last word is, submityourself to God! May the Spirit of God take away your enmity and make you yield! You are a rebel, a proud rebel, and thatis why you do not believe your God. Give up your rebellion! Throw down your weapons! Yield at discretion and surrender toyour King!
I believe that never did a soul throw up its hands in self-despair and cry, "Lord, I yield," but what faith became easy toit before long. It is because you still have a quarrel with God and intend to have your own will and your own way that youcannot believe. "How can you believe," said Christ, "that have honor one of another?" Proud self creates unbelief. Submit,O man! Yield to your God and then shall you sweetly believe in your Savior. God bless you, for Christ's sake, and bring you,at this very moment, to believe in the Lord Jesus. Amen.