The Right Kind of Faith, by D.L. Moody
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” —Acts 16:30
I do not know of any more important truth to bring out than the answer to this question, because that is the beginning of everything with regard to the divine life. A man must know he is saved before there is any peace, or joy, or comfort. The answer to the question is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”; and the question that comes right after that from almost every one is, “What is it to believe?” I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; I believe that He came into the world to save sinners. Well, and so do the devils. The devils not only believe, but they tremble. I can believe intellectually that Jesus Christ is able and willing to save, and yet be as far from the kingdom of God as any man who never heard about Jesus Christ. To believe that He can and is willing to save you, won’t save you. I will now take up the word “faith,” which means believing.
The Bible Definition of Faith
People say, “What is faith?” Now the Bible definition of faith is perhaps as good as any one that we know of. We are told in Hebrews 11, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Now faith is—what? The substance, or, as you have it in the margin, “ground” or “confidence.” In other words, faith is dependence upon the veracity of another. Why, all business is carried on on this principle of faith. Let men lose confidence one in another, and see how quick business could cease here in London. Let men withdraw their confidence, and see what would take place in the commercial world to-morrow. It was faith that brought you here. If you had not faith to believe that there would be a meeting in this hall, you would not have come. Somebody said there are three things about faith—knowledge, assent, and laying hold, and it is the last clause that is safe. Not the knowledge. A great many people say, “I believe Christ is able to save.” They give their assent, and say, “I believe” but that does not save. It is the last clause, the laying hold, that saves, and that is what we want to press upon you.
Faith has an outward look, not an inward one. Hundreds of people spend time in looking at their own hearts, but
Faith is an Outward Look
We are to have faith in God, and not in man. A great many people place their faith in men, and they pin their faith to other people’s doctrines and creeds. Not long ago I heard of a man who was asked what he believed. He said he believed what his church believed. “What does your church believe?” “The church believes what I believe.” And that was all they could get out of him. There are a great many in that same state of mind. They believe what the church believes, but they do not know what the church believes. If their church teaches it, they believe it. All the churches in the world can’t save a soul. It is not to have faith in this church or that church, this doctrine or that doctrine, this man or that man, but it is to have faith in the man Christ Jesus at the right hand of God. That is the only faith that will ever save a soul.
Put No Confidence in Man
Let me call your attention to a few verses where God has warned us not to put faith in man: Jeremiah 17:5: “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” You will find some men have not faith in God; they are like a tree that is withered and blasted. And there is a man perhaps right along next to them who has strong faith in God; “he is like a tree planted by the rivers of water; his leaf also shall not wither.” Why? He trusts in the living God. “Happy is the man that hath the God of Jacob for his help.” Cursed is the man that leaneth upon an arm of flesh, and trusteth in man. The same thought is brought out in Isaiah 30: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” In one place He says, “Woe,” and in another place He says, “Cursed be the man.” It is a terrible thing for man to put faith in man. Then Psalm cxlvi. 3: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Now here we are told very plainly by God that we are not to put our trust in this man or that man—not to lean upon an arm of flesh. All the ministers in the world and all the potentates in the church put together cannot save one soul. It is thoroughly impossible. It is the Lord that can save, and the Lord alone; therefore we want to get our eyes away from man, from the church, and right straight up to the man Christ Jesus. We read in Mark 11:22 whom we are to believe in. Christ says—and how sweet it sounds—“Have faith in God.” I never saw a man or woman in my life that had faith in God who was confounded, I do not care what their troubles or trials were. Have faith in God, and not in man.
The Great Delusion of Our Day
We are living in very strange days. Some people tell us it does not make any difference what a man believes if he is only sincere. One church is just as good as another if you are only sincere. I do not believe any greater delusion ever came out of the pit of hell than that. It is ruining more souls at the present time than anything else. I never read of any men more sincere or more earnest than those men at Mount Carmel, those false prophets. They were terribly in earnest. Some people say, “Why, if these men are holding, as you say, error, why should they be so in earnest?” Those prophets of Baal were the most earnest men I ever read of. You do not read of men getting so in earnest now that they take knives and cut themselves. Look at them leaping upon their altars; hear their cry, “O Baal! O Baal!” We never heard that kind of prayer on this platform. They acted like madmen. They were terribly in earnest, yet did God hear their cry? They were all slain. “I believe one religion is just as good as another, if you are only sincere in what you believe.” It is one of the devil’s lies.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD, not in man. I don’t care how good a man is, don’t you put your faith in him. His breath departs from him, he dies, and where is your help? Our God never dies, our God never will disappoint us if we put our faith in Him. “Have faith in God,” says Christ.
