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What is Faith?
By Herbert W. Armstrong
The whole world is now shaking with convulsions, preparatory to a tremendous event. This present world breakdown, with the greatest, most destructive world war of all history; with its economic collapse, social unrest, religious confusion, is merely the WARNING SIGNAL that the END of the present order is here, -- and that the second coming of CHRIST, to establish a NEW ORDER on earth is now near, even at the very doors!
And speaking of His own second appearing on earth, the Master Himself asked, prophetically: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). When Jesus uttered these words, He was looking into the future, which He could foresee and understand -- down into this very day and generation in which we now live. And seeing -- or FOREseeing, the pitiful weakness in FAITH, -- the almost utter lack of it in OUR day, He asked, "Shall He find faith" -- will there be ANY faith, on the earth at this time?
Certainly we have almost lost sight of real FAITH today. We do not possess it.
Jesus' Faith An Example
When Jesus walked the earth in human flesh, He possessed FAITH! He said, plainly: "Of MYSELF, I can do NOTHING!" Few realize that what He did He did not do in any supernatural power of His own, but literally through FAITH, setting us a beautiful example! He lived in the human flesh, even as you and I. He was subject to all the temptations of the human flesh, even as you and I. And, aside perhaps from a few things such as ability to read men's minds and hearts, Jesus exercised NO POWER during His earthly life that you and I cannot exercise TODAY! He said very PLAINLY "Of myself, I CAN DO NOTHING:" But how contrary that is to what most people suppose today!
Today we hear the EXCUSE for the pitiful lack of faith of this time, that Jesus was employing DIVINE POWER that is denied to us -- that His miracles were performed only to prove that He was the CHRIST! But Jesus Himself said that He gave only ONE supernatural, or miraculous SIGN in proof of His Messiahship, -- that was the sign of the prophet JONAH -- that He would be three days and three nights in His grave, and after this exact duration, RISE AGAIN. And that ONLY sign men deny today, believing He was only one day and two nights in His tomb. And then men alibi their own lack of faith by turning His miracles into a proof they were never intended to be!
How Jesus Performed Miracles
Of Himself, Jesus Himself said He was POWERLESS! "Of MYSELF," He said, "I can do NOTHING!" He said that. It is recorded in your Bible.
But how, then, did He perform His miracles? "The FATHER that dwelleth IN me, He doeth the works," was Jesus' own explanation!
Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, setting the example for you and for me. And, just as WE are PROMISED the gift of the Holy Spirit, WHEN we have thoroughly repented and surrendered, accepted Christ and been baptized in His name as the symbol of our FAITH in His death, burial, and resurrection for us, and also as the symbol of the death and burial of the SELF within us, being raised to a NEW and Spirit-led life in Christ Jesus, -- so -- in like manner, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus after He was baptized. And through the Holy Spirit, God the Father was dwelling WITHIN Him, -- just as He will dwell WITHIN you and me, today, under the same identical condition!
And so, even as you and I may be, Jesus was FILLED with God's Spirit. And thus the power of God, His Father, was literally in Jesus, just as the same identical power of the SAME IDENTICAL LIVING GOD MAY BE WITHIN YOU AND ME TODAY!
And the fact I'm afraid so many do not comprehend, is that UNLESS this same POWER of God -- the Holy Spirit -- the SAME IDENTICAL POWER with which Jesus performed His miracles -- does actually and literally DWELL WITHIN US today, then we are not even converted -- we are not really CHRISTIANS at all, and we have as yet NO SALVATION assured! For, we read in Romans 8:9 -- "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
And so Jesus plainly taught that the miracles HE did were to be done also by ALL true believers, AFTER He had departed to heaven. Notice His plain teaching in John 14:12, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
Notice, He said, because "I go unto my Father!" Why? Notice, John 16:7. "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but If I depart, I will send him unto you."
And who is the "Comforter"? John 14:26 -- "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name."
And so we find that all the apostles and evangelists of the First Century true Church of God DID perform miracles, and even GREATER miracles than Jesus had performed, until even Peter's SHADOW passing over the sick and afflicted caused them to be healed.
