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Sunday, November 20, 2016

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The Possibilities of Faith by A.B. Simpson


The following is Chapter One of A.B. Simpson's book:
A Larger Christian Life [online Here or Here].


I've collected links to other great books by A.B. Simpson HERE.


THE POSSIBILITIES OF FAITH.
 

"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. "-Mark ix: 23.

These are bold and stupendous words. They open the treasure house of the Eternal King to sinful worms, and offer to the children of clay the privilege of God's own omnipotence and all the possibilities of His infinite resources. Side by side these two astounding declarations stand, "All things are possible with God;" "All things are possible to him that believeth."

I. Let us consider the possibilities of faith:--

  1. Salvation is possible to him that believeth. No matter how vile the sin, how many or how great the sins, how aggravated the guilt, how deep the corruption, how long the career of impenitence and crime, it is everywhere and forever true, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved." And thus alone can any soul be saved, for it is just as true forever, no matter what qualifications the soul may possess, whether the highest morality or the deepest depravity, "He that believeth not shall be damned." This blessed text opens the gates of Paradise and all the possibilities of grace to any and every sinner, and "whosoever will, may come, and take the Water of Life freely."

  2. Sanctification is possible to him that believeth. "Inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me," is still the inscription over the gates of our full inheritance. "Purifying our hearts by faith "is still the Divine process of full salvation. Thus alone can the soul be sanctified. It is not a work, but a gift of grace, and all grace must be by faith. It is not possible by painful struggling; it is not possible by penance and self-torture; it is not possible by sickness, suffering or self-crucifixion; it is not possible by moral suasion, careful training, correct teaching and perfect example; it is not possible even by the dark, cold waters of death itself. The soul that dies unsanctified shall be unsanctified forever. "He that is holy, let him be holy still: he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." But it is possible to him that believeth. It is the gift of Jesus Christ; it is the incoming and indwelling of Jesus Christ; it is the interior life and divine imparting of the Holy Ghost, and it must be by faith alone. And it is possible to any soul that will believe, no matter how unholy it has been, no matter how perverse it is; as mean perhaps and crooked as Jacob, as gross as David in his darkest sin, as self-confident as Simon Peter, as willful and self-righteous as Paul-it may be and shall be made as spotless as the Son of God, as holy as the holiness of Jesus Himself, who comes to dwell within, if we will only believe and receive.

  3. Divine Healing is possible to him that believeth. "The prayer of faith shall save the sick," is still the Master's unaltered word for His suffering church. And this faith must be the faith of the receiver, for in the epistle it is said, "Let not him that wavereth think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." Still it is as true as when the Master touched the eyes of the blind men to whom He said it, "According to your faith be it unto you." It matters not how serious the disease, it may be as helpless as the cripple's who could not in any wise lift herself up; as chronic as the impotent man who lay for thirty and eight years helpless at the pool; as obscure and as despised a case as the poor blind men who begged by the wayside and whom the multitude thought unworthy of Christ's attention, or as the sinful woman of Syro-Phoenicia, whom even the Saviour called a dog, and yet to her, as to others, the healing came when He could say, "Great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." It is not the faith which heals, it is the God that the faith touches; but there is no other way of touching God except by faith, and, therefore, if we would receive His Almighty touch, we must believe.

  4. All power for service is possible to him that believeth. The gift of the Holy Ghost is received by faith. The power of the apostles was in proportion to their faith. Stephen ''full of faith and power'' could meet all the wisdom of Saul of Tarsus and the synagogue of the Cilicians. The simple story of Barnabas is that "he was a good man. and full of faith and the Holy Ghost, and much people were added unto the Lord." The secret of effective preaching is not logic, or rhetoric, or elocution, but to be able to say, "I believed and therefore have I spoken." The success of some evangelists and Christian workers is out of all proportion to their talent or capacity in any direction, but they have one gift which they faithfully exercise, and that is expecting God to give them souls; and, therefore, they are never disappointed. The church has yet to see in the present generation the full possibilities of faith in the work of the Lord. The examples of a Moody and a Harrison are but types of what is possible for the humblest worker who, with a single eye to the glory of God and simple fidelity to the gospel of Christ, will dare to expect the mightiest results. Both these examples, perhaps the most marked instances of wide fruitfulness in the present generation, are persons without great natural gifts or educational advantages, and, therefore, the more encouraging as incentives to the work of faith. Humble toiler in the vineyard of the Lord, will you go forth to all the possibilities of faith in your work for Him as you realize the strength of your weakness and the might of your God? for it is "not by might or by power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
    The day has come for God to reveal Himself through the very weakness of His instruments, and to prove once more that He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the things that are mighty.

  5. All difficulties and dangers must give way before the omnipotence of faith. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been compassed seven days, and still the mightiest citadels of the adversary must give way before the steadfast and victorious march of faith. By faith Daniel stopped the mouths of lions, and was delivered, we are expressly told, because he believed in his God. It was not his uprightness of life, or courageous fidelity that saved him, but his confidence in Jehovah. Such faith has carried the intrepid Arnot through the jungles of Africa, and delivered the heroic Paton from the murderous fury of the savages of Tanna, and held back the stroke of death and the threatened disaster from many of us in the humbler experiences of our providential lives. Still the God of faith is as near, as mighty and as true as when He walked with the Hebrew children through the fire, and guarded the heroic Paul through all the perils of his changeful life. There is no difficulty too small for its exercise, and there is no crisis too terrible for its triumph. Shall we go forth with this shield and buckler, and prove all the possibilities of faith? Then, indeed, shall we carry a charmed life even through the very hosts of hell, and know that we are immortal till our work is done.

  6. All the victories of prayer are possible to him that believeth. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, shall ye receive." "When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things that ye ask, and ye shall have them." It is not the strength or the length of the prayer that prevails, but the simplicity of its confidence. It is the prayer of faith that claims the healing power of the unchanging Saviour. It is the prayer of faith that reaches the soul that no human hand, perhaps, can approach, and sometimes brings from Heaven the answer before the echo of the petition has died away. Yonder in the city of Cleveland a brokenhearted wife is praying with an evangelist for her husband's soul. At that very hour an influence all unknown to himself is leading him into a prayer-meeting in Chicago at noon, and before that prayer is ended the choirs of Heaven are singing over a repentant soul, and the Holy Ghost is whispering to her heart that the work is accomplished, not less surely than when on the morrow the swift mail brings the glad tidings from his own hand. The prayer of faith has reared those enduring monuments on Ashley Down, where two thousand orphan children are fed every day by the hand of God alone, in answer to the humble, believing cry of a faithful minister. These are but patterns of what God has always been ready to do and hindered only by His people's unbelief. Beloved, these possibilities are open to each of us. We may not be called to public service, or qualified for instructive speech, or endowed with wealth and influence, but to each of us is given the power to touch the hand of omnipotence and minister at the golden altar of prevailing prayer. One censer only we must bring-the golden bowl of faith, and as we fill it with the burning coals of the Holy Spirit's fire, and the incense of the great High Priest, lo! there will be silence once again in Heaven, as God hushes the universe to listen, and then the living fire will be poured out upon the earth in the mighty forces of providence and grace by which the kingdom of our Lord is to be ushered in.

  7. All peace and joy are possible to him that believeth. The apostle's prayer for the Romans is that the God of hope shall fill them with all joy and peace in believing. It is God's will and purpose that the unbelieving soul shall be an unhappy soul, and that he shall be kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on God and trusting in Him. Would you then know the peace that passeth all understanding? Be careful for nothing, and steadfastly believe that the Lord is at hand, supreme above every circumstance, and causing all things to work together for good to them that love Him. Would you be happy in the darkest hour? Then trust in the Lord and stay yourself upon your God. Would you have the perennial overflowings of joy? Then learn to say, "Though now we see Him not, yet believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." The joy of mere paroxysmal emotion is like the cut flower of a brief winter's day, separated from the root and withering before another sun goes down. The joy of faith is the fruit and perpetual bloom that covers the living tree, or springs from the rooted plant in the watered garden.

    "The men of faith have found
    Glory begin below-
    Celestial fruit on hostile ground
    From faith and hope may grow."

