TENTH SECTION.-xi. 1-40.
The Fulness of Faith.
FAITH—THE SENSE FOR THE UNSEEN.
XL—1. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen.
2. For therein the elders had witness borne to them.
3. By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what Is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.
The previous chapter closed with the solemn lesson: There is no alternative, believing or drawing back ; there is no safety or strength for the Christian, but to be strong in faith; there is no way of pleasing God, of abiding in His presence and favour, but by faith. If any man draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in him. And so, after the teaching of the Epistle as to what God hath done, we are now to see that for our enjoyment of its power and blessing but one thing is needed—the fulness of faith. lt will be shown us how this is the key to the life of all God's saints, and to all that God did for them.
The writer begins by a general statement of what faith really is in its nature and action. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen. Faith is the spiritual faculty of the soul which deals with the spiritual realities of the future and the unseen. Just as we have our senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world. Just as the sense of seeing or hearing is a dormant power till the objective reality, the light or the sound, strikes it, so faith in itself is a sense with no power beyond the possibility or capacity of receiving the impressions of the eternal. lt is as an empty vessel which wants to be filled with its unseen contents. It is only when the eternal realities draw near and exercise their power that faith becomes and is the substance of things hoped for, the foundation which they lay in the soul, the proof or conviction of things unseen, the convincing power with which they give evidence and proof of their own supernatural existence.1 Faith as a dormant faculty is the capacity for receiving this communication; faith as an active power is what it is in virtue of the overshadowing of the lnvisible. The Invisible takes the initiative and wakens faith; faith receives the impression and seeks for ever fuller union with it
Faith is thus much more than trust in the word of another. That trust is of extreme importance as its initial exercise, but
1 The two words substance and proof are used both in the objective and subjective sense. The word for substance properly means the foundation, and is used of the real nature of a thing as opposed to appearance. So, in chap. i. 3, of the substance of God, the divine essence. Or it is used of the confidence which knows that it rests on a sure foundation. So, in chap. iii. 14, the beginning of our confidence. It is of importance to hold fast the connection between the two meanings. So the word proof, or conviction, from the verb used in passages, as, The Spirit shall convince of sin, and often elsewhere of reproof, chiding, means both the conviction of guilt, or the conviction of a truth which is brought from without, and the subjective conviction which comes when one submits and allows himself to be convicted. It thus means both the means of proof and the proof itself. See 2 Tim. iii. 16—Scripture profitable for reproof.
the word must only be the servant leading in to the divine truth it contains, the living person from whom it comes. To deal too exclusively with the word as the ground of faith will lead to a faith that is more intellectual than spiritual, a faith that, as the Church so universally shows, rests more in the wisdom of men, in the power of reason, than in the power of God. We need to be persuaded very deeply that faith is not only a dealing with certain promises, but an unceasing spiritual intercourse with the unseen world around us. Just as in breathing, our lungs, or in seeing, our eyes, hold themselves open to receive unceasingly, from the air or the light, what they without ceasing in the literal sense press upon us, so faith is the unceasing reaching out heavenward of that spiritual sense to which things future and unseen reveal themselves as near and present, as living and powerful. Faith must in the spiritual life be as natural, as unceasing, as our breathing and seeing when we are doing our ordinary work.
For therein the elders had witness borne to them. Of Abel we read: He had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts. And Enoch: He had witness borne to him that he had been well pleasing to God And so it is said of all, ver. 39: These all had witness borne to them through their faith. Faith does not depend for its blessing on the intensity of its effort; the unseen world, the eternity that surrounds us, is all filled by the living God; and to the faith that opens itself heavenward He bears witness. Let us be sure of this: faith can grow into firm and full assurance, it finds its confidence not in itself but in God. Let us count upon it, the faith that seeks for the eternal will be met by God and have the witness borne by Himself that God counts us righteous, that we are well-pleasing in His sight.
By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear. This visible world is to man his great temptation to forget God. Faith is the eye with which he can see God in all, which makes every part of it the transparent revelation of the nearness and goodness of God. By faith we understand that all was framed by God; by faith we see divinity and omnipotence in all, so that what is seen is known as made out of things that do not appear. The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, even His eternal power and Godhead. Faith sees His superscription on every part of His handiwork, sees it all pervaded by the living God; surrounded by the things that perish and pass away, it yet stands in the midst of eternity, it knows itself allied to the unchangeable One. The world, instead of being a hindrance, becomes a help in revealing the everlasting God. And faith finds its life and its delight and its everincreasing strength in meeting everywhere the God who delights to bear witness of Himself to them that seek after Him.
7. Faith is mostly thought of as a power by which we grasp the heavenly things, anil we weary ourselves in vain attempts to do so. No, faith is the substance, the substructure, that the dioine things lay in me, the proof they glve in me of their actual reality. Just as the light of the sun is its own evidence and proof, so with the light of God. The more we see this, the more confident will our hope be that they will prove themselves to us, and the more meek and patient and humble will be the spirit in which we wait for their self-revelation.
2. The rules for the strengthening of faith are thus very simple. Regard the unseen world as an actually existing kingdom of dioine truth and power, which seeks to conquer and get possession of and bless you. Accept the measure of faith there is within you as the proof of its existence and operation, the pledge of a fuller revelation. Accept all that is revealed of lt in the word as a finger-post to wake the longing and to show the way to the full possession. Set the heart open, in holy separation, from the world; in meditation and adoration and expectation the unseen world can become more real and more near than the seen.
3. Nothing can be a proof of anything but that which partakes of the nature of the thing proved. Thus it is with faith and the spiritual world.
ABEL-THE SACRIFICE OF FAITH.
XI.—4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness In respect of his gifts: and through It he being dead yet speaketh.
One of the chief words of the Epistle is offering, sacrifice. Christ "offered Himself unto God." "He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." The inner spirit and power of that life by which Christ pleased His Father, and put away sin, and gained His seat on the throne of the Majesty on high, was —the offering of His body. As the Leader of our salvation He guides His people in the same, the new and living way, that of self-sacrifice.
lt is a most remarkable and deeply suggestive fact that among those who have preceded us in the way of faith, we should find that with the very first one, Abel, the first fruit of faith was to sacrifice. The disposition, of which sacrifice is the expression, lies at the very root of the life of faith. lf 1 would in this chapter learn what faith is, and how l can grow strong in faith, I must mark well what the very first step is: By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice.
We know what the double meaning was of Abel's sacrifice. It was, on the one hand, his offering to God of a life to be given up to death, and so in his stead to bear the death which is in its very nature the punishment of sin. lt was an acknowledgment of the righteous judgment of God against sin; the confession that without blood-shedding there could be no remission of sins. It was an act of faith; he counted that the sacrifice would be acceptable, and that with it he would be accepted too. On the other hand, the sacrifice was the offering and yielding up himself to God and His service. He knew it was something that lay in the very nature and spirit of a true sacrifice, that it could not be pleasing to God if he offered the lamb, and kept back himself. No, the sacrifice was the double confession—that he was unworthy to offer himself to God without atonement, but that, believing that in the sacrifice he was accepted, he gave himself to God's worship and service, he gave himself to the very death, to die to self and live to God. And it was as if his own death had to confirm and seal the truth; the man who had offered the sacrifice of faith, had founded his worship in the death of a lamb, had to die himself to find the way to God. The atoning sacrifice has ever two sides; the lamb was at once a substitute and a symbol, its death an atonement and a consecration.
Faith draws nigh to God through sacrifice; in Christ this truth finds its full realisation. By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Our access to God and our fellowship with Him can only be in Christ's finished work. We have boldness through His blood His blood cleanses and perfects the conscience. The first great work of faith is to appropriate the sacrifice and obedience and righteousness of Christ as accepted for us, to hold it up before God, and by the Holy Spirit to have the witness given, and to experience how acceptable we are. But faith cannot fully do this without at the same time entering into the inner spiritual significance of the sacrifice, and becoming partaker of the spirit and disposition it breathes, and in which alone it has its value. Faith sees that the law of self-sacrifice, under which the Head went in to God, is the law for each of the members. There is no way out of sin and sinful flesh, but through death to life. And as faith sees the beauty and the power of the truth in Christ, it hungers for conformity to Him in this His highest moral glory, and becomes itself the root of an inward self-sacrifice, a continual offering of itself to God and His holiness; because it is nothing less than a real, living union with Christ the High Priest Himself. Christ became our Substitute because He was our Head; faith begins with the knowledge of him as Substitute, but grows up into Him, the Head of all things, and specially in the fellowship of His death. We find this truth throughout Scripture. All that is said in Rom. vi. and Col. iii. of our being dead to sin in Christ, and alive to God, in 2 Cor. iv. of bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus that His life may be manifested in us, in Gal. ii. and vi. of our being crucified with Christ, being crucified to the world, in Phil. iii. of our being made conformable to His death, points to this—the inward spirit and disposition of selfsacrifice is born within us by His Spirit, is breathed in us every day where there is true communion with Him. The blessing of Christ's death as atonement is only surpassed because it is only fulfilled in that of His death as fellowship.
