Faith must begin by the acknowledgment of our own weakness and inability. In the realms of human attainment, there might be some virtue in the teaching of the philosophers that faith in one’s own self and in one’s own ability is an asset. In the realm of spiritual life it is a distinct and definite liability.
Man being a finite being cannot reach out of the boundaries of infinity and appropriate the things that belong to infinity. The thing that he needs for the development of his soul, however, are not the things that belong to this world. He is absolutely powerless in the grip of sin. To deny the fact of sin or to attempt to repudiate its effect, even though you admit its evidence, is absurd. If a man believes that he can work his way into Heaven, he will never feel his need of a Savior. If he never feels his need of a Savior, how can he have faith in One who came to save him?
Faith begins where sight ends. If you can imagine for one moment that you can take your Jericho without any help from the Lord he will let you try it, but let me assure you, you will try in vain. You might walk around it for seven years, or an eternity for that matter, and all you would do would be to strengthen the foundation.
When self-reliance dies, faith begins to be born. When you come to the end of yourself you arrive at the beginning of God in your life. The apostle Paul declared that he could do all things, but he went on to say that he could only do them through Christ. That is why he was willing to glory in his infirmities—because when he had them the power of Christ rested upon him. For this reason he declared he was the strongest when he was the weakest. This truth is an eternal paradox in the hands of faith.
If your own indomitable will has prevented you from bending the knee then ask God for grace and strength to bring it to obedience. If the devil of pride has been singing its praises in your open ear then banish him forever. Just simply throw up your hands and quit. Come yourself as a miserable, wretched sinner in need of God’s power in your life, and ask God to let you see to the end of yourself!
Faith always begins by acknowledging that you cannot do it. It is always preceded by a deep feeling that the thing desired is impossible in itself. As Joshua stood that night before the walls of Jericho he might have said in his heart, “I cannot, I cannot do it”—and then the captain of the Lord’s host stood by his side and whispered, “No, Joshua, you cannot do it, but we can.” Such a day in your life will be the birthday of faith. How can you be afraid when your Father is so near?
Then faith must of necessity call upon God. Do not wait for God to call upon you, but you call upon God. The reason that many people never have God in their homes is because they have never invited Him. Before He will confess you, you must confess Him. Faith needs God and therefore it calls upon Him.
How foolish we are, poor little creatures of time, to try to get along with our own limitations when there are the immeasurable resources of Heaven at our disposal. Why try to walk the paths of the unchartered future when One is willing to walk by our side who has been every step of the way before?
How my heart bleeds in pity and in sympathy for the young man or the young woman into whose spiritual veins has been injected the venomous poison of unbelief while attending some of our modern educational institutions. Lead your professors to the lawn outside the school and ask them to grow one little tiny blade of grass. Ask them to make a synthetic seed that will sprout and bring forth a harvest. Ask them to make a leaf that will cast away the dress of green it has worn all summer and array itself in the deepest tones of golden brown as it puts on its autumnal clothes. Ask them to fashion one little snowflake or to persuade some hen to hatch her eggs in 14 days instead of 21.
Oh, the corruption of vanity—oh, the absurdity of intellectual pride! The priest who took me through St. Peter’s, architecturally the greatest cathedral in the world, swept his arm toward the dome and said, “This is the creation of Michelangelo.” But I walked outside, away from the unchallenged magnificence of what I had seen and looked up into the starry heavens. I was on the pavements of Vatican City in faraway Rome. I lost sight of the majesty of St. Peter’s and forgot to think about the vaunted temporal power of the Pope as I looked up into the canopy of the skies and said, “This is the creation of my Lord.” Yonder blazed hundreds of millions of suns. Stars had been thrown across the immeasurable spaces of the sky like seeds that had been scattered by the hand of the farmer in his field. Worlds were so big and planets were so huge that this little revolving earth fades into insignificance in comparison. Yet that great, vast, immeasurable, multitudinous constellations of stars and planets with moons and suns without number are all moving, moving, moving along the lanes of their appointed and predestined travel.
More than one brain has broken in trying to comprehend it. The next time your pompous professor sticks out his puny chest and tells you that those stars just whirled themselves into position and prates about the anthropoid hypothesis, just lead him outside, ask him to call together the combined intellects of the intelligentsia of the world, and ask them to grow one little blade of grass. Only God can make a tree. Your professor can make a statement—but only God can make a rosebud.
Then faith must get on its knees and cry out to God. Faith must walk down the vales of self-abasement and humiliation in order that it might climb the mountain of divine revelation that is on the other side. Before you can become strong you have to become weak. Before you can be filled you have to be empty. When you have become strong you will rejoice in your weakness. After you have become filled you will thank God for your emptiness. That, I say again, is why Paul rejoiced in his infirmities.
In the third place, faith discovers what God’s plan is and then does it. How multitudinous have been the plans of men. They sit today in the crumbling castle of their philosophic and scientific theories witnessing what they themselves admit to be the cataclysmic collapse of civilization.
We have had in recent years an epidemic of cultists, of philosophers, of psychologists, of psycho-analysts—until the house they built blew up as they blatantly contradicted one another. In the realm of finance and monetary systems the past years have treated us to the fantastic sight of a succession of experiments that have resulted in nothing at all. At last one of the greatest economists has declared, “Nobody knows anything about money.” That was the end of that!