  8. The evangelization of the world is to be given to faith. The most successful missionary operations of to-day are sustained wholly through faith in God and the power of prayer. If China is to be evangelized in the present century it will be due to the faith of one humble missionary who has dared to attempt great things for God and to expect great things from Him. There is no field for faith so vast and so sublime as the mission field to-day, and there is no limit to the possibilities which faith may claim. Oh, that some of us may rise to the magnitude of this great opportunity and become workers together with God for the greatest achievement of all the Christian centuries.

  9. The Lord's coming will, doubtless, be given at last to faith. There will be a generation who shall say, "Lo! this is our God, we have waited for Him." As yet it is our blessed hope, but it will some day become more. And reading both upon earth and sky the tokens of His coming, His waiting bride shall hear the glad cry, "The marriage of the Lamb is come." To Simeon of old it was made known that he should see the Lord's Christ, and to some shall be given in the last times the Morning Star that shall precede the Millennial dawn. The Lord help us so to understand our times and the work the Master expects of us to prepare His coming, that we shall be permitted to share its glorious recompense of faith and even hasten that joyful day.

  10. But beyond all that has been said this promise means that all things are possible to him that believeth. It is possible to have any or even many of the achievements specified and yet miss the all things of God's highest will. The meaning of this promise in its fullness is that faith may claim a complete life, a blessing from which nothing shall be lacking, a finished service, and a crown from which no jewel of recompense shall be found wanting. There are lives which are not wholly lost and yet are not saved to the uttermost. There are rainbows whose arch is broken, but there is a rainbow round about the throne whose perfect circle is the type of a completed record and an infinite reward. Many of us are coming short of all that God has had in His highest thought for us. When the king of Israel stood by the bedside of the dying prophet of the Lord, Elisha put his hand upon the hands of Joash and helped him shoot the arrows which were symbolic of faith and victory; but then the prophet required that the king should follow up this act of mutual faith by a more individual expression of the measure of his own expectation. Alas, like most of us, his faith evaporated long before its needed work was done. He smote thrice upon the ground and then he stayed. Too late for him to recover his lost blessing, the grieved and angry prophet upbraided him for his negligence and narrowness of heart, and told him sorrowfully that his blessing should be limited according to the measure of his own little faith. Never shall I forget the solemnity with which God brought this passage to my soul in a crisis of my life, and asked how much I would take from Him and how little would satisfy my faith. Thank God He enabled me to say with a bursting heart, "Nothing less than all Thy highest thought and will, even the all things of faith's greatest possibilities." The Lord help us to look forward ever to the time when all these opportunities shall be passing from our grasp, and to live each day under the power of those holy aspirations whose true value we shall then be able to understand, and evermore to say with Him who cherished the same lofty ambition, "I count not my life dear unto myself that I may finish my course with joy." Beloved, are you missing anything out of your life, your one precious, narrow span of earthly opportunity, the pivot on which eternity revolves, the one eternal possibility that never will return again? God is waiting to give you all, and all things are possible to him that believeth.
II. The reasonableness of faith. Why should God make all things dependent upon our faith?

  1. Because the ruin of the race began with the loss of faith, and its recovery must come through the exercise of faith. The poison Satan injected into the blood of Eve was a question of God's faithfulness, and the one prescription that the Gospel gives to unsaved sinners is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

  2. Faith is the law of Christianity, the vital principle of the Gospel dispensation. The law of faith the apostle calls it in distinction from the law of works. The Lord Jesus expressed it in the simple formula which has become the standard of answered prayers and every blessing that we receive through the name of Jesus. God is, therefore, bound to act according to our faith and also according to our unbelief.

  3. Faith is the only way known to us by which we can accept a gift from God, and inasmuch as all the blessings of the Gospel are the gifts of grace, they must come to us through faith and in the measure of our faith, if they come at all.

  4. Faith is necessary as a subjective influence to prepare our own hearts for the reception of God and His grace. How can the Father communicate His love to a timid, trembling heart? How can God come near to a frightened child? I have seen a little bird die of terror in my hand, when I intended it no harm but tried in vain to caress it and win its love. And so the individual heart without faith would die in the presence of God in absolute terror, and be unable to receive the overflowing love of the Father which it could not understand.

  5. Faith is an actual, spiritual force. It is, no doubt, one of the attributes of God Himself. We find it exemplified in Jesus in all His miracles. He explains to His disciples that it was the very power by which He withered the fig tree, and the power by which they could overcome and dissolve the mightiest obstacles in their way. There is no doubt that while the soul is exercising through the power of God the faith that commands what God commands, that a mighty force is operating at that very moment upon the obstacle, a force as real as the currents of electricity or the power of dynamite. God has really put into our hands one of His own implements of omnipotence and permitted us to use it in the name of Jesus according to His will and for the establishment of His Kingdom.

  6. The pre-eminent reason why God requires faith, is because faith is the only way through which God Himself can have absolute room to work, for faith is just that colorless and simple attitude by which man ceases from his own works and enters into the work of God. It is the difference between the human and the divine, the natural and the supernatural. The reason therefore why faith is so mighty and indeed omnipotent is that it just makes way for the omnipotence of God. Therefore the two sentences are strangely and exactly parallel. "All things are possible with God." "All things are possible to him that believeth." The very same power is possessed by God and him that believeth, and the reason is that the latter is lost in, and wholly identified with, the former. How shall we illustrate the mighty distance between the earthly and the heavenly, the human and the divine, the finite and the infinite? Some one has said, take the strongest piece of artillery, load it to the muzzle with powder or dynamite, put in it the most perfect steel ball, be sure you have all the latest improvements in advance, then fire it, and your bullet will sweep through space at the rate of six hundred feet in a second. But in that second let God, with a single flash of light and without an effort or a sound, propel a ray from yonder sun or star or midnight lamp, and it will fly six hundred thousand miles. Six hundred feet, six hundred thousand miles! This is a feeble figure of the difference between the human and the divine. That ponderous gun with its slow but destructive power is a type of man's works. That gentle sunbeam and lightbeam with its silent, swift, beneficent minis-try is a type of God's infinite resources. This is the world into which faith introduces us. Surrendering its own insufficiency, it links itself with the all-sufficiency of God, and goes forth triumphantly exclaiming, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me," while approving Heaven echoes back, "All things are possible to him that believeth."
III. The possibility of faith. "If thou canst, believe."

  1. Of course we need scarcely say that faith is dependent upon obedience and rightness of heart and life. We cannot trust God in the face of willful sin, and even an unsanctified state is fatal to any high degree of faith, for the carnal heart is not the soil in which it can grow, but it is the fruit of the Spirit, and is hindered by the weeds of sin and willful indulgence. The reason that a great many Christians have so little faith is because they are living in the world and in themselves, and separated in so large a part of their life from God and holiness. When the Lick Observatory was built on the Pacific coast, it was necessary to go above the valleys and lowlands of the coast, where the fogs and mists hung heavily over the land, and select a site on the top of Mount Hamilton, above the fogs and vapors of the ground, and in clear, unobstructed view of the heavens. So faith requires for its heavenly vision, the highlands of holiness and separation, and the clear, pure sky of a consecrated life.
    Beloved, may you find in this the explanation of many of your doubts and fears, that your plane is too low, your heart is too mixed, and your life is too near this "present evil world."

  2. Faith is hindered by the weak and unscriptural way in which so many excuse their unbelief and lightly think and speak of the sin of doubting God. If we would have strong faith we must recognize it as an imperative and sacred obligation, and steadfastly and firmly believe God, and refuse ever to doubt Him. Let us not say we cannot believe. It is true, we cannot of ourselves, but all that God also provides, and He has provided for us the power to believe if we will choose to do so. Let us then no more condone and palliate our doubts as harmless infirmities and sad misfortunes, but "take heed lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."

