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The Practice and Problems of Faith: Ch. 4 of “Faith Is Substance”

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series Faith Is Substance

Copyright © 1975, 2002

by
Percy Gutteridge

Living By Faith

William Tyndale, English Bible Translator and Martyr

Faith must be active, that is, a working faith, else it is not true faith. James says concerning Abraham, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:22) The inspired word is clear, plain, and unalterable: “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20); that is, without works, true faith is non-existent. This does not mean that the child of God is always working miracles. It means that the conduct of his life demonstrates that he lives by faith. William Tyndale, forever renowned as the one who, overcoming all opposition, translated the New Testament and had it distributed in England, and who was martyred for his faith (being strangled and burned at Vilvorde near Antwerp in 1536), thus explains faith:

The believing of God’s promises, and a sure trust in the goodness and truth of God; which faith justified Abraham (Genesis 15), and was the mother of all his good works which he afterwards did.  For faith is the goodness of all works in the sight of God.  Good works are things of God’s commandment wrought in faith.  And to sew a shoe at the commandment of God, to do thy neighbour service withal, with faith to be saved by Christ (as God promiseth us), is much better than to build an abbey of thine own imagination, trusting to be saved by the feigned works of hypocrites.1

There is a loose expression concerning certain persons who are not in wage-earning employment, or who are not receiving a regular salary as ministers of a denominational church, that they are “living by faith.” Let it be clearly said and always maintained that it is not a mark of extra spirituality that one is not in receipt of a salary. Many a salaried minister will hear the Lord’s glad welcoming word, “Well done, good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:21]. Nevertheless, the Lord has called some to trust Him alone for support, because the nature of their calling does not permit them to locate. It will be found that the Lord’s provision will work out, on an average, to be neither less nor more than that of those whom He has appointed to serve a local church or parish.

Active Faith

John Bunyan, Author of 'Pilgrim's Progress' and 'Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners'

So faith must be active; the man of faith must do something. But what must he do? Only that which the Lord has told him to do, in a direct word from Him. Usually that word will come from the Scriptures, because the “word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1 Peter 1:25), and what God has once said is true for all eternity. But the Lord may choose to say something that He has not said before or that has not been recorded in writing, or in the Scriptures; for out of His mouth still goes a sharp two-edged sword. On at least two occasions He spoke to two of His children through a verse from the Apocrypha.2 John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, says,

One day… as I was giving up the ghost of all my hopes of ever attaining life, that sentence fell with weight upon my spirit, “Look at the generation of old and see; did any ever trust in the Lord and was confounded?” At which I was greatly encouraged in my soul…So coming home, I presently went to my Bible…for it was with such strength and comfort on my spirit that it was as if it talked with me. Well I looked but I found it not… thus I continued above a year, and could not find the place; but at last casting my eye upon the Apocrypha books, I found it in Ecclesiasticus 2:103…that word doth still oftimes shine before my face.4

George Whitefield, Evangelist to England and Colonial America

On October 30, 1738, George Whitefield was on a homeward journey to England from Georgia. He had left Charleston on September 9, sailing in the “Mary,” and because of storms and contrary winds the passengers and crew were reduced to a daily allowance of a pint of muddy water, an ounce or two of salt beef, and some dumplings made from weevil-filled flour and “the Skimmings of the pot.” Still far from home, they had a further week’s voyaging to do before they came to Ireland. He says,

Reading…in the book of Maccabees [1 Maccabees 4:24] and thinking of my present situation, this verse was pressed with unspeakable comfort upon my soul — “After this, they went home and sung a song of thanksgiving, and praised the Lord in Heaven; because it is good, because His mercy endureth forever!”

