Lessons on Faith: Part 1 of 14: Cultivating Faith

By A. T. Jones

List of Articles
 

Without faith it is impossible to please God. The reason for this is that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom.  14:23), and of course sin cannot please God.
This is why it is that, as stated by the Spirit of Prophecy on the first page of the Review, Oct. 18, 1898, "The knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired." 
And for this cause we shall hereafter, in this place in each number of the Review give a Scripture lesson on faith -- what it is, how it comes, how to exercise it -- that every reader of this paper may have this knowledge that "is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired." 
RH Nov. 29, 1898    
In order to be able to know what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith, it is essential to know, first of all, what is faith. 
Plainly, it must be to little purpose to urge upon a person the necessity of cultivating faith, while that person has no intelligent idea of what faith is. And it is sadly true that, though the Lord has made this perfectly plain in the Scriptures, there are many church members who do not know what faith is. They may even know what the definition of faith is, but they do not know what the thing is.They do not grasp the idea that is in the definition. 
For that reason the definition will not be touched now, but rather there will be cited and studied an illustration of faith - an instance which makes it stand out so plainly that all can see the very thing itself. 
Faith comes "by the word of God." To the Word, then, we must look for it.  
One day a centurion came to Jesus and said to him, "Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed . . .  When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Matt. 8:6-10. 
There is what Jesus pronounces faith. When we find what that is, we have found faith. To know what that is, is to know what faith is. There can be no sort of doubt about this, for Christ is "the Author . . . of faith," and He says that that which the centurion manifested was "faith" -- yes, even "great faith."  
Where, then, in this is the faith? The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, "I will come" and do it, the centurion checked Him, saying, "Speak the word only," and it shall be done. 
Now what did the centurion expect would do the work? "The word ONLY." Upon what did he depend for the healing of his servant? Upon "the word ONLY."  
Now, brother, sister, what is faith? 
RH Dec. 6, 1898 
  
Faith is the expecting the word of God to do what it says and the depending upon that word to do what it says.
As that is faith and as faith comes by the word of God, it is plain that the word of God, in order to inculcate faith, must teach that the word has in itself power to accomplish what itself says. 
And such is precisely the truth of the matter: the word of God does teach just this and nothing else, so that it is truly "the faithful word" -- the word full of faith. 
The greater part of the very first chapter of the Bible is instruction in faith. That chapter has in itself no fewer than six distinct statement that definitely inculcate faith; with the essential connective of the first verse, there are seven. 
The inculcation of faith is the teaching that the word of God itself accomplishes the thing which is spoken in that word. 
Read, then, the first verse of the Bible. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." How did He create them? "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 
"For he spake, and it was." Ps. 33:6-9. Before He spoke, it was not; after He spoke, "it was." Only by speaking, it was. What caused it to be? The word only. 
But darkness was upon all the face of the deep. God wished light to be there, but how could there be light when all was darkness? Again He spoke. "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." Whence came the light? The word which was spoken, itself produced the light. "The entrance of thy words giveth light." Ps.  119:130. 
There was no firmament, atmosphere. God wished that there should be a firmament. How could it be produced?  "God said, Let there be a firmament . . . and it was so." Another translation for "it was so" is, "And thus it came to pass." What caused the firmament to be? What caused this thus to come to pass? The word only. He spoke, and it was so. The word spoken, itself caused the thing to exist. 
God next desired that there should be dry land. How could this be?Again He spoke. "God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear; and it was so." 
Then there was no vegetation.Whence should this come? Again God spoke. "And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth, and it was so." 
Again He spoke. "And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of heaven . . . and it was so." 
Again He spoke. "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature . . . and it was so." 
Thus it was that "by the word of the Lord" all things were created. He spoke the word only, and it was so. The word spoken, itself produced the thing. 
Thus it was in creation. And thus it was in redemption. He healed the sick; He cast out devils; He stilled the tempest; He cleansed the lepers; He raised the dead; He forgave sins -- all by His word. In all this, also, "He spake and it was." 
And so He is the same yesterday and today and forever. Always He is the Creator. And always He does all things by His word only. And always He can do all things by His word, because it is the very characteristic of the word of God that it is possessed of the divine power by which itself accomplishes the thing which is spoken. 
This is why it is that faith is the knowing that in the word of God there is this power, the expecting the word itself to do the thing spoken and the depending upon that word itself to do that which the word speaks. 
The teaching of faith is the teaching that such is the nature of the word of God; the teaching of people to exercise faith is the teaching them to expect the word of God to do what it says and to depend upon it to do the thing which is by it spoken; the cultivating of faith is by practice to cause to grow confidence in the power of the word of God itself to do what in that word is said and dependence upon that word itself to accomplish what the word says. 
And "the knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired." 
Are you cultivating faith? 
RH Dec. 27, 1898 
By A. T. Jones in the Review and Herald periodical in 1898.
Blog Edited by John Foll.

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