CHAPTER 20 -- The Word of Faith
"So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Rom. 10: 17.
Here is the simple answer to the question, How does faith arise in the soul? The Spirit, the author of faith, uses for this purpose a means, and that means is the word. It cannot be otherwise. The Spirit does not work apart from the faculties of man, but by means of them. His supernatural power makes use of the natural gifts which remain to man after his sin, renews and sanctifies them. By awakening desire, He bends the will; by presenting the loveliness of Jesus, He works upon the affections; and thus also, when He works faith, He does so by presenting the truth, in order thereby to awaken confidence.
I take it for granted that my reader is one who has been awakened; who, desiring to be saved, is looking out for rescue; who longs to be freed from his sin, and asks, How, pray, do
I come to faith in Jesus? The answer is, By the word. But what am I to do with the word? Do with it what you should do with any ordinary message which you cannot at once believe. Suppose that tidings is brought to you of a great inheritance which comes to you. You had not been expecting it, and cannot believe that so great happiness and wealth have fallen to your lot. What are you to do? You will inquire if the messenger is trustworthy. If you are sure of this point, in order to obtain all certainty, you will ask him once and again and again to say that you are the person intended; or if he has brought a letter of conveyance or a will, you will read it repeatedly. And thus, by explanation and confirmation of his message, you will become convinced and will believe. This is just: faith is by the word.
Not otherwise is it in divine things.
When the message comes to you, Jesus is a Savior for sinners, also for you, do you ask if you are to believe Him who speaks? The answer is, Yes: for He is the true God. Do you ask if there is no misunderstanding, or if you are really the person intended? Yes: for the message is to every sinner. Then does it become your duty to listen earnestly to the message; to ask repeatedly, yea unceasingly -- for the matter is of moment -- Shall I or shall I not believe? And the more you simply take the word, read and read again the message of God, contemplate one after another the promises with which God has made it sure that the Savior is for every sinner, the sooner shall you feel constrained to say, It is true; God says it; I must believe it.
O, poor sinner, pray cease to ask what your own heart feels, as one who would be saved. Cease to seek the ground of faith in yourselves. Attend now to the word: Jesus is the Savior of sinners. Listen to it again and yet again. Let your soul become occupied the whole day with the thought: God says it; it must be. And continue with this, the more wretched and dark the condition of your heart may be. Ask simply from day to day, What says the word? Take and carry that word in your heart, and you shall speedily experience that "faith is by the word" And so far from making you think that faith is thus a work of your own power will such activity be, that you shall acknowledge that it is by the word the Spirit works. Your use of the word gives you reason, gives you right, to hope for His help. You shall experience how little faith is merely a reasoning of the intellect,but at the same time how faithful God is to bestow His grace on the use of means, and to crown with His blessing the soul that honors His word.