I saw some time ago some men arranging to go up in a balloon fastened to the car. They had one rope fastened, and by some mistake that rope got untied, and instead of seizing hold of the car they seized hold of the rope. One of them let go; the other just hung on, and he was swept away in the heavens and lost. “It did not make any difference; if he had hung on to the car it would have been just the same,” you say, “if he was only sincere.” Why, that man was very sincere when he seized hold of that rope, yet he was lost—perished in his earnestness. My friends, bear in mind if you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you must perish. It is God that says it—not man. Some people say, “He is such a good man, I cannot help but believe him; it is all right because he is such a good man, and he holds that doctrine.” Paul says, “If a man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” And if Gabriel should come right down here to-night, and commence to proclaim a different gospel from this platform, I would get out of the hall, and would not listen to him.
Deceivers and Dark Days
Deceivers are going out into the world who would deceive even the very elect if they could. I believe we are living in dark days. Error is coming in on all sides, and it is a time when we must maintain the faith. “I have kept the faith,” says Paul. The good old doctrine of our forefathers, and of the Puritans, is a good deal better than your new doctrine at the present time, that is just doing away with Christ, with hell, and even with heaven. Let us cling to the word of God, and have faith in God.
There was a young man God sent down to Bethel, and told him to prophesy against it. He was not to eat and drink in the place, nor to go back by the same way as he went. Down the young man went. The king asked him to go to his palace, but he refused. No, God had told him to go and prophesy, not to eat and drink. But there was an old prophet, and he sent out word to tell him an angel had told him to invite him, and the young man obeyed the voice of the angel rather than God, and then he started home another way, and a lion met him and slew him. We are not to put our faith in this man or that man, not even in a prophet if it is contrary to the word of God; not to believe the best man living if it is contrary to the word of God. If God says it, let us take our stand upon it. God’s word will stand when these men and their names have been swept away and forgotten. There have always been false teachers, men trying to teach us it does not make any difference what a man believes if he is only sincere. My friends, let us have faith in the living God, and then it will be light where it is darkness now.
How to Get Faith
Now, just turn to John 20. I can imagine some of you saying, “I would like to have faith in God, but I do not know how to get it; I have been praying a long time for faith.” I used to pray, “O God, give me faith,” and at the same time I was all the time neglecting the Bible. Here it stands; see how we are to get faith: “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” Now John took up his pen and wrote the gospel for one express purpose. What was it? That men might believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Every chapter but two in John speaks of believing, and if you run through the gospel and mark out the word “believe,” you would find what that gospel is written for. It is, “Believe, believe, believe, believe,” and it keeps right on to that one thing. He took up his pen and wrote that gospel that we might believe, and by believing we get life. Then turn to Romans x. 15: “How shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Do you want to know how to get faith? It is to get acquainted with God. Jehovah says, “Acquaint now thyself with me, and be at peace.” We find the people that are best acquainted with God have the most peace. It is the people that do not know God that do not trust Him. The people that know God put their trust in Him. I never knew a man to be well acquainted with God who did not trust Him. The more you know of a true man the more you trust him. I met a man ten years ago for the first time; I had not much faith in him, because I did not know much about him. In the course of a year I got well acquainted with him, and found him to be a true man; then I had more faith in him; the second year I had still more; and this year I have more faith in him than ever, because I know him well now. If you know God you cannot help trusting Him.