So let the Lord speak how and by what means He will. Of one thing you may be certain, that when He speaks, the sheep will recognize the voice of the Shepherd. When an act of faith is required by the Lord, He will give a commanding word leading to action; but remember that all His commands are His enablings. “Thou shalt” not only means that you must do it; it also means that He will make you able to do it. See then, Naaman must do something, as a proof and requirement of faith, but only that which the Lord tells him to do. “Go and wash in Jordan seven times” (2 Kings 5:10). The Word is quite clear, and no jot or tittle must be added or omitted. It is not just “wash”! The place—Jordan, and the manner of it—seven times, are indicated, and nothing less than complete obedience to the will of the Lord will bring His healing.

Asking “Only Once” vs. Importunity and Witness

There is a teaching that the one seeking help from the Lord must ask once only, then claim the answer by faith, and believing, never ask again. What a problem of faith this has caused to many sincere people! We can only say that both Scripture and Christian experience are against it. Jesus tells us in two parables that it is not so. The importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8) asks the judge many times for help, and Jesus “spake this parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). He concludes with “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?” (Luke 18:7). Lest you should think, as some brethren might, that this is because God is demonstrating the inferiority of womanhood, by making her ask many times (an action that she is quite capable, however, of performing), Jesus gives a parallel parable about a man (Luke 11:5-8). A traveler has come in the depth of night, but the host has no bread. Going at midnight to his friend to borrow three loaves, he is requested—quite emphatically—to go away. But he keeps on asking, and because of his barefacedness (original word), he eventually gets what he came for (Luke 11:5). What should we do when we ask, but seem to get no answer from the Lord? Go on asking! Go on asking until there comes to you the sweet inward witness that your prayer is heard! Then ask no more, but turn your prayer to praise; for the answer is on the way and you will prove that “He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23).

Acts of Faith

It is always a principle with God that action is required for the fulfillment of faith. God asks us to do a little thing so that He can do a great one. We have to do a foolish thing, that He may do a wise one. We move a grain; He moves a mountain.  We give Him two mites, and He gives us everlasting treasure in Heaven. God said,

  • “Noah, build an ark! I will send a deluge.” [Genesis 6:13-14]
  • “Moses, stretch out your rod! I will divide the sea!” [Exodus 14:16]
  • “Naaman, dip seven times! I will heal your leprosy.” [2 Kings 5:10]
  • “Take ye away the stone!” (said Jesus); and then, “Lazarus, come forth!” [John 11:39-44]

That is faith! Your tiny believing—your little act; then comes God’s great one. In the space of a second, you believe in Jesus, and He gives you eternal life. It is not your faith that does the mighty miracle; it is the action of Almighty God. But your faith is the hinge upon which He can open His great door of miraculous opportunity. “It is too easy,” said the miner’s deputy to the minister who had told him that God’s salvation is by faith. “But the hoist is so easy,” replied the preacher. “See how easy it is to drop you a mile down into the heart of the earth and to lift twenty tons of coal to the surface.” “Ah! But you are forgetting,” said the miner, “the labor and cost of sinking the shaft.” “And so are you!” was the reply. “What planning! What labor! What wounds and death! What cost to God! What coming down to earth in order to take you up to Heaven!”

Consider the following acts of faith and God’s responses:

  • Abraham is promised a country, but he has to go out to get it. “And he went out not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). Humanly speaking, Abraham might have died halfway to Canaan, but that was not his concern; he was called to go. He believed God and went; and because it was the Word of the Lord, it came to pass—“And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” (Genesis 12:5).
  • A widow is promised a supply of oil, but she must start pouring out (2 Kings 4:1-7).
  • Another is promised freedom from starvation, but she has to make a cake first [1 Kings 17:8-16].
  • David is assured of victory over the giant, but he has to collect and sling the stone [1 Samuel 17, especially vv. 40 and 49].

Step out on the promise of God!

Have you been told what to do? Then go and do it! And should you not know what to do, then wait on the Lord until He gives you the word, “for they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me” (Isaiah 49:23). You must learn to maintain your foothold upon the ground of faith—“having done all, to stand. Stand therefore!” (Ephesians 6:13).  It is “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12); you are sure to be resisted and you are sure to win through.  Hold on!  Wrestle!  The enemy will hurl against you ten thousand burning doubts, but keep up “the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one]” (Ephesians 6:16).

