The faith-faculty was given to man at His first creation. Adam believed God and was obedient and happy, and the first thing that the wily tempter attacked, and, alas, with too much success, was man's faith. |Yea,| hath God said, and |Ye shall not surely die.| First, a question. Then, a doubt of God's truth; then, a doubt of His love, and the rest was easy. Man stood so long as he did stand by faith. He fell when he did fall by unbelief.
God could not be God if He did not have faith in Himself. Man could not be the child of God if he did not have faith in God. Faith binds us in the closest spiritual union with our Father in heaven. Unbelief severs this bond of union and separates us from our Creator and Redeemer. Beloved, let us have faith in God.
|Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.| This is the Christian's pedigree. It is true that in a broad and subordinate sense all men are the children of God since He created them all. And this was known even to a Greek poet, as quoted by Paul at Athens, |For we are also His offspring.| But we must not fail to remember that in John's gospel we have this statement, viz: |As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.| So that it is through faith that we become the children of God, not only by creation, not only by adoption, but by birth, |Ye must be born again.| |Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.| |He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.| Now, the faith-faculty, or the grace of faith, or the power of believing God's truth, when it is presented, is given to all mankind. But the exercise of that power which is actual and saving faith, often requires the cooperation of the human will. And, therefore, God commands us to believe, and holds us responsible for obedience to that command. |He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.| R.V.
Thus, it is that we are saved by faith. And this is true not only in religion, but in science as well, and not in science only, but in daily life and daily business as well. Many of the well-established truths of science are matters of faith, and not of demonstration. All intelligent people believe that there is a hidden force which they call the attraction of gravitation. Nobody can tell what it is, nobody can prove its existence. It is received and adopted by faith, and serves as an excellent working hypothesis. That is all. Those who accept the undulatory theory of light are necessitated to believe that all space is pervaded by an exceedingly tenuous fluid which is called ether, and that it is in this medium that the waves of light from self- luminous bodies are produced. Nobody has demonstrated the existence of this ether. It is, for the present, accepted by faith, and explains the phenomena of light better than any other hypothesis propounded. Science is saved by faith. The home is saved by faith. If want of confidence comes between the husband and wife, or between parents and children, farewell to all the enjoyment of home life.
Finance, commerce, trade are all saved by faith. When business men, manufacturers or merchants lose faith in one another, or in their government, investments cease, machinery stops, panics occur, and hard times are complained of. As faith is the bond that binds men to God, so it is the bond that binds men one to another. When confidence is lost, all is lost. Even a solvent bank may be broken, from a sudden run upon it, caused by want of faith. Now, as faith is the substance of things hoped for, because it makes them real, as it is the evidence of things not seen, because it convinces the mind of the actual existence of the invisible, let us apply this thought to the matter in hand that, namely, of entire sanctification.
Paul in his valedictory to the Ephesian elders said to them, |And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified,| and in the commission to Paul himself the Saviour says, |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.| And as mentioned elsewhere, sanctification of the Spirit is used by the apostle in direct connection with belief of the truth. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the instrumental means of entire sanctification is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. |This is the confidence,| says the beloved John, |that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us, and if we know that He hear us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.|
Let the consecrated believer, then, ask for a clean heart, ask for perfect love, ask for entire sanctification, ask for the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and he knows he is asking according to the will of God. Then, according to John, he knows that he is heard, and knows also by faith, because it is God's promise that he has the petitions he desired of Him. That is to say, when he thus prays, he is to put forth the act of faith, by an actual volition and will to believe that he has the clean heart, the perfect love, the entire sanctification, the Holy Ghost baptism, which he asked for. And this will be honoring God by taking Him at His word. It will be the first evidence that he is sanctified wholly, the evidence of faith, and the other evidence, the witness of the Spirit may be prayed for and waited for, but, in the meantime, he can and must rely with unwavering confidence upon the evidence or witness of faith alone. God never sends the witness of the Spirit till we honor Him by accepting the witness of faith.
I said we must believe by an act of the will. And some reader may object to this statement by asserting that faith or belief is not a matter of volition, but a matter of evidence. But I am not asking any one to believe without evidence. I am asking him simply to give its rightful force to the evidence. It is not for want of evidence that any earnest, consecrated seeker is failing to believe that Christ is able and willing to sanctify him wholly, and to do it now. He asserts it in many forms and repeats it again and again as His Divine will that His people should be holy, and if He is not able to make them holy here and now, His omnipotence is impugned, and if He is not willing to make them holy here and now, He must desire them to continue longer in sin, which thought would impugn His own holiness.
No, it is not for want of evidence, but because the faith-faculty has become weakened and paralyzed by sin, and now we must determine to believe, by putting our will on to the side of faith, and allowing it, no longer, to remain on the side of unbelief. Many a seeking soul has come out into the fullness of salvation by singing the hymn:
|I can, I will, I do believe
That Jesus saves me now.|
The man who came to Jesus with his right hand withered, was told to stretch it forth. He might have said where is my evidence that it will do any good to try? But he put his will into the obedient attitude. He willed to stretch it forth, and made the effort, and with the obedient will the power came from Jesus, and he stretched it forth and was restored. To every one of weak and paralyzed faith, I say, nay, Jesus says, |Stretch forth thy hand of faith, I am here to be responsible for the result.| Believe and receive and confess and rejoice. Beloved, we are sanctified by faith. Glory to the Lamb.