Beloved Christian, we know what the great lesson of the Epistle is: the way into the Holiest is opened up, we can live and abide continually in the presence of God. And now the chapter is to teach us how the power to come thus near and abide near to God, to enjoy the full salvation provided for us, is given to faith alone. And Abel, the first of the men of faith, teaches us just what the Epistle, what Christ our High Priest has taught—that the way to God, that the way of faith, is the way of sacrifice, of death. Christ entered in to God in the way of self-sacrifice; in faith I accept of Him, and His entrance into God's presence is mine; in union with Him, once and for ever mine. His self-sacrifice becomes the spirit and the power of my life, and the life of faith in me becomes the union of the two—His and my self-sacrifice.
God said: No man shall see Me and live. Through death, the death of Christ, our death in and with Him, is the way to God. This is the new and living way, the way into the Holiest. Let us walk in it, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Let us yield ourselves in great simplicity and humility to die to self, as we confess our helplessness, and look to God to quicken us in Christ. Let us tarry in childlike dependence and patience, with the one desire, to please the Father as Jesus pleased Him. And as we wait, and patiently do the will of God, He may show us how, in the once and for ever of His death and resurrection, there is for us a perfect entrance into the perfect life that has been offered to our faith.
7. Abel had witness borne him that he was rightevus. As he bowed to God's rightevus judgment on sin, and trusted in God's rightevus delioerance from it through sacrifice, he was rightevus in God's sight. As he worshipped with his eye on the dying lamb, he had witness borne to him. How l know not. As with my eye on the dying Lamb l worship, the witness comes to me by the Holy Ghost that l am rightevus.
2. Let me believe in the immeasurable power of the blood of the Lamb, until my whole being is filled with the witness of the Holy Ghost.
3. The more l gaze, in confession and trust, on the dying Lamb, the more may l claim the spirit of His sacrifice to enter into me, and make me conformed to His likeness.
4. A more excellent sacrifice. Cain brings his offering without death, without blood—tht spirit and religion of the world. With Abel and the hosts of heaven lt is all—the blood oftn Lamb.
ENOCH—THE WALK OF FAITH.
XI.—5. By feith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for before his translation he hath had witness borne to Mm that he had been well-pleasing unto God
6. And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him: for he that oometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.
The sacrifice of faith is the entrance to the life of faith, and ever remains its chief characteristic. On the sacrifice of faith there follows the walk of faith—abiding, continuous fellowship is the fruit of Christ's self-sacrifice and ours. On Abel follows Enoch. Abel shows how death is the entrance to life: he triumphs over death by submitting to it. ln Enoch, we see how life triumphs over death: he does not see death. Through faith Abel being dead yet speaketh; Enoch speaks as one who ever liveth. ln Abel we see how death leads to life. ln Enoch we see the life that never dies. ln Abel we see Christ the crucified, and the boldness we have through the blood to enter in in the new and living way that goes through the rent veil. In Enoch we see Christ glorified and have life in the Holiest —the walk with God, the living One.
ln connection with Enoch there are three things taught us in regard to faith. The first is, as to its nature. He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him Faith is the spiritual sense by which we recognise the presence and character of the unseen God; both that He is, and that He rewards the seeker. Desire is the root of faith; without a hunger for God His existence is a matter of indifference; the knowledge of His being does not affect the soul. Faith seeks for God; it believes that He is; it keeps the heart open towards Him; it bows in humility and hope for Him to make Himself known. To know God, to see God in everything and everywhere, in our daily life to be conscious of His presence so that we always walk with Him—this is the true nobility of man; this is the life that faith lives; this is the blessedness Jesus has now fully revealed in the rending of the veil. Faith can walk with God. He that cometh to God must believe that He is. And also a rewarder of them that seek after Him. Faith believes that God can be found; that He can and will make Himself known; that He cares for everyone who truly longs for Him; that He has a divine reward for the seeker after Him. In seeking Him the way may at times be dark and long, and the progress slow; faith honours God with its confidence as the God of love and truth; He will reward and bless. Let the deep restfulness of this assured conviction be the root of all your seeking after God.
The second lesson we have is as to what the reward of faith will be. Before his translation he had been well-pleasing to God. Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing. God created us for Himself: it is our destiny, we were made with the one object of pleasing Him, and being His delight. God is perfect goodness: a state of life in which we please God must be one of goodness and perfect blessedness. ln our fallen state we are well-pleasing by faith. Faith is the surrender to God. Faith honours God by acknowledging and seeking His presence, by expecting everything from Him alone, by resting on Him. Faith gives God His place and His glory; faith wills what God wills; faith lets God have His own way, and makes Him all in all. No wonder that faith is infinitely well-pleasing to Him. lf Christians only believed this, and only made it their one study to draw nigh and enter in, and walk before Him in the fulness of faith.
Then comes the third lesson—faith knows that it pleases God. Enoch had witness borne to him that he had been well pleasing to God. lt was by faith that this witness came (see vers. 2, 4, 39). lt is of the very essence of a healthy faith: God does not leave Himself without a witness to the soul that trusts in Him, least of all in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus promised to send from the Father in heaven the Holy Spirit, as a witness of all that took place in heaven on His ascension. All that the Epistle has taught us of the rent veil and the opened sanctuary and the entrance into God's presence, of Christ's perfect work and complete salvation as the Priest in the power of an endless life, has its seal and its worth and its power and its reality in our heart, from the Pentecostal gift. The Holy Spirit brought down, out of that Holiest of All within the veil, as an actual reality, the kingdom of heaven into men's hearts, so that the presence of God, and the Father's delight in His Son, and the Father's love now shed abroad in their hearts become their everyday experience and consciousness. And even so now still, to them who seek and receive and yield to the Holy Ghost, in His full indwelling and witness, faith receives and gives the witness that we are well-pleasing.
By faith Enoch walked with God. My brother, who with Abel hast drawn nigh to God in the infinite self-sacrifice of 4
Jesus, learn with Enoch to walk with God the walk of faith. Let the presence of God be thy one desire; the will of God thy one choice; the help of God thy one trust; the likeness to God thy one hope. Let every day, the most ordinary one, the most difficult one, be a day with God, as one of the days of heaven upon earth, a day of which faith is the beginning and the end. Let all the teaching of the Epistle, as to the wonderful, the perfect, the everlasting redemption in the Son of God, have this one result—that it make thee full of faith in God, and guide thee to draw nigh to God, to walk with God; and thou, too, shalt know what it is not to see death; by faith to be translated, and have it written—He was not, for God took him.
1. Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets, greater than Enoch too. And yet, the least in the kingdom was greater than John. And must lt then be counted impossible for men even now to walk with God, and to have the witness that they are well-pleasing to Him? Alas for the Church that scarce believes it.
2. The one great work of Jesus is to bring us near to God, in the nearness of unity of will and heart. And what He dves is in the power of an endless life; He abides continually, and what He gioes abides continually too. We can ever abide in God's presence and walk with Him,
3. By faith, that lioes in the unseen; that allows Christ to do His mighty work; that believes that the presence of God is now its home; and so enters into lts rest .
NOAH—THE WORK OF FAITH.
XI.—7. By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared' an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
In Abel we see how faith makes death the path to life. ln Enoch, how faith conquers death. ln Noah, how faith saves others from death by the work it does for them. The moment the entrance into the Holiest through the blood had been set open to us, we were called to the work of love (x. 19, 24, 25). If with Abel we have drawn nigh to God, in the death of Christ and the death to self—this is the root of the tree; if with Enoch we have given ourselves to a walk with God, in His presence and good pleasure—this is the tree growing from the root; let us, with Noah, do the work of faith, that can bless and save those around us—this is the fruit of the tree. ln his story we find all the essential elements of faith combined.
By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet. Faith has ever to do with the future and the unseen. lt lives in God's word and thoughts; it sees what the world cannot see: it sees all, the future too, in the light of God. When God reveals His terrible, almost incredible judgment, it simply believes. lt trusts not to its own experience or instinct, its thoughts or wishes. lt believes in the inconceivable fearfulness
ofva judgment to come. O believer! if thou wouldst live and save men, believe what God has said of the impending doom that is coming on the world.
