After Jesus had cursed the fig tree and the disciples were marveling over the fact that it had so soon withered away Jesus said unto them: “Have the faith of God.” (Margin) This is one of the most important commands that Jesus ever gave, and obedience to it involves more than can be computed by any one short of God Himself. The glory and majesty of God have been hidden from the people, and millions during the past few centuries have been kept in darkness because God’s children have been so unbelieving. Some are doing a great deal of praying today since the Spirit has been poured upon them, hut they are not doing enough believing. Jesus said: “Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray (not some other time, but when ye pray) believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.” What a wonderful promise! It is certainly good advice coming from the lips of our Lord. Many who have received the Pentecostal baptism in the Spirit are continually asking God for power. I believe that one of the greatest needs of the hour is faith to use the power God has already bestowed upon us.
I tell you that what we need today is faith to step out in Jesus’ name and do the works that Jesus said we should do. To live the Christ-life means more than merely to have clean hearts and obey the negative commands of the Scriptures. After Jesus had told the doubting people to believe Him for the works’ sake, He said: ” He that believes on me the works that I do shall he do also.” In other words, we must be able to say: “Believe us for the works’ sake.”
People think today that being good is all that God requires or expects of them. Jesus didn’t spend His time merely in being good but in doing good. To live the Christ-life means more than merely being good; it means to do the works that Jesus said should be done. Surely if Jesus could not convince unbelievers without miracles, He does not expect more from us. If He during a period of over three years of constant teaching and working of miracles could not equip the disciples to creditably represent the Kingdom of heaven without enduing them with power from on high, how foolish for schools and seminaries to think that they can prepare men to preach the Gospel without the anointing from heaven. Jesus Himself did not enter on His ministry until He was clothed with the Spirit. He said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for He has anointed me to preach.”
Now since God has baptized us in the Spirit He wants us to have faith to begin the works He said we should do. “Jesus began to do and to teach” the very things He wants us to do and to teach. There is something more to be done than teaching; the power of God must be demonstrated. The absence of this demonstration is the weakness of modern Christianity. Jesus began nothing that was unnecessary and that He did not want continued. He wants His body, the Church, to do today the works that He did in His physical body during the three and a half years of His earthly ministry.” He that believes on Me the works that I do shall be do also and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto the Father.”
Jesus said, ” I f ye abide in Me and my words abide in you ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto yon.” The only proof that we abide is the power to ask what we will and get the answer. To abide means to continue, and to continue is the opposite of discontinue; so to abide in Christ is to live where the life and Spirit of Christ shall penetrate our life and spirit as unceasingly as the sap from the vine penetrates the branches. The devotion of modern Christians is so spasmodic and so fluctuating that faith and the other fruit of the Spirit have not time to grow and develop. This marks the difference between modern Christianity and that glorious Christianity of the first century, which evangelized the whole known world in one generation. This same unceasing obedience and devotion of the early Christians will give us the same faith they had, and the faith that they had will give us the same results.
Perhaps during my short experience in the work of God there is no lesson that I have had repeated oftener than that obedience will produce faith. When yielding myself to the Lord to receive the baptism in the Spirit, I told Him that my little bank account and everything I possessed were to be His and that I would never count them mine any more; that if He wanted to test me He could strip me of everything and see that I meant what I said to Him. He baptized me in the Spirit and I set out to win souls. I worked incessantly every day at personal work among my associates and went to the meetings every night. I kept this up for several months, living on the small bank account I had, and until the last cent was gone. I never received a penny from any one for all my work for the Lord. Finally, as cold weather was coming on, about fifty dollars was needed for warm clothing for my wife, two babies and myself. I drew the last five dollars out of the bank. I gave two dollars to my wife and putting the other three in my pocket walked down the street.
I met a poor lady whose husband was an invalid; she was very weak in body, struggling hard to make a living for her husband and small children by selling things from house to house. The Spirit most clearly spoke to me, telling me to give her the three dollars I had in my pocket. I tried my best to have the faith that God would help me out and not let my wife and babies suffer. The Scripture came to my mind, “He that provides not for his own household is worse than an infidel,” and to save my life I could not have the faith to part with my money. No one knew my needs and I could not see how it was possible for me to get any money, for during the whole time I had been working for the Lord I had not received a cent. Although I found myself unable to exercise the faith to take this step of obedience, I finally decided to obey the Spirit. As soon as I had reached in my pocket after the three dollars and handed it to her, God gave me such peace and rest in my heart that although I, wondered how God could tell anybody to give me money when they did not know my need, I found myself believing without any effort that in some way he would see me through. When I went to dinner my wife, without knowing what I had done, told me she had given away the other two dollars. This left us without a cent at a time when we must soon have about fifty dollars. We both had the faith that some way God would see us through. This was my first lesson on the line that obedience will produce faith. After dinner I went up town and a man came to me and held out his hand, full of change, and told me that during the forenoon God had put it upon him to give it to me. I had never received any money in this way and refused it, but he insisted that God had spoken to him and I must take it. When I got home I counted the money and found it to be exactly five dollars—the amount that wife and I had given away. Well, of course, we praised the Lord.