  3. Faith is hindered by reliance upon human wisdom, whether our own or the wisdom of others. The devil's first bait to Eve was an offer of wisdom, and for this she sold her faith. "Ye shall be as gods," he said, "knowing good and evil," and from the hour she began to know she ceased to trust. It was the spies that lost the land of promise to Israel of old. It was their foolish proposition to search out the land, and find out by investigation whether God had told the truth or not, that led to the awful outbreak of unbelief that shut the doors of Canaan to a whole generation. It is very significant that the names of these spies are nearly all suggestive of human wisdom, greatness and fame. And so in the days of Christ, it was the bondage of the Jews to the traditions of the fathers and the opinions of men, that kept them back from receiving Him. "How can ye believe," He asked, "which receive honor from men, and seek not that which cometh from God only?" This, to-day, has much to do with the limitation of the church's faith. The Bible is measured by human criticism, and the promises of God are weighed in the balance of natural probability and human reason. Our own wisdom is just as dangerous if it take the place of God's simple word, and therefore, if we would "trust the Lord with all our heart," we must "lean not to our own understanding."

  4. Self-sufficiency and dependence on our strength is also a hindrance to our faith.

    God, therefore, has to reduce us to helplessness before we can have much trust in Him. The hour of His mightiest interposition is usually the time of our greatest extremity.

    A secular weekly tells the story of a little fellow whose experience represents a good many older people. He had reached that epoch in a boy's life when he gets his first pants, and the uplift unsettled his spiritual equilibrium. Hitherto he had been a devout little Christian and usually joined his little sister every morning in asking the Lord's help and blessing for the day, but this morning, when he looked at his new pants, and felt himself a man, he stopped his little sister as she began to pray for him as usual, "Lord Jesus, take care of Freddie to-day, and keep him from harm," and like poor Simon Peter, in his own self-sufficiency, he cried out, "No, Jennie, don't say that; Freddie can take care of himself now." The little saint was shocked and frightened, but knew not what to do. And so the day began, but before noon they both climbed up into a cherry-tree, and while reaching out for the tempting fruit, Freddie went head foremost down into an angle between the tree and the fence, and with all his desperate struggles and his frightened sister's, he was utterly unable to extricate himself, and at last he looked up to Jennie with a look of mingled shame and intelligence and said, "Jennie, pray; Freddie can't take care of himself after all." Just then a strong man was coming along the road, and the answer to their prayer quickly came as the sturdy arms in a few minutes had taken down the fence and Freddie was free, and went forth a lesson for life, to walk like Simon Peter, with downward head and humble trust in a strength and care more mighty than his own.

    Truly this is the soil of faith! Wisely said Habakkuk, centuries ago, as he contrasted pride and confidence, "His soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith."

    Beloved, has God brought you to the end of your strength? Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for it is the beginning of His Omnipotence, if faith will but fall into His mighty arms and cry like those of old, "Lord, it is nothing with Thee to help by many or with those who have no power. Help us, Lord, for in Thy Name we go against this great multitude."

  5. Faith is hindered by sight and sense, and our foolish dependence upon external evidences.

    The very evidence in which we must live and grow is the unseen, and therefore all outward things must be withdrawn before we can truly believe; and as we look not at the things which are seen but on the things which are not seen, they grow real, more real than the things of sense, and then God makes them real in actual accomplishment. But faith must first step out into the great unknown, and walk upon the water to go to Jesus, nay, walk upon the air; but where was something only void it will find the rock beneath, like the traveler in the Alps who had reached the end of the mountain path as it suddenly disappeared beneath a great mass of ice and snow and became a subterranean torrent, while the mountain rose sternly in front and the miles of desolation which he had traveled lay behind. What should he do? Suddenly his guide exclaimed, "Follow me!" and plunged into the descending torrent and then disappeared from his view under the great mountain which it tunnelled. It was an awful venture, but he must either follow or die, and plunging in, there was a sudden shock, and the whirl of waters and blackness of darkness, and then a burst of light, and he was lying on the banks of a quiet stream on the other side of the mountain, in the sweet valley below. The unseen way had led to life and light.

    So faith still walks in paths of mystery oft-times, but God will always make it plain. Is not this the hindrance to your faith, that you hesitate to believe before you venture upon the naked word of promise? Your faith alone is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. God help us to walk by faith and not by sight!

    Therefore God has to train us in the way of faith by difficulties, trials, and seeming refusals, until like the Syro-Phoenician woman, we simply trust on and refuse to be refused. He is always waiting to recompense our trust by the glad words, "Great is thy faith! Be it unto thee even as thou wilt."

  6. Finally, this faith is hindered most of all by what we call "our faith," and our fruitless struggles to work out a faith which after all is but a make-believe and a desperate trying to trust God, which must ever come short of His vast and glorious promises. The truth is that the only faith that is equal to the stupendous promises of God and the measureless needs of our life, is "the faith of God" Himself, the very trust which He will breathe into the heart which intelligently expects Him as its power to believe, as well as its power to love, obey, or perform any other exercise of the new life.
Blessed be His name! He has not given us a chain which reaches within a single link of our poor helpless heart, but that one last link is fatal to all the chain. Nay, the last link, the one that fastens on the human side, is as divine as the link that binds the chain of promise to His Throne of promise in the heavens. "Have the faith of God," is His great command. "I live by the faith of the Son of God," is the victorious testimony of one who had proved it true.

Beloved, in the light of this great provision, listen to the mighty promise now, and in His faith rise to claim, "If thou canst, believe. All things are possible to him that believeth," and cry, "Lord, I believe, nay, not I, but Thou! Help Thou my unbelief."

And now, beloved, this mighty engine of spiritual power is placed in our hands by Omnipotent love. Shall we claim, and by the help of God, rise to its utmost possibilities, and shall we from this hour turn it, like a heavenly weapon, upon the field of Christian life and conflict, and use it for all to which God has called us in the great conflicts of the age and for the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Our lot has fallen upon momentous times; the last decade of this stupendous century has just begun, and it finds the Church of God awaking to the greatest campaign of the Christian centuries, the evangelization of the world, with a view to the preparation for our Lord's immediate coming. What a glorious possibility! It is one of the possibilities of faith.

Last night as I sat at my open window, far into the night watches, from one of the cottages yonder, I heard the voice of prayer go forth all night long. It was a ceaseless and mighty cry that the mighty God would work with all His power and glory, and though the same words were oft repeated by the same voice, it never seemed to grow monotonous, for there was so much that language could not express in that prayer that it touched my heart with tenderness and solemnity, and seemed like a prophecy of that which I trust is to go forth from this mighty convocation and be caught up by all the world until it shall be answered by the voices of heaven above, proclaiming, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Allelnia! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." Oh, shall we take this engine of omnipotence, the prayer of faith, and turn it toward the heavens, and turn it upon the earth, and turn it against every foe, until we shall find it wholly true, "All things are possible to him that believeth?"

It has been proposed that we should form, this day, a Prayer Alliance, for the evangelization of the world during this present century, and the speedy coming of our Lord Jesus. Beloved, can there be a grander opportunity for the practical application of this great theme, and shall we not with one heart, join hands in believing prayer, around the world, until the happy day when we shall join hands once more around the Millennial Throne and praise Him for the glorious fulfillment?


Friday, September 2, 2016

Duane Miller's Healing Caught on Audio Tape


The following audio is from a radio broadcast of Focus on the Family around 20 years ago. On it Dr. Dobson interviews Duane Miller about his sickness and how God healed him while he was preaching a sermon on God's sovereignty in healing. The actual healing was caught on audio tape and is played at the end of the interview.


See also my blogpost:

Testimonies of the Supernatural Among Respected Christian Leaders





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prayer Possibilities by E.M. Bounds


The following is from chapters 4, 5 and 6 of E.M. Bounds' book The Possibilities of Prayer. I've collected links to all of Bounds' books on prayer HERE.


Chapter 4--Prayer-Its Possibilities


How vast are the possibilities of prayer! How wide is its reach! What great things are accomplished by this divinely appointed means of grace! It lays its hand on Almighty God and moves him to do what he would not otherwise do if prayer was not offered. It brings things to pass which would never otherwise occur. The story of prayer is the story of great achievements. Prayer is a wonderful power placed by Almighty God in the hands of his saints, which may be used to accomplish great purposes and to achieve unusual results. Prayer reaches to everything, takes in all things great and small which are promised by God to the children of men. The only limit to prayer are the promises of God and his ability to fulfill those promises. "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it."