Peter, Stephen, Philip, Paul, -- all common, humble, ordinary men of themselves, -- all HAD THAT POWER, my friends, the SAME identical power Jesus had, because they lived and walked CLOSE TO GOD, and were FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT!
And we seem to LACK that power today, not because God denies us that power, but BECAUSE WE ARE SO CLOSE TO A MODERN MATERIALISTIC WORLD -- our minds so filled with the Material interests of THIS life -- our minds and our hearts are SO FAR FROM GOD -- we are so out of touch with Him through lack of enough of the RIGHT kind of surrendered, submissive, and earnest and heart-rending PRAYER -- and consequently, because we are NOT filled with the HOLY SPIRIT! Oh, many today THINK THEY are filled with the Holy Spirit when they have been sadly DECEIVED, and have only a fleshly, and emotional COUNTERFEIT.
If we have God's Holy Spirit, we shall have understanding of the Bible -- we shall have ANSWERS to our PRAYERS -- even miraculous answers, and we shall have them CONTINUALLY. God's Holy Spirit is not given to us as an ORNAMENT to decorate and embellish the PERSON, to bring pleasing sensations and FEELINGS that make us shout, -- that put on a SHOW.
God's Holy Spirit is given to us as the TOOL with which to do the work He has called us to do -- a work of DOING GOOD TO OTHERS -- a work of GIVING, not of GETTING!
And so, now, I want to consider, and to answer, TWO QUESTIONS: 1st, What IS faith? AND 2ND, HOW may we have it, and how may it BE INCREASED?
What Faith Is
Just what is faith? The principle Bible definition is in Hebrews 11:1 -- "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Now notice, Faith is the SUBSTANCE -- the marginal rendering says "ASSURANCE" -- of things HOPED FOR. You do not HOPE for that which you already HAVE. So FAITH comes BEFORE possession.
Once you have RECEIVED the POSSESSION, you no longer HOPE for it. But even before you receive it, you have it in SUBSTANCE -- and that substance -- that ASSURANCE that you SHALL possess it, is FAITH. Then again, faith is an EVIDENCE -- the evidence of things NOT SEEN. Faith PRECEDES the actual receiving of what you ask for. And faith is the EVIDENCE you have, or SHALL have it, BEFORE you even see it. It is the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT YET SEEN. You do not have it. You do not SEE it, or FEEL it -- yet faith is your EVIDENCE that you have or shall have it -- faith is the substance, the ASSURANCE of receiving that you still HOPE for.
How To Know You Are Healed
So I want you to notice, that when you HOPE for things, ASK God for things, there is an EVIDENCE -- a PROOF because evidence IS proof -- that you received what you have asked. And what is that proof -- that evidence? Is it the actual RECEIVING of the answer so you see, or feel, or hear that you have it?
Suppose, for instance you were ill -- taken with a disease. Now Jesus healed the sick continually. And He said, the works that He did -- and this was one of them -- should we do also. Now suppose you ask God to HEAL you. Naturally, you want some EVIDENCE that you are healed.
So what is that evidence, that proof? Is it the evidence of the PAIN CEASING -- or the swelling going down -- something you can FEEL, and SEE? I know a man who says, "When I can SEE anyone healed by direct prayer, then I'll believe in it." This man freely says he WANTS to BELIEVE in it -- he WANTS to have FAITH in it! He is looking for an EVIDENCE that he can SEE -- and he has never seen it yet, and frankly I doubt whether he ever shall! Because what we SEE -- what we FEEL is not the true EVIDENCE. HAVING the thing -- SEEING it -- is not FAITH. Faith precedes possession because FAITH is confidence -- ASSURANCE -- you shall POSSESS IT.
Listen! The human mind, naturally, can receive KNOWLEDGE only through the five senses. These are the five sole channels capable of transmitting knowledge, by natural processes, to the human mind. The senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.
But that, my friends, is not FAITH. Faith is a SPIRITUAL matter, and it has NOTHING TO DO with the five senses, which are physical.