I wanted to teach my little boy what faith was some time ago, and so I put him on a table. He was a little fellow two years old. I stood back three or four feet, and said, “Willie, jump.” The little fellow said, “Pa, I’se afraid.” I said, “Willie, I will catch you; just look right at me, and jump”; and the little fellow got all ready to jump, and then looked down again, and says, “I’se afraid.” “Willie, didn’t I tell you I would catch you? Will Pa deceive you? Now, Willie, look me right in the eye, and jump, and I will catch you”; and the little fellow got all ready the third time to jump, but he looked on the floor, and said, “I’se afraid.” “Didn’t I tell you I would catch you?” “Yes.” At last I said, “Willie, don’t take your eyes off me,” and I held the little fellow’s eyes, and I said, “Now jump; don’t look at the floor”; and he leaped into my arms. Then he said to me, “Let me jump again.” I put him back, and, the moment he got on the table he jumped, and after that, when he was on the table, and I was standing five or six feet away, I heard him cry, “Pa, I’se coming,” and had just time to rush and catch him. He seemed to put too much confidence in me. But you cannot put too much confidence in God. Now faith never looks down; it looks right up. God says, “Trust me,” and God will bring us through all our difficulties, if we will only trust Him. Who will trust Him to-night? Who will have faith in Him to-night? “Whatsoever He saith unto thee, do it,” is what the mother of Christ said at the wedding; and whatsoever God speaks to you, do it. If God tells you to run, run. If God says, “Believe,” believe, and you will always be safe in doing just what God tells you to do.
Unbelief the Greatest Enemy
I have a great admiration for the old colored woman who said, if God told her to jump through a stone wall she would jump; getting through the wall was God’s work, not hers, and she would do whatever God told her to do. The greatest enemy God and man have got is unbelief. Christ found it on both sides of the cross. It was the very thing that put Him to death. The Jews did not believe Him; they did not believe God had sent Him; they took Him to Calvary and murdered Him; and the first thing we find after He got up out of the grave was unbelief again. Thomas, one of His own disciples, did not believe He had risen. He said, Thomas, feel these wounds; and Thomas did, and believed, and said “My Lord and my God.” Now those Christians here that have learnt to trust God in past years will bear me out in this, that the more they know of God, the more they can trust Him. Why? They have found God to be true. When man has failed, God never has failed; and when every one else has disappointed them, God has proved true. Now, you that never trusted Him, won’t you just leap right into His arms to-night? Won’t you just take Him at His word, and believe on Him now?
The Greatest Insult to God
It is considered you cannot offer a man a greater insult than to tell him he is a liar. Unbelief is telling God He is a liar. Why, suppose a man said, “Mr. Moody, I have no faith in you whatever,” don’t you think it would grieve me? There is not anything that would wound a man much more than to be told that you do not have any faith in him. A great many men say, “Oh, I have profound reverence and respect for God.” Yes, profound respect, but not faith. Why, it is a downright insult! Suppose a man says, “Mr. Moody, I have profound respect for you, profound admiration for you, but I do not believe a word you say.” I wouldn’t give much for his respect or admiration; I wouldn’t give much for his friendship. God wants us to put our faith in Him. How it would wound a mother’s feelings to hear her children say, “I do love mamma so much, but I don’t believe what she says.” How it would grieve that mother. And that is about the way a great many of God’s professed children talk. Some men seem to think it is a great misfortune that they do not have faith. Bear in mind it is not a misfortune, but it is the damning sin of the world.
God’s Word is Always Kept
Is there any reason why you should not have faith in God? Has God ever broken His word? I will defy any infidel to come forward and put his finger on any promise God has ever made to man that He has not kept. I can show you for 6000 years how the devil has lied, and how he has broken every promise he has made. What a lie he told Adam and Eve; and yet I can find a thousand men that will believe one of the devil’s lies quicker than I can find one man that believes God’s truth. Men will believe lies; but when it gets to real truth, then how few will believe the word of God. Why should not every man and woman in this house have faith in God? Why should not every one put confidence in Him now, and trust God to save them? And let me say, if you are ever saved, you will have to come to this one point of trusting to God for salvation. You never will be saved until you put your trust and confidence in God.