The records of prayer's achievements are encouraging to faith, cheering to the expectations of saints, and is an inspiration to all who would pray and test its value. Prayer is no mere untried theory. It is not some strange unique scheme, concocted in the brains of men, and set on foot by them, an invention which has never been tried nor put to the test. Prayer is a divine arrangement in the moral government of God, designed for the benefit of men and intended as a means for furthering the interests of his cause on earth, and carrying out his gracious purposes in redemption and providence. Prayer proves itself. It is susceptible of proving its virtue by those who pray. Prayer needs no proof other than its accomplishments. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." If any man will know the virtue of prayer, if he will know what it will do, let him pray. Let him put prayer to the test.

What a breadth is given to prayer! What heights it reaches! It is the breathing of a soul inflamed for God, and inflamed for man. It goes as far as the gospel goes, and is as wide, compassionate, and prayerful as is that gospel.

How much of prayer do all these unpossessed, alienated provinces of earth demand to enlighten them, to impress them and to move them toward God and his Son, Jesus Christ? Had the professed disciples of Christ only have prayed in the past as they ought to have done, the centuries would not have found these provinces still bound in death, in sin, and in ignorance.

Alas! how the unbelief of men has limited the power of God to work through prayer! What limitations have disciples of Jesus Christ put upon prayer by their prayerlessness! How the church, with her neglect of prayer, has hedged about the gospel and shut up doors of access!

Prayer possibilities open doors for the entrance of the gospel: "Withal praying also for us that God would open to us a door of utterance." Prayer opened for the apostles doors of utterance, created opportunities and made openings to preach the gospel. The appeal by prayer was to God, because God was moved by prayer. God was thereby moved to do his own work in an enlarged way and by new ways. Prayer possibility gives not only great power, and opens doors to the gospel, but it gives facility as well to the gospel. Prayer makes the gospel to go fast and to move with glorious swiftness. A gospel projected by the mighty energies of prayer is neither slow, lazy nor dull. It moves with God's power, with God's radiance and with angelic swiftness.

"Brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified," is the request of the apostle Paul, whose faith reached to the possibilities of prayer for the preached Word. The gospel moves altogether too slowly, often timidly, idly, and with feeble steps. What will make this gospel go rapidly like a race runner? What will give this gospel divine radiance and glory, and cause it to move worthy of God and of Christ? The answer is at hand. Prayer, more prayer, better prayer will do the deed. This means of grace will give fast going, splendor, and divinity to the gospel.

The possibilities of prayer reach to all things. Whatever concerns man's highest welfare, and whatever has to do with God's plans and purposes concerning men on earth, is a subject for prayer. In "whatsoever ye shall ask," is embraced all that concerns us or the children of men and God. And whatever is left out of "whatsoever" is left out of prayer. Where will we draw the lines which leave out or which will limit the word "whatsoever"? Define it, and search out and publish the things which the word does not include. If "whatsoever" does not include all things, then add to it the word "anything." "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."

What riches of grace, what blessings, spiritual and temporal, what good for time and eternity, would have been ours had we learned the possibilities of prayer and our faith had taken in the wide range of the divine promises to us to answer prayer! What blessings on our times and what furtherance to God's cause had we but learned how to pray with large expectations! Who will rise up in this generation and teach the church this lesson? It is a child's lesson in simplicity, but who has learned it well enough to put prayer to the test? It is a great lesson in its matchless and universal good. The possibilities of prayer are unspeakable, but the lesson of prayer which realizes and measures up to these possibilities, who has learned?

In his discourse in John fifteen, our Lord seems to connect friendship for him with prayer, and his choosing of his disciples seemed to have been with a design that through prayer they should bear much fruit.

"Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

Here we have again the undefined and unlimited word, "whatsoever," as covering the rights and the things for which we are to pray in the possibilities of prayer.

We have still another declaration from Jesus:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

Here is a very definite exhortation from our Lord to largeness in praying. Here we are definitely urged by him to ask for large things, and announced with the dignity and solemnity indicated by the double amen, "Verily, Verily." Why these marvelous urgencies in this last recorded and vital conversation of our Lord with his disciples? The answer is that our Lord might prepare them for the new dispensation, in which prayer was to have such marvelous results, and in which prayer was to be the chief agency to conserve and make aggressive his gospel.

In our Lord's language to his disciples about choosing them that should bear fruit, he clearly teaches us that this matter of praying and fruit-bearing is not a petty business of our choice, or a secondary matter in relation to other matters, but that he has chosen us for this very business of praying. He had specially in mind our praying, and he has chosen us of his own divine selection, and he expects us to do this one thing of praying and to do it intelligently and well. For he before says that he had made us his friends, and had brought us into bosom confidence with him, and also into free and full conference with him. The main object of choosing us as his disciples and of friendship for him was that we might be the better fitted to bear the fruit of prayer.

Let us not forget that we are noting the possibilities of the true praying ones. "Anything" is the word of area and circumference. How far it reaches we may not know. How wide it spreads, our minds fail to discover. What is there which is not within its reach? Why does Jesus repeat and exhaust these words, all-inclusive and boundless words, if he does not desire to emphasize the unbounded magnificence and illimitable munificence of prayer? Why does he press men to pray, so that our very poverty might be enriched and our limitless inheritance by prayer be secured?

We affirm with absolute certainty that Almighty God answers prayer. The vast possibilities, and the urgent necessity of prayer lie in this stupendous fact that God hears and answers prayer. And God hears and answers all prayer. He hears and answers every prayer, where the true conditions of praying are met. Either this is so or it is not. If not, then is there nothing in prayer. Then prayer is but the recitation of words, a mere verbal performance, an empty ceremony. Then prayer is an altogether useless exercise. But if what we have said is true, then are there vast possibilities in prayer. Then is it far reaching in its scope, and wide in its range. Then is it true that prayer can lay its hand upon Almighty God and move him to do great and wonderful things.

The benefits, the possibilities and the necessity of prayer are not merely subjective but are peculiarly objective in their character. Prayer aims at a definite object. Prayer has a direct design in view. Prayer always has something specific before the mind's eye. There may be some subjective benefits which accrue from praying, but this is altogether secondary and incidental. Prayer always drives directly at an object and seeks to secure a desired end. Prayer is asking, seeking and knocking at a door for something we have not, which we desire, and which God has promised to us.

Prayer is a direct address to God. "In everything let your requests be made known unto God." Prayer secures blessings, and makes men better because it reaches the ear of God. Prayer is only for the betterment of men when it has affected God and moved him to do something for men. Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.

That power is prayer, which soars on high,

Through Jesus to the throne;

And moves the hand which moves the world,

To bring salvation down.

The utmost possibilities of prayer have rarely been realized. The promises of God are so great to those who truly pray, when he puts himself so fully into the hands of the praying ones, that it almost staggers our faith and causes us to hesitate with astonishment. His promise to answer, and to do and to give "all things," "anything," "whatsoever," and "all things whatsoever," is so large, so great, so exceeding broad, that we stand back in amazement and give ourselves to questioning and doubt. We "stagger at the promises through unbelief." Really the answers of God to prayer have been pared down by us to our little faith, and have been brought down to the low level of our narrow notions about God's ability, liberality, and resources. Let us ever keep in mind and never for one moment allow ourselves to doubt the statement that God means what he says in all of his promises. God's promises are his own word. His veracity is at stake in them. To question them is to doubt his veracity. He cannot afford to prove faithless to his word. "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began." His promises are for plain people, and he means to do for all who pray just what he says he will do. "For he is faithful that hath promised."

Unfortunately we have failed to lay ourselves out in praying. We have limited the Holy One of Israel. The ability to pray can be secured by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, but it demands so strenuous and high a character that it is a rare thing for a man or woman to be on "praying ground and on pleading terms with God." It is as true today as it was in the days of Elijah, that "the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much." How much such a prayer avails, who can tell?

The possibilities of prayer are the possibilities of faith. Prayer and faith are Siamese twins. One heart animates them both. Faith is always praying. Prayer is always believing. Faith must have a tongue by which it can speak. Prayer is the tongue of faith. Faith must receive. Prayer is the hand of faith stretched out to receive. Prayer must rise and soar. Faith must give prayer the wings to fly and soar. Prayer must have an audience with God. Faith opens the door, and access and audience are given. Prayer asks. Faith lays its hand on the thing asked for.