Prayer is a SPIRITUAL matter. God is a SPIRIT. And when we ask, for instance for healing, we do have an evidence -- proof POSITIVE -- that the healing has been done -- but that evidence is not something seen, or felt, or heard -- it is not a PHYSICAL evidence -- it is rather the SPIRITUAL evidence of FAITH. Faith is our evidence.
Or, in reverse, our EVIDENCE we are healed, is FAITH. That is our sole PROOF. But faith PRECEDES that which we see, or feel, or hear, because it is the evidence of things NOT YET seen.
And that is why Jesus said, "These signs shall FOLLOW them that believe" -- and among them was this sign -- "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall RECOVER." That is in Mark 16:17-18, and it is a PROMISE God can't break. But the SIGN -- the thing SEEN -- the healing itself, FOLLOWS the FAITH -- "These signs shall FOLLOW THEM that BELIEVE," Jesus said.
Let's picture a trial in a courtroom. There's a trial on, over a case of illness. The prosecuting attorney is Satan the devil, the attorney for the DEFENSE (of God's Word) is the Holy Spirit, and you yourself, who are taken with a disease, shall be your OWN JURY. Almighty God is the Judge.
You have prayed and asked God to heal you, or perhaps you have followed James 5:14, and called the elders of the church to anoint you and pray for your healing.
As prosecuting attorney, attempting to convict God's Word of falsehood, Satan presents before you, the jury, his EVIDENCE that you are not healed as God's Word has promised, and therefore God's Word is guilty of lying.
"My evidence," says the devil, "is a literal, tangible, evidence that is REAL -- an evidence you can FEEL -- you can SEE for YOURSELF that you are not healed. The pain is still there! In fact, perhaps it has grown worse. You can FEEL it. You can SEE with your own eyes my positive evidence, which PROVES that you are not healed. Now God's Word PROMISED that if you'd pray, you'd be HEALED. You prayed, and you still feel the pain -- you still SEE the condition. YOU ARE NOT HEALED AND YOU KNOW IT! My evidence is ABSOLUTE. Therefore I ask you to bring a verdict that God's Word is GUILTY -- guilty of lying in the first degree!
But now the attorney for the DEFENSE speaks to you -- God's Holy Spirit. "I now present evidence that you ARE healed," He says quietly. "My evidence is simply FAITH -- simple TRUST in the veracity of GOD'S WORD. It is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie. Far more impossible than for you to be healed. It's no difficult task for the Almighty who CREATED you and gave you the breath you breathe to straighten out or repair some little damage that has occurred to the body He created. He has PROMISED it, provided you obey and BELIEVE. The Scripture CAN'T BE BROKEN. It's IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie. Regardless of the PHYSICAL evidences of sight or feeling, which often are misleading and deceptive, God's word says you ARE healed, and your FAITH in that word, is MY evidence that you HAVE your healing, regardless of how you feel or what you see. And if you'll simply stop LOOKING at the material evidence with your eyes, or paying attention to what you FEEL, and look only at GOD'S WORD, and His PROMISES, and accept FAITH in His Word as the TRUE evidence, I call upon you to render a verdict of HEALED -- a verdict that God's Word is NOT GUILTY of lying."
The evidence is all in. The Almighty God calls now upon YOU to render your own verdict, and He will pass sentence and cause your verdict, whichever it is, to be EXECUTED and CARRIED OUT!
You must render your verdict based upon the EVIDENCE. Which, now, is the evidence you believe? That which you see, and feel -- the physical evidences that often are deceptive, or your faith that God's Word is true, His promises are sure, that it is impossible for God to lie.
If you BELIEVE this latter SPIRITUAL evidence, and reject the physical evidences of sight and of feeling, God will pronounce sentence that His Word has been VINDICATED by your verdict -- and direct that you be released from the disease, and what He directs shall be carried out.
But, if you decide that the physical evidences of sight or feeling are to be trusted in over and above the Word of ALMIGHTY GOD -- and you REJECT His Word and His promise, and refuse to BELIEVE in it, -- refuse, in other words, to accept and trust in the evidence of FAITH, then you yourself must render your verdict according to the evidence, and your own verdict will be "NOT HEALED -- God's Word is GUILTY of lying!"