Moved with godly fear. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane (v. 9), under the sense of what sin and death are, it was with godly fear. We are exhorted (xii. 28) to offer service wellpleasing to God with godly fear, because our God is a consuming fire. lt is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. How awfully and repeatedly our Epistle speaks of the fate of the disobedient . Surely it becomes us, whose eyes have been opened, with godly fear to listen to God's warnings, and then, under the mighty impulse of that motive, moved with godly fear, on some to have mercy with fear, snatching them out of the fire.
By faith Noah prepared an ark. Faith wrought fear, and fear wrought diligence, and faith guided heart and hand for the work of deliverance. No one had ever heard of a coming flood, and the destruction of a world by water. No one could ever have thought, if the world were drowned, of an ark escaping alone. But faith lives in fellowship with God; it knows His secrets of judgment and of salvation; it so possesses a man that he gives up his life to act it out. ln the face of the mockery of men, and the long delay of the day, and all the difficulties of the work, Noah held fast to God's word. Simply to listen to what God says, and in the obedience of faith to give up our whole heart and life to carry it out: this is faith.
To the saving of his house. The believer is blessed by God, to be made a blessing. The faith of Noah, made perfect by works, saved his family; and with the family he saved the race, and became the father of us all. His preaching appeared to have little fruit, and yet the whole Church of God, since his day, owes its life to his faith too. Man was created in God's likeness in this too, that he has power over other lives. The power begins with the family, but reaches farther. The man of faith who with Abel, in the one sacrifice, has passed through death to life, and with Enoch walks with God, has power with God, the power of life and of blessing.
Through which faith he condemned the world. The difference between the unbeliever and the believer is this: the one is a man of the world, and lives here; the other is a man of God, and lives in heaven. His whole life is a protest and a condemnation of the world. Abel, Enoch, Noah—all three were equally rejected and despised by the world, because they condemned its works. God grant that the life of his believing children may be so clear and bright, that the world may feel itself condemned by them!
And became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith,—the righteousness of standing in the right relation to God, of a life of which faith is the root and power. Righteousness has been defined the giving each his due. This is the worth of faith in the sight of God: it gives Him His place as God, in it the soul confesses that it is nothing, and that God is all. This faith God counts for righteousness.
The faith that Noah manifested with regard to the ark, and the salvation it was to bring, we must show in relation to Christ and His salvation. The opened sanctuary is an ark of refuge: Christ has completed and perfected all. But what work there is for us to do, in gathering into it all that can be saved! Let us, like Noah, give our lives to this. Let us listen to God's awful threatenings on a sinful world, and be moved with fear. Let us believe in the infinite power of the great salvation provided, with the love that waits to dispense and apply it. Let us believe in the call of God, that invites and enjoins each one of His redeemed children to be a messenger of mercy to the perishing, and that assures us that He will abundantly use everyone that trusts Him. By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house: does not this give faith a new attractiveness and value. By the prayer of faith and the labour of faith, by the death to self in Christ, and by the walk in the presence of God, our hearts can be filled with a love and a power that cannot be fruitless. The Holy Spirit that came from our beloved PriestKing on the throne in the Holiest, as a witness to God's pleasure in us, and to the indwelling of our Lord, came specially as an enduement of power, to make us in our turn witnesses for Him. Oh all ye who, by faith, have entered into the Holiest and its blessings, go forth and work the work of faith ; by faith bring in those who are still without . This is the faith that makes you an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
1. Abel, Enoch, Nvah: all types of Jesus. Abel: the rightevus one, hated and slain by his brethren, coming to God with sacrifice. Enoch: the beloved son, in whom God is well pleased, walking with Him on earth, and taken up into heaven. Nvah: preparing salvation, saving His pevple, condemning the world.
2. The one thing God gioes me is, Jesus the dying One, the lioing One, the redeeming One. The one thing He asks of me is faith. Faith will make me like Him. Beginning with the Abel~blessing drawing nigh to God through death, l come to the Enoch-blessing, the life of unbroken fellowship. And so l learn the secret of the Nvah-blessing, and become a saviour of others. And all, By faith.
ABRAHAM-THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH.
XI.—8. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an Inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went
9. By faith he became a sojourner In the land of promise, as In a land not his own, dwelling In tents with Isaao and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10. For he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker Is God.
TheRE is no child of Adam who is held in honour by such a large portion of the human race as Abraham. Jews, Christians, Mohammedans, look up to him as the father of the faithful. And God honours him as His friend! If anyone, this hero of the obedience of faith can tell us what the secret is of a life of faith. Our Epistle has called us to be imitators of them who through faith and longsuffering inherit the promises, with special mention of Abraham as one, who, having suffered long, obtained the promise (vi. 12-15). As Paul, too (Rom. iv. 12), speaks of those who walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had. Let all who have with purpose of heart determined, like Abraham, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God, listen to the lesson of his life. God expects from us, we do indeed need, and there is within our reach, the very same faith which he had.
By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and he went out not knowing whither he went. What was the object of God's thus dealing with Abraham? And what, in real truth, the worth and the blessing of his obedience? The call of God was no arbitrary one; as we see into its divine meaning we shall understand what God asks of us and what our faith must lay hold of. Man stands between the visible and the invisible. His sin and fall consisted in his having turned from God to the world. His redemption from the power of sin could only be found in his giving up the world and setting his whole heart upon God. It was to train him to this, to teach him to find his life and his happiness in God Himself, that the call came: Get thee out from thy country, and from thy kindred, unto the land that I will shozv thee. God wanted to have him alone with Himself, separated from all he could cling to or trust in, that He might teach him to find his all in Himself. And it was by faith, faith that not only saw the land, and the promise connected with it, afar off, but saw the living God near to fulfil the promise, that Abraham obeyed. The call of God is ever accompanied by the promise; true faith in the promise is ever joined to obedience to the call. Obedience is of the very essence of faith. Faith is always the power by which a man gives himself up to an unseen object, and receives it into his heart and being. It is in the very nature of things impossible, to receive God without receiving His will.
By faith Abraham obeyed. We have seen how it was by obedience, by the doing of God's will, the Son Himself was perfected, and perfected us: becoming the author of salvation to them that obey Him. Let us learn that obedience is the very life of faith, and the only way into the Holiest. Let immediate, unreserved, joyful obedience be the one thing our heart is set upon. And let it specially manifest itself in this, one of the root principles of God's will, His call to come out and be separate, and give ourselves to walk with Him whithersoever He leads.
He went out not knowing whither he went. Say not that you cannot understand what it is to come out and forsake all. You do not need to know. You need to know something else— that you have a God, who is watching and guiding you, and working out in you a character fit for heaven and eternity. The one great mark of that character, of likeness to the Son and fitness for heaven, is very absolute surrender to God, to let Him be all. Of that surrender deep humility, that only wants to obey and to trust, is the first essential. Therefore say to God, that at every cost, and in any way—you are ready to obey. He will never disappoint the trust of a soul fully committed to Him and His will.
By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise. He not only went out from Haran, but into Canaan. And not even this alone, but he sojourned, he abode, he lived there. He not only began well, but in faith and longsuffering he inherited the promise. lt is the great lesson of perseverance again. Every day, over again, it must just be obedience and faith, until God has brought us into closer communion with Himself, and can speak to men of us or through us as those who are His tested and trusted friends—men who live only to honour Him.
For he looked for the city, whose builder is God. By faith He saw the unseen; in hope he lived in the future. He had his heart as little in Canaan as in Haran; it was in heaven; it was with God. And we, who have been called to enter into the true tabernacle which God hath pitched—oh, shall we not obey, and go out, even though it be not knowing whither we go. Let us separate ourselves entirely from the world and its spirit; let us, like the Son, die to the creature, that we may live to God. A worldly spirit in the Church or the Christian is a deadly disease: it makes the life of faith impossible. Let us count it our worst enemy, and live as foreigners, who seek the city which is to come. Let us hear the voice calling us out to Himself, to close fellowship, to obedience as of the angels in heaven, to be a testimony and a blessing for the world. And let it be said of us too: By faith he obeyed, and he went out, and he sojourned in the land of promise, for he looked for a city.
7. See in Abraham how the whole life of faith is supernatural. His call, the promise of a country, of a son, of a seed—all is distinctly dioine, above all sense and reason, ft is only when the soul looks steadily at the really supernatural things God is to do for us and in us and through us, that lts faith will rest entirely on the power of God, and obey at any cost.
2. God will hold as personal intercourse with thee as with Abraham. God will be all to thee as to him. Let thy life be supernatural; perfect lmpotence under the operation of divine omnipotence —God by His 8plrit working out in thee His own life.
3. Be a sojourner in the land of promise—in the life opened up to us by the promises of God—the life in the Holiest of All, through the Holy Spirit. Live in the promises.