God's omnipotent power is the basis of omnipotent faith and omnipotent praying. "All things are possible to him that believeth," and "all things whatsoever" are given to him who prays. God's decree and death yield readily to Hezekiah's faith and prayer. When God's promise and man's praying are united by faith, then "nothing shall be impossible." Importunate prayer is so all powerful and irresistible that it obtains promises, or wins where the prospect and the promise seem to be against it. In fact, the New Testament promise includes all things in heaven and in earth. God, by promise, puts all things he possesses into man's hands. Prayer and faith put man in possession of this boundless inheritance.

Prayer is not an indifferent or a small thing. It is not a sweet little privilege. It is a great prerogative, far-reaching in its effects. Failure to pray entails losses far beyond the person who neglects it. Prayer is not a mere episode of the Christian life. Rather the whole life is a preparation for and the result of prayer. In its condition, prayer is the sum of religion. Faith is but a channel of prayer. Faith gives it wings and swiftness. Prayer is the lungs through which holiness breathes. Prayer is not only the language of spiritual life, but also makes its very essence and forms its real character.

O for a faith that will not shrink

Though pressed by every foe;

That will not tremble on the brink

Of any earthly woe.

Lord, give us such a faith as this,

And then, whate'er may come,

We'll taste e'en here, the hallowed bliss

Of our eternal home.


Chapter 5--Prayer-Its Possibilities (Continued)


AFTER a comprehensive and cursory view of the possibilities of prayer, as mapped out in what has been said, it is important to descend to particulars, to Bible facts and principles in regard to this great subject. What are the possibilities of prayer as disclosed by divine revelation? The necessity of prayer and its being are coexistent with man. Nature, even before a clear and full revelation, cries out in prayer. Man is, therefore prayer is. God is, therefore prayer is. Prayer is born of the instincts, the needs and the cravings and the very being of man.

The prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple is the product of inspired wisdom and piety, and gives a lucid and powerful view of prayer in the wideness of its range, the minuteness of its details, and its abounding possibilities and its urgent necessity. How minute and exactly comprehending is this prayer! National and individual blessings are in it, and temporal and spiritual good is embraced by it. Individual sins, national calamities, sins, sickness, exile, famine, war, pestilence, mildew, drought, insects, damage to crops, whatever affects husbandry, enemies-whatsoever sickness, one's own sore, one's own guilt, one's own sin-one and all are in this prayer, and all are for prayer.

For all these evils prayer is the one universal remedy. Pure praying remedies all ills, cures all diseases, relieves all situations, however dire, calamitous, fearful, and despairing. Prayer to God, pure praying, relieves dire situations because God can relieve when no one else can. Nothing is too hard for God. No cause is hopeless which God undertakes. No case is mortal when Almighty God is the physician. No conditions are despairing which can deter or defy God.

Almighty God heard this prayer of Solomon, and committed himself to undertake, to relieve and to remedy if real praying be done, despite all adverse and inexorable conditions. He will always relieve, answer and bless if men will pray from the heart, and if they will give themselves to real, true praying.

This is the record of what God said to him after Solomon had finished his magnificent, illimitable and all-comprehending prayer:

"And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts that they devour the land, or if I send pestilence among the people; If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land; Now my eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever."

God put no limitation to his ability to save through true praying. No hopeless conditions, no accumulation of difficulties, and no desperation in distance or circumstance can hinder the success of real prayer. The possibilities of prayer are linked to the infinite integrity and omnipotent power of God. There is nothing too hard for God to do. God is pledged that if we ask, we shall receive. God can withhold nothing from faith and prayer.

The thing surpasses all my thought,

But faithful is my Lord;

Through unbelief I stagger not,

For God hath spoke the word.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to that alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, "It shall be done!"

The many statements of God's Word fully set forth the possibilities and far reaching nature of prayer. How full of pathos! Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Again, read the cheering words: "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."

How diversified the range of trouble! How almost infinite its extent! How universal and dire its conditions! How despairing its waves! Yet the range of prayer is as great as trouble, is as universal as sorrow, as infinite as grief. And prayer can relieve all these evils which come to the children of men. There is no tear which prayer cannot wipe away or dry up. There is no depression of spirits which it cannot relieve and elevate. There is no despair which it cannot dispel.

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great things and difficult, which thou knowest not." How broad these words of the Lord, how great the promise, how cheering to faith! They really challenge the faith of the saint. Prayer always brings God to our relief to bless and to aid, and brings marvelous revelations of his power. What impossibilities are there with God? Name them. "Nothing," he says, "is impossible to the Lord." And all the possibilities in God are in prayer.

Samuel, under the judges of Israel, will fully illustrate the possibility and the necessity of prayer. He himself was the beneficiary of the greatness of faith and prayer in a mother who knew what praying meant. Hannah, his mother, was a woman of mark, in character and in piety, who was childless. That privation was a source of worry and weakness and grief. She sought God for relief, and prayed and poured out her soul before the Lord. She continued her praying, in fact she multiplied her praying, to such an extent that to old Eli she seemed to be intoxicated, almost beside herself in the intensity of her supplications. She was specific in her prayers. She wanted a child. For a man child she prayed.

And God was specific in his answer. A man child God gave her, a man indeed he became. He was the creation of prayer, and grew himself to a man of prayer. He was a mighty intercessor, especially in emergencies in the history of God's people. The epitome of his life and character is found in the statement, "Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him." The victory was complete, and the ebenezer was the memorial of the possibilities and necessity of prayer.

Again, at another time, Samuel called to the Lord, and thunder and rain came out of season in wheat harvest. Here are some statements concerning this mighty intercessor, who knew how to pray, and whom God always regarded when he prayed: "Samuel cried unto the Lord all night."

Says he at another time in speaking to the Lord's people, "Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you."

These great occasions show how this notable ruler of Israel made prayer a habit, and that this was a notable and conspicuous characteristic of his dispensation. Prayer was no strange exercise to Samuel. He was accustomed to it. He was in the habit of praying, knew the way to God, and received answers from God. Through Samuel and his praying God's cause was brought out of its low, depressed condition, and a great national revival began, of which David was one of its fruits.

Samuel was one of the notable men of the old dispensation who stood out prominently as one who had great influence with God in prayer. God could not deny Samuel anything he asked of God. Samuel's praying always affected God, and moved God to do what would not have otherwise been done had Samuel not prayed. Samuel stands out as a striking illustration of the possibilities of prayer. He shows conclusively the achievements of prayer.

Jacob is an illustration for all time of the commanding and conquering forces of prayer. God came to him as an antagonist. He grappled Jacob, and shook him as if he were in the embrace of a deadly foe. Jacob, the deceitful supplanter, the wily, unscrupulous trader, had no eyes to see God. His perverted principles, and his deliberate overreaching and wrongdoing had blinded his vision.

To reach God, to know God, and to conquer God, was the demand of this critical hour. Jacob was alone, and all night witnessed to the intensity of the struggle, its changing issues, and its veering fortunes, as well as the receding and advancing lines in the conflict. Here was the strength of weakness, the power of self-despair, the energy of perseverance, the elevation of humility, and the victory of surrender. Jacob's salvation issued from the forces which he massed in that all-night conflict.

He prayed and wept and importuned until the fiery hate of Esau's heart died and it was softened into love. A greater miracle was wrought on Jacob than on Esau. His name, his character, and his destiny were changed by that all-night praying. Here is the record of the results of that night's praying struggle: "As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." "By his strength he had power with God, yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed."

What forces lie in importunate prayer! What mighty results are gained by it in one night's struggle in praying! God is affected and changed in attitude, and two men are transformed in character and destiny.


Chapter 6--Prayer Its Possibilities (Continued)


THE possibilities of prayer are seen in its results in temporal matters. Prayer reaches to everything which concerns man, whether it be his body, his mind, or his soul. Prayer embraces the very smallest things of life. Prayer takes in the wants of the body, food, raiment, business, finances, in fact everything which belongs to this life, as well as those things which have to do with the eternal interests of the soul. Its achievements are seen not only in the large things of earth, but more especially in what might be called the little things of life. It brings to pass not only large things, speaking after the manner of men, but also the small things.