George Mueller's Definition
You see, God does not PROMISE healing, or anything else, unless we BELIEVE. "According to your FAITH be it unto you," said Jesus. And remember the FAITH must precede and therefore is a condition to the possession.
Now let me give you George Mueller's definition. George Mueller is dead, now, but he probably was the greatest modern apostle of FAITH. He founded five great orphanages and other charitable institutions in Bristol, England. He started out, as FAITH always does, with a very small work, without any financial backing, and absolutely NO means of support, except to get down on his knees, and send up a BELIEVING PRAYER TO GOD. For nearly seventy years George Mueller continued that great work, and it grew into a tremendous institution until it housed THOUSANDS. Every dime for feeding, clothing, sheltering, and schooling those thousands of orphans came in only one way -- as a result of BELIEVING prayer. George Mueller never sent out a plea for money. He never begged for money. No, he didn't NEED to, and no true servant of God EVER needs to!
Altogether he received more than a million four hundred thousand POUNDS -- that is about SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS -- that was SENT to him, in answer to his prayers!
And so when George Mueller gives us his definition of FAITH, we may well listen for he spoke from a rich experience, and his definition is a practical one, because it WORKED, to the extent of $7,000,000 -- all used in a ministration of LOVE and MERCY. And here is his definition of faith, -- and incidentally, ever since I read it, some fourteen years ago, it has been MINE, and OUR work has been built by putting into actual practice! Listen!
"FAITH is the ASSURANCE that the things which God said in His Word are TRUE! And that God WILL ACT according to what He has said IN HIS WORD. This assurance, this RELIANCE ON GOD'S WORD, this confidence, is FAITH!" That's George Mueller's definition! And it is a true Bible definition. Romans 4:21 -- "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."
Learning God's Will
My friends, WHATEVER your need, the first thing to do, to be sure of receiving an answer to your prayer, is to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES, to LEARN whether it is God's will. Ephesians 5:17 -- "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
The Bible reveals God's will. We need NEVER say "Well, I know God could heal me IF IT IS HIS WILL." You can KNOW His will. And so far as healing is concerned, I can tell you definitely that His Word says plainly and emphatically it IS His will.
The Bible is FULL of promises. Literally full of them. If you NEED anything, study to see whether God has PROMISED it, and if he has, HE CAN'T BREAK A PROMISE!
The Importance Of Claiming A Promise
I remember one time several years ago my two sons came to me and asked me to do something for them -- I don't remember now what. They were then around seven and nine years old. I do remember I didn't want to do it.
"But, Daddy, YOU PROMISED?" they said, "and you've GOT TO KEEP YOUR PROMISE."
And then I remembered I HAD promised. Well, what do you think? Do you think they got what they asked? Do you think I could break a PROMISE when my two sons came to me and put it like THAT? No, and if you'll JUST AS BOLDLY TELL GOD HE HAS PROMISED, and then CLAIM that promise as applied to your case, and TRUST God to keep it, and quit WORRYING about it -- quit trying to WORK UP faith -- just RELAX, and LET GOD take over from there on -- leave it with Him -- let Him Do it -- HE'LL do it, every time!
I know whereof I speak, because I've put what I'm now telling you to the test not once, but literally hundreds and thousands of times, and God has never failed to keep His promise once. I've seen the answers come so often and so frequently I EXPECT the answer when I ask.
God promises to supply every need. That if we'll seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS -- which is right DOING -- He will provide every MATERIAL need.
This Work A Living Example Of Faith
This work, "The WORLD TOMORROW" broadcast and "The PLAIN TRUTH" magazine, which now has grown to national and international scope and influence, started as small as any work could start -- literally from NOTHING. It has been from NOTHING. It has been from the start 100% a WORK OF FAITH -- and we had to really LEARN this lesson of faith before it had even started.
I had been rather successful, for a young man, in business before God literally took me out of it and placed me, in spite of myself, in His work. As a young man I had been not only ambitious, energetic and hard-working -- I had about as big a dose of SELF-CONFIDENCE as any young fellow could have. I had supreme FAITH -- in myself. I was going to be a very important man some day, -- so I thought. But for seven years the Eternal God put me through a process of punishment -- economic punishment -- such as words could hardly describe.
