The Way Made Plain

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 14



Now, when you say that you believe God raised Christ from the dead, the question is not whether you believe it as you believe that Oliver Cromwell was once Lord Protector of England or that George Washington was the first President of the United States, but are you glad that God raised Him from the dead? Do you see in His resurrection the crowning proof and overwhelming demonstration of the fact that He is indeed the Saviour of lost men, and your Saviour? Do you see in it in connection with His death the only way of escape from the dreadful curse of the violated law of God, and the only ground on which you can build your hope of immortal glory? Do you see in it the satisfactory evidence that your sins were left behind in the grave where they consigned Him, and the certain pledge of your own joyful resurrection when He shall come a second time apart from sin unto salvation? It is written, "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,"1 and it is vain to speak of believing such a truth as this unless it finds a lodgment in your heart and becomes the mainspring of your actions. It is too important and bears too directly upon your personal salvation to be dismissed from your mind with the hasty admission that you do not call it in question. If you were dangerously ill, and really believed there was but one remedy that could stay the ravages of your malady, you would not be content with an indifferent announcement of your faith in its restorative power, but you would gladly and thankfully receive it. If you were on trial for your life, you would not listen with quiet unconcern to the verdict of the jury that swept the dreadful gallows from your view, but your heart would give a great throb of joy on hearing words which could give you back freedom, and home, and friends. The belief of religious truth, also, is sure to be attended by the exercise of the affections; and hence Christian faith is the heartfelt reception of what God says in His word concerning the person, the death, and the resurrection of Christ.

This will plainly appear as we proceed to inquire out of the Sacred Scriptures precisely what is to be believed in order to be saved. I beg your careful, undivided attention to what follows, because belief is the turning-point in the destiny of your soul. I shall quote passages with which you are probably familiar, but nevertheless I ask you to read them, and to read them again and again, until their full meaning is received "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."2 It will give you some idea of the importance of the truth we are now to consider when you are informed that the words believe and faith occur about five hundred times in the New Testament. Our Lord's first recorded conversation with an inquiring sinner was about the necessity of belief; all His discourses and miracles were directed to the point of inducing men to believe in Him; and after His resurrection, we hear Him saying to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not [whether he is or is not baptized] shall be damned."3 Accordingly, the apostles went forth, and everywhere, and among all classes of men, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, moral and immoral, in answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved? "their reply was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."4

But to illustrate the frequency and prominence with which belief in Christ is taught, let us glance at the testimony of a single Gospel on this subject. "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe."5 "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."6 "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."7 "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."8 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. . . . He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."9 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."10 "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. . . . And many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."11 '' And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, . . . and himself believed, and his whole house."12 "Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."13 "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me."14 "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."15 "He that believeth on me shall never thirst."16 "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."17 "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."18

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."19 "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said. Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said. Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."20 "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."21 "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believes thou this? She saith unto him. Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."22 "Because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me."23 "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."24 '' While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light."25 "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."26 '' Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he."27 "Ye believe in God, believe also in me."28 "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."29 "And when he [the Comforter] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me."30 "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God."31 "Neither pray I for these 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 also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."32 "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe."33 "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, 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."34

These are not all the passages concerning belief in Christ that might be quoted from the Gospel written by John, but enough has been said to indicate how large a place the doctrine occupies in the word of God. They still further show that the truth to be believed in order to salvation is the great truth expressed by Martha when she said, "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world; "or, as Simon Peter expressed it on a certain occasion, "We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."35 If you will look with a little more care at some of the texts already given, and at a few others, you will soon be convinced that the heartfelt belief of the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is salvation to the person so believing. At the beginning of the Gospel by John we read, "He came unto his own, and his own [that is, the Jews] received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."36 When He manifested Himself to the people of Israel, they were offended by His lowly appearance. They had expected their Messiah to be clothed at His first coming with Divine majesty, and to march in royal state for their national deliverance; and when Jesus of Nazareth, the reputed son of Joseph and the real son of a humble virgin, presented His claims to their faith and allegiance, they received Him not. "But as many as received him"—received Him in His true character—to them gave He power to become the sons of God, for they were born of God by believing on His name, or by believing that, notwithstanding His unpretending exterior, He was indeed Immanuel, Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

When He said to Nathanael that He had seen him under a fig tree before Philip called him, ^' Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him. Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? "Believest thou what? Why, manifestly, that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel; and so believing, the man was saved; for the Lord said unto him, "Thou shalt see greater things than these."37

When He spoke so kindly to the fallen woman at the well of Samaria, seeking in matchless grace and wisdom to draw her to Himself, she said at length, perhaps with a dim consciousness of the truth stealing like the gray dawn into her opening mind, "I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he,"38 and obviously it was the belief of this statement which saved her soul. No further conversation ensued between them; but instantly receiving as true His own word that He was the Messias, or Christ, she left her waterpot, and in the joy of her heart announced to every one she met that she had found the Saviour.