Temporal matters are of a lower order than the spiritual, but they concern us greatly. Our temporal interests make up a great part of our lives. They are the main source of our cares and worries. They have much to do with our religion. We have bodies, with wants, pains, disabilities, and limitations. That which concerns our bodies necessarily engages our minds. These are subjects of prayer, and prayer takes in all of them, and large are the accomplishments of prayer in this realm of our being.

Our temporal matters have much to do with our health and happiness. They form our relations. They are tests of honesty and belong to the sphere of justice and righteousness. Not to pray about temporal matters is to leave God out of the largest sphere of our being. He who cannot pray in everything, as we are charged to do by Paul in Philippians, fourth chapter, has never learned in any true sense the nature and worth of prayer. To leave business and time out of prayer is to leave religion and eternity out of it. He who does not pray about temporal matters cannot pray with confidence about spiritual matters. He who does not put God by prayer in his struggling toil for daily bread will never put him in his struggle for heaven. He who does not cover and supply the wants of the body by prayer will never cover and supply the wants of his soul. Both body and soul are dependent on God, and prayer is but the crying expression of that dependence.

The Syrophoenician woman prayed for the health things. In fact the Old Testament is but the record of God in dealing with his people through the divine appointment of prayer. Abraham prayed that Sodom might be saved from destruction. Abraham's servant prayed and received God's direction in choosing a wife for Isaac. Hannah prayed, and Samuel was given to her. Elijah prayed, and no rain came for three years. And he prayed again, and the clouds gave rain. Hezekiah was saved from a mortal sickness by his praying. Jacob's praying saved him from Esau's revenge. The old Bible is the history of prayer for temporal blessings as well as for spiritual blessings.

In the New Testament we have the same principles illustrated and enforced. Prayer in this section of God's Word covers the whole realm of good, both temporal and spiritual. Our Lord, in his universal prayer, the prayer for humanity, in every clime, in every age and for every condition, puts in it the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread." This embraces all necessary earthly good.

In the Sermon on the Mount, a whole paragraph is taken up by our Lord about food and raiment, where he is cautioning against undue care or anxiety for these things, and at the same time encouraging a faith which takes in and claims all these necessary bodily comforts and necessities. And this teaching stands in close connection with his teachings about prayer. Food and raiment are taught as subjects of prayer. Not for one moment is it even hinted that they are things beneath the notice of a great God, nor too material and earthly for such a spiritual exercise as prayer.

The Syrophoenician woman prayed for the health of her daughter. Peter prayed for Dorcas to be brought back to life. Paul prayed for the father of Publius on his way to Rome, when cast on the island by a shipwreck, and God healed the man who was sick with a fever. He urged the Christians at Rome to strive with him together in prayer that he might be delivered from bad men.

When Peter was put in prison by Herod, the church was instant in prayer that Peter might be delivered from the prison, and God honored the praying of these early Christians. John prayed that Gaius might "prosper and be in health, even as his soul prospered."

The divine directory in James, fifth chapter, says: "Is any among you afflicted, let him pray Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him."

Paul, in writing to the Philippians, fourth chapter, says: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." This provides for all kinds of cares-business cares, home cares, body cares, and soul cares. All are to be brought to God by prayer, and at the mercy seat our minds and souls are to be unburdened of all that affects us or causes anxiety or uneasiness. These words of Paul stand in close connection with what he says about temporal matters specially: "But now I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me bath flourished-again: wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect to want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

And Paul closes his epistle to these Christians with the words, which embrace all temporal needs as well as spiritual wants:

But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.

Unbelief in the doctrine that prayer covers all things which have to do with the body and business affairs, breeds undue anxiety about earth's affairs, causes unnecessary worry, and creates very unhappy states of mind. How much needless care we would save ourselves if we but believed in prayer as the means of relieving those cares, and would learn the happy art of casting all our cares in prayer upon God, "who careth for us!" Unbelief in God as one who is concerned about even the smallest affairs which affect our happiness and comfort limits the holy one of Israel, and makes our lives altogether devoid of real happiness and sweet contentment.

We have in the instance of the failure of the disciples to cast the devil out of the lunatic son, brought to them by his father, while Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, a suggestive lesson of the union of faith, prayer, and fasting, and the failure to reach the possibilities and obligations of an occasion. The disciples ought to have cast the devil out of the boy. They had been sent out to do this very work, and had been empowered by their Lord and master to do it. And yet they signally failed. Christ reproved them with sharp upbraidings for not doing it. They had been sent out on this very specific mission. This one thing was specified by our Lord when he sent them out. Their failure brought shame and confusion on them, and discounted their Lord and master and his cause. They brought him into disrepute, and reflected very seriously upon the cause which they represented. Their faith to cast out the devil had signally failed, simply because it had not been nurtured by prayer and fasting. Failure to pray broke the ability of faith, and failure came because they had not the energy of a strong authoritative faith.

The promise reads, and we cannot too often refer to it, for it is the very basis of our faith and the ground on which we stand when we pray: "All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." What enumeration table can tabulate, itemize, and aggregate "all things whatsoever"? The possibilities of prayer and faith go to the length of the endless chain, and cover the unmeasurable area.

In Hebrews eleven, the sacred penman, wearied with trying to specify the examples of faith, and to recite the wonderful exploits of faith, pauses a moment, and then cries out, giving us almost unheard of achievements of prayer and faith as exemplified by the saints of the olden times. Here is what he says:

And what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of Samson, of Jephthah, of David also; and Samuel, and the prophets; Who through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions; Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.

What an illustrious record is this! What marvelous accomplishments, wrought not by armies, or by man's superhuman strength, nor by magic, but all accomplished simply by men and women noted alone for their faith and prayer! Hand in hand with these records of faith's illimitable range are the illustrious records of prayer, for they are all one. Faith has never won a victory nor gained a crown where prayer was not the weapon of the victory, and where prayer did not jewel the crown. If "all things are possible to him that believeth," then all things are possible to him that prays.

Depend on him; thou canst not fail;

Make all thy wants and wishes known:

Fear not; his merits must prevail;

Ask but in faith, it shall be done.





Saturday, October 3, 2015

Online Books on the Holy Spirit


I don't necessarily agree with the theology in each book. The following are just some online books on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Some of the authors are especially noteworthy like Gordon, Simpson, Murray, Torrey.

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit by R.A. Torrey (here)

 The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit by R.A. Torrey

 The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by J.C. Ryle

 'The Holy Spirit' or 'Power from on High' VOLUME 1 by A.B. Simpson
 'The Holy Spirit' or 'Power from on High' VOLUME 2 by A.B. Simpson

Walking in the Spirit by A.B. Simpson (or here)

The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray

The Ministry of the Spirit by A.J. Gordon (here, here, here)

The Spirit of God by G. Campbell Morgan

Paul, the Spirit and the People of God by Gordon Fee

Gospel and Spirit Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics by Gordon Fee

The Holy Spirit in the New Testament by Arno Clemens Gaebelein

The Offices of the Holy Spirit by Dougan Clark

Office Work of the Holy Spirit by Henry Albert Erdmann

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Samuel Ridout

The Holy Spirit And You by Frau Dr. Gertrud Wasserzug

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quotations on Faith


The following are quotations on the topic of "faith." Some are descriptions, definitions, examples et cetera. I haven't documented the authenticity of every quotation, but since the primary reason I quote them is to instruct and inspire, it is not really necessary to do so. This is especially true since faith is such a common subject of discussion that any quotes or conceptions from a famous person on faith may have been something he or she received and repeated from others (either verbatim or with slight modification). Also, I don't necessarily endorse a quotation "as is" without qualification. Faith is multi-faceted. A quotation on faith may address only one facet of faith without addressing other facets. In which case it might need to be balanced by other facets. The quotations below highlights different aspects and types (kinds) of faith. Since there are various senses of the word and/or concept.