During that process I came to lose ALL FAITH in Herbert Armstrong. All self-confidence and self-reliance fled utterly and completely from me. I felt completely down, and out. I was as discouraged as a man could become. We came to the place where we were FORCED by the sheer weight of circumstances, to throw ourselves upon God's mercy, and to TRUST Him for direct and immediate answer to prayer!
And the answer came -- not once, but over and over again. The Eternal God was causing me to turn to Him -- I was just beginning to understand the Bible -- and through this experience a NEW confidence was born -- no longer a self-confidence -- that was gone forever -- but a new and DIFFERENT, and far stronger confidence -- FAITH IN GOD and in HIS WORD!
And from the beginning -- utterly without MATERIAL means, but RICH in a FAITH born of deep experience -- this present work has grown. All the funds to keep this work God has called us to conduct come now, as they always have come, BY SHEER FAITH IN GOD'S PROMISES -- and as a result of ANSWERED PRAYER. And you never hear us beg for money over the air, nor is there any HINT of a request for it in The PLAIN TRUTH or any of the literature we send out -- it's all FREE -- and God supplies the means. FAITH is not faith in SELF -- it is NOT self-confidence, or faith in other people. God instructs us NOT to put our trust in man -- not even our best friends -- have love, or CHARITY or PATIENCE with them, but put your FAITH in God!
Why People Lack Faith
And now, very briefly, WHY don't we have FAITH, and HOW may we get it, and how may it BE INCREASED?
So, many say, "Well, I have no impression -- I have no feeling, no CONVICTION, that I shall get the answer."
We want to wait until we get a certain CONVICTION, a certain FEELING, a sort of assurance we can FEEL -- before we really believe we shall have the answer.
But, my friends, THAT is not faith! That is FEELING!
Your feeling, your convictions, your impressions, have absolutely not ONE THING TO DO WITH FAITH. FAITH HAS ONLY TO DO WITH GOD'S WORD! The one question is, HAS GOD PROMISED IT IN THE BIBLE? If He has, then probabilities, possibilities, feelings, convictions, impression, HAVE NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH IT. God has a thousand ways we know nothing of, of answering, and providing whatever He has promised. We don't HAVE TO SEE HOW He is going to do it.
And another thing, He almost NEVER will do it the WAY we expect. So don't TRY to figure out HOW it is possible for God to do it. You are trusting in SUPERNATURAL POWER. Then BELIEVE in that power. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. What He has promised, He will perform, but He will do it HIS way, and in HIS TIME. Leave all that to HIM, and just TRUST HIM. Rely upon His Word.
And let us remember, Faith is the GIFT OF GOD. Notice I Corinthians 12:8-9 -- "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of Wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit."
Notice Ephesians 2:8 -- "For by grace are ye saved though faith."
So many think that everything else that comes from God is His Gift, but the FAITH required to RECEIVE all these things is something we ourselves must somehow work up, or strain and strive for. But we have to just relax and TRUST GOD, even for the FAITH by which we receive everything else!
In Revelation 14:12 is a description of the true Church of THIS day. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
These in this church have the FAITH OF JESUS. Notice, the FAITH OF JESUS. It is not just OUR faith in HIM, but HIS faith -- the very faith with which He performed His miracles, placed IN US, and ACTING in us.
How can you get it? Draw closer to God. Get to KNOW God. Surrender ALL THE WAY TO HIM, and to DO His will. And then PRAY. You get to KNOW HIM IN PRAYERS. We are too close to the MATERIAL things. Through PRAYER, MUCH more prayer, you can come closer to GOD and the SPIRITUAL THINGS. And what a HAPPY, JOYOUS experience it is, once you have really done it!
What Kind of Faith is Required for Salvation?
DO YOU KNOW? Do you have it? "By grace are ye saved though FAITH," Ephesians 2:8. The Bible, however tells of which will SAVE!
No SUBJECT pertaining to Christian salvation is more generally misunderstood than that of saving FAITH!
