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The Nature of Faith: Ch. 3 of ‘Faith Is Substance’

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Faith Is Substance

Copyright © 20021

Percy Gutteridge

New Covenant Language,
Old Covenant Experience

Image for 'Faith Is Substance,' chapter 3What is the nature of faith?2

The true weakness of the evangelical fundamentalism of today is that it exercises New Covenant speech from an Old Covenant experience. This is a recurring problem in the Church, and it is only solved for many when the Holy Spirit comes into the midst of His people in revival power, and reigns sovereignly as Lord. There is too much mechanical Christianity.

A fundamentalist in this sense is one who believes that a person is born of God, is in Christ, and is a spiritual man indwelt by the Holy Spirit because he believes in the infallibility of the Scriptures and accepts all of the fundamental truths taught therein. But the true son of God has not been made so by the Bible. The Bible cannot give life, but only point the way to life. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Life, and He alone can give it. He gave this life to many thousands in the early days of the Church, before ever the New Testament was written, and when the great majority of the Church, being of the poorest class, were unable to read the Scriptures of the Old Testament either in the Hebrew or the Greek.

The Pharisees worshipped the Torah, and placed it above the Messiah. They believed in all of the miracles recorded in the Scriptures, but refused to believe in even one miracle performed by the Son of God before their eyes. They were dispensationalists. They had compressed the almighty and eternal God into a number of Scriptural, reasonable, theological, hermetically-sealed, water-tight compartments. They said that signs and wonders used to happen, and that to be sound, one must believe this. Miracles, they said, do not happen any more, but what is happening must be put down either to human imagination stimulated by emotion, or to the devil. Jesus said to them, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39,40). The Lord was saying to them that eternal life is not in the Scriptures, which are given to reveal Him in whom alone is eternal life. These Pharisees, typical of that kind of fundamentalism of which they are the biblical figure, thought that eternal life lay in the believing, the perusing, and the learning by heart of the Scriptures. They placed Scripture above the Person to whom it was only the guide—the way to the only Way to God.

It is true that a regenerate person, a child of God, believes in the full inspiration of the Bible; but it is untrue to assume that because one accepts the inspiration of the Scriptures, and consequently its truths, therefore one must be a child of God. All of God’s children are born from above, not from anything below, whether it be flesh or blood, the sincere will of man, or even the Scriptures. They are born only through spiritual conception by the Holy Spirit.  Yet people are taught by some that if they believe the truth of a certain scripture, then automatically they have the experience referred to in that scripture.  This is not the faith of God; it is human believe-ism.

Too many have abandoned the position of being subject to the law of Moses, only to be subjected to a new code of laws concocted for them from the writings of Paul by well-meaning people. They are still under the law. Their life then consists of Scriptural legalities, and they test themselves and each other by outward conformity to certain inspired Pauline words of advice; whereas the true test of the life is the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit—practical holiness, which is positive righteousness motivated by love. They have that withdrawing and repelling thing, legal righteousness. But “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). The Word of God says, “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Man’s side of the Old Covenant was that he should keep the law.  The law was given in great clarity, and engraved in letters upon tablets of stone. But while the Lord Jehovah was confirming the law and writing it Himself, the people were breaking it.  Moses confirmed that they had already done this and had broken the covenant, when he himself smashed the engraved terms of the covenant to pieces (Exodus 32:19). This was the giving of law by letter; there is always death in the letter of the law. The Lord God of Israel then bade the sons of Levi to go through the camp and slay the breakers of the law, “and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exodus 32:27,28). Truly, “the letter killeth.” This is the Old Covenant of law, out of which we come into the New Covenant of Grace, the law being “our schoolmaster [Greek: paidagōgos— “child conductor”] to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). But what a different heralding there is to the Covenant of Grace!

There is an old Jewish tradition that Pentecost is the anniversary of the original giving of the law. If that is true, then it makes the descent of the Holy Spirit, recorded in the second chapter of Acts, even more interesting. The Holy Spirit was given by the Father, and was received by the Son so that He might shower His love-gift upon all believers as the pledge and earnest of their inheritance under the New Covenant. So He confirmed His covenant by reversing the sentence of death under the Old Covenant of law, because the “Spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:16); and “the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). The nature of faith under the New Covenant is in the Spirit—not under the letter of a law. We are not brought to new birth by the acceptance of a formula—even though it be a statement of truth taken from the Bible—but by an act of the Holy Spirit who, in Almighty power, effects the new birth from above. It is a miracle.

