"FAITH COMETH BY HEARING."
"Without faith it is impossible to please God." --Heb. 11:6.
"Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God."--Rom. 10:17.
A clearly defined understanding of faith will show the theory of Theologians, who assert that God is now trying to save the world, to be not only at variance with his word, but also totally opposed to his attributes--wisdom, power and love. All wise, his plans are arranged for the accomplishment of his purposes; all powerful, he knows no such feeble word as trying to save, but can do whatsoever he will, and his will is, love to mankind. "He so loved the world." Therefore, Jesus, his representative, "shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied."
The word of God declares faith, a necessity to harmony with the mind of God; and its reasonableness will be apparent, when it is seen that it could not be other than impossible, to be at peace with God without it; and not only so, but it will then appear beautiful in its simplicity, as part of the grand plan of the ages, for the gathering together in one all things under Jesus.
Faith in any creed or system of religious teaching, not wholly founded on Jesus, as the purchaser, or redeemer, and expression of God, is a delusion. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), therefore, there is no other way to God. "No man cometh to the Father, but by me"--Jesus; no other truth concerning him--"He hath declared him;" no other through whom and by whom life is provided, "Neither is there salvation in any other--for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12.) "By grace (favor) are ye saved, through faith" in Jesus; --"faith toward (or in) our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21) is the unquestioning acceptance by belief in, and conformity of life to God's plan for the redemption of the world, as revealed in Jesus.
There is no merit in faith; it is not righteousness; nor does it justify us; but we are justified through faith, and it is "counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5.) It is "precious faith" to those who are the called according to his purpose, because it takes hold of and appropriates the "exceeding great and precious promises" of his word to them, having obtained an "inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me"--Jesus. (Acts 26:18.) These are the sons, or "children of God; and if children, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, (to the inheritance of a world,) if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom. 8:17); that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. (James 1:18). But if the Church be a "first fruits," there must of necessity be a great ingathering after the Church-- "the mystery of God, should be finished"; otherwise it is no first fruits, nor could it be said in any sense, "that we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ, (Eph. 1:12), if the world will not trust in him when the Church--"the body of Christ"--is completed. And not only so, but God hath for this very purpose "raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:7.) All this comes within the range of "faith in Christ." To those who recognize this in God's word, it becomes part of that faith, without the exercise of which, it is impossible to please God.
Again, the purport of Jesus' prayer for those who should believe and have faith on him in the Gospel dispensation, conveys the same idea: "Neither pray I for these (disciples) alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us; that [when they are made one] the world may believe [in the next dispensation,] that thou hast sent me." (John 17:20,21.) "For he hath purposed in himself that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth. Eph. 1:10.
The love of God was manifested in giving his Son, not to redeem a few, as Calvinism would have us believe, but to redeem a world; for he commendeth [R556 : page 6] his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8.) "He died for all." (2 Cor. 5:15.) He gave himself a ransom for all. (1 Tim. 2:6.) "My flesh I (Jesus) give for the life of the world" lost in Adam; therefore there shall be a "resurrection of the just and of the unjust" --"the resurrection of judgment"-- trial.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) And we love him, because (we believe) he first loved us. (1 John 4:19.) Nor could God recognize as children those who do not love him; and they cannot love him without faith, for it is not possible for a child to love a father in whose word he has no confidence; therefore, "without faith it is impossible to please God." Nor can any man ever come into harmony with the divine will without faith.
Arminianism, in claiming that the heathen who have not heard the Gospel, are saved by the natural law of conscience, are in direct conflict with God's word, which declares it "impossible." Will God save those who do not please him? By no means, and they cannot please him without faith. No man ever has, or ever can be saved, either by the law of nature--conscience--or by the written law. Paul declares he was chief of sinners in all good conscience, and if he could be the greatest of sinners in good conscience, how can there be hope for any by obedience to conscience?
If man possessed the necessary ability to obey the law, and thus through the law become righteous, Jesus need not have died: "For if righteousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in vain, i.e., died to no purpose; but, instead of its being a means through which he could become righteous, it became, because of man's weakness and inability to fulfill it, a means whereby he could realize his helpless and hopeless condition in God's sight. For what things soever the law saith, it saith to them (all the world except those in Christ) who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom. 3:19,20.)
It is apparent, that "all the world" includes not only those who have the written law, but also those who, not having the (written) law, are a law unto themselves:...their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing" them; (Rom. 2:14,15), thus making "all guilty." "There is none righteous, no not one." Jesus said: If a man loves me, he will keep my commandments.
It is evident, therefore, that the billions of men who never heard "the truth" could not have faith in it, and could not rejoice in it, and consequently cannot have known God, and how could they love him? The carnal (depraved) mind is enmity against God, it is not [R556 : page 7] subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; so then, they that are in the flesh (depraved) cannot please God." None are exempt from the condemnation of law. God hath concluded (shut up by law) them all in unbelief that he might have mercy on ALL. (Rom. 11:12.) Not, however, by saving them in ignorance; provision has been made by Jesus' ransom whereby God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth. But how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard? for faith cometh by hearing...the word of God. Because Jesus by the grace (favor) of God tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9), the "good tidings of great joy ...shall be to ALL PEOPLE" (Luke 2:10) in order that they may have the requisite faith.
Only a comparatively small portion of the race has heard the "tidings" in this life, and, if they do not hear, when raised from the dead, the promises of God never could be fulfilled, but we are assured he "will have all men to be saved (from the consequences of Adam's sin--death) and to come into a knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4.) In no other way can God's word, and God's dealings with mankind be reconciled. Think of the ignorance, of the "only name" in this enlightened day, as shown by the most recent statistics of the population of the globe, which we append, classified according to religious creeds:
Greek Church...................... 84,000,000
The Protestant missionary societies claim that they are able to reach 100,000,000 of this vast host of heathens, which would leave a balance of about 900 millions who have never heard the name of Jesus.
Think you, in view of these figures, that God is now saving the world by faith? If he be, this is a sad showing. Only one hundred and twenty-four million Protestants, of whom about twenty millions are said to be members of Protestant churches, which includes hypocrites and deceived persons. Truly the whole world is either apostate, Christian, Mohammedan, or heathen. If we accept the teaching called "orthodoxy," we must reject God's character or word, but we are safe in concluding erroneous that which conflicts with God's word, character, and our reason. In what contrast with this do we find the Bible doctrines, that the church is now being selected from among mankind, and, when made partakers of the "divine nature," shall be God's instrumentality in causing "the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth!" How sublime the thought--how Godlike the provision for all his intelligent-- that all may have a chance to come to knowledge of and harmony with Him.
S. O. BLUNDIN.