Just "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," is the popular teaching today. And that statement is absolutely true -- if you understand what kind of BELIEVING is required!
Unfortunately millions are being deceived -- led to trust in a faith that will never save one single soul by a very popular, and very false teaching.
It is customary to quote only a PART of the Scriptures on this subject, -- reading a false meaning into them -- and thus by subtle half-truths popular teachings shackle most of Christendom to spiritual blindness and deception.
Do These Scriptures Contradict?
God does not usually reveal all the truth respecting a particular subject in any one passage alone. "Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? . . . precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little," Isaiah 28:9-10. To understand any general subject in the Bible, it is necessary to view all the scriptural evidence touching that particular subject. And we cannot read our inherited or desired meaning into any particular passage; for "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation," II Peter 1:20, but each passage is interpreted by, and in the light of, other texts.
For example. It is quite popular to quote Romans 3:20: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight," and from this passage alone assume that salvation comes by faith in disobedience to the law! Those who thus interpret this passage never tell you that in Romans 2:13 the same Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS of the law shall be justified."
Is there contradiction here? If the one Scripture is intended to reveal that we do not have to make an effort to obey God's Law to be justified and then saved -- but that we are saved by faith without obedience to God's Law, then, indeed, God contradicts Himself in His Word! And if you wish to make Romans 3:20 say that, you must consistently acknowledge there is contradiction in the Scriptures; and if this be true, you have no basis for your faith!
Again, Ephesians 2:8-9, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." But those who quote this text so freely to teach the doctrine of "no works," never tell you that the same inspired Scriptures say also:
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? -- Even so FAITH, if it hath not works, is DEAD, being alone -- I will show thee my faith BY my works. Thou BELIEVEST that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, AND tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is DEAD," James 2:14-20.
It Takes A Living Faith!
There is no contradiction here!
Rather, by putting all the Scriptures on the subject of "Saving Faith" together, we learn that there are TWO KINDS of faith. And the kind so blindly trusted in by the majority of this day is nothing but a DEAD faith -- and a DEAD faith never will save one soul!
James continues: "Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how FAITH wrought with his works, and BY WORKS was faith made perfect? -- Ye see then how that BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, and not by faith only?" James 2:21-24.
The teaching here is plain. Not that we are saved by works instead of faith. No, NEVER! We are saved by FAITH! But faith wrought with our works -- and BY WORKS, our FAITH IS MADE PERFECT! That is LIVING FAITH!
Why do we even need salvation? Because we have SINNED, and the penalty of sin is DEATH!
But how have we sinned? What is sin, anyhow? "Sin is the transgression of THE LAW," is God's answer, I John 3:4.
"Yes," answers the victim of modern fables, "but we are not under the law today, but UNDER GRACE!" Why certainly! "What then?" asks the inspired Paul, "shall we SIN" -- transgress the LAW -- "because we are not under the law, but under grace?" And Paul's answer is, "GOD FORBID!" Romans 6:15. And again, "Shall we continue in SIN" -- transgressing the law -- "that grace may abound? GOD FORBID! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1-2.
The law has a penalty -- DEATH. It is those who are sinning that are UNDER IT! And those who, through repentance, obedience and FAITH have turned from disobedience and are, through faith, KEEPING the law, are the only ones that are UNDER GRACE!
God's Spiritual Mirror
Let us understand it! "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." No, certainly not! That Scripture is 100% true, and there is no contradiction! You cannot be justified by the deeds of the law -- not at all!
WHY? The last half of this same verse gives the answer -- why do most preachers never quote it? "For by the law is the KNOWLEDGE of sin," Romans 3:20. THAT'S WHY!
The purpose of the law is not to forgive, to justify, to wash away, to cleanse. Only THE BLOOD OF CHRIST can do that! Sin is the transgression of the law -- that's what sin is. The purpose of the law is to tell us what sin is -- to define it -- to REVEAL it, so we can quit it.