Setting the Seal
Look at John 3:33: “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” In those days men used to wear a signet ring, with their initials, and instead of signing their names, they used to take the ring and seal the document. That was setting to their seal; that was an endorsement. And now God comes down into this unbelieving world, and says, “Who will set to his seal that I am true?” And so I want to ask the friends in this hall, Who will set to his seal or her seal that God is true? It is a great deal better for us to make ourselves liars and God true than to try and make ourselves out true and God a liar. That is what many men will do. Who will set to his seal that God is true? Unbelief says, “I won’t.” Faith says, “I will set to my seal.” Oh, may God help many now to say, “I will set to my seal that God is true” this very hour; and, my friends, the moment you do set your seal that God is true, and put your faith in God, then comes the peace, the happiness you have been looking for so long!
No Peace Without Trust
A great many people go looking for peace and happiness before they trust. There will be no peace, no happiness, no joy, until you put your trust in God. The joy that flows through the Christian’s heart is the result of trusting God. Suppose I meet a man to-night leaping for joy, laughing at the top of his voice. I say, “My friend, what makes you so happy?” “Oh, I don’t know; I am so happy I cannot contain my feelings!” What would you say? Why, you would say the man had gone mad. But suppose I meet a man whom I have seen out here night after night begging, and I say to him, “Hullo, beggar, is that you?” “Don’t call me a beggar; I am no longer a beggar.” “Are not you the man who has been begging here every night?” “Yes.” “Where did you get your good clothes? How is this you are not a beggar?” “No, I am no beggar; I am worth a thousand pounds.” “How is that?” “Well, sir, last night I was here begging, and a man came along and put a thousand pounds in my hand.” “How did you know it was good money?” “I took it to the Bank of England, and they gave me gold for it.” “How was it done?” “Well, I just held out my hand, and he came and put a cheque right into it, and I took it to the bank and got gold for it.” “Did you really get it in that way?” “Yes.” “How do you know it was the right kind of hand?” “Why,” says the beggar, “what do I care about the hand, I have got the money.” Faith is the hand that reaches out and takes the blessing. Any faith that brings me to Christ is the right kind of faith, and instead of looking at your faith look to Christ. Some one has said, faith sees a thing in God’s hand, and says, “I will have it.” Unbelief sees it there, and says, “God won’t give it me.” Look to God by faith to-night and have salvation.
Who Will Have It?
Every man and woman may have it if they will but put their trust in God. Is not God worthy of our confidence? Is not God worthy of our trust? You must have a poor opinion of God if you cannot trust Him. We consider we have a poor opinion of a man if we cannot trust him. If a man should tell me something, and I did not believe a word he said, I would have a very poor opinion of the man. Faith is putting confidence in God’s word. Take hold of His word to-night. He will save all that will come—not only that, but He will save you when you do come. Away with everything but Christ, and take Him now. Who will take God at His word to-night? Some one has said, “Faith is saying yes to God.” Who will say yes to-night, and take it? Now, is it too much to ask or to expect that every person in this hall should put their faith in God? If God does not save us, who will? Men cannot, the church cannot, creeds and doctrines cannot; the sacraments cannot save; baptism cannot save. You must have a living personal Christ, and God presents Him to the world. Who will take Him? Who will have Christ—who will trust Him? Faith says, I will. Is it not the very best thing you can do? Can you do a better thing than trust to God for salvation? “What must I do to be saved?” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, or trust the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and trust Him now.
Story of a Condemned Man
Away back some years ago it is recorded in history of a man that was condemned to be put to death, that when he came to lay his head on the block the prince asked him if there was any one petition that he could grant him, and all that the condemned man asked for was a glass of water. They went and got him a tumbler of water, and when he got it his hand trembled so that he could not get it to his mouth. The prince said to him, “Your life is safe until you drink that water.” He took the prince at his word, and dashed the water to the ground. They could not gather it up, and so he saved his life. My friends, you can be saved to-night by taking God at His word. The water of life is offered to “whosoever will.” Take it now, and live. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Faith is not what we see or feel,
It is a simple trust;
In what a God of love has said
Of Jesus as the Just.
D.L. Moody (1837–1899) was an American evangelist whose ministry took him all over the world. He was also an avid publisher, writing and publishing many books for the edification of the saints. His collected works has long been one of our most popular books, and for good reason. His sermons are straight-forward and heavy on Biblical references. Without a doubt, his teachings are sure to bless!
This post comes from Moody’s book Wondrous Love.