4. He went out, not knowing whither he went. Christ is not only Priest but Prophet, Teacher, and Leader. Trust Him to bring thee within the cell, and to guide thee all through life ln the new and lioing way. lt is a peace that passeth all understanding, a love that passeth knowledge, a power that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can think, that marks the life of faith in the land of promise. Let us go out, not knowing whither we go.
SARAH-FAITH IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.
XI.—11. By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised:
12. Wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many, as the stars of heaven In multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea shore, innumerable.
By faith Sarah received power to give birth to Isaac. To judge by nature and its possibilities, there was no hope of a son. But the birth of lsaac was to be a work of God's power: He had promised and He would perform. Sarah believed the promise, because she believed God the promiser; by faith she received power to become lsaac's mother; and of one who was as good as dead, there sprang up as many as the stars of heaven in multitude.
We are told wherein it was that, in sight of what was impossible with man, her faith found its strength: she counted Him faithful who had promised. She looked to the promise; she considered Him who had given it; she rested on His faithfulness. The faithfulness of God was the rest of her heart and her faith.
What is the lesson Sarah teaches us in regard to the life of faith, and the work that God would work in us through faith? From one who was as good as dead there sprang as the stars in multitude. God is the living God, who delights to give life in death. When Adam sinned, he and the whole race died; they lost the life of paradise and of God. God's great work is to restore that life. ln the Old Testament He showed this in a case like that of lsaac, by proving that the new race He was going to prepare must have a life from Himself, a life born of one as good as dead. lsaac's life was to be in a special sense a Godgiven life. ln the New Testament He showed it by the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ: God's mighty power revealing the divine life in the babe of Bethlehem. What God would teach us is: the new life must come from God; His mighty power must alone and directly work it, or all is vain. It is for this our faith must trust Him.
Just as really as the life of Adam, the life of lsaac, the life of Christ, was the immediate work of God's almighty power, is the divine life in our souls His work. And it is not only His work in its beginning, as if He bestowed upon us a life that we had to keep in safety, and to nourish and bring to perfection. No, as the tree grows every day on that root from which it sprang, so our spiritual life must every day stand and grow in God and Christ . One great cause of the weakness of the spiritual life of earnest Christians, notwithstanding their prayers and efforts, is that they seek to do the work that God alone can do. They know not that God, whose Spirit dwells in us, will maintain our life in a divine power, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight. lf they knew this aright, they would see that their one duty was in utter helplessness, in deep humility and dependence, to wait upon God and to trust and count upon Him to do His blessed work.
It is this Sarah teaches us. She knew what God had promised. For twenty-five long years her heart yearned for the son of whom God had spoken. At times her faith was sorely tried, but she ever came back to this one thing: He is faithful that promised! And in due time God did His omnipotent quickening work, and Sarah received power to become the mother of lsaac and of JESUS. And down the ages her voice of witness is heard: Trust God; He is faithful; He is the living God; He gives life from the dead.
The teaching of the Epistle speaks to us of the living God and the city of the living God to which we are come; of a High Priest who liveth, and liveth for ever, and of a work that He does within us, the power of an endless life; of a new and living way, in which we are borne into God's presence; of the law of life written in the heart, and of a life within the veil, in the Holiest of All. This new and wondrous life it has revealed is nothing less than the life and work of God in the soul. To the question which is so often asked, Why we do not experience that life more mightily, there can be but one answer: We do not allow God in Christ to work it in us; we do not believe in the continual indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit. Even as Sarah failed when she sought for the promised son by giving Hagar to Abraham, we fail because we seek by our effort to do what God will not allow any but Himself to do. Let us, like Sarah, come back from our self-devised ways, and enter by the new and living way; the way of death to nature and to self; the way of life through the Holy Spirit, into the life which God alone can maintain.
Faith is the power by which we take up into our being, and yield ourselves up to and become one with the object our heart clings to and reposes on. God hath spoken to us in His Son. His Son is the great promise to us, the token and the pledge of what God will make us. Let us look to the promise, let us look to the Son, let us look to the faithful One who has promised, and with whom it is impossible to lie, and we shall receive power to receive and bring forth the new life that is of God. Let us, above all, take the place before God that Sarah did as of one dead, hopelessly, helplessly dead, as far as the prospect of bringing forth a new life was concerned, and we may count upon it, God will do His work. lmpotence is ever one of the conditions of true faith. Sink down before God in utter emptiness; bow before Him and wait upon Him, and walk with Him, in deep humility and meekness of soul, as having nothing and being nothing; fall down as dead at His feet, and He will say: Fear not, l am He that liveth, and maketh alive.
7. Now, bow down, say to God that you trust Him for the wonderful new life the Epistle has revealed in Christ. Trust Him to reveal Christ, in the power of an endless life, within you.
2. Let every doubt and fear be met by looking afresh to the promise, to God the promisor, and to the faithfulness of Him who by an vath has confirmed His promise of blessing and of the power of the eternal priesthood of Christ to thee.
3. in this trust take thy place of deep helplessness and dependence and humility. Be nothing that God may be all. Just yield thyself for the lioing God through His Son and Spirit to do His mighty work in thee.
4. The full blessing of Sarah's faith was not only isaac, but as many as the stars in multitude. So with thee. As thou glvest thyself wholly to be filled directly from God Himself with the dlvine life, lt will break forth in blessing around. Blessing l will bless, and multiplying l will multiply.
FAITH-AND ITS PILGRIM: SPIRIT.
33.—13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted1 them from afar, and having oonfessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own.
15. And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16. But now they desire a better country, that is a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a oity.
MOST instructive is the description given us here of the way in which faith prepared the saints of old for the fulfilment of God's promises. First comes—Having seen them afar off: faith was to them the revelation of unseen things. Then follows—And having embraced them, they gladly greeted, welcomed, accepted, and appropriated them, and lived as those to whom they belonged. Then follows the receiving. Of the Old Testament saints it is here said, not having received the promises. Some of the promises they did indeed receive, as we have seen in the birth of lsaac. But the promises, in their full meaning, they did not receive; this is our privilege. Seeing, embracing, receiving are the three great steps in the life of faith.
On this follows a description of the life in which their faith was made manifest, Having confessed that they were strangers
and pilgrims on the earth. Faith is such a power that it rules the whole life. lt is the faith of a man that makes him forsake his home for our goldfields. If he sees his way to make a fortune, and return to some great centre of attraction, it is this faith maintains in him the spirit of a stranger and a pilgrim, whose heart is in the home land. So these saints proved that they were seeking after a country of their own, that they had no mind to return to that from which they went out, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly. Faith made them pilgrims and strangers, and secured them the divine blessing. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city.
Our great lesson is: Faith makes us pilgrims and strangers here on earth. Such was Christ; such are we to be. The moment we begin to press home the message to our own heart, many questions arise. Will it not unfit us for daily life? What if all men were to live in this pilgrim spirit, as strangers and sojourners? What would become of the development of the world? Do we not see that in science and politics and literature the men who give themselves wholly to these things, accomplish most? Those who come to a colony, and return home to spend their money there, never take the interest those do who give themselves to settle here. Is the true, intense, pilgrim spirit, really a duty for all? There is no more subtle temptation than to wait with what God calls us to do till we are first informed what others are to do, or what God is to do with the rest of the world. We may safely leave to Him who is ruler of all, the All-wise, what will come of obedience to His commands. To every question, And what shall this man do f Christ's answer is, What is that to thee I Follow thou Me. If we are disciples of Christ, each one of us must seek to have as much of His Spirit as can be. lf we are to be led by Him in the new and living way, to live with Him in the Holiest of All, we must, like Him, live here as pilgrims and strangers.
Faith makes heavenly-minded. As partakers of a heavenly calling we look to Jesus, who endured the cross and despised the shame. Separation from the world is essential to a life of faith. Adam's fall was a fall under the power and spirit of this visible world. Christ gave Himself that He might deliver us from this present evil world. The world we live in, the so-called Christian world, is still the same that rejected Christ. While professing His name, its spirit of devotion to the things that are seen, its pursuit of pleasure and riches and honour, its delight and its boasting of culture and prosperity, is a spirit utterly at variance with the Christlike, with the heavenly - minded spirit . This is the reason why so many seek to grow in faith, and fail. They would fain live in the Holiest, but they would do so without forsaking the world. Abraham and his seed lived as men seeking after a country of their own, as those who desire a better country, that is, a heavenly. Until the kingdom of heaven in its power, as it came down from the throne of God in heaven, becomes our one desire, and until we leave all and sell all for this pearl of great price, our faith cannot stand in the power of God, or overcome the world. If it be not our one desire to live as those who are partakers of a heavenly calling, yea, partakers of Christ, as those who are pilgrims and strangers, and make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own, as those who desire a heavenly country, no wonder if God is ashamed to be called our God, and our souls cannot taste the joy of a walk in His presence.