All women ought to understand this. In every woman's handbag is a little mirror. She knows what it is for. Every little while she takes out this mirror and steals a glance at her face. Sometimes it reveals a speck of dirt. And we might truthfully say, "by the use of these mirrors are no dirty faces washed clean." You women understand what we mean! But do you throw your mirrors away because by them your faces are not washed? Of course not -- what a silly question it seems, when applied to a MATERIAL case! And if we ask you WHY your faces are not washed clean by your mirrors, you answer: "Because by the mirror comes the KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIRT."
God's LAW is His spiritual mirror. We look into it, and see the dirt on our hearts! But by looking at the law, or keeping it, no dirt is WASHED from our hearts -- only Christ's BLOOD can do that. By the law comes the KNOWLEDGE OF SIN!
Listen to James explain it! "But be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect LAW of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed," James 1:22-25.
Is It Possible To Keep The Law?
But, argues the "No Law" deceiver, "no man can keep the Commandments. It is not humanly possible! Since FAITH has come, we keep no law -- faith has made it VOID."
Thus even "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of LIGHT. Therefore it is no great thing if HIS MINISTERS also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness -- For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of CHRIST," II Corinthians 11:13-15.
"Do we then make void the law through faith?" comes the question, in inspired Scripture -- and the answer: "GOD FORBID: yea, we ESTABLISH THE LAW!" Romans 3:31.
Yes, faith establishes the Law! By keeping it is faith make PERFECT!
Yet, can we keep the Commandments? Is it possible? Satan's "No Law" deceivers say no! What is the PLAIN TRUTH?
A man came to Jesus and asked how to be saved. The Saviour Himself replied, "If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS," Matthew 19:17. "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying Who then can be saved?' But Jesus beheld them and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible" verses 25-26.
There is Christ's own answer! With man it is impossible -- utterly impossible, to really KEEP His Commandments. But -- here's the blessed truth -- WITH GOD, it is possible, even to keep His Commandments. Do you begin to see it? IT TAKES FAITH! Faith in the power of GOD! And, just as your own diligent effort coupled with faith makes faith perfect, so faith coupled with your effort makes PERFECT OBEDIENCE! The two go hand in hand. And you cannot have the one, without the other!
A LIVING FAITH -- the only kind that will SAVE -- is an active faith -- one that TRUSTS GOD to make it possible to OBEY HIM -- to live the true Christian life -- to KEEP His blessed Commandments!
Think! Could a just God command men to do what it is IMPOSSIBLE to do? Or can we conceive of Jesus as a smart-aleck young man who knew more than His FATHER'S Commandments? How absurd! Yet this is the popular conception today!
The Law Is Eternal
God's Law is not a horrible monster! Just and right laws are a terror only to the criminal -- they are made to PROTECT the good! God's law is PERFECT, Psalm 19:7, it is a SPIRITUAL LAW, Romans 7:14, HOLY, and just, and good, Romans 7:12. ALL His commandments are SURE, and stand fast FOREVER AND EVER, Psalm 111:7-8. Don't you believe it, when men tell you differently!
God's Law is, simply, LOVE! It is the perfect way of life. Every particle of human suffering, unhappiness, misery and death has come solely from its transgression! It was given to make man HAPPY, and is the only philosophy of life that can do so! It came from a God of LOVE, and LOVE is the fulfilling of the law!
But not YOUR own natural love! It requires "the love of GOD, shed abroad in our hearts BY THE HOLY GHOST," Romans 5:5. God has, and will give you the love that will fulfill His law! And so, praise His blessed Name -- it is possible, through FAITH, and the GIFT of God, for man to keep His commandments. And whoever claims differently, God calls a plain LIAR, I John 2:4.
The true Commandment-keeper is forced to trust God to make obedience possible. And thus faith does not void, but establishes the Law! And to keep the law requires FAITH!
A thrilling example of this eternal truth is recorded in the Book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, erected a great golden image.
"Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at the time ye hear the sound . . . , ye fall down and worship the golden image'," Daniel 3:4-5. "And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace!" verse 6.
Set over the affairs of the province of Babylon were Daniel's three young Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. One of the Commandments of God's eternal spiritual law forbids such worship of images.