To be embattled with doubts is normal Christian experience, especially at the beginning of the walk of faith. But there is a vast difference between doubts hurled from the outside, and a doubting heart on the inside. If that is your trouble, ask and receive cleansing from an evil heart of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12), else you will be kept in bondage and made to grind, like Samson, in the prison house (Judges 16:21).

What About Symptoms?

A great problem to many is the advice that they have received from well-meaning people to refuse the existence of symptoms after they have been anointed for healing. There have been many tragedies through this. We all have known of persons who have received medical advice that an operation for their condition would effect a cure, but they refused surgery because they were afraid that it would be doubting God’s healing power. Their symptoms continued. They were told to ignore them as if non-existent; and death followed. When will the Church learn wisdom? Truly, very often, “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). If symptoms of disease are there, it is untruthful to deny their existence; and the Lord will not bless untruth. If the Holy Spirit witnesses by His Word and that infallible inward assurance that the healing has taken place, then, most certainly, deny the symptoms, because they will only proceed from the imagination, stimulated by the evil one to cause unbelief. Christian Science denies the existence of evil, disease and pain, and it teaches its deceived followers to deny the symptoms. But we deal in reality, not in imagination. Our God really heals and delivers. With a genuine healing comes the evidences that will satisfy the honest medical practitioner.

Walk in Your Own Measure of Light and Faith

You must walk in the light and faith that God gives to you. Your name is not A. B. Simpson nor Charles S. Price. Those men of God were given by Him a faith to match their call, to help pioneer the message of faith at this end of the age. But do not be discouraged; you also, in your measure, shall work the works of Him who has sent you. So, do not try to copy; already you have discovered that what worked for them has not worked for you. You have blamed yourself for lack of faith, but all your efforts have not increased it, because the Lord does not intend that you should walk in their shoes, but in those He provides for you alone. Walk in truth, in the light, with Him, and do not allow those siren voices which would persuade you to operate in human faith to influence you; because, before this age is ended, there will be deeds of faith done which will fulfill all that the Lord promised when He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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” (John 14:12). For remember again and again that “they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me” (Isaiah 49:23). Wise old Matthew Henry says, “The mower loses no time when he is whetting his scythe.”5

Faith never insists that the Most High God must work by a method of its own choosing, or even one that we would think will bring Him more glory. The glory of God is beyond the reach of man; man can neither add nor take away from it the weight of a molecule. God preserves His own glory. This should be borne in mind when we bring our petitions to God. Are you asking for the immediate conversion of your son? It might be to the glory of God and your son’s establishing, in the love of the Father, that first he should go for a time into the far country. Are you asking Him to correct your eyesight? It may be that it is His will that you wear spectacles. True faith does not dictate to God; it trusts Him that all is well. But you heard of some who deliberately smashed their glasses in faith, and afterward had perfect sight. True, but that is between them and their Father; it is not for you to copy. They must walk in their vision of God’s light, but it is your privilege to walk on your own with God and to know and do His will. Most of those who smash their glasses or leave off their hearing aids, after having been to a great emotion-stirring meeting, take them up again. Be patient, and you will know the will of God. Also, if you have faith that you will be healed by a surgical operation, then abide in it; but you will find that that faith will not bring results if you try to apply it for healing without an operation. Again I say, keep in your measure. The word of Paul concerning prophecy also applies to healing—“whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith” (Romans 12:6).

A friend of mine in England, The Rev. C.L. Parker, M.A., after he had received the Holy Spirit, was led to hold evangelistic meetings in many parts of the country, where he taught the truth that Jesus, today, still heals the sick. He told me that on one occasion he had been enthusiastically proclaiming that Jesus in Bible days had healed all that were sick, and that today there was nothing that He could not and would not do. Then he made his appeal that needy folk should come to the front, and he would pray for them and they would be healed. To his consternation, the first man who came out was an old seaman with a wooden leg. Mr. Parker suddenly learned a great truth, that there are measures of faith, and that faith for healing is different from faith for a miracle. Healing can be a process, but a miracle must be instantaneous. He called himself a thousand fools for preaching so strong a message, for he discovered that he just did not have the faith that the Lord Jesus would replace a wooden leg with a sound one; and the man was the first one in the line!  With great inward trepidation he approached the believing old sailor and said, “Brother, what do you want the Lord to do for you?” Imagine his relief when the mariner replied, “It’s me chest, guv’nor.”