There is nothing so heart-searching as faith. lf we profess to believe all that this Epistle has revealed, let us prove it by following our Leader in the new and living way, and by living with Him in the Holiest of All. As we give ourselves wholly to this our faith will grow; we shall become men of faith, marked by this one thing—a faith that lifts us into the heavenly world, and makes us pilgrims and strangers here.
The eye of faith will become ever clearer, seeing perhaps at first, afar off, what so many cannot see—the promise and the reality and the possibility of abiding continually in the Holiest of All in the power of an endless life, separated and made free from the world and its spirit. The boldness of faith will become ever stronger—we shall greet and embrace, we shall claim and hold fast, all that God hath spoken in Christ of a life in the city of the living God here below as our very own. And we shall in patience persevere in doing the will of God, knowing that the power of God Himself and the Son of God is surety that we shall receive the promise. True faith begins with counting upon what God has promised, but it does not end there—it leads into the actual possession and enjoyment, in the power of God, of all it had embraced in His word. What God hath spoken to faith, His hand will perform.
7. Note well the three steps of faith. l must first see what God has promised. l must believe in the blessed life Christ can glve and maintain within me. Let us pray for the Spirit's enlightening (Eph. l. 14-20). Then l embrace, greet, welcome, claim as my own the promise, and expect its fulfilment. This in due time / receioe, in heart and experience. Whatever God has promised me l must expect to experience.
2. The promise is ever the expression of what God's omnipotence is going to work; our faith must ever be the expression of what we expect that omnipotence to work.
FAITH COUNTING ON THE POWER OF GOD.
XI.—17. By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
18. Even he to whom It was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19. Accounting that God Is able to raise up, even from the dead; from whence he did also In a parable receive him back.
As the characteristic of Abraham's faith we have here again the great word—offering. Abel offered; Christ offered Himself; Abraham offered his only begotten, and, in doing so, himself too. In some shape or other intercourse with God, the life of faith, always means sacrifice. ln a sinful world there is no way of drawing nigh to God, of coming out of the sinful nature, but by dying to it, and receiving a new life from God Himself, or rather by God giving His own life into the dead one to raise it again. There is no way to God but by giving up our own life, and what is as dear as life, unto death.
This sacrifice is only possible to faith. The faith that has seen and embraced the promise, that knows God as the living and life-giving God, and that dares claim and count upon His power to do to me what He has spoken, is the faith that has the courage for the altar and the knife and the fire. God's great object in leading His people in the path of faith is to train them for ever larger sacrifice. lt was a sacrifice of all he
held dear when Abraham left his kindred and his father's home. lt was a sacrifice of all his own thoughts and wishes, when he was kept waiting for lsaac twenty-five years. But all this was only to prepare him for the crowning sacrifice—the giving up of his only son, the son of the promise, to the death.
And what was it that gave faith its strength and its victory here in this his severest trial? It was faith in God as the almighty One, able to raise up even from the dead. ln the birth of Isaac he had learnt to know God as the giver of life, even where he was as good as dead. He knew and trusted his God, as God who quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as though they were. And what is it that will give our faith the same all-victorious strength, and prepare us for the same mighty exhibition of God's quickening power on our behalf? If we are to have the same faith, and the same experience of God, we must be prepared to make the same sacrifice. Our lesson of to-day leads us to the very deepest roots of the life of faith. The deeper we are willing to enter into the death to self, the more shall we know of the mighty power of God, and the perfect blessedness of a perfect trust .
In the faith of Sarah we saw what the meaning and the power was of faith in the living and life-giving God. But Abraham on Moriah carries us much further. Sarah trusted God to supply a power that was wanting in nature; Abraham to restore a life that had been taken away. Sarah is the type of a soul that waits on God for His quickening power, as an act of grace and faithfulness, ere it thinks much of the death of self. With her the quickening came to meet a deadness that appears simply the result of the weakness of nature. With Abraham all is different. lsaac, the God-given life, must be sacrificed, ere this new display of power can be expected. That sacrifice was to teach that even the God-given life is still subject to the power of fallen nature; that only through death can it be delivered from the power of sin and death; that only so can it become a life wholly possessed of God. The first time quickened by Him, and yet under the power of sin; the second time, dead to sin, and alive to God in the perfect life of eternity. It was the symbol of what was to take place in Christ Jesus and everyone who is made like Him in the fellowship of His death.
We see where this leads us in the Christian life. Even as Christ in His birth received His life from the Father, so we, too, in our new birth. But that life had to be sacrificed, ere He could enter the full life in the glory of the Father. Even so with us. The life God gives us in the new birth is only to prepare us for understanding and deserving and accepting and entering into a perfect voluntary conformity to Christ's death. As we see how much there still is of self, we begin to learn and long for what is implied in the death to self. It means a deeper insight into our own entire and complete inability to do any good. lt means a willing and a hearty consent to be and to do nothing, and to let God be and do all. lt means a real ceasing from our own works, and an entire surrender to the immediate and unceasing operations of God by His Holy Spirit, for Him to work both to will and to do that which is pleasing in His sight. It means such a hating of one's own life, such a denial of one's self, that one is content with nothing less than death to it.
It is the soul that seeks to follow its Lord in this new and living way, that feels the need of the faith in the living God who raises the dead, that will be fitted to exercise it. lt is the trial of faith calls out its power; it is the need of faith calls down the power of God. Oh, if we did but hear the call of God to bring the life He has Himself given us, with all its blessed experience, and yield it up to the death, how we should learn to know Him in His mighty quickening power. lnstead of the life with something of God, but far more of man, He who led Abraham would bring us to the place of death, where He would give us the assurance that henceforth His almighty power would do all, and we should find our blessedness in being nothing and allowing God to be our life.
Christian! Abraham offered up Isaac, accounting that God is able to raise him up, even from the dead. Take the place of death; trust God who raises the dead, and gives life in death; believe and thou shalt see the glory of God.
7. The highest manifestation of God's power is the raising of Christ from the dead. The highest exercise of faith by Christ was in death—He committed His Spirit into the Father's hands. The highest exercise of faith in a believer—the daily surrender of the lifi God has gioen us to death, in the faith that He will quicken it each moment by His indwellint Spirit.
2. Before isaac's birth Abraham had nothing to lean upon but the promise. After it he was in danger of leaning on isaac: therefore, isaac had to be gioen up. All gifts of God receioed in faith may become our trust, and must be gioen up to Him in a higher faith.
S. Our whole life every day, every moment, is to be the work of Almighty God arithin us by His holy Spirit .
FAITH BLESSING THE CHILDREN.
XI.—20. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come.
21. By faith Jacob, when he was a-dylng, blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22. By faith Joseph, when his end was nigh, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
IT is remarkable how much, both in this chapter and through all Scripture, faith has to do with the relationship of parents and children. ln nature the life of the parents is imparted to the children. ln the spiritual world it may be so too; the intercourse of faith with God reaches the children too; the man of strong faith is a blessing to his children. We have seen in Noah and Abraham and Sarah how largely their faith in God had to do with their children. And here we find four more examples.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. His blessing on his children was the manifestation of his faith in the promise of God to his father and himself, and the transmission of the blessing to them. By faith Jacob blessed each of the sons of Joseph, giving each of them their place in the future that was coming. By faith Joseph made mention of the departure of the children of Israel saying, " l die, but God will surely visit you, and bring you up out of this land." By faith Moses was hid three months by his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child. Their faith in the destiny they knew was waiting for the children of lsrael, and in the mercy of God watching over his people, gave them the courage not to fear the king's commandment. ln all these cases faith was the secret inspiration of their treatment of their children, and the source of blessing. Faith never confines itself to the person of the believer himself, but takes in his home and children.
And how is it that the Christian parent can secure this longed-for blessing for his children? There is but one answer: By faith. Our life must be all faith—that is, the unseen things must be our life, yea, rather, the unseen God must be our life. The blessing and the power are His; and it is as we have more of God in our life and in our home, there will be the hidden power resting on our children. Faith does not only mean a knowing that there is a covenant promise for our children, and a pleading of it in prayer. This is an exercise of faith, and has its great value. But the chief thing is the life; faith is the making way for God and giving Him place in our life. And when at times the vision tarries, and the promise appears to fail, faith understands this as only a call to trust God more completely and more confidently. As we hold fast our confidence firm to the end, as in patience and longsuffering we are strong in faith, giving glory to God, we shall know for certain that we shall inherit this promise too. l will be thy God and the God of thy seed.