The Realm of Faith

Faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” Faith, like its Author, is transcendent; it is outside the world of physical contact. Just as one cannot see a sound, or smell a sunset, or hear the scent of a violet, or feel (by touching) the beauty of a landscape, because we are applying physical tests in the wrong realms of dimension, so faith is outside of feeling, sight, or sound. Faith, to be effectual, must also be immanent, that is, indwelling. It is evidence itself of an inner truth known by the recipient as having been given by God, and it is absolutely real. Faith may be an abstract noun, but it is a concrete thing. Faith is not of the same quality as “belief.” It is not in that realm. Faith is in the realm of consciousness. To believe that one is in a certain state of being, and to be conscious of the truth of such a state, are two entirely different things. For example, a mental patient suffering from paranoia can really believe that he is, shall we say, the President of the United States, and whilst affected by this form of psychosis he will speak and act in conformity with his delusion. His very circumstances demonstrate the fact that although he is completely sincere in his belief, his belief is an error, a delusion. But what of consciousness of truth? This is in the realm of self-knowledge and personal experience, and although known to the one who has it, cannot be given or transferred by him to anyone else. “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God” (Romans 14:22).  A person can no more be reasoned into faith than he can be reasoned into the witness of the Spirit. Yet it is a primary Christian duty to pass on the good news that this gift of God will be given by Him to every sincere, seeking soul who will come to Him as a little child. For Jesus said, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17).

Believers in God, being in the new birth, have the nature of little children, and if they will continue in that life, they will mature, as the apostle John makes clear, from being “little children” to becoming “young men” and from “young men” to “fathers” (1 John 2:12-14). The Holy Spirit, in Luke 18, has pointed out the steps to this childlike faith into the Kingdom:

  • An importunate widow desires something and, just like a little child, she asks for it until she gets it (verses 1-5). This is the childlike way of asking.
  • A publican goes to the Temple and calls upon God to forgive the sinner. He offers to God no reason why He should do so, because he knows that there are no reasons to give. He was just feeling that he was the worst man in the world (verses 9-14). This is the childlike way of confessing.
  • A sophisticated young ruler cannot follow the childlike way of faith (verses 18-23), which is to drop whatever glittering thing one has in hand for the more wonderful thing offered by the Father; but this is the childlike way of accepting.
  • The disciples had left all and were following Him (verses 28-30), but now He was saying things that greatly puzzled them; for although they still believed in Him, they did not understand. Yet they continued with Him just the same. This is the childlike way of following.
  • At the end of the chapter there is the account of a blind beggar who received his sight (verses 35-43). So glad was he, that without any embarrassment, before all the people, he followed Jesus, glorifying God. This is the childlike way of testifying.

Faith has no difficulties for the childlike heart, because faith’s very nature is simplicity.

God’s Revelation of Faith
in the Story of Naaman

We must now look at God’s revelation of faith. He has clearly defined the nature of faith and the nature of its opposite, unbelief, in the sublimely inspired story of Naaman. It would be to your advantage to compare the following teaching with the Scriptures. Refer to 2 Kings 5.

Representatives of Unbelief

Let us deal first with unbelief. Faith and unbelief are diametrically opposite and mutually antagonistic. Faith is belief of the revealed truth; unbelief is refusal to believe. It is not ignorance of the truth, which is non-belief. The Most High will deal with the ignorant far differently from those who have seen the truth, but have refused to walk in it. To rightly understand the nature of faith, we must look first at the qualities of unbelief. These are represented in the story of Naaman by Naaman’s wife, the King of Syria, the King of Israel, and Gehazi. By considering these we may understand the basic foundations of unbelief.