Had you been in their place, what would YOU have done? Would you not have said, "Well, I have to bow down to this image -- I have to do it or be killed!" And perhaps you would have excused yourself by reasoning thus: "I don't think God would be fair if He punished me for this, when He knows I am FORCED to do it. Anyway, He tells us to be subject to the power of the state!" Yes, it is easy to use reason to excuse disobedience to God. But God is not looking for chances to punish us -- but rather for opportunities to SAVE us through faith! To save us from the folly of SIN, and the sad consequences our own acts impose! Whatever we sow we shall reap. God's Law is intended to protect us from suffering. It is not GOD who punishes us when we do wrong -- it is merely our own acts rebounding like a boomerang!
But these three young Jews knew the truth -- that we should OBEY GOD, rather than men -- that through FAITH God makes it possible. When they firmly REFUSED to bow down to worship the king's image, Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded them brought before him, verse 13.
Listen to the quiet, trusting, unafraid answer of these lads: "O Nebuchadnezzar, -- our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace!" verses 16-18.
Sometimes God tries our faith. He tried theirs. You might think He should be expected to have fixed it all up at once on the spot, but He permitted their faith to be tested.
"Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed; . . . therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated . . . Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments," -- surely the God whom they trusted would have them released now? But no -- there was no physical evidence whatever that God so much as heard. -- "and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace!" verses 19-21.
The furnace was so hot the flames leaped out and slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And they fell down "bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace!"
God permitted them actually to be thrown in! Was He unmindful of those who trusted in Him to make possible the keeping of His Commandments? Not GOD!
The king looked into the furnace, and said "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of GOD!" verse 25. So Nebuchadnezzar came near the mouth of the furnace, and called to them.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither! Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire . . . . these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and DELIVERED his servants that TRUSTED IN HIM!" verses 26-28.
THERE was an example of living FAITH! A faith that TRUSTED God to make it possible to live the way of His Law! Yes, WITH GOD, it is possible to keep all His Commandments -- and don't let any man deceive you to the contrary!
Can You Believe and Worship CHRIST IN VAIN?
When God's Word says, "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," it does not mean the DEAD faith now popularly taught! The common teachings of this day distorts this to mean a mere belief in the FACTS of Christ's existence, His sacrifice, and His saving work. Just accept those FACTS, and accept HIM -- without any obedience to God's Laws! But the devils believe these things -- and they TREMBLE.
Christ was the Messenger of the New Covenant -- a Messenger sent from God. You cannot BELIEVE on such a divine Messenger, unless you believe, and obey the MESSAGE that He brought! "If thou wilt enter into LIFE," was His teaching "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!"
"REPENT," said the inspired Peter, and then believe and be baptized for the remission of sins, and "ye SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," Acts 2:38. God gives His Holy Spirit only to them that OBEY HIM, Acts 5:32. And His Holy Spirit is the LOVE which God gives us to fulfill and to keep His Commandments! And it all comes BY FAITH!
Christ came to save us FROM, not in, our sins! To FREE US from the enslavement of sin and the unhappiness and wretchedness it brings -- not to make us free to commit sin!
Is it possible to BELIEVE in Christ -- to worship Him -- in the customary manner of the day, and yet be lost? Christ Himself says, "YES!"
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord! Lord!' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven," He said, Matthew 7:21.
Hear Him again! "Howbeit IN VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men!" Mark 7:7-8.
There it is! From Jesus' own lips! Such a dead faith -- such worship -- is IN VAIN! Those who trust in it, and in the men and denominations which teach it, ARE LOST! And the quicker we come to realize it, the better!
God's PURPOSE in salvation is to rescue men from SIN, and its resulting unhappiness, misery, and death! To REPENT of sin is the first step! Then the BLOOD OF CHRIST, upon acceptance and faith, cleanses of all past sins. And by faith we are kept from sin in the future. Thus the resulting righteousness is of FAITH -- the righteousness imparted from God. We are not justified BY THE LAW -- we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ! But this justification will be given only on condition that we REPENT of our transgressions of God's Law -- and so it is, after all only the DOERS of the law that shall be JUSTIFIED, Romans 2:13. How plain, and how beautiful is God's TRUTH!