From the patriarchs we learn what the atmosphere and whai the soil is in which there grows such a faith that blesses the children. They were living in the land of promise as strangers and pilgrims, or in Egypt as strangers and pilgrims too, longing for the return to the land. Their whole life was hope in God and what He would do. They were men whom God had taken hold of, to prove in their history how gloriously He would fulfil His promise. And they had nothing to live on but God. lt is a law of nature that no body can be in two places at the same time. This is just as true of the heart. When God took Abraham and his seed out of their country, it was that the land of promise, the land of separation from men, of separation unto God, might be to them the training-school of faith. They went out from the fellowship of home and family, to live in the fellowship of God. lt was there they learned by faith to bless the children.
Separation from the world, a being set apart unto God, the denial of self and its life, the imitation of Abraham in his going out, of Christ in His self-sacrifice,—this is the only way to the land of promise where the faith-life flourishes. To live wholly for God, to hope alone in God, always to walk with God, in all things to hearken to God,—this is the new and living way into the inner sanctuary, in which Jesus our High Priest leads us. What the land of promise was to the patriarchs, as the place for the life of separation and obedience and faith, that the Holiest of All is to us. That is the place of which God has said to us: Get thee out of thy land, to a place that I will show thee, and I will bless thee,—that is the only place where our faith can grow freely, and God can prove all His power in us, so that we, like they, can be a display of what God can do. And that is the place where our faith will in full measure be a blessing to our children.
lt is only by faith we can bless. God is willing to bless us to larger circles than our own house. He is calling for vessels, empty vessels not a few, in which He can multiply his blessing. He is the only fountain of blessing; as our faith yields to God, and allows Him to be all, His blessing will flow. Let the Christian who would be a blessing be a man of faith,—that is, a man who has nothing and is nothing in himself, and in whom God has free scope to work, and the blessing will not be wanting. Oh that God might have the place that belongs to Him in this His own world. And if that may not yet be—oh that He might have that place in the hearts of His people. And if it is as if even that will not yet be—oh let Him have that place, my reader, in your heart and in mine. Let faith see and consent and prove that God is all, and He will prove that He is a God of blessing for thee and all around thee.
1. Parent, teacher, worker, the secret of blessing in the work, the power to influence, is--faith. Not simply the faith in some promise at times, but the habit of a holy faith that makes God Hie All of our life. Have faith in God as the God of thy life, the God who maintains His life and presence within thee He will work through thee.
2. How blessed to be an instrument in the hands of God, with which He works out His purpose; to be a vessel He fills with His love.
3. Learn to regard thyself as set to be a blessing, and let faith and love mark thy whole life.
MOSES, AND THE DECISION OF FAITH.
XI.—24. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25. Choosing rather to be evil entreated with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26. Accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked unto the recompense of reward
We all live by faith. What we love and live in we believe in. He that trusts and yields himself to the visible and the temporal lives an earthly, fleshly life. He that looks to the unseen and the eternal, and joins himself to it, lives a divine, a heavenly life. Between these two faith has ever to make its choice. The clearer and more deliberate, the more conscious the decision is for the unseen, ihe more will the faith in God be strengthened and rewarded. The great difficulty in making the right choice lies in the fact that, by the victory which things seen and sensible gained in paradise, our eyes have been blinded, and the things of time, even where we acknowledge them to be of less value, have acquired, in virtue of their continual presence and their pressing claims, superior power. The great work faith has to do, and the best school for its growth and strength, is the choice of the unseen.
Of this choice Moses is a striking illustration. Just see what there was on the one side. The lust of the flesh: the pleasures of sin for a season. The lust of the eye: the riches of Egypt. The pride of life: to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. And, on the other side, to be evil entreated, to bear reproach. And what was it that enabled him to make a wise choice? He saw that to be evil entreated with the people of God is to have God as his portion and defence. He bore the reproach of Christ, in the power of the Spirit of Christ from heaven, lifting his heart above earth. Even as Christ, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, so he looked to the recompense of the reward. Faith in the blessing of God on the people of God; union in spirit with the Christ of God; the assurance of a coming world, with its reversal of the judgments of earth;—no wonder that all this guided and strengthened him to the choice he made—the good part never to be taken away.
We are studying this chapter in its connection with the Epistle, and its teaching as to a life under the leadership of Christ—a life in the new and living way of conformity to Him, leading into the Holiest of God's presence. We long to know how we can grow strong, and live in the full exercise of a faith that inherits the promise and enters into the rest of God. Moses' witness is clear: Let faith prove itself in choosing, once for all and for always, at any cost, the unseen—the reward will be sure and large. ln Abraham we saw this choice when there was no special opposition or persecution. This is the feature in Moses' choice we must notice: with the danger threatening us of being evil entreated, and bearing reproach, and having to face the loss of all, faith must not hesitate or halt To be evil entreated with God's people, to bear Christ's reproach, and count these greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt,— this is what faith enables a man to do, this is the spiritual discipline which makes faith strong. Faith looks at everything in the light of eternity, judging of it as one will do when the judgment day is past, and the glory begun; everything is seen in its true value, and sacrifice and suffering and loss and trial are welcomed as the training in which the glad decision, and the firm will, and the strong character, and the victory of faith are attained.
We have here the great cause of the weakness of faith in our days. There is no separation from the world. So many Christians seek to have as much of its pleasure and honour and riches as they possibly can, consistently with their profession of religion. ln such an atmosphere faith is stifled. Many hardly believe, or never remember, that the world, with its arts and culture and prosperity, amid all its religious professions, is still the same world that rejected Christ. The disciple who would be as his Lord, " not of the world, even as He was not of the world," seeks to say with Paul, " Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world!'
How wonderful is the place Moses occupies in the kingdom of God. A pattern of Jesus as a prophet, as a mediator, as an intercessor, in his meekness and his faithfulness, there are few of God's servants that stand higher. And what fitted him to take this place? Just this—the choice to give up everything for the reproach of Christ. Christian, wouldst thou live in the favour of God, and enter into His tent to meet Him as Moses did? wouldst thou be an instrument and a power of blessing, a man strong in faith ?—seek to be perfectly separate from the spirit of the world, refuse its pleasure and honour and riches; count the contempt of God's people and the reproach of Christ thy treasures. Ask for the enlightening of the Holy Spirit to teach thee what true conformity to Christ is, in thy relation to the world, its culture, its possessions, its friendship. Beware of judging of what is lawful by any human standard: Christ alone can teach thee what it means to forsake all, to sell all, to deny thyself, and take up the cross, and follow Him. Count all things loss to be conformed to Him. lt was in bearing the reproach of Christ a character like that of Moses was formed. This is the sure path of faith to power and to blessing.
Follow thou Moses, accounting the reproach of Christ thy riches, and thou shalt share with him the recompense of the reward. Let us therefore go forth unto Him, bearing His reproach.
1. Examine very carefully wher e thy danger ties. is it the friendship and honour of men? ls lt pleasure? is it the cares of the world? Whatever lt be, glee lt up. lt is only an unworldly spirit that can be strong in faith.
2. What is the faith that enables a man to bear all and to sacrifice all? Nothing but an eye that sees into the true nature and value of things, that judges of them as God dves. Yea, rather that we see God to be all, and the creature nothing except as lt leads to Him.
3. Exercise thyself in this faith by retirement into solitude and fellowship with the invisible. Beware of too free intercourse with the literature of this world: its spirit enters into thee. The world knows not God: make thy choice and maintain lt.
ISRAEL, AND REDEMPTION BY FAITH.
XI.—27. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who Is invisible.
28. By faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them.
29. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were swallowed up.
30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days.
31. By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace.
Ln these verses we have, in five examples, from the history of lsrael on its way from Egypt to Canaan, the truth confirmed anew that in all that God does in redemption, on man's part faith is the beginning and ending. Whether we look at His revelation as a whole, or at its individual parts, everywhere the one thing He asks, the one thing that pleases Him, the one thing that secures His blessing is—faith. ln the five times repeated by faith we see that in the greatest variety of circumstances and duties the first of all duties always is—faith in the invisible One. Oh that we might at length learn the lesson: as there is one God, and one redemption, so there is but one way to Him and to it— faith in Him. As absolute and universal and undisputed as is the sole supremacy of God, is to be the supremacy of faith in our heart. Because, when faith reigns supreme, it makes way for God, and God can become within us what He is in the universe, what He is in His very nature—the all in all.
The history of lsrael, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, is a real type and figure of the life of Christ in the soul. ln the illustrations taken from the beginning of that history, we have some of the chief steps of the Christian life strikingly illustrated. By faith Moses, with lsrael, left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king who would pursue them. That is ever the first step—coming out, being separate, parting with sin, bidding farewell to Egypt, the land of our birth, and not fearing the wrath of Satan or the world. It is by nothing but faith that this can be done, definitely and perseveringly. But faith can enable us to do it, as it did Moses. For he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible. Here is the mighty power of faith; it sees what others cannot see. lt sees, amid the thousand things others see and are guided by, something infinitely greater —it sees God. No wonder it leads a man to act differently from other men. On everything it looks at, the bright light of eternity, of God, is shining. No wonder that under the inspiration of that Vision it can do mighty deeds, for it sees God its helper and strength.