Naaman’s Wife: Selfishness

Like the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, the name of Naaman’s wife is not mentioned in Scripture. The reason usually advanced to explain this is the relative unimportance of the woman as compared with the man in Bible days. There is a faint gleam of truth in this, but in view of the large number of women and wives who are named, the gleam is very faint indeed. Jehovah is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and none the less of their wives, who are all named. The real reason that the wife of Naaman is not named may well be in the Scriptures, “The name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:7), while “the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance” (Psalm 112:6). She reveals in her nature a potent cause of unbelief—selfishness; that is, an uncrucified self. Naaman’s wife receives all and gives nothing. Pampered, luxurious, waited upon by slaves, she has no compassion. She is cold, indifferent, and self-centered. She would lament the fact that she had the misfortune to be married to a man who had contracted leprosy, but not that her afflicted husband had this dreadful disease. Notice that the little maid (2 Kings 5:3) told her mistress of the great prophet of Israel who could cure leprosy. One would have thought that she would have flown to give Naaman the good news. Not she! “One went in, and told his lord…” (2 Kings 5:4). It was carried to him secondhand by one who overheard the conversation. Selfishness is frigid, compassionless, and unbelieving. Selfishness hears of mighty works and miracles and of One who has compassion, but is dead to it all, like “the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely” (Psalm 58:4,5).

King of Syria: Superstition

The second ground of unbelief is superstition. Wise John Bunyan, over three hundred years ago, in Pilgrim’s Progress, revealed how superstition opposes faith. Christian and Faithful have been arrested and are being tried for their lives in the town of Vanity Fair. Lord Hate-good is the judge, and among the witnesses against Faithful is old Superstition. Listen carefully to Superstition’s testimony and take note of Faithful’s inspired reply:

Superstition:“My lord, I have no great acquaintance with this man, nor do I desire to have further knowledge of him…however, the other day… I heard him say that our religion was naught, and such by which a man could by no means please God… (it) follows that we do worship in vain and are yet in our sins and finally shall be damned.”

Faithful: “I said only this, that in the worship of God there is required a divine faith; but there can be no divine faith without a divine revelation of the will of God. Therefore, whatever is thrust into the worship of God that is not agreeable to divine revelation cannot be done but by a human faith, which faith will not be profitable to eternal life.”

Superstition is maintained by credulity, not faith. Credulity is a disposition to believe without satisfactory evidence; it arrives at its conclusions through impulse and emotion and by the influence of heredity. That is why there are often better grounds for faith outside of the organized churches than within. An evangelist can take the message of Divine healing to a well-established church and find little response; he takes the same message to the “heathen,” and thousands are saved and healed.

The King of Syria knows nothing of the individual walk with God; he thinks that the religion of the country is always identifiable with the government of the state. Therefore, he writes to his counterpart and rival, the King of Israel, about healing for his commander-in-chief, Naaman. “Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6). The idea was that the King of Israel would order his servant-prophet Elisha to do the cure, and Elisha would bow himself to the ground and say, “It shall be done my lord, O King; may you live forever” (although he knew that he wouldn’t), and go and do it. The King of Israel would then give him a small portion of “the ten talents of silver and six thousand pieces of gold,” whilst he himself kept the major portion and the “ten changes of raiment.” By analogy, the King is the wholesaler, Elisha the retailer, and Naaman the customer. It all sounds very modern.

The King of Syria held the doctrine of what has become known as Erastianism, that the State has supreme authority over the church. This doctrine was once held in England, when the people were controlled by the crown through the Church of England; in Russia, when the serfs were enslaved through the government-controlled Russian Orthodox Church; and in Prussia, under the State Lutheran Church. This is the great significance of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (adopted December 15, 1791) which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” It was made to prevent the practice of Erastianism in any one of the States of the Union and not, emphatically not, to prohibit the Bible or Christianity from its schools, colleges, and universities. One would have thought that the Supreme Court would have seen a simple thing like that.

The King of Israel: Fear

The third ground of unbelief is fear. Fear is one of Satan’s master weapons.  Just as the Kingdom of Heaven is established upon faith, hope and love, so is the kingdom of hell founded upon their opposites, unbelief, fear and hate. The Lord Jesus says that at the end of the age the “distress of nations, with perplexity” shall lead to “men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Luke 21:25,26). He says, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) The god of this world, through the zeitgeist—the spirit of the age—has everything controlled to cause fear. Films, newspapers, fiction, television, the stage, are all aimed to scare the mind and make the flesh creep. Even some Christian radio stations add their portion by teaching the people the seditious idea, the disloyal untruth, that the Bible says that soon all America must go under Communism.3 The Bible says not a word about it. The devil will do anything to panic the sheep and get them on the run. Even horror comics are provided for the children.  To complete the circle we have fear of environmental pollution, fear of the population explosion and fear of the atomic bomb. But not for you, believing Christian, for:

The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just,
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succour trust.