Faith and Healing

Divine or Psychic?

It has been said that all healing is divine healing. That is not true; there are psychic healing and demonic healing, too. Dr. Kurt Koch’s Between Christ and Satan will convince any unprejudiced person that demons heal the body in order to control the mind. C.S. Lewis has pointed out in The Screwtape Letters that there are two major errors into which the human race can fall. One is to refuse to believe in the existence of demons, and the other is to take a vivid and unhealthy interest in them. The latter error, especially, is one of very great danger. Too many small groups, under the impression that they are progressing in the things of the Spirit, are having demon-searching sessions, to their great spiritual loss and the advancement of the kingdom of evil.

We must look more deeply into the practical differences between what is known as faith healing, and true divine healing; that is, between psychic healing (which is through the power of the mind), and the healing that is the direct action of God. Of course, the Lord can use any means or methods that He likes. But in true divine healing, the original motivating force is from Him, whilst in psychosomatic healing—with which we will include healing by means of hypnosis—the operating power is centered in the human. In the case of healing through a spiritualistic medium, it comes either from demon power or through the exercise of psychic force. All subjection of the mind, with the consequent disenthronement of the will, to any external power save that of submission to the Creator, is dangerous. The great barrier that God has erected in every human being against domination by other intelligences is the barrier of the will. No demon possession can take place whilst the will is in its God-given place—ruling on the throne of the mind. That is why we are safe in yielding our wills to God, and He never supplants the will, but rules through it, making us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

The whole pressure and seduction of temptation is to weaken the resistance of the will, so that the will of the evil one may be done through us in an act of rebellion against the will of the Holy One, which is sin. In the case of a person coming under the influence of a wrong spirit, such as a spirit of confusion or (what is so prevalent) a religious spirit, or (in the extreme case) of demon possession, there has been an actual point in time when the authority of the will was suspended and influence or entrance was made possible. Before this, there must be a softening up process. Then at some contrived point, like a sudden accident—when for a moment the action of the will was suspended—the spirit or demon was able to enter in and take partial or full control.

The ground too often is prepared by the encouragement of indiscipline. Parents who let their children do exactly what they like—sparing the rod and spoiling the child—are being very unkind. They are preparing the child’s mind, with its untrained weak will, for eventual demon possession. The Bible is quite clear on this subject of training children. “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18). Moses said, “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee” (Deuteronomy 8:5). God is not asking you to be unduly severe to your son or daughter, but to discipline yourself to discipline your children. You are hurting them by your refusal to train them so that they may have firm and righteous wills, and so be eligible to become men and women of faith. The reason that you do not use chastisement is because, in the first place, it requires an effort and you are indolent by nature; and, in the second, it hurts your feelings to do so and you are also self-indulgent. Of course you spoil everything when you overlook many flagrant acts of disobedience, and then thrash the child only because you happen to be in a bad temper.

Walk in the Light

Now, are you afraid of demons and demon possession? You need not be. Have you noticed that neither Jesus nor any of the apostles give any instructions on how to recognize demons or to cast out demons from His children? The apostles would be greatly surprised and amazed if they could read the syllabus of a modern Bible College course with its subject of “Demonology”—very flattering to and free advertisement for demons. The reason that we are given no such instructions is, of course, that we are children of the light, not of darkness; demons will not come into the light, because their deeds are evil. Heaven, the abode of light, would be a worse hell to a demon than Hell is. Go on walking in the light; you will then have fellowship with God, while all the time the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is cleansing you from all sin, for “what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). How can a demon, you, and the Lord walk together in the same company? So “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

When mountain walls obstruct thy way,
Why sit and weep? arise and say
Be thou removed! and they shall be,
By power of God, cast in the sea.

