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Home » Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels ! Chapter 35 - Mark 11:22 - Faith in God Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius
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Faith In God.
"And Jesus answering, saith unto them, Have faith in God."-Mark 11:22.
Two things suggest themselves here, in connection with these words of the Lord: first, the command; and secondly, the reasons for compliance with it.
The command brings before us the obligation under which we lie to give to the God who made us, our entire and unreserved confidence in everything, great or small,-in regard to our own salvation, and in regard to every matter that comes before us, every duty that devolves on us, every plan that we form, every perplexity that overtakes us, every trial which comes down on us. Have faith in God. This is the Lord's counsel; nay, his command. "Have faith in God." Not in self, not in man, not in churches, not in princes, not in intellect, not in gold, not in the creature at all. Have faith in God. Everything else is a broken reed, on which if a man lean it shall not only give way beneath him, but pierce him through with many sorrows. God's demand on us here, then, is for our complete and full trust, just as in the law his demand is for our absolute and undivided love. This is Christ's demand upon us in behalf of the Father. He had come to reveal the Father. He had day by day been revealing Him and shewing how truly he was entitled to this confidence. He had himself set the example of trusting Him, and that in the most adverse and untoward circumstances in which a son of Adam was ever placed. And speaking to us as one who had faith in God, who had altogether trusted Him from the time that he was "made to hope upon his mother's breasts," he makes this solemn but most blessed demand in the Father's name and in the Father's behalf, "Have faith in God."
It is not, however, as if He were binding on us a burden; or issuing a new law, upon obedience to which life depended. In these words He is proceeding upon the great truth that the life has come,-that God has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in his Son. He is claiming our confidence, not for a God who is yet waiting to see if we will fulfill certain conditions, and comply with certain terms, and obey his whole code of laws (modified or unmodified); but for a God who without waiting for anything in us, has of his own infinite grace, without one stipulation or condition, sent his only begotten Son into the world, with the gift of everlasting life in his hand for the lost sons of Adam. It is in behalf or this God that He is speaking; and it is by the declaration and exhibition of what this God has already done of his own free love, unsought by us, that he seeks to draw back our alienated affections from other objects, and to win our lost confidence from the worthless creature, to the infinitely worthy Creator,-the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Have faith in God." Such is God's claim upon you now in his own behalf; such is the Son's claim upon you in the behalf of the Father. The claim is made in the voice of authority, yet also of love. It is truly both. It is loving authority; and it is authoritative love. He asks it without reservation; and in a way which plainly indicates that the claim is one which admits of no rivalship. It is one which completely silences and sweeps away all competing claims, however venerable, however attractive these may seem to be. No divided heart! No divided obedience! No divided love! No divided confidence! There cannot be two Masters,-two Saviours, two Christ's, two Gods. If the creature be God, let us give it our trust; but if it be not, then woe to the man who leans on it. If the church be God, then let us give it our trust, that it may save and bless us; but if it be not God, then woe, woe to the man whose trust is here. If the world be God, then let us trust it as such, and trust it for our all; but if it be not, then woe, woe to the poor soul that gives to it that confidence which belongs to the living God alone.
In these days, when men are everywhere making or finding for themselves objects of trust, some in one thing and some in another, let us hold fast the words of Christ, "Have faith in God." In these days, when men are forsaking the fountain of living water, and hewing out cisterns, broken cisterns which can hold no water, let us take our stand beside the one living, infinite, everlasting well. There is nothing else that can quench our thirst for a single hour, or keep us from thirsting again.
"Have faith in God." This is meant to apply to everything; for as there is nothing too small or common for God to guide, or keep, or bless us in, so there is nothing too small for us to trust Him in. In things religious, things common, things domestic, things public, things national, things pertaining to the world,-let us have faith in God. The less of faith that there seems to be in the world, the more let there be in us. Nations do not trust Him; let us trust Him (as it were) for them, and go carrying their case to Him on our faith, since they refuse to carry it on their own! Statesmen and politicians do not trust Him; let us trust Him for them, and take their cares, their burdens, their perplexities to Him, since they will not do it themselves. It was the friends of the sick man that had faith, and that brought him to the Lord. Their faith prevailed, and he was healed. The world has no faith in God; few, very few, either rich or poor, have faith in God for anything; let us make this a reason for having stronger faith, that we may carry the world's wants, and the world's sins, and the world's sore maladies to God. He will not overlook any case that is brought to Him by the hand of faith, whose faith soever it may be.
The world's great sin is not trusting God. Cursed is the man that trusteth in man. The world's great need is faith in God. Let us take up the world's case while we take up our own.
