The Spirit of Faith
James Smith, 1865
"Having the same spirit of faith." 2 Corinthians 4:13
Whether this passage refers primarily to the believing spirit of the Apostles, or to the Holy Spirit as the author of faith — is of small consequence to us now.
Faith is the gift of God. It distinguishes God's elect. It is of the work of God. As a gift — we receive it gratuitously from God. As a work — it is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. As an act — we put it forth as the effect of the grace of God. Faith is divine in its origin, nature, and end. Without the Spirit — there is no faith. Without faith — there is no receiving Christ. Without receiving Christ — there is no salvation. We are therefore under the greatest obligation to the Holy Spirit, and ought to acknowledge our obligation, and speak well of His name.
The Holy Spirit produces faith in us. He quickens us — and we feel our lost and miserable condition. He enlightens us — and we see the exact adaptation of the Lord Jesus Christ to us. He is just what we need. He is everything we need. A desire springs up in our heart to possess Him. We look. We long. We feel as if we would give a world — if Christ was ours. But doubt, fear, and suspicion works. We cannot exercise confidence in Him. We cannot cast our souls upon Him. We are afraid to trust for eternal life only to Him. Sometimes we question our warrant to do so. Sometimes we feel as if we would at once venture on Him.
But there is no faith which brings the knowledge and enjoyment of salvation — but by the direct putting forth of the power of the Holy Spirit. He unveils Christ before us, opens His loving heart, exhibits the efficacy of His precious blood, shines upon some portion of His holy Word — and confidence springs up. We see that we are welcome to Jesus. We feel that we can venture our everlasting all into His hands. We cast ourselves at His feet, confess our sin, grieve over our unbelief, appeal to His mercy, trust our all into His hands — and we are at peace. We believe the love that God has to us. We trust in the finished work of Christ alone for acceptance with God. We renounce our own works. We put self out of the question. Jesus is our Savior. His glorious work is our salvation. He is everything to us. We have entrusted everything to Him. He is to answer for us at the bar of justice. He is to deliver us from Satan, sin, and hell. He is to confer upon us everything we need. He is to work all our works in us. In a word, He is a complete Savior to us. We crown Him Lord of all, and desire to honor and glorify Him, in our bodies, souls, and spirits. Faith is produced.
Here is the Holy Spirit's work. The author is concealed, for we are not conscious at the time, that any power but our own is employed, all appears so natural. And the Spirit does not speak of Himself — but reveals Christ, testifies of Christ, leads to Christ, exalts Christ before us, and teaches us to place the crown of crowns on His head.
The Holy Spirit sustains our faith. It needs to be frequently renewed, refreshed, and revived; for it will droop, and fade, and become weak like a plant, unless it has air, sun, and dew. The renewings of the Holy Spirit revive and strengthen faith, so that it battles . . .
with unbelief — and conquers;
with the world — and overcomes;
with Satan — and makes him flee.
Faith in itself, is a poor, weak, timid thing; at least, such our faith often seems to be. But when backed, sustained, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, there are few things that it cannot do.
Faith is an inward conviction of the existence of invisible realities, and a confident expectation of promised blessings. Thus it supports the mind, animates the spirit, pleads with God, urges us forward, and makes us more than conquerors through Him who loved us!
The Holy Spirit directs our faith. Sometimes we turn from the Gospel to the LAW. It may be unconsciously — but as sure as we do, we get straitened in our minds, bewildered in our judgments, troubled in our consciences, and hardened in our hearts! We look upon God . . .
as a Lawgiver — rather than as a Father;
as exacting — rather than giving;
as angry — rather than love.
Now are we troubled. Coldness, barrenness, and bondage are experienced by us.
Sometimes we look too much into OURSELVES. We pore over our corruptions, dwell upon the hidden evils of the heart, and are taken up with our own unworthiness! Then we begin to droop, despond, and give way to legal fears. We find no liberty in prayer. We have no heart for praise. We dare not appropriate the promises. The spirit of a child is lost, and the spirit of bondage returns. We are bewildered. We are like one lost in a labyrinth. We cannot retrace our steps, or return unto our rest. Like a lost sheep — we continue to roam, wander, and bleat.
Now the Holy Spirit, very graciously comes to take off the yoke of the LAW, to turn away the eye from OURSELVES, and direct our faith to JESUS afresh. Now He appears to us as the Law-fulfiller, as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. We behold Him as a perfect Savior, having done all for us, gratuitously, before we knew Him. This meets our case. Our bonds are broken. The prison-door is opened. We come forth to the gospel light. We feed in His holy ways. We joy in the Lord, and rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Faith in Jesus brings us the assurance of pardon, the sense of acceptance, the enjoyment of peace. Blessed be the Divine Comforter, for directing our faith to Jesus anew.
The Holy Spirit excites our faith. It often becomes dull and inactive. Unless actively employed at the throne of grace, and steadily taken up with the Lord Jesus — faith is sure to become weak and inactive. Like the plant in winter, there is life in the root — but no verdure or beauty on the boughs. Like animals which hibernate, there is life in the heart — but no energy or active power in the limbs. We cannot, at such times, exercise faith in prayer, or expect a loving answer from God's throne. We cannot exercise faith in God's providence, or believe that the dark clouds will bring fruitful showers; and the frosts of winter will bring the beauties and blessings of spring.
The promise meets the eye — but brings no relief to the heart. The doctrines of grace appear clear and lovely — but like the winter's night they are cold and powerless. With us, everything is — as our faith is. And our faith is often feeble, dull, and inactive. The Holy Spirit condescends to watch over the grace He has implanted, to keep His eye on the work He has wrought; and in His own time, and by the means He is pleased to select, He comes and stirs up and excites our faith anew.
Just now we were like the moulting eagle, crouching down, shivering, and cleaving to the dust — but now our youth is renewed, we mount upward, we catch the warm rays of the Sun of Righteousness, we are strong, lively, and happy. We clasp the promise — and press it to the heart. We embrace the Savior anew — and bless His adorable name. We enter into the Holiest afresh, and hold sweet, heart-melting, soul-ravishing fellowship with God. Sweet, unutterably sweet, is the excitement produced by these renewing visits of the Divine Monitor.
The Holy Spirit perfects our faith. Having produced it as an act of sovereign grace — He sustains, directs, excites, and carries it on unto perfection. He feeds it with knowledge, guides it by wisdom, and strengthens it with power — so that the righteous holds on his way, and he who has clean hands, waxes stronger and stronger. The faith that first led us to the cross for pardon — often leads us to the fountain for cleansing! The faith that first brought us to Christ — will never allow us to go on long, or far, without Christ. The faith that brought us to the door of the sheep-fold — will bring us to the gates of glory! Faith will work in us — and we shall work, war, and walk under its influence, until we receive the end of our faith, even the complete salvation of our souls.
Faith is the root of every Christian grace. Faith is the life of our religion — and the Holy Spirit is the life of our faith. Let us therefore honor Him, as the worker of faith in us. And while we look principally to Jesus as the object of faith, the store-house of every blessing, the Alpha and Omega of the gospel; let us not forget, fail to realize, or cease to acknowledge — the goodness and grace of the Holy Spirit of God, who is to us "the Spirit of faith."
Spirit Jehovah, we worship You, and beseech You to strengthen that faith which You have wrought in us! You have given us a little faith — give us more. Make us like Abraham — strong in faith, giving glory to God. And if the eye of an unbeliever rests upon this page, let it please You through it, to produce faith in his heart, that he may flee to Jesus, embrace the cross, find peace, and obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.