From Faith to Faith, Part 2

The writer of Hebrews declares,

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us … But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 12:1;11:6).

When Christ instructs us to abide in Him as a branch rests in the vine, He is guiding us to totally trust him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This gives us a new appreciation for Colossians 2:6: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord [by grace through faith], so walk in Him [by grace through faith].” God’s righteousness is imputed (justification) and imparted (progressive sanctification) by faith.

Confirming testimonies

Returning to the testimony of Charles Finney, in this quotation we see how he came to learn the importance of dependence on Christ for victorious living:

“… All our battling with desire [lust] by the force of resolution is of no avail; for in all this, however successful the effort to suppress sin may be, in the outward life or in the inward desire, it will only end in delusion, for by force of resolution we cannot love. All such efforts to overcome sin are utterly futile, and as unscriptural as they are futile. The Bible expressly teaches us that sin is overcome by faith in Christ. ‘He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ He is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ [1 Cor. 1:30; John 14:6]. Christians are said to ‘purify their hearts by faith’ (Acts 15:9). And in Acts 26:18 it is affirmed that the saints are sanctified by faith in Christ…

“Every victory over sin is by faith in Christ; and whenever the mind is diverted from Christ, by resolving and fighting against sin, whether we are aware of it or not, we are acting in our own strength, rejecting the help of Christ, and are under a delusion. Nothing but the life and energy of the Spirit of Christ within us can save us from sin, and trust is the uniform and universal condition of the working of this saving energy within us. How long shall this fact be at least practically overlooked by the teachers of religion? How deeply rooted in the heart of man is self-righteousness and self-dependence? So deeply that one of the hardest lessons for the human heart to learn is to renounce self-dependence and trust wholly in Christ.”[2]

Was this insight unique to this famous evangelist of the 1800’s? By no means. Consider these quotes from theologians.

G.C. Berkouwer concluded, “In the bond between faith and sanctification we perceive, no less than in the bond between faith and justification, the pulse-beat of the Gospel. If faith will but lift its blossoms to catch the sunlight of God’s grace, the fruit will be a life imbued with holiness.”[3]

John Owen wrote,

“The only way of receiving supplies of spiritual strength and grace from Jesus Christ, on our part, is by faith. Hereby we come unto Him, are implanted in Him, abide in Him, so as to bring forth fruit. He dwells in our hearts by faith and He acts in us by faith, and we live by faith in or on the Son of God [Eph. 3:17;Gal. 2:20]. This, I suppose, will be granted, that if we receive any thing from Christ, it must be by faith. It must be in the exercise of it, or in a way of believing; nor is there any one word in the Scripture that gives the least encouragement to expect either grace or mercy from Him in any other way, or by any other means.”[4]

When you radically trust in God’s faithfulness, you will be sustained by His strength:

“He [God] gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

So from Scripture and scholars of doctrine we see that our daily Christian walk is energized through God’s Spirit as we believe in Christ’s sufficiency.

Faith: finishing the race

Finally, note that faith is not only the Christian race’s starting point and means of running; it is also the finishing line.

The whole race, from start to finish, is to be run by faith. Paul could say shortly before His home-going, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). The consoling hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” concludes:

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
“Even so”–it is well with my soul.

Now we appreciate why the Epistle to the Romans affirms, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16,17).

The Hymn, “Moment by Moment,” testifies:

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus a new life divine.
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share;
Moment by moment I’m under His care.

Never a weakness that He does not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment in woe or in weal*,
Jesus my Savior abides with me still.

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above.
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine. [5]

Let’s trust fully in Christ as our Savior, Lord, and Life. He graciously gives righteousness to His people–“a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.”

Part 2 of 2

Grace Notes: 2nd edition, vol. 5 #14 March 7, 2003 (1st edition: July 24, 2000).

[1] V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, (Zondervan, 1960), p.39

Part 2

[2] Charles Finney (1792-1875), Power from on High

[3] G.C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification, trans. John Vriend, p. 193.

[4] John Owen, The Glory of Christ, ed. William Goold, The Works of John Owen, vol. 1, p. 459. [Berkouwer and Owen are quoted in The Theology of Sonship, by Neil Williams (World Harvest Mission).

[5] Daniel W. Whittle, “Moment by Moment”

*weal-(Archaic) “well-being; prosperity; happiness”

Copyright 2000 by John Woodward, 3rd edition. Permission is granted to reprint this article if credit is given to the author and Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).

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