A day or two later God called upon me again to give some money to one in need and I readily obeyed, trusting Him to take care of our needs. It was only about three hours later when a man who knew nothing of my circumstances stepped up to me and said: “The Lord told me to give you this,” handing me some money. It was exactly the amount I had given away. The next morning the third test came to me and I obeyed, giving a dollar bill to a Jewish lady who was in need. In less than an hour while on my way to pray for a sick person a woman who knew nothing of my needs stepped up to me and said, “The Lord told me to give you this dollar.” These are my first three experiences in the same order in which they occurred. And during the six years since I stepped out to work for God, the Lord has over and over again taught me that obedience comes first and faith follows as the result.
Now about faith, the Bible teaches that the devil believes and trembles; many people believe in this way, who do not even tremble. I have heard people say that they believe God could make a new world, that He can heal the sick, and that He can do anything. The devil believes all this but he hasn’t a spark of living faith because true faith comes from God. People think that accepting the credibility of a statement is faith; but if it is, we would have to call it dead faith. The Bible speaks of dead faith. In James 2:26 we read, ” As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Dead faith is like a dead man, it isn’t worth anything to this world.
I want you to notice that living faith is the operation of God in the soul. It is not something you and I have apart from obedience or apart from God. Paul wrote to the Colossians, ” Y e are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God,” not faith in the operation of God, not faith in the power of God (which may be necessary), but as Weymouth translates this, “Through faith produced within you by God.” And this operation can never come to a man until he has yielded to God. Most any sinner in Chicago believes that he can be saved if he will seek God with all his heart, ‘but never until he says in his heart, ” I am going to be saved” does he find it possible to “believe unto righteousness.” His purpose of heart makes it possible for God to give him living faith. Paul in the text quoted, calls living faith “the operation of God.” I know a man who said, ” I am going to seek God until I am saved, ” and He didn’t have a chance to kneel down before the glory of God flooded his soul. There is no trouble about having all the faith we need if we will obey God and will with Him.
A pure heart is one that wills with God only that which is good. It wills nothing but what God wills and wills all that He wills. No man or woman has a pure heart unless he is willing to be governed by the will of God. I care not how wonderfully a person was blessed yesterday or forty years ago when he was sanctified, his heart is not pure today unless he has maintained that same yieldedness to the will of God. Only as long as “we walk in the light as He is in the light” does the blood, of Jesus Christ His Son cleanse us from all sin. No sinner ever could believe unto righteousness with indifference in his heart to the will of God, and so whenever a Christian becomes indifferent to the will of God as it is revealed in any line, he is not in the place of saving faith.
Paul says “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Why – because faith is the victory. I used to wonder what was the matter when at the close of a wonderful meeting we failed to get results. All through the service the power was there and yet sometimes no one would get saved or baptized in the Spirit. The Lord showed me that faith was the victory. We had the shouting, the speaking in tongues, interpreting, and all these things, but without the operation of faith there were no results. The meeting might have been far less enjoyable and yet if we had asked for it and believed, God would have given great victory. Shouting has its place, speaking in tongues has its place, but it is faith that gets the victory.
Now hear the wonderful words of Jesus, teaching us the omnipotence of faith; Jesus said to His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say (not pray, but say) unto this mountain, ”Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea” it shall be done.” Hallelujah, for the omnipotence of faith! Real unadulterated faith is one hundred per cent supernatural. When we are in union with Jesus so that we can have” the faith of the Son of God,” we can do everything He wants us to do. Nothing can stand before faith; it will kill a fig tree or it will kill a cancer. Faith is a divine attribute; it is the fruit of the Spirit and it is one of the gifts of the Spirit, too. If God should inspire faith in me for the purpose, and I should say to this piano, “Be thou removed and cast into the street,” it would go. It would have to go. Why – because the faith of God is irresistible; God can move mountains and everything else. Oh let us have “the faith of God,” for there is so much to do, and without faith it cannot be done. He wants the works continued that Jesus began to do.
Oh, how unspeakably glorious it is that He has committed to us this work which angels are not permitted to do! Peter said that the Trial of our faith is more precious than gold. If this is true, how much more precious the faith itself, which is purified by the trial! Let us contend for faith more earnestly than any man is working for gold. A man will leave his family, forsake his wife temporarily, make his way to the Klondike and work in the snow and in the water, undergoing all kinds of hardships for years, to get gold; and when he gets it he has only that which will perish. Gold will buy things in this world, but faith will secure the eternal salvation of thousands of precious souls, and bring us into the possession of the things of God with which we will never have to part. Paul admonishes us to “Stand fast in the Spirit,” with one mind, “striving”—not separately, but together for the faith of the Gospel.” Gold will give a man access to the kings of this world; but hallelujah! faith will give us access to the King of kings, the God of heaven and earth.
The end of the commandment is “love out of a pure heart….and faith unfeigned.” For the sake of the multitudes in darkness, let us live a life of such unceasing devotion that our faith will grow exceedingly, and that we, like the Thessalonians, may be “examples to all that believe,” that His glory may be displayed before the eyes of the people. As children of the Royal family and ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven let us maintain the dignity of our King and creditably represent Him by seeing that His promises are fulfilled.
Excerpt from 1913 “Triumphs of Faith”