Let me here say to every believer that just as, in any pursuit, the eye by practice can be trained to see what others cannot see, so the eye of faith can be trained to see God everywhere. Abide in His presence till the heart is filled with it. Recognise Him in every thing that happens. Seek to walk in the light of His countenance. Seeing the Invisible will make it easy to forsake the world and do the will of God.
By faith he kept, with Israel, the passover and the sprinkling of blood, that the destroyer should not touch them. When faith is ready for the first step, the forsaking of Egypt, God meets it with His divine provision, and faith finds perfect safety and rest under the shelter of the blood. And if lsrael thus honoured God's word and trusted in the blood of a lamb—oh, shall, we not ten thousand times more honour the blood of the Lamb, and believe and claim that eternal salvation it brings us. We have been taught its wonderful power in conquering sin and death, in opening heaven, in cleansing and perfecting our conscience and heart, and bringing us nigh to God; let us open our whole being to the power of the blood that cleanses from all sin. Let our faith rejoice in the invisible God and the precious blood of the Lamb of God.
By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land. On the sprinkling of the blood there follows the entrance on a new life, the surrender to be led by God in a way that we know not, through difficulties to us insurmountable. By faith they passed through between the waters in a way man had never trod, in a way that their pursuers in vain sought to follow. Where nature fails faith triumphs, for it follows in a way where God leads.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down. The strength of the enemy, in which he trusted, in view of the impotence of God's people, availed nothing before the power of faith. When shall we learn, in quiet patience and perseverance, to wait upon God our seven days too, the circle of a completed time, until He gives the possession of the promised rest. Let our faith claim it; we are the children of a God who does impossibilities; we are called to a life of faith that expects and receives them. Let our life be—faith in God.
By faith Rahab perished not. Salvation by faith was not for lsrael only but for the heathen too. By faith Rahab was not only saved, but became one of the ancestors of Jesus, and one of the cloud of witnesses that tell of the blessedness of faith. With one accord they call to us: Have faith in God, all things are possible to him that believeth. Let faith be all with us, and God will be all. Let God be all and He will do all.
By faith. Let this be the motto of our life. ln every need and perplexity, with every desire and prayer, with every work and trial, with every thought of ourselves and of God, let this be the one thing we seek—ever to breathe a living faith in a living God. Once again l say: As absolute and universal and undisputed as is the supremacy of God, is to be the supremacy of faith in our heart and life. We can only have as much of God in our heart as we have of faith. And because God is All, and must be All to us, faith in us must be all too.
7. The old saints had less tight than we—how is it they had more faith than so many? lt is becavse we trust in the light we have, as we hold it in our mind and reason. They were thrown upon God and trusted Him. Let us but give ourselves over to the perfect life Jesus has revealed—what power faith would gioe us.
2. But notice everywhere how it was only in obedience faith could act In leaving Egypt, and sprinkling the blood, and passing through the Red Sea, and going round Jericho, and Rahab's delioerance—it was all, wholly and entirely, in obedience that faith acted and triumphed.
3. Faith is the powei of the will choosing God's will, entering into A uiid yielding to it. Wouldst thou be strong in faith stand perfect in all the will of God.
FAITH, AND ITS POWER OF ACHIEVEMENT.
XI.—32. And what shall I more say? for the time will fail me If I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel and the prophets:
33. Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34. Quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword from weakness were made strong, wazed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens:
35. Women received their dead by a resurreotlon.
With the entrance into Canaan and the fall of Jericho the first period of lsrael's history closes. lt would take too much time for the writer to proceed as he had done; he now mentions a few of the most prominent names from among the Judges, the Kings, and the Prophets, and then passes on to a general view of the very wonderful proofs that faith had given of what it could do or surfer. His desire is to take the veil from the heart of the Hebrews, and show them, what so many who know Scripture history will never see, that under and behind and within all the outward events recorded, there lives, as the vital principle, faith in God. The history is, on the one hand, the record of what God has done through and for those who have trusted Him; on the other, the proof that in God's leading of His people, the one token of His presence and working was always the spirit of faith which He gave. Faith in exercise is the breaking out of the divine life within, the very substance of things hoped for, the proof of the presence of things not seen.
In mentioning the great achievements of faith, our writer gives three separate trios. In the first we find mentioned what the heroes of faith had accomplished. In combat with their enemies, they subdued kingdoms; in ruling the people and opposing evil, they wrought righteousness; in dealing with God, they obtained promises. In the second, personal deliverance from wild beasts, from the powers of nature, from the violence of men, is in the foreground. They stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword. In the third, we have the experience of the power of faith for personal strengthening: From weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens. And then there is added one thing more: Women received their dead by a resurrection. By faith women conquered the power of death. There is no power on earth that can stand before the power of faith, because the power of faith is the power of God working in us.
The memory of the heroes and heroisms of the olden time may be most instructive, if we regard them in their true light . One thing that impresses us is, how little God has promised to faith that it will be freed from difficulty and danger. lt would be as easy to God to prevent the enemy coming as to give the victory over him. To do this would be infinite loss; faith would never be called into exercise; man would never learn to know either his God or himself as His child. Every trial accomplishes a double purpose. It gives us the opportunity of honouring God by the trust with which we wait on Him. And it gives God the opportunity of showing how faithful He is in watching over His child, and how truly He is working for him and in him. lt is in trial that all the heart of the child is drawn out towards the father, in dependence and humility and trust . It is in trial that God can reveal in the opened heart of His child all the tenderness and all the saving power of His love. Without trial there could be no school of faith, no growth of spiritual character, no strength of will given up to God and clinging to Him. Let us bless God for every trial, small or great: it gives us a grand opportunity for putting the crown upon the head of God, and of being made fit that He crown us too.
Another thought of no less importance, that comes as we think of the achievements of faith in the history of lsrael, is how closely they were all identified with the public welfare, with lives devoted to the cause of God and the people. Selfishness is the death of faith. How can ye believe who take honour one of another t As long as we seek to be strong in faith, for the sake of our own comfort and goodness, and the possession of power, even if we dream of using it all for others, when once we obtain it, we shall fail. lt is the soul that at once, in its weakness, gives itself up for the sake of God and others, that will find in that self-sacrifice the need and the right to claim God's mighty help. Gideon and Barak, David and Samuel, they were all men whose names and whose faith would never have been known, but that they lived for their nation and God's cause in it, that they were God's chosen instruments for doing His redeeming work in His people.
The sphere of God's special revelation is now no longer lsrael, but the world. What a work there is to be done in it! Among Christians and heathen, in church and mission and school, in temperance and purity work, in the great fight against iniquity and worldliness in every shape, in larger and smaller circles— what room, what need for the heroes of faith to subdue kingdoms, to work righteousness, to obtain promises! Let each of us offer himself to God for the struggle. And as we do so, let us remember well the double lesson: No faith without difficulties for it to conquer. No difficulty but faith can surely conquer. In this connection let us cease seeking faith in our own interest: let us lose ourselves in the work for God and souls. We shall lose ourselves to find ourselves back in God and His love.
7. Wherefore, brethren, having boldness to enter into the Holiest, let us draw near la fulness of faith. Llve the life of faith in the Holiest with God: then thy whole life on earth will be one of faith.
2. Glve thyself wholly to God—thy faith will have the confidence to ask that God glve Himself wholly to thee.
3. in the little things of dally life we need faith as much as in larger interests. Faith counts nothing insignificant, becavse nothing is good in which God is not. Faith yields itself to God for Him most literally and completely to be Ml.
4. Remember the real value of strong faith is—to gain motorics for God, to live for the salvation of souls and the extension of His kingdom.
FAITH, AND ITS POWER OF ENDURANCE.
XI.—35. And others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance; thatthey might obtain a better resurrection:
36. And others had trial of mocklngs and scourglngs, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword: they went about In sheepskins, in goatskins: being destitute, afflicted, evil entreated
38. (Of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth.