* * *

Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
He’ll make your wants His care.”

—Tate and Brady, 17th Century—
[from their hymn
Through All the Changing Scenes of Life]

Poor King of Israel, bound by fear! “He rent his clothes” and did what governments, influenced by fear, always do: misinterpret the intention of the rulers of the other nation—a potent trigger of war. Consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me” (2 Kings 5:7). And he didn’t know that there was a prophet, a man of God, who had God-given faith to heal leprosy, who lived in his very kingdom.

All these people are blind and deaf. Naaman’s wife cannot see the answer to her husband’s need; she cannot hear the little maid. The King of Syria cannot see that it is to the man of God that Naaman should go, and that the King of Israel has nothing to do with it. He does not know that, as Peter warned Simon Magus, the gift of God cannot be purchased with money [Acts 8:20]. The King of Israel cannot see that there is a prophet in Israel. Unbelief is blind and deaf, selfish and without compassion, and superstitiously religious.

Gehazi: Faithlessness

But what shall we say of Gehazi? How blind and deaf to light and truth he is! He is always in the company of the man of God, but he does not see, hear or know God. There are many who live in the household of God’s prophets, who are blind; children of godly parents can go astray. So obtuse to the grace of God is Gehazi, so faithless, that he uses the miracles of God to obtain wealth.  Are there not today some preachers who do the same, using the miracles of God to obtain money, their ambition being to have a renowned name, wealth and praise? “Is it,” said Elisha to Gehazi, “a time to receive money, and to receive garments [to wear expensive clothes], and olive yards and vineyards [to get estates], and sheep and oxen [to acquire ranches], and menservants, and maidservants [a great personal establishment with a palatial central office]?” (2 Kings 5:26) Well, is it? Gehazi got what Naaman was willing to give up—wealth; but he also got what always goes with the world’s wealth—the world’s leprosy. That is why he got Naaman’s leprosy.

Representatives of Faith

What a relief to turn from this darkness and death to light and life; for in this story we also have the record of faith. The Holy Spirit clearly gives us here living examples of the qualities that make up the nature of faith: the servant who went in and told his lord, the little maid, Elisha, the servants of Naaman, and Naaman himself. It will be most profitable to think about these.

The One Who Told His Lord: The Record of Faith

This is the average Christian. His testimony to God’s great miracle power and supernatural manifestations is secondhand. It is what he has read or heard about, but he believes it and he passes the information on. It helps; it is a link in the chain. This is the record of faith.

The Little Maid: The Basis of Faith

Here with a few deft touches the Holy Spirit sketches for us one of the most loving, most gracious, most Jesus-like characters revealed in the Bible. Who was she? Of what tribe and family did she come? What was her name? No one but God knows anything of her earthly parentage, except that she was of the land of Israel. Why is her name not revealed? For an excellent reason: she shares with Rebekah and Ruth the honor of being one of the types of the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. Why is the name of the Bride not given in Scripture? It is because the bride has the privilege of taking her husband’s name. The little maid, like the Church, is a servant. In this she follows her Lord, who is celebrated in the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah as the perfect Servant of Jehovah.4 The little maid, like the Church, is a stranger in a strange land; this world is not the Church’s home. The Church is a witnessing church, like the little maid, and a church whose spirit is love, like the spirit of the little maid.

The little maid reveals the basis of faith, which is love. From this ground, this base, this solid foundation of love, proceed all the works of faith—“Faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). Why did the Lord Jesus do His mighty works of healing the sick, delivering the bound (that is, the demon-possessed), and raising the dead? He did them from one motive only: “He was moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36). He did not do His deeds of power to manifest His glory, as some say. This is not the nature of Him who is meek and lowly in heart. He healed because He loved the people. What confidence has the little maid! “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3). Confidence is the essence of faith. Each one of these representatives of faith in the story of Naaman has this in common. She says, “He would recover him.” Elisha says, “Let him come now to me” (2 Kings 5:8). The servants of Naaman say, “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, ‘Wash and be clean”?” (2 Kings 5:13)” Naaman does not doubt his healing, but prefers the clear waters of Abana and Pharpar to the rather discolored waters of the Jordan. They are all sure that it is going to happen. Hold on to confidence. If you have prayed and you know that your prayer is in the will of God, and the answer is long delayed, then the situation calls for confidence, not collapse. Confidence is the strengthening, steadying warp and woof of the texture of faith. Here is a true verse on this:

He says He’ll carry all my care,
If by His side I’ll stay;
He also bids me not to cast
My confidence away.
But oh! how foolishly I act,
When taken unaware;
I cast away my confidence
And carry all my care.