* * *

O’er all the power of fiend or man,
Say to the Lord, I surely can.
Take from Him power on earth to tread
On serpent’s sting, on dragon’s head.6

—Joseph Ellison—
[from the poem
Be Thou Removed]

Mysteries of Healing

There are mysteries of healing. Every doctor who has been any length of time in general practice will tell you so. I have had the great privilege of having the friendship of a number of good, Christian medical doctors. I think of a great Scottish surgeon in the North of England who, before he used his skillful hands in one of those delicate operations that he performed, would always pray at the operating table, before doctors, students, and nurses, offering his hands for God to use. No wonder that many call him blessed, and thank God for their healing through his surgical skill.

Permit me, if you please, to give some personal experiences. I was once staying in the home of a godly doctor in England whose practice took him to the farms and villages of the dales of Yorkshire. He told me of two significant cases for which he had no answer, but for which he thanked God. He had been tending a hopeless case, a young man sinking fast with a tubercular stomach. He went on visitation to find him dying. The man’s mother begged with tears that the doctor should yet do something for him. The doctor knew that all medical skill had come to an end; but in order to pacify her, he gave her a bottle of tablets, with instructions to give the patient one every three hours with water. Neither mother nor patient knew that they were only five-grain aspirin tablets. The next week on his rounds, visiting again the isolated cottages hidden amongst the hills, the doctor called upon his patient, taking with him a death certificate—for by now he knew that the young man would have passed away. To his utter surprise, he was met on the road by his once-dying patient, who was up and about, enjoying his food, and with the first tinges of returning health already upon his features. He became completely well, and testified to the skill and to the wonderful medicine of our good friend the doctor. No special prayer was offered for him, and no hands had been laid upon his head. Both he and his mother were ignorant of the teachings of divine healing. In what category of healing will you put this? I put it under psychosomatic healing.

Again, this same doctor was ministering to another dying patient who had an inoperable condition. No more could be done for her. But, once again, listening to her pleading and moved with compassion, he gave her something for her breast cancer—although he knew that what he gave her could have no effect upon her sad condition. He gave her a bottle of gentian violet,7 with instructions to dress the open wound with it; and to his utter amazement, there was a complete cure. I call this also psychosomatic healing, that is, healing through psychic forces.

An Example from Bevington’s Life

G.C. Bevington

G. C. Bevington, who was born towards the end of the nineteenth century, in his book Remarkable Incidents and Modern Miracles Through Prayer and Faith, gives an account of a miracle that can be only divine healing. He was standing upon a chair, reaching towards the ceiling, but stepping too near to the front edge, he turned the chair over and, falling, came down with great force, so that he smashed the chair to pieces and damaged his side so much that he says he could not swallow even water without being thrown into a paroxysm of pain. The doctor x-rayed him and said, “My good man, you are all torn to pieces. Your first rib is separated three fourths of an inch; the second, half; and the third one, about a quarter. There is a sliver torn from your first rib that lays right across your ribs.” The kind doctor said that he could get him into a fine hospital in Tennessee, run by his cousin. The cure would take about seven months, but all he would have to pay would be the cost of the artificial ribs. Well, Bevington was not that kind of man. He had a great faith and he believed most emphatically in divine healing; so he waited upon the Lord. “My suffering seemed to increase,” he says,

…but I held on.…I saw myself actually sinking down, getting smaller. I could see that I was on the trimming lathe, and was being trimmed down. So I began to praise the Lord.…I kept quietly saying, “Glory! Glory!” At each utterance I could see the shavings a-flying and felt that I was getting the victory. So the “Glorys” would come…louder and louder.…I also saw that what little exertion I had made did not hurt me in the least and as I had not taken a long, down-deep breath for so long, I just wanted to so bad. So I tried it, and oh, what a relief!…Soon I raised my right arm and felt no pain whatever. I then shouted, “O, glory, ’tis done!” I jumped up and began pounding my fractured ribs…A great landslide came into my soul, and I just laughed and shouted and jumped for about three hours.8

He then went to see the doctor and said,

“Well, Sir, Doctor, I am a healed man!”…There I was, pounding my ribs, and he was staring wildly at me.…

Then he said, “There must be something in this healing power. I never saw anything like it. And you say that Jesus really healed you without any remedies?”