Another instance of salvation through belief of the same truth occurs in the account of the man who was born blind, to whom our Lord gave sight. Although the person of Christ was unknown to him, yet he boldly defended His character against the sneers of the Pharisees, and accordingly was cast out of the synagogue, or excommunicated. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him. Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said. Who is he. Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."39 It is perfectly obvious that the truth here believed in order to salvation was nothing more than this, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, and therefore the proper object of worship.

In like manner, we hear the confession of the eunuch who said to Philip, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him."40 The cordial belief of this truth was the way, simple as it is, by which the troubled sinner immediately entered into rest, and joy, and life everlasting. The same noble confession was heard from Peter when our Lord "asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them. But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."41 How certain it is from this that if any man sincerely believes Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, the truth is revealed to him by the Father, and is the channel or means through which the blessing of salvation is bestowed! Hence, the Saviour says, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life; "42 and "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."43 "These are written," says John, "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."44 Believing what? Evidently, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and so believing, the assurance is we have life through His name. ''Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."45 "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"46 Nothing more need be said to prove that every one who truly and in the heart believes Jesus to be the Son of God is saved.

But you at once perceive that no one can really believe this without also believing that He died in the manner and for the object set forth in the Sacred Scriptures. It would be absurd and self-contradictory to believe upon the testimony of these Scriptures that He is the Son of God, and at the same time to deny in the face of the same testimony that He died upon the cross, and died as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."47 "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."48 "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."49 "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh."50 "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."51 "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father."52 "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures."53 "When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."54 "Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."55 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."56 "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."57 "He is the propitiation for our sins."58 "Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins."59 "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."60

The Bible is full of such texts, for its great design from the third chapter of Genesis onward to the close is to proclaim our deliverance from sin and its dreadful consequences through the death of God's only begotten and well-beloved Son. It is impossible, therefore, to believe in the heart that He is the Son of God without also believing that He died, not by accident, not by the uncontrolled vindictiveness of His enemies, not as an example, for then His example were thrown away, since none of us are called to die upon the cross under the hidings of God's face, but that He died as the sin-bearer and divinely-appointed substitute of His people, who was made to be sin for them in that fearful hour when from His breaking heart 'and pallid lips ascended the mournful cry of desertion. The question, then, is just this: Do you sincerely believe that He died to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself? If you do, you are a saved person, and saved now; and if you were to ask me how I know, I would reply, I know it upon precisely the same testimony that tells me Jesus is the Son of God. He who declares by the Holy Ghost in His blessed word that when the fulness of the time was come He "sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law "by being made a curse for them, still further declares that the belief of this truth is salvation; and we have as much authority for believing one statement as the other.

And now what renders assurance doubly sure is the fact that Jesus, who lived and was crucified, rose again, and was thus "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."61 If God Himself had not connected the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life with your belief of what He says in the Bible concerning the person, the death, and the resurrection of His Son, you could not be blamed for remaining in anxiety and fear as to your salvation. But after He has so distinctly stated that if you believe in your heart that He raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, you shall be—not may be, nor hope to be, no, shall besaved, a moment's doubt of your pardon and acceptance is a grievous dishonor to Him who is too holy to tell a lie, too good to trifle with your eternal interests. When the multitude listened to Peter and the other apostles preaching on the day of Pentecost, they heard of the person, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, but they did not at once hear that the belief of the testimony which had been delivered in their presence was the simple and yet sure way of receiving life. Hence for a little while they were greatly perplexed and troubled, being convicted of sin, but seeing no way of escape from ruin, until they were told of the remission of sins in immediate connection with the name of Jesus, who had been preached to them; and believing that He had put away sin, they that gladly received the word were baptized, and rejoiced.