But let us ask the reasons for our compliance with this. Why are we thus urged to have faith in God ~ What should lead us to this?
(1) There is Christ's command itself. This of it self would suffice. As the Father's commandment is that we should believe on the Son, so the Son's commandment is that we should believe on the Father. Christ here lays his solemn command on each one of you and says, "Have faith in God." He makes this explicit demand upon you on behalf of the Father. He knew what it is to have faith in God. It was one great part of his low estate on earth that He should live by faith upon the Father. This He had done in circumstances much more untoward, much more fitted to produce unbelief, much less calculated to cherish faith, than those in which you can possibly be placed. Having done this Himself, He turns round on you and lays His injunction on you, that you should do the same. More especially now, when He is gone up on high, should this command weigh with us. For who is there on earth to comply with it now, if His followers do not. He trusted in God when He was here, and He expects that now, when He is away, we should do what He did, and shew to an unbelieving, untrusting world, what it is to have faith in God. Christ's command then, enforced by His example, urges on us this duty. So that in declining it, or at least not complying with it, we are refusing to obey one of the most explicit injunctions ever laid on man. Often we hear it said that it would be presumption to trust God thus implicitly, and that we have no warrant to do so. No warrant! You have much more than a warrant, you have a command which cannot be mistaken. Presumption! How can it be presumption to obey a command? Is it presumption in you to keep the Sabbath, or to refrain from taking God's name in vain? It is presumption not to trust, not to have faith in God,-it is the worst of all presumptions, the presumption of refusing to obey a divine command,-a presumption which nothing in or about you can possibly justify or extenuate.
(2.) God's own character demands this faith. It is not enough to say that God's character warrants and encourages us in this faith; we must say that it demands it. For less than this is a refusal to recognize God's character as He has made it known to us; it is in having faith in Him that we make the true and proper recognition of God as the God of all grace. To withhold this faith or confidence, is to say that God is not such a being as the Bible re-presents Him to be; not such a being as warrants our trust, or affords us reason for having faith in Him. Now, we know that God has revealed to us his name and character. That revelation exhibits Him as altogether trustworthy; altogether such an one as invites the sinner's confidence. Nowhere in scripture is there any light cast upon God's character which has not this tendency. No-where has He done or spoken anything which would repel our advances to Him, or would inspire suspicion or distrust. All his words bear one uniform testimony to his character as the gracious Jehovah,-for-giving iniquity, transgression, and sin,-thrusting none away, but sincerely inviting all; reproving men for standing aloof, but upbraiding none for drawing near; discouraging none, but most kindly encouraging all; sending out messages of welcome the most generous, and loving, and honest, that ever proceeded from the most loving and large-hearted of the children of men. Christ Jesus was Himself the exhibition and embodiment of this gracious character. He could say, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." He that saw the grace of the Son, saw the grace of the Father. He that heard the Son say, Come, heard the Father say, Come. He that saw the Son dealing with sinners, saw the Father dealing with the sinners. And thus revealing the Father and the Father's grace; pointing to Himself as the expression of the Father's mind and heart; making known in every way both by word and deed the Father's mind of love, He could say, with urgency and with authority, "Have faith in God."
(3.) God's gifts claim and warrant faith. That we are still on earth, not in hell, is of itself such a pledge of grace as to bid us, even the ungodliest, have faith in God. The suspension of the law's righteous sentence against us, even for an hour, is a manifestation of mercy on the part of God, which, even in the absence of all positive gifts, is enough to shew us how thoroughly we may trust this God. When, however, He adds to this the gifts which are thrown all around us, like the manna round the tents of Israel, He gives us something more direct and positive to rest upon. That this earth should be so green and these heavens so blue; that these flowers should be so fair and these streams so clear; that this body should be kept in health in spite of disease and death around; that there should be so much of comfort here, and so many intervals of ease and joy, even in such a world of sorrow; and that all this should be vouchsafed to the unthankful and the unworthy, to those whose rightful portion was the ever-burning lake, surely all this is an amount of free gift which invites our fullest confidence. These gifts can have no meaning at all, if they do not mean that God's desire is that we should thoroughly trust Him. He who gives so much to sinners unasked and undeserved, is surely one who wishes us to trust Him, and who is well entitled to our confidence. But above all these other gifts, there is one which says to us, in a way that cannot be mistaken, have faith in God. It is the gift of his beloved Son. That gift has but one meaning. It is not capable of being interpreted save in one way, and that way is one which leaves us in no doubt either as to God's desire for our confidence, or as to our duty in this matter. If after hearing of this gift we still continue doubtful or distrust-ful, it is plain that we either altogether question the fact of God's having given his Son, or we willfully put a false construction upon that deed, making ourselves believe that God did not really mean the love which that gift so gloriously reveals.