I've described at least 15 types of the use of the word "faith" in the following blogpost:

Various Definitions of the Word "Faith"


Note too that I don't necessarily endorse the theological position of a person I quote. Not everyone quoted is (or was) a Christian or a genuine professing Christian (i.e. a person who professed to be Christian but didn't really possess Christ). In Christian theology faith is essential to receive salvation, please God, perform good works acceptable to God and especially in prayer. Justifying faith is non-meritorious. However, after one has been justified, faith (along with works) can be graciously meritorious for rewards. See John H. Gerstner's article "The Nature of Justifying Faith." What he says about post-justification works could also be said of post-justification faith. Related to faith are things like hope, trust, doubt, and unbelief. So, I've also included quotes about those type of topics.

Lastly, I recommend four more of my blogposts that are related to faith and one of my favorite books on prayer. 

  animated-arrow-image-0310Faith According to C.S. Lewis animated-arrow-image-0309

 
"Unveiling" The Hiddenness of God

 

Detecting and Finding God


George Mueller Quotes

These include quotes on faith in relation to prayer.


The Life of Prayer by A.B. Simpson




"God is, if I may so say, at the command of the prayer of faith; and in this respect is, as it were, under the power of his people; as princes, they have power with God, and prevail."
- Jonathan Edwards

"Faith in prayer has great power with God, a kind of command over him; it holds him to his word; it will not let him go without the blessing; nor let him alone till he has made good his promise; nor give him any rest, day nor night, till he has fulfilled the things to come concerning his sons."- John Gill Commentary on Isaiah 45:11
"Hope is a sort of universal blessing, and one of the greatest which God has granted to man. To mankind, in general, life would be intolerable without it; and it is as necessary as faith is even to the followers of God....Hope stands justly among the highest mercies of God."
- Adam Clarke in is Bible Commentary on Rom. 8:25

"When a heathen king objected to the missionary's testimony concerning the one living and true God, that he could not see Him, and therefore could not believe in Him, the missionary took the king into the courtyard, and asked him to look intently upon the sun, which was burning in high noon; and when the monarch replied that the attempt would blind him, the missionary answered, "If you cannot look even upon one of His servants without being dazzled by his brightness, how could you endure looking upon Himself?" "
- W. Pakenham Walsh, The Angel of the Lord, p. 2

"If I was a believer, I would not feel [that] God owed me an explanation. I'm not one of those atheists who thinks you can go around saying...complaining. I mean, if you make the assumption that there is a deity, then all things are possible. You just have to be able to make that assumption."
- atheist Christopher Hitchens in his debate with William Lane Craig at 2:19:55 into the debate.

"The true secret of pleasing God is to trust Him, to believe in His love to us, to be artless children, and to count ourselves beloved of God."
- A.B. Simpson in Wholly Sanctified

"Believe that God hears, and will in due time grant, believe his love and truth; believe that he is love, and therefore will not deny you; believe that he is truth, and therefore will not deny himself."
- Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments

"Remember, also, that God delights to bestow blessing, but, generally, as the result of earnest, believing prayer."
- George Mueller

"I do not remember who it was, I think it was one of the Wesleys, who said that more men are ruined by despondency than by presumption, that they give up because they do not believe things can be better, therefore they live through their lives in humdrum, half-hearted fashion, and by and by die, never having accomplished the thing that they desire."
- Charles A. Blanchard in Getting Things from God page 269

"Faith is not passive. It is stepping out on the promises of God."
- Tony Evans

"I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sun- not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
- C. S. Lewis

"Every man lives by faith, the nonbeliever as well as the saint; the one by faith in natural laws and the other by faith in God."
- A.W. Tozer

"Faith in faith is faith astray."
- A.W. Tozer

"No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief."
-John Calvin

"Hope is the oxygen of the soul"
- anonymous

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time."
- Oswald Chambers

True faith is not a leap into the dark, it's a leap into the light.
- anonymous

"A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool."
- G.K. Chesterson

"That is why daily praying and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed."
- C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity book III chapter 11

"Faith is R.I.S.K."
- John Wimber [Attributed to Wimber, though it's not clear he claims to have originated the saying. Most likely it was a popular saying in his theological circles]

"Don’t be afraid to take a big step.You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps."
- David Lloyd George

"Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see."
- William Newton Clarke

"Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!"
- attributed to Martin Luther

"Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will."
- Abraham Lincoln

And to the faith that knows it gets what it asks, prayer is not a work or a burden, but a joy and a triumph; it becomes a necessity and a second nature.
-Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, 31st Lesson

"A faith that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted."
- Adrian Rogers

"Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.' "
-Andrew Murray

"A guilty conscience is one of Satan's great weapons against the children of God: faith can only be bold as the conscience is clean."
- Lilian B. Yeomans

"Faith hears the inaudible, sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible."
- Corrie Ten Boom

"Faith has never yet outstripped the bounty of the Lord."
- Pope Gregory the Great

"We are what we believe we are."
- C.S. Lewis
"Faith is a living deliberate confidence in the grace of God, so certain that for it one could die a thousand deaths, and such confidence and knowledge of divine grace makes us joyous, intrepid, and cheerful towards God and all creation."- Martin Luther
Other versions:
"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace. It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."
"Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor  that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it."
"Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake."
- Martin Luther

"[P]rayer may be bold and free. We need not hesitate to imitate the sublime 'cheek' of the child who is not afraid to ask his parents for anything, because he knows he can count completely on their love."- J.I. Packer, Knowing God, chapter 19, p.192

"Faith is a voluntary act of trust in God."
- McCandlish Phillips, The Spirit World p. 184

It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire.
- Martin Luther from the Preface to his commentary on Romans.

"Not while we are in this life will we move beyond the necessity of living by faith. Therefore, so long as we live, we will be vulnerable to the satanic argument that our only course is to despair, that faith in an unseen God is foolish."
- Dave Breese, His Infernal Majesty p. 81


"The further we get away from our mother's knees, the further do we get away from the true art of praying. All our after-schooling and our after-teachers unteach us the lessons of prayer. Men prayed well in Old Testament times because they were simple men and lived in simple times. They were childlike, lived in childlike times and had childlike faith."
- E.M. Bounds in Prayer and Praying Men

Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance before he goes to the university of election and predestination.
-George Whitefield quoting John Bradford

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
- Helen Keller

"If we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him."
-Dr. R.A. Torrey

"Faith takes God without any ifs. If God says anything, faith says, "I believe it"; faith says, "Amen" to it."
– D. L. Moody

"Real faith rejoices in the promise of God as if it saw the deliverance and was enjoying it."
– F. F. Bosworth

"Faith’s role is to grasp that which appears impossible or strange to human eyes."
– Andrew Murray

"Faith can only operate where the will of God is known."
– Keith Butler

"Faith is more than agreeing with God’s Word – faith is acting upon that Word."
- Col Stringer

"Unbelief [in God] was the first sin, and pride was the first-born of it."
-Stephen Charnock
"Faith is an action, based on a belief, supported by confidence."
- R. W. Shambach

"Believe that when you come into the presence of God you can have all you came for. You can take it away, and you can use it, for all the power of God is at your disposal in response to your faith."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"His favorite and almost his only subject was faith. No matter what the text, we all knew where he would arrive."
- Donald Gee about his friend Smith Wigglesworth

"There is not a thing that isn’t opportunity to the man of faith."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"No wavering. This is the principle: He who believes is definite. A definite faith brings a definite experience and a definite utterance."
- Smith Wigglesworth

"Faith is not the price that buys God’s blessing, it is the hand that receives His blessing. The price was paid for us by Jesus Christ on the cross"
– Joyce Meyer

"Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so."
- David Brooks

"The important thing is not the size of your faith – it is the One behind your faith – God Himself."
- Oral Roberts

"Faith is the spark that ignites the impossible and causes it to become possible. When a person's faith is activated, it sets in motion supernatural power that enables that person to do what he normally would never be able to do!"
- Rick Renner

"Is there any reason why you should not have faith in God? Has God ever broken one of His promises? I defy any infidel or unbeliever to place a finger on a single promise of God ever made and failed to fulfill."
- D. L. Moody

"Faith is the hand with which we take from God. When we have met all the conditions and taken what God is offering us, we must believe that we have that thing."
- C. Nuzum

"I believe that there is nothing impossible with God and that He is still God Almighty.  And always remember, no matter what those problems are today, as long as God is still on His Throne hearing and answering prayer, everything will come out all right."
- Kathryn Kuhlman

"I don't respect people who don't proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.... How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"
- atheist Penn Jillette

"Lastly: In what a melancholy condition are those who do not believe there is any providence; or, which comes to exactly the same point, not a particular one! Whatever station they are in, as long as they are in the world, they are exposed to numberless dangers which no human wisdom can foresee, and no human power can resist. And there is no help! If they trust in men, they find them "deceitful upon the weights." In many cases they cannot help; in others, they will not. But were they ever so willing, they will die:"
- John Wesley sermon 67 On Divine Providence

"I believe in the infallible book, in the last analysis, because 'of the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the word in my heart.' "- Cornelius Van Til


No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all."
- Cornelius Van Til


I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else."
- Cornelius Van Til

"The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."- Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller in their book The Meaning of Marriage"You know however that our duties by no means depend on our hopes of success, but that it behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results."
- John Calvin, letter to Philip Melanchthon, March 5, 1555 (Jules Bonnet, ed., Letters of John Calvin, vol. 6, p. 158).