“Yes, Sir, and now doctor…I would like you to turn the Xray on.”

“Oh, I will gladly do it. I am interested in that sliver that lay cross your ribs.”

I said, “You will find that splinter in its place.”

So when he turned the Xray on, he just stood speechless, while I laughed.…he laid his head down on my shoulder, and wept and trembled. I said, “How about that splinter, Doctor?”

He said, “There is no splinter to be seen, and no trace of its ever being there.”

And again the glory fell on me and I had to walk the floor. I didn’t dare to be too noisy out there in that office…9

This is divine healing and, like every healing work of the Lord, it will stand every genuine medical test applied to it, for examination will only demonstrate more fully its authenticity. When Jesus healed a leper, He said to him, “Go thy way, show thyself to the priest” (Mark 1:44), because in those days the priest was the leprosy specialist,10 and his examination would only confirm the truth of the leper’s complete cleansing.

We need the Lord’s guidance for each act of faith. He will not work by rote, and God forbid that our acts of faith should only be based on what happened in the past. We pray that He will repeat His works of faith through us, but He will not, of necessity, repeat His methods. We who are children of God live by faith; there is a constant flow of new experiences through which we find that faith is made steadfast. However, we must look each time to the Lord for guidance, and not rely upon what happened in the past. Are you learning this by painful experience?

Examples from Personal Successes & Failures

A number of years ago, I was sitting with my wife in the waiting room of a large children’s hospital, because our little daughter was very sick. She had been much prayed for and many had laid hands on her; now, we had liberty from the Lord to take her to the hospital for expert medical advice. I noticed, amongst those waiting there, a woman in the deepest distress, and I was moved by the Spirit to go over and talk to her. I was in clerical attire, so she did not resent, but welcomed, my help. Her little daughter had been taken into the hospital, dying of pneumonia, and there was very little hope. I prayed inwardly, and immediately received what Paul calls in 1 Corinthians 12:8 “a word of knowledge.” I turned to her and told her that her daughter would completely recover, and that one day she would see me in town when she was with her daughter and tell her, “That is the man who prayed for you and said that God had healed you when you lay dying.” Years afterwards I met a gracious, very well-dressed lady, whom at first I had difficulty in recognizing, and who told me with gratitude of her healthy, happy daughter.

I tried to repeat this experience. A deeply distressed couple were brought to the church prayer meeting, and I was told that their child was to have a hole-in-the-heart operation the next day. We enthusiastically prayed, and in wishful thinking, as I now realize it to have been (and with the other case in my mind), I told the couple that all would be well. Afterwards I discovered that I had been sadly misinformed—that the operation had, in fact, taken place that day before we had even held the prayer meeting, and afterwards the child had died. Only my pride was hurt, not God’s glory; and I thank my Father for teaching me this lesson.

Divine healing lasts. We do not leave our crutches behind at the great healing meeting in the vast auditorium today, only to have to buy a new set a few months later. When that happens, even though the name of Jesus is used, it is psychic healing.

Many cases of divine healing come to mind to illustrate this. My good friend, George Wood of Manchester, England, was diagnosed by two doctor friends as having inoperable cancer, with three months to live. His condition was confirmed by one of the greatest specialists in England, but he was wonderfully healed, and has lived to testify to healing and heart purity in his own patient, courteous, and persistent way for over twenty more years. I was amongst those who laid hands upon him (a group which also included the two medical doctor friends), in accord with Mark 16:18, when this miracle of healing took place.