(4.) The way in which we specially honour Him is by having faith in Him. As the special revelation which He is making of Himself is that of grace, so it is by our recognition of this that we honour Him; and it is by our non-recognition of this that we dishonour Him. Faith in Him is just the recognition of his character as the Lord God merciful and gracious, and want of faith is our refusal to recognize Him in this character. It is then by faith that we honour Him, and it is by unbelief that we dishonour Him. He has sent forth his gospel for the very purpose of calling forth your faith, and so obtaining from you this honour. Shall we then withhold it under any pretext whatsoever! Surely nothing can justify our refusal of this honour? It is vain to speak of its being presumption in such as you to trust God assuredly. You might as well say it is presumption in you to love Him, or to honour Him, or to keep his commandments. The greatest and most daring of all presumptions in the world is that of refusing Him the special honour which He so specially claims,.-the honour of being trusted by the sinner. And when you think that in this world there are almost none to give Him this honour, when you think that the millions of earth are with one accord denying it to Him, will you not feel yourself under irresistible obligations to testify against such unbelief and such dishonour, by giving Him your unreserved faith, and so bringing to Him the honour which He so specially and so earnestly desires at your hands?
(5.) Unbelief profits nothing. There are some sins that profit the sinner for a season, so that by reason of this profit or pleasure he persists in indulging them. Covetous-ness profits the lover of gold for a season, by giving him earth's riches. Gaiety profits the lover of pleasure for a season, by making him happy while the vanity lasts. But what does unbelief do for us? It does not comfort us or make us happy. It does not secure for us any blessing, either earthly or heavenly. It does not bring forgiveness or give us peace with God. It does nothing for us, absolutely nothing. It has it not in its power to do any-thing but make us miserable. The more you indulge in it, or allow it to have the mastery over you, the more evil it does you, the more wretched it makes you. It has nothing in itself to recommend it; and it has nothing in what it does to overcome its nature and intrinsic hateful-ness, or to make it seem desirable, or excellent, or profit-able in your eyes. It is evil, only evil; it is unprofitable, wholly unprofitable; its fruits are only darkness and sorrow. It weakens, but does not strengthen the soul. It wounds, but does not bind up. It poisons, but does not heal. It saddens, but does not comfort. It darkens, but brings no light. And as is its sorrow, so is its sin. It is the sin of sins; and all the while we are indulging in it we are not only making ourselves uncomfortable, but we are committing sin of the darkest colour and malignity,-sin which is the very root and source of all other sins.
(6.) Faith has done wonders in time past, and it can do wonders still. The whole Bible is a record of the marvels which have been accomplished by faith; and the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews is a summary of these marvels. God has taken great pains to shew us what faith can do; and our Lord when on earth taught the same blessed truth without ceasing. We seem to hear his voice saying to us, not once, but constantly, Have faith in God; for what is there that faith cannot achieve. It is faith that brings us into connection with Omnipotence, and it is faith which makes use of that omnipotence continually. By faith we engage Omnipotence on our behalf. By faith we make use of the Omnipotent arm, so that by it we are enabled to do mighty signs and wonders; there being nothing too much for us to expect, even as there is nothing too great for God to do. It may be as difficult as tearing up the mountain by its roots, and casting it into the sea, yet even a thing so difficult, a marvel so great as this, shall be done. Is anything too hard for God? Is there anything which He is unwilling to perform for those who trust in his arm, and cast themselves upon his grace?
Is it the revival of God's work in yourself or in your land that you desire? Have faith in God. Tell Him your desires, and tell Him in confidence.
Is it the conversion of friends that you are bent on? Have faith in God. Put your case in his hands wholly, but do so believingly, not as one thinking it impossible, or supposing that He can be unwilling, but as one perfectly assured of his love and power.
Is it the removal of temporal difficulties and perplexities that you are concerned about? Have faith in God. Trust Him with them all. You cannot remove the briars and thorns with your own hands, but He can; and if faith asks Him, He will.
Is it the state of the nation or the world that troubles you? Have faith in God. It is his world, not yours, and he must be far more concerned that things go right than you can be. Only He expects that his believing ones should bring all these things before Him. He is waiting for your faith, to do great things for your land, and great things for your world. Have faith in God. He will yet do great things for earth. He will smite Antichrist; He will bind Satan; He will restore Israel; He will sweep off the evil, and bring in the good; He will make all things new, and set up the glorious kingdom of His Son.
Look beyond the cloud, and the storm, and the night. Trust Him with this earth's future, and trust Him with its present. Live as men who believe that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Have faith in God.
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