Faith has a twofold victory. ln one case, it conquers the enemy or the difficulty by securing its removal or destruction. ln the other, there is no deliverance from the trouble, and yet faith conquers in the power it receives to endure, and to prove that its spirit is superior to all that men or devils can do. The triumphs of faith are often seen as remarkably in those who obtain no deliverance from the threatened evil, as in those who do. After the mention of the heroes whose faith was rewarded with success, we have here the mention of those who, in the midst of suffering that was not removed, proved that their faith lifted them up above all the pains with which earth could threaten them. They were tortured, not accepting their deliverance when offered them at the price of their faithfulness, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Spiritual and eternal realities were by faith so clear and near that they reckoned not the sufferings of this present time worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed. The triumph of faith is seen as much in bearing a temporary defeat as securing a victory. The victory of the vanquished is often the highest achievement.
ln these men and women, leaders in the noble army of the martyrs, rejected and despised by the world, God sees the heavenly beauty of a faith that honours Him, and that counts His will, His favour, His righteousness, as more than all earthly happiness. By faith they had such a sight of God and His good pleasure, that they could with joy sacrifice everything to secure it. By faith they could, for the joy set before them, in the assurance of a heavenly recompense, count all the pleasures of earth as less than nothing. lt is one of the highest and noblest exercises of faith to suffer aright. And the blessing that comes through suffering is one of the richest rewards that faith can win.
God has given us these examples of those who by faith triumphed over the extremities of suffering, that we might from them learn how to bear our lesser trials. Their faith in extraordinary suffering must strengthen ours in ordinary. lt is in the little common trials of daily life that every believer can follow in the footsteps of these saints, in the footsteps of the great Leader of our salvation. By faith alone are we able to bear suffering, great or small, aright, to God's glory or our own welfare.
Yes, by faith alone. Faith sees it in the light of God and eternity; its short pain, its everlasting gain; its impotence to hurt the soul, its power to purify and to bless it. lt sees Him who allows it, with us in the fire, as a refiner watching our purging and perfecting, as a helper of our strength and comfort lt sees that the forming of a character like that oi the Son of God, maintaining at every cost the Father's will and honour, is more than all the world can give. It sees that to be made partaker of His holiness, to have the humility and weakness and gentleness of the Lamb of God inwrought into us, and like Him to be made perfect in suffering, is the spirit of heaven, and it counts nothing too great to gain this treasure. By faith alone, but by faith most surely, we can, in the midst of the deepest suffering, be more than conquerors.
We live in a world of suffering. What a privilege that suffering, instead of unfitting or excluding us, is God's special invitation, to trust and glorify Him. As we read of all that the men of faith had done, more than one has thought of his own unfavourable circumstances and his feeble strength; never could his faith reach to the achievements of the men who are set before him as an example. What a privilege that there is no suffering so great and depressing, so little and harassing, but can be a school of faith, a heavenly instruction in the blessed art of making God all; of proving that, for God's will and submission to it, we are willing to bear all. Faith transfigures suffering, makes it transparent with the love of God, the presence of Jesus, the beauty of holiness, the blessing of heaven.
As long as we live under the influence of the world and the flesh, all this appears but as a beautiful thought, without reality or possibility. Our Epistle is speaking to those whom it has led into the Holiest of All, who are walking in the new and living way of the will of God, of the obedience and the selfsacrifice and the death of Jesus. lt is as we tarry in God's presence, and seek, above everything, His holiness and His will, that we shall look at things as God does, and regard suffering in His light. Let this be our aim. Our passage gives new comfirmation to the one lesson: By faith alone! Would you please God, would you conquer sin and the world, would you be holy and perfect, would you live as the heir of heaven and eternity,—live as a man of faith, meet every trial in the spirit of a joyful faith in God; every trial will make thee more meet for, and bring thee nearer to, God's blessed presence.
1. in the Old Testament prosperity was promised. And yet faith could endure adversity. in the New, we are tavght to expect adversity: the cross is the symbol of our faith; the Man of Sorrows is our Leader; how much more ought we to be able to endure.
2. Let every suffering one, everyone who is bound to a sick-bed or bowed down under some cross, learn to believe that in the affliction we can greatly glorify God by faith, and that by faith we can become teachers and helpers of others, fulfilling, by example and intercession, in our measure, a very blessed part of the work of the body of Christ.
SOME BETTER THING FOR TJS.
33.-39. And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise,
40. God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us, they should not be made perfect.
lN these closing verses we have the summing up of the chapter. The superior excellence of the New Testament is stated to be this, that we have some better thing, something perfect, which the saints had waited for but had never seen. We are told of them what it was that they had, and what they had not. These all, having had witness borne them through their faith, received not the promise. They received not the promise. There were indeed certain promises of which they received the fulfilment (see vi. 15; xi. 33). But the great promise of Jesus Christ and His redemption and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the better promises of the better covenant, these they received not. They died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar and embraced them. They saw, and rejoiced in the promises, into the full possession of which it is our privilege toenter.
They received them not, but they had witness borne to them through their faith (see xi. 2, 4, 6). The living God, who had given them the promise, and was waiting His own time for the fulfilment, gave them witness through faith that they were pleasing to Him. The witness borne to Abel that he was righteous, and to Enoch that he pleased God, was given to them all. God was not ashamed to be called their God, and to let them know it. With all the difference between their faith and ours, in regard to the clearness of the revelation and the actual possession of the promise, in this their faith was one with ours—the unseen God revealed Himself to them and was their God.
They received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that they apart from us should not be made perfect. The two words here, better and perfect, are the words which characterise the new dispensation, the time of the fulfilment of the promise. We said before, the word "better" occurs thirteen times. Christ has inherited a better name; He has brought us a better hope; He is the surety of a better covenant enacted in better promises; in Him we have the better country and the better substance. To them God spake in the prophets; to us in the Son. To them was offered the rest of Canaan; to us the rest of God. Their high priest was a man who died; ours is a Priest for ever, in the power of an endless life. Their sanctuary was on earth, and even that had its veil; ours is the true sanctuary, with the veil taken away. Theirs was the old covenant, in which there was no power to continue; ours is the new, with the heart made new by the Spirit. Theirs was the blood of bulls and of goats, ours is the blood of Jesus. Theirs was a sanctifying cleanness of the flesh; ours is the cleansing of the heart from the evil conscience. Theirs a worship which made nothing perfect; in ours we are perfected for evermore. Their worship was a witness that the way into the Holiest was not yet open; ours is the blessed experience that in the new and living way we have living access into the very presence and love of the Father. God hath indeed provided some belter thing for us.
That apart from us they should not be made perfect. The
butter thing God has provided is perfection. The word perfect is used fourteen times in the Epistle (see v. 14). The law made nothing perfect. Jesus was Himself, in His obedience and suffering, made perfect in His human nature, in His will and life and character, that He might have a true, new,perfect human life to communicate to us. As the Son perfected for evermore He is our High Priest, who having perfected us for ever in His sacrifice, now brings us, in the communication of that perfection, into real, inner, living contact with God. And so He is the Perfecter of our faith; makes us His perfect ones, who press on unto perfection. And our life on earth is meant to be the blessed experience that God perfects us in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight. Apart from us they might not be made perfect; to us the blessing of some better thing, of being made perfect, has come.
My fellow-Christians, the old saints had only the promise; we have the thing promised, the divine reality, the full inheritance of what were to them only the good things to come. The promise was sufficient to make them live a wonderful life of faith. What ought not the effect to be in our lives of having obtained the promises, having entered on the possession of that of which the mere promise stirred them so? As much greater as deliverance is than the hope of it, as a divine possession is than the promise of it, so much greater is the better, the perfect thing God has provided for us, so much greater ought to be the joy and the holiness and the nearness to God, and the power of our lives. ls it so?
lf not, the reason must be plain. We do not accept the possession with the intensity with which they accepted the promise. Our whole Epistle was written to expose this evil, and to set before us the glory of the better, the perfect thing God has provided for us in Christ. Shall we not listen to the witness' of the heroes of our faith in the days when the sun had not yet risen, and let ourselves be ashamed out of our worldliness and sloth? lf we will but yield ourselves to the glorious perfectiontruths of our Epistle, the perfection of our High Priest and His work, and press on unto it, He to whom it has been given to work His work in us in the power of an endless life, and so to save completely, will reveal in us that better and perfect thing as we have never yet known it. By faith they obtained the promises. By faith the fulfilment of every promise will be made true to us in the power of the Pentecostal Spirit, who comes from the throne of our great High Priest.
7. Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus. I t ls He has done all: lt is He who, as much, must do all now. lt is He makes the Holiest of All, and the entrance into ltt and the life there to serue the llolng God, a lioing continual reality. lf hitherto thou hast been lioing without the veil, do believe God has provided some better thing for thee too.
2. He dves this in the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Christ redeemed as, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. The Holy 8plrit is the all-inclusice blessing of the better covenant. lt is His to bring Jesus and heaven and the power of an endless life into us, and keep us in lt.
3. May God reveal to us what Abraham's going out from his country, what Moses' choice of suffering and reprvach, what israel's leaving Egypt means. lf we are ready to forsake all, me shall inherit all,