"To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, "I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge"
-Ravi Zacharias

I would rather believe for something great and receive half of it, than to believe for nothing and receive all of it!
– Joel Osteen

"I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar."
- atheist Friedrich Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols

Purpose gives birth to hope and instills the passion to act.
– Myles Munroe

"You get faith by studying the Word. Study that Word until something in you "knows that you know" and that you do not just hope that you know."
- Carrie Judd Montgomery

"As prayer without faith is but a beating of the air, so trust without prayer [is] but a presumptuous bravado. He that promises to give, and bids us trust his promises, commands us to pray, and expects obedience to his commands. He will give, but not without our asking."
- puritan Thomas Lye in "How Are We to Live by Faith on Divine Providence?" Taken from Trusting God: Even When Lift Hurts by Jerry Bridges page 108 which itself takes it from Puritan Sermons 1659-1689, Vol.1 p.374

"Trust...[uses] such means as God prescribes for the bringing about his appointed end...God's means are to be used, as well as God's blessing to be expected."
-Thomas Lye

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
-Augustine

"Faith is the bird that sings while it is yet dark."
-Max Lucado

By faith alone can we become righteous, for faith invests us with the sinlessness of Christ. The more fully we believe this, the fuller will be our joy. If you believe that sin, death, and the curse are void, why, they are null, zero. Whenever sin and death make you nervous, write it down as an illusion of the devil. There is no sin now, no curse, no death, no devil because Christ has done away with them. This fact is sure. There is nothing wrong with the fact. The defect lies in our lack of faith.
- Martin Luther
By faith only therefore we are made righteous, for faith layeth hold upon this innocency and this victory of  Christ. Look then how much thou believest this, so much thou dost enjoy it.
- Martin Luther, A Commentary on Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, printed 1832 edition, p.219, translated by Erasmus Middleton

It is the office of faith to believe what we do not see, and it shall be the reward of faith to see what we do believe.
-Thomas Adams

Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim.
-Thomas Watson

It is the nature of faith to believe God upon His bare word...It will not be, saith sense; it cannot be, saith reason; it both can and will be, saith faith, for I have a promise for it.
-John Trapp



More quotes will be added periodically.

The Presuppositions of Science

Faith According to C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

The following excerpt is from C.S. Lewis' classic book Mere Christianity book 3, chapters 11 and 12.

C.S. Lewis understands that the word "faith" is used in Scripture and theology in different senses. The following definition is one of many legitimate senses and types. I've outlined some other definitions in another of my blogposts. Lewis' definition here could fall under #15 in my list. I've emphasized some passages by coloring the text in red and sometimes placing them in bold as well.


11. Faith

I must talk in this chapter about what the Christians call Faith. Roughly speaking, the word Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels, and I will take them in turn. In the first sense it means simply Belief—accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people—at least it used to puzzle me—is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue, I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad. If he were mistaken about the goodness or badness of the evidence that would not mean he was a bad man, but only that he was not very clever. And if he thought the evidence bad but tried to force himself to believe in spite of it, that would be merely stupid.

Well, I think I still take that view. But what I did not see then— and a good many people do not see still—was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under. In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. When you think of it you will see lots of instances of this. A man knows, on perfectly good evidence, that a pretty girl of his acquaintance is a liar and cannot keep a secret and ought not to be trusted; but when he finds himself with her his mind loses its faith in that bit of knowledge and he starts thinking, "Perhaps she'll be different this time," and once more makes a fool of himself and tells her something he ought not to have told her. His senses and emotions have destroyed his faith in what he really knows to be true. Or take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water—or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.

Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. But supposing a man's reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?

Now I must turn to Faith in the second or higher sense: and this is the most difficult thing I have tackled yet. I want to approach it by going back to the subject of Humility. You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. Things often go swimmingly for the first week. Try six weeks. By that time, having, as far as one can see, fallen back completely or even fallen lower than the point one began from, one will have discovered some truths about oneself. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist. Very well, then. The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam, and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain—any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debts so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side—that has to be wiped out.

I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam, or putting Him in your debt.

Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, "Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present." Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now. We can now go on to talk of Faith in the second sense.

12. Faith

I want to start by saying something that I would like everyone to notice carefully. It is this. If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once. Do not bother about it at all. There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become a Christian. But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road. These things are purely practical, though they do not look as if they were. They are directions for dealing with particular cross-roads and obstacles on the journey and they do not make sense until a man has reached those places. Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone. There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant If one could understand it now, it would only do one harm.

Of course all this tells against me as much as anyone else. The thing I am going to try to explain in this chapter may be ahead of me. I may be thinking I have got there when I have not. I can only ask instructed Christians to watch very carefully, and tell me when I go wrong; and others to take what I say with a grain of salt— as something offered, because it may be a help, not because I am certain that I am right.

I am trying to talk about Faith in the second sense, the higher sense. I said last week that the question of Faith in this sense arises after a man has tried his level best to practise the Christian virtues, and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God what was already God's own. In other words, he discovers his bankruptcy. Now, once again, what God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind or quality— the kind of creatures He intended us to be—creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add "and related to one another in a certain way," because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain—as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God—he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.

When I say "discovered," I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer to God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.

Now we cannot, in that sense, discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't." Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, "Have I reached that moment?" Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, "Hullo! I'm growing up." It is often only when he looks back that he realises what has happened and recognises it as what people call "growing up." You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to every one in a sudden flash—as it did to St Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular hour or even a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.

I know the words "leave it to God" can be misunderstood, but they must stay for the moment. The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts all his trust in Christ: trusts that Christ will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to His crucifixion: that Christ will make the man more like Himself and, in a sense, make good his deficiencies. In Christian language, He will share His "sonship" with us, will make us, like Himself, "Sons of God": in Book IV I shall attempt to analyse the meaning of those words a little further. If you like to put it that way, Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognising that all we have done and can do is nothing. What we should have liked would be for God to count our good points and ignore our bad ones. Again, in a sense, you may say that no temptation is ever overcome until we stop trying to overcome it— throw up the sponge. But then you could not "stop trying" in the right way and for the right reason until you had tried your very hardest. And, in yet another sense, handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying. To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come. There are two parodies of the truth which different sets of Christians have, in the past, been accused by other Christians of believing: perhaps they may make the truth clearer. One set were accused of saying, "Good actions are all that matters. The best good action is charity. The best kind of charity is giving money. The best thing to give money to is the Church. So hand us over £10,000 and we will see you through." The answer to that nonsense, of course, would be that good actions done for that motive, done with the idea that Heaven can be bought, would not be good actions at all, but only commercial speculations. The other set were accused of saying, "Faith is all that matters. Consequently, if you have faith, it doesn't matter what you do. Sin away, my lad, and have a good time and Christ will see that it makes no difference in the end." The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call your "faith" in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all—not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.

The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"—which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, "For it is God who worketh in you"— which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are now trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, "He did this bit and I did that." But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions. At any rate that is as far as I go.

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.