—James Seward—
[from the poem His Will]

Now consider the virtue of this little maid. Why was her witness accepted? Because of her credibility; her life was consistent with her words. The primary purpose of the gift of the Holy Spirit is that we should be witnesses unto the Lord Jesus. This does not mean that we have been given a gift of volubility. Communists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses all have this in common. It is not because of the Holy Spirit that they gush in persuasive talk, but because—I borrow an Irish phrase—“They have kissed the blarney stone,” or, as a cockney Londoner would say, “They’ve got the gift of the gab.” What the Holy Spirit does when He comes in is to make our witness credible; that is, what we are and what we say are identical—we manifest Jesus and we talk about Jesus from the Spirit of Jesus, who is in and upon us. What the captivity of this little maid meant to the healing of Naaman can be seen from the following considerations.

Naaman would not have been healed unless the little maid had been a captive, far away from where she longed to be. This was her cross; but she took it up and bore it, and shone just where she was. Naaman would not have been healed if she had not had a broken heart. She often thought of her father and mother, her home, her brothers and sisters, and her own lovely country. Consider this, for the Lord is willing to teach you that all the long years of your frustrations, your troubles, and your heartaches are for a purpose—to forge a strong and mighty faith in you. There are those, hidden from public view, who are to be used of God in the coming revival. They only dimly see, if they see at all, His purpose in all of their hindrances and losses; but they are like John the Baptist, who “was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80). How like the Lord is the little maid. What heartaches, what suffering, what groanings in spirit were the lot of Jesus, far from His home where dwelt His Father.

Who caused the pains and tears of the little maid? The very one whom she sought to deliver—Naaman, the chief of all those marauding bands who had destroyed her pleasant home, murdered her family and friends, and preserved her only to make her a slave. Who caused Jesus’ pains and tears? The very ones whom He came to deliver. How freely did the little maid forgive Naaman! She might have found means to murder him, if she had been inclined. She could easily have dropped some oleander cuttings into his soup. Her name would then have become known and renowned in Jewish national history, and have been linked with Jael, who slew Sisera [Judges 4:17-24], or with Judith, who murdered Holofernes.5 But she had the spirit of love, the Spirit of Jesus: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). She had been free, but she became a slave, in order that the one who had enslaved her might be made free from the tyranny of leprosy. So Jesus “took upon Him the form of a servant…He humbled Himself, and became obedient” (Philippians 2:7-8), because “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). Love is the basis of faith.

Elisha, the Man of God: The Character of Faith

Elisha reveals the character of faith, that is, the character of a man or a woman of faith. No book learning can give you faith; reading this book will not give it to you. There is no method to be learned to obtain faith. It is only by “abiding in Him” that “we ask what we will” and it is done for us (John 15:7). The man or woman of God has three essential enduements:

  • The first enduement is authority (Greek: exousia). This is the possession of every true son of God. John says, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power [authority] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). This authority is given only to those able to carry it by reason of the indwelling of the Most High God. As the Christian’s spiritual stature increases, authority is manifested in ever-increasing measure; hence the exercise of ever-increasing faith.
  • The second enduement from God to form the character of the man of faith is power (Gk. dunamis). It is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples received power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them at Pentecost, according to the promise of the Lord [Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4]. But authority takes precedence over power, for it is the God-given, legitimate ability to exercise command, and is part of the nature of the person wielding it. Yet, whereas authority must always proceed from and be a part of the nature of the one exercising it, power, as manifested in a supernatural act, is a gift given by God to the person using it. Solomon was a man with great God-given authority, as his majesty reveals; but there is no record of his ever having performed any miracles (although there are non-biblical legends enough about him and his magical doings). Samson, on the other hand, did his miracles of acts of strength by the power of God given to him under the anointing of the Spirit; but he seems sadly lacking in the commanding majesty of inspired authority. The man of God has both.
  • The third enduement from God is holiness. The man of God abides in Christ; he keeps His commandments; his heart has been purified by faith. His is not a mythical Christ, nor a Bible Christ, nor a historical Christ, nor even One in the heavens who may be occasionally brought down and received through bread and wine in the sacrament. His is the indwelling Christ. The Living Word is nigh him, in his heart. Christ is in him, the hope of glory; and as he dwells in the sinless, incorruptible new birth, and as by a living faith he abides in this inner Christ, he sins not. Then is fulfilled in him the words of Peter, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). But what an astonishing word to some this is, for the oracles of God are the Scriptures. Unto the Jews, says Paul (Romans 3:2), “were committed the oracles of God.” So the man of God speaks in faith, from the same Spirit which gave forth the Scriptures. His words have substance; he speaks and it is done. The evidence is there, for God lets “none of His words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19). His word is confirmed with signs following. This is no vain borrowing from the Scriptures, no guesswork, no uttering of a scriptural lesson, no repetition of a text committed to memory; no, he speaks the very word of God. “Go,” says Elisha, “and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean… And his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:10,14).