Even in the realm of spiritual things the church officials got to dismantling the machinery of the gospel ship that had carried their fathers and mothers safely to the haven of rest. They started critically analyzing the machinery, and, not being able to understand it, they threw it overboard and began clamoring for a system and method that was amenable to reason, and that could be measured by the calipers of science. So overboard went the virgin birth, and after that they threw away the literal resurrection. They cleaned out salvation through the blood, and one by one the miracles fell with a splash into the modernistic sea. They demoted Jesus from captain to teacher, and some of them even told Paul that they did not want to hear from him anymore, as some of his doctrines were very unsound and unsafe. So the good Lord could do nothing else but leave them to their own foolish destruction while He called the faithful around him and promised them a safe journey into the harbor of rest, where the angels wait to sing their welcome home by the silver strand of Glory.
Yes, there have been many ways—many, many systems—but God’s way is the best way, after all. The plan of salvation has never been improved upon. The paths of time are strewn with the wreckage of man’s attempted achievements and they ought to be warnings to the young generation of this day to cling to the faith of their fathers.
Let me repeat that faith finds out the Divine plan and then lives and acts and works accordingly. God’s way is better than your way unless you make your way His. We have tried the broken cisterns—and lo, their waters have failed. Place your poor torn hand in the nail-pierced hand of a Savior and let Him lead you out of the vales of bewilderments into the light of the sunshine of eternal realities and truth. He loves you enough to do it if you will let Him.
The next step in the development of our appropriating, acting faith is to get hold of a promise. I have before stated that in order for faith to be exercised at all it must be established upon some sure foundation. You could not have faith in a bridge to take you across a chasm unless the bridge was there. When you have faith in God—if you will analyze that faith—you will discover that it is based upon something that God has said. The inheritances of the children of the Lord are the wonderful and marvelous promises of the Bible.
Whatever your condition, my friend—whatever your sorrow, whatever your trouble, whatever your heartache—there is a promise in the Word of God to meet it. If you are clothed with the garment of mourning, God has promised to give you the robes of praise. If you are traveling through the darkness of the night of misunderstanding, God has promised that He will lead you to the mountain peaks of glory where eternal sunlight gleams. If you are bewildered in the vales of ignorance and misunderstanding and you need wisdom, God has said in His Word that you can come to Him and He will impart it.
If all of the promises were taken out of the Bible—if there was nothing there but a record of the ministry of Jesus and the acts of the apostles—how dismal and dark would be the path our feet would tread. Our religious experience would only consist of the contemplation of the historic Christ. We read that Jesus walked with the disciples. That is history. But when Jesus says, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” that means experience. Taking hold of that promise, faith says, “Lord, I believe—you are near me—you are by my side”—and thousands of us can testify that that is literally true. When we read that Jesus walked the Emmaus Road and the hearts of the two disciples burned within them as He talked to them by the way, that is history. But your town has an Emmaus Road, and your hearts have burned within you as He talked with you by the way. That is experience brought by the alchemy of the power of faith.
Some years ago I sat in the home of a young Christian. That is, she was young in Christian experience, but not in years. Only three weeks before she had given her heart to Jesus and had begun to walk the pilgrim pathway that leads to the land of endless day. I have met very few people in my life who were so ignorant of the Bible and of the rudiments of Christianity as was that dear woman. She was indeed a babe in Christ.
She had the misfortune to be the mother of a daughter who was suffering from an incurable disease. The girl had been a great trial and burden to her through life, but with a mother’s tender, loving care she had done her best for her ailing child. Only a day before I visited the home her husband had been instantly killed, and her nephew, who was visiting them at the time, severely injured in an automobile accident.
So it was I sat in that home that rainy night. The poor woman sat moaning and wringing her hands and I was doing my best to comfort her. She seemed not to be listening to what I said, but was simply lost in her hopelessness and despair. When I told her of the great Burden Bearer, she mournfully shook her head. I felt led by the Spirit to read from the Word and so I turned to that wonderful Psalm, “He that dwelleth in the secret place.” As I read on, emphasizing the words I thought she ought to hear, she suddenly stopped me. A strange look came into her eyes, and she exclaimed, “Does it really say that?”
Turning to the New Testament I read one after another the promises of Jesus. Her eyes opened wider and wider until at last she exclaimed, “To whom did Jesus make that promise?” I reached forward, grasped her hand and looked into her eyes and said, “To you.” She leaned back in the chair and repeated over and over again, “That promise—to me; that promise—to me.” As the realization dawned upon her faith began to grow as she exclaimed, “Well, if Jesus said He would do that I am going to ask him to do it for me.”
Into that home of sorrow came the comforting Nazarene! Into a situation where no earthly circumstance could bring joy by any stretch of the imagination there came a beautiful and an abiding peace. She told me that after the funeral she could not weep except tears of joy. She said, “Is it not strange that joy because my husband found Jesus has exceeded my sorrow in losing him?” I told her it was strange for the people of the world, but it is not strange for the people of God. It is what they ought to expect.
Oh faith, beautiful faith, born of the love of a Father’s heart, lift us above the vales of sorrow, and even here wipe the tears from every eye. Glorious faith—wonderful faith—that reaches into the treasury of the divine Word and grips with its fingers some jewel of a promise and presses it against a broken heart until the healing waters flow. Faith—sweet and glorious faith—that takes from our ears the limitations of sound and time—and bids us listen to the music that comes from beside the glassy sea or, perchance, that music that is sweeter still—the voice of our glorified Lord.
Charles S. Price is considered one of the best Pentecostal preachers from the early twentieth-century. His works have always been among our most popular with our readers, and he was the first author that we took to print. His books have been a blessing to many for generations, and when we post excerpts to our blog, they are among the most well-received.
To read more about Charles Price, might we suggest visiting his author page? We’ve got links to all of his available books there, a brief bio, and more.
This post is from his book The Meaning of Faith.