Faith works by insistence. I learned, together with my church members, that we could rely upon the inward witness of the Spirit when it was revealed to us that the Lord was present to heal; and deafness, blindness, tuberculosis and pain would yield by our taking our stand and insisting that the thing should go. Following impulse is not the same as being moved by the Spirit, and accomplishes nothing. If you are not sure whether it is the moving of the Spirit or the impulse of your own mind, after waiting upon the Lord, then place it in the hands of the Lord; and if you feel no check, risk it—step out in faith! Too much is left to the healing evangelist. It is time that the children of God realize that they also are called to lay hands upon the sick. If they did so amongst friends and neighbors, many would recover and the healing virtue of the Christ would be made known abroad. Healing will yet be manifested in the streets and homes of our villages and cities as it used to be in the days of the Lord Jesus and of the early church, to the glory of God.

Faith Is For All

We must deal very briefly with a problem that concerns faith, especially for salvation, as it affects not a few. It is the wrong idea, founded upon John 12:39-40, that God reserves faith for some but denies it to others. “Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said, ‘He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart.’” (See also Isaiah 6:10.) Of whom is the Holy Spirit speaking in this case? It is of the Jews. “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled” (John 12:37-38). The problem is easily resolved when one sees that it is not the individual Jew who is denied faith, but the Jewish nation. In this very chapter, Jesus calls Jews to believe: “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:36). Would He have said this if already He had denied them grace to believe?  Again He says, “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me… I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (verses 44-46). All of the apostles were Jews; most of the early church were Jews; and at Pentecost, three thousand Jews were added to the church. Why did not God allow the Jewish nation to accept the Christ? Because if they had done so, Jesus would have been a king under the Old Covenant, and not a universal Savior under the New Covenant. He had to be rejected by His own so that He could be the Lamb slain, in the will of God, from the foundation of the world. This great truth of God’s purpose in preventing the Jewish nation from accepting Jesus as Messiah is the theme of Romans 10 and 11, where Paul explains that in the end all will be well, for “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:25-26). This will happen when the Lord Jesus returns the second time, and there will be a great national Yom Kippur, that is, Day of Atonement, as Zechariah reveals (Zechariah 12:10-14).

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
To work, and speak, and think for Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me.

Ready for all Thy perfect will,
My acts of faith and love repeat,
Till death Thy endless mercies seal,
And make the sacrifice complete.

—Charles Wesley—
[from the hymn
O Thou Who Camest From Above]

 


Footnotes

  1. From Tyndale’s Prologues to the Five Books of Moses.
  2. Many Christians today have no familiarity with the fourteen books which comprise the Apocrypha. As far back as the days of Jerome (c. 345-420 a.d.), who translated Old and New Testaments into Latin (a work known as the Vulgate), these books were not considered canonical (that is, to be included in the list of inspired Scripture); however, they were considered edifying religious literature (much as modern readers look on Pilgrim’s Progress or My Utmost for His Highest). Even after the Roman Catholic Church (which in 1546 at the Council of Trent, declared the books canonical and anathematized anyone who didn’t accept them as such) and the Protestant Reformation parted ways on the inspiration of these books, Protestant publishing houses usually bound the Apocryphal books between the Old and New Testaments. This was probably true of the Bibles used by Bunyan and Whitefield in the examples Pastor Gutteridge cites.
  3. Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with the canonical book Ecclesiastes) is also called The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach or simply Sirach.
  4. From Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, paragraphs 62-65
  5. See comments on Ecclesiastes 10:10 in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.
  6. From Ellison’s poem “Be Thou Removed” in his book The Anointed Life (D. Arnold & Co.: 1949).
  7. Gentian violet—a simple topical, antifungal agent
  8. G.C. Bevington, Remarkable Incidents and Modern Miracles Through Prayer and Faith, pages 109-110
  9. Bevington, pages 111-112
  10. Leviticus 13-14
Series Navigation<< The Nature of Faith: Ch. 3 of ‘Faith Is Substance'The Perfecting of Faith: Ch. 5 of “Faith Is Substance” >>
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