The Servants of Naaman: The Mind of Faith

Naaman’s servants represent the mind of faith—the humble mind. There was a great barrier standing in the way of Naaman’s healing: his pride. Humility is not always the accompanying mark of the evangelist of healing, but it ought to be, for divine faith and human pride are of opposite natures; like oil and water, they will not mix. God stands aloof from the proud, but He is nigh to the humble heart.

Blest are the humble souls that see
Their emptiness and poverty;
Treasures of grace to them are given,
And crowns of joy laid up in heaven.

—Isaac Watts—
[in the hymn
Blest Are the Humble Souls That See]

“My father,” said the servants (who, in their humble sphere of submission, had learned wisdom), “if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, ‘Wash and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13). Faith is attendant upon a humble mind. This is the mind of Christ. Every newborn saint, that is, every child of God, already has this mind. It is not a thing to be zealous for, or to reach out after, or to discipline oneself to obtain. “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16); it is a part of the new birth, to be exercised. Peter says, “I stir up your pure minds” (2 Peter 3:1). This is why humility and faith for healing go together. Consider the Scriptures: “If My people… shall humble themselves…then will I…heal” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Again, “When they were sick…I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 35:13).

This is the great reason why mighty miracles are usually performed through the agency of little things, very contemptible little things, too, in the eyes of the world; for even the very wise still look for God’s kings in palaces rather than in stables. God used a bush, perhaps a scrub tamarisk, to manifest His glory and arrest the attention of Moses. Moses demonstrated the almighty power of Jehovah through the simple use of a dry stick—his rod. Samson’s strength lay not in the size of his body, nor the development of his muscles, for the Philistines were completely at a loss to discover where his great strength lay. Samson, full of the Spirit, picked up the new jawbone of a dead ass and slew heaps upon heaps of the enemies of the Lord. The Living God still uses the same principle, but in reverse: many have entered into life when He has deigned to use as an instrument the “new jawbone of an ass.” Think, too, of the widow’s “handful of meal” and “a little oil in a cruse” (1 Kings 17:12), and the miracles of Jesus done with such common and usual things as water, barley bread, a fish, or mud made with spittle; it is all one, with the Lord having “chosen the poor of this world rich in faith” (James 2:5). Naaman reveals the practice of faith; but that is such an important subject that it must share with faith’s problems a chapter of its own.

The thing surpasses all my thought,
But faithful is my Lord;
Through unbelief I stagger not,
For God hath spoke the word.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone,
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, “It shall be done!”

—Charles Wesley—
[in the hymn
Father of Jesus Christ, My Lord]


  1. Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin.
  2. The Chapter 3 image is an original creation of Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship; the beautiful background of the image is a free photo image offered by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash — https://unsplash.com/@sapegin.
  3. The first edition of this book was published in 1975, when the Cold War was still very much in the minds of people on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
  4. The “Servant Songs” are certain of the Messianic passages in the Book of Isaiah, chiefly Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; and Isaiah 52:13–53:12.
  5. Pastor Gutteridge refers to a story from the Apocrypha, found in the Book of Judith. For more about the Apocrypha, see A Brief Overview of the Apocrypha in History.
Series Navigation<< The Conditions of Faith: Ch. 2 of Faith Is SubstanceThe Practice and Problems of Faith: Ch. 4 of “Faith Is Substance” >>
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