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Faith is the most important means of union with the Divine Being. And as our oneness with God is in proportion to our conformity to His nature, our faith will, in general, correspond with the degree of holiness we possess; and as holiness exists before it is made perfect, faith naturally appears in two corresponding forms also. Through the sanctification of our nature, we are changed to the higher form of faith. Accordingly, we read of some who “had cast off their first faith” (1 Timothy 5:12).
Not by advancing to the higher plain of perfect trust, but these had gone back and incurred condemnation; but, as we have observed in reference to “first love,” the same will apply here; “first faith” implies a second faith, a succession of degrees of faith.
The second, or perfected faith, Paul identifies with “the righteousness of God,” “for therein (in the Gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed from (“ek” from or out of) faith to (“eis” literally into) faith” (Romans 1:17). To attain unto the righteousness of God involves a cleansing from “all unrighteousness,” hence entire sanctification and elevation to a perfect trust are coetaneous events, the former is the adaptation and the latter the means of the hidden life of perfect union with God.
This higher phase of faith, or unstaggering trust in the Lord, is also identified with the “more excellent” degree of charity, or “love made perfect.” It is that form of charity that “beareth all things, believeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
We also find it represented by, and used interchangeably with unblameable holiness in the heart and stablishing grace. Saint Paul earnestly besought the Lord that he might be permitted to visit the Thessalonians and “perfect that which was lacking in their faith;” then he continues his prayer that the “Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you, and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one toward another . . . to the end, He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God” (1 Thessalonians 3:10, 13).
This cloudless assurance is set forth as a state to be diligently sought by all Christians: “But we earnestly desire each one of you to show the same diligence for the FULL COMPLETION of the hope to the end” (Hebrews 6:11—Diaglott). The Bible Union, and other versions, render it, “diligence for the full assurance of hope.” It was, therefore, regarded by the Apostles as of urgent necessity.
The Apostle clearly teaches the Hebrew Christians that faith must be raised to, and exercised in, its higher degree in entering into the state of perfect holiness. After assuring them that we have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way,” he extends the invitation to them, saying, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19, 22).
Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Your faith groweth exceedingly.” James also speaks of faith made perfect by works; this doubtless refers to the development of faith by its exercise. But besides the growth of faith, there is a marked change from one degree and condition of faith to another produced by the power of “Him that sanctifieth..” Wherefore, says the Apostle:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
It is in laying off the “close girding,” or inbred sin, by the purgation of the Holy Ghost that the soul is instantly raised to the joyful mount of full and constant assurance. Does not the above distinguish between two conditions of faith, distinctively wrought by the Lord Jesus?
Once more we find the higher phase of Christian experience set forth as a rest of faith, the eternal Sabbath of the soul. For we that have believed do enter into rest (Hebrews 4:2). Thus we have seen that perfect righteousness, perfect holiness, perfect purity, perfect love, and perfect rest of soul are all co-existent with perfected faith. The reason for this is very obvious: faith leads into God’; but sin separates the soul from God, hence, it is only when all sin is removed that faith can merge the soul into the bosom of Deity and give it sweet and abiding rest in the Everlasting Arms. As the cohesive power of cement is weakened by mingled clay, so faith is unable to give the soul perfect union with, and constant rest in God, while the dross of inbred sin remains. As perfect faith naturally exists with the above enumerated qualities, so they naturally result from a finished faith; for such a faith will not move upon a lower plain than full Gospel privilege. Hence, they are all concomitant features of the second work of divine grace in the soul.
While clinging to Jesus with unyielding hold,
How sweetly I dwell in His heavenly fold,
Our union is perfect, all foes we defy;
We cling to each other, my Jesus and I.
The storms may be fearful and Satan assail;
True kindness and love may everywhere fail.
In union immortal, continued on high,
We’ll cling to each other, my Jesus and I.