GIANTS OF FAITH
Holy Spirit's definition of faith is extraordinarily illuminating. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped
for, the proving [or, rather, the mental
conviction] of things [actual
things] not seen:"
(Heb. 11: 1). Faith is all life
squared to the things; facts which we know are behind the veil. They are "things
not seen as yet " (Heb. 11: 7); but as, above and below visible light, and above and
below audible sound, there are rays and notes the human has no senses to
perceive, yet rays and notes usually actual, equally real, so faith acts on God's statements the
realities in the unseen; and our power in this world depends on our vision
of the other. "I would rather be among great believers," said Dr. Gordon, of
In the very first family earth ever had, we find faith's extreme costliness, and the awful sundering power of conviction. "By faith ABEL"- the father of all the martyrs of the world "offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice"- because it was a blood-atonement - "than Cain." "By faith Abel": faith in what? All faith (in the Bible) is faith in the Scriptures, as uttered or inscribed by Prophets, and having God for their Author. Jehovah had said:-"The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, and it shall BRUISE his heel" (Gen. 3: 15).
Abel may, or may not, have known of Messiah's heel crushed by hammer and nails on wood: what any 'believer' must have seen in the words was the Fall undone by Messiah suffering the rage of the Serpent in undoing it. But Faith no sooner appeared on earth than it cost Eve's second son his: conviction of blood-atonement so suddenly isolated him from all the world, that His own family murdered him. Faith broke in a dawn of blood, because it had entered a world deeply infidel.
No sooner is justification and its saving gift portrayed lightning flash, than sanctification and its reward is on horizon. "By faith ENOCH" - the father of all the watchful of the world - "was translated." Abel is the longest dead of any man that ever was, or ever will be; Enoch has never been dead at all: faith creates both the martyr and the immortal. Enoch's faith is never named in Genesis, only his walk; but - as the Apostle rightly argues - a God-pleasing walk can come only from constant faith, acting; for “without faith," he says, "it is impossible to please God"; and what pleased God in Enoch's walk was its faith. In an age when evil men and seducers waxed worse and worse, Enoch lived a LIFE of faith: and his reward - for this is what the [Holy] Spirit emphasizes; Enoch (He says) acted on the fact that God is a Rewarder - was bodily rapture. Please me, the Flesh says to all; please me, the World says to all; please Me! God says to us all: and the walk of sanctity ended in a sudden heaven.
have had the worship of faith; and the walk of faith: now we come to the
activity of faith. "By faith NOAH" -
the father of all the God-fearing souls of the world - "moved by godly fear, prepared an ark." The
we come to faith travelling to the ends of the earth for God. "By faith ABRAHAM "
- the father of all the missionaries of the world - "when he was called, obeyed to go out." No poverty, no discontent, no persecution
drove Abraham from
We now reach as remarkable an example as any on record of faith in the literal Word of God. "By faith ISAAC"- the father of all the Bible-lovers of the world - "blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come." Two nations contended in Jacob and Esau: the Divine afflatus through Isaac - against Isaac's whole soul - gave the supreme blessing to Jacob; and the moment Isaac saw it, he cried, "I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed." Glorious faith! God had spoken through his unconscious lips: as immutable, as irrevocable as God Himself - changing the destinies of nations for thousands of years, and burying a father's hopes - Isaac instantly accepts the word of God against himself. No subtler test of faith is in the Church to-day - a test in which myriads fail - than the Scriptures which warn [regenerate] believers of coming penalty on [wilful] sin: passionate faith, with face in the dust, delights even in utterances that banish hopes and ruin dreams.
We now reach faith in the last moments of our sunset.
“By faith JAC0B”- the father of all the holy death-beds of the world - "when he was a-dying, blessed and worshipped." Could anything be more lovely? Amid the stern realities of the dying hour, the stumbling old figure, leaning heavily on the staff still grasped in his pilgrim hands, passes from the world pronouncing benedictions, and adoring God: so God passes over all the faithful, faltering life; and gathers the whole blaze on its golden sunset. As Spurgeon has said :-"Little faith brings the soul to heaven, but great faith brings heaven to the soul." And the reverse is true: the organist of a well known minister once told me:-"My minister preached on Genesis; and for a fortnight I was in Hell." On the deathbed the destructive critic will find no staff on which to lean. So we pass from faith in dying to faith beyond the grave.
"BY faith JOSEPH" - the father of all the Millenarians
of the world -"when his end was nigh, gave commandment concerning his bones."
I do not know any more marvellous
example of belief in resurrection. Joseph
might have had the pomp and gold of a tomb of Tutankhamen; ancient writers say
that he was so buried, until the Exodus: instead, he made this
slave-people sware that they would carry his bones across the vast wilderness,
in order that those bones might be in the
now reach the last of the mighty convictions which, in God's sight, make the
world's greatest men. "By faith MOSES" - the father of all the great
renunciations of the world - “accounted the reproach of
Christ greater riches than the treasures of
tremendous is our summons to faith, and how enormous, all down the ages, has
been the responding dynamic among the sons of men! Jesus walked up and down the shores of the
I heard the call ‘Come follow’; That was all,
Earth's joys grew dim –
My soul went after Him;
I rose and follow'd, That was all:
Will you not follow if you hear His call?
The Bible is a corridor between two eternities down which walks the Christ of God; His invisible steps echo through the Old Testament, but we meet Him face to face in the throne-room of the New; and it is through that Christ alone, crucified for me, that I have found forgiveness for sins and life eternal. "The Old Testament is summed up in the word ‘Christ’; the New Testament is summed up in the word ‘Jesus’; and the summary of the whole Bible is that Jesus is the Christ" (Bishop Pollock). "I can never doubt," says Mr. Spurgeon, "the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration; since I so constantly see, in actual practice, how the very words that God has been pleased to use - a plural instead of a singular - are blessed to the souls of men."