Saul of Tarsus, also, on his way to Damascus, had overwhelming proof of the resurrection of Christ, and yet he continued in darkness and distress until informed that the Lord had risen, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, and believing this, "immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales," and "straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God."62 In the chapter that follows the narrative of Paul's conversion we find Peter preaching for the first time to the Gentiles, in the house of the Roman centurion, Cornelius. He first set forth the person of Jesus Christ, declaring that "he is Lord of all," and then His death upon the cross, and then His resurrection, adding: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."63 Believeth what? Clearly what the apostle had just affirmed concerning Him as the Lord of all who came down from heaven to die and to rise again for the salvation of men. In the next chapter but two we find Paul preaching to his own countrymen in Antioch, and again first setting forth Jesus as the Saviour whose shoes John the Baptist was not worthy to loose, and then declaring His death, and then announcing His resurrection, and then summing all up in the blessed words, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."64 Believe what? Evidently the testimony they had just heard about the person, the death, and the resurrection of Christ; and, receiving this testimony as true, they evidently had the same authority for believing that their sins were forgiven, and that they were justified from all things, that they had for believing the statements to which they had listened.

This is still the plain and only way by which sinners are saved; for "to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,"65 and "therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed."66 Yes, it is sure, and there are no "ifs "nor "ands "nor "buts "about it. God does not say to him that believeth, "if "he feels good; to him that believeth "and "does something else; to him that believeth "but "feareth; no! He says. To him that believeth, [his faith is counted for righteousness. Luther used to say the devil would sometimes come to him with the question, "Martin, do you feel that you are saved?" "No," the man taught of the Spirit would reply, "I do not feel it, but I know it." It is said that toward the close of the first Napoleon's career he was one day reviewing his troops in Paris, when having inadvertently dropped the bridle-reins of the horse he was riding, the spirited animal gave a bound and came near dashing the emperor to the earth. A young soldier standing in the lines sprang forward, and, seizing the bit, saved the chieftain from a fall. Napoleon, glancing at him, said, in his quick, curt way, "Thank you, captain." The soldier, knowing his peculiarities, looked up with a smile, and inquired, "Of what regiment, sire?" "Of my guards," replied the emperor, and galloped away. The soldier had no epaulettes on his shoulders and no sword at his side to prove his rank, but instantly laying his musket on the ground, with the remark, "Let whoever will, carry it; I am done with it," he proceeded to join a group of staff -officers standing at a little distance. One of them, seeing him approach, said, "What is this insolent fellow doing here?" "This insolent fellow," responded the soldier, looking the other steadily in the eye—" this insolent fellow is a captain of the guards." "Why, man," replied the officer, "you are deranged; why do you speak thus?" "He said it," shouted the soldier, pointing to the emperor, far down the lines. "I beg your pardon, captain," responded the officer; "I was not aware of your promotion."

And now, my friend, "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; "and if the world, the flesh, or the devil asks you how you know you are saved, reply by looking up to Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, and boldly exclaim, "He said it." Surely He has said it in the "word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever,"67 and who shall gainsay it? You are authorized to believe this very moment that He bare your sins in His own body on the tree; and if He bare them in His own body, they cannot be found on you. You are commanded to believe that He put away sin, root and branch, by the sacrifice of Himself; and if He put it away, it can no longer be upon your conscience. You are entreated to accept as true the testimony of God that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures—not according to our feelings, or deservings, but according to the Scriptures—and he who believes this may know upon that same testimony that he is saved. Oh, that you may believe God as Abraham did when "he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; [for it glorifies and pleases God to have us believe him;] and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, [not by feelings or works] we have [not hope to have, nor try to have] peace with God, through oar Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."68

"Faith is a very simple thing,
     Though little understood;
It frees the soul from death's dread sting
     By resting in the blood.

"Faith is not what we feel or see,
     It is a simple trust
In what the God of love has said
     Of Jesus as 'the Just.'

"What Jesus is, and that alone.
     Is faith's delightful plea;
It never deals with sinful self,
     Nor righteous self IN ME.

"It tells me I am counted 'dead'
     By God, in His own word;
It tells me I am 'born again'
     In Christ, my RISEN LORD.

"If He is free, then I am free
     From all unrighteousness;
If He is just, then I am just,
     HE is my righteousness."


1) Rom. iv. 25.

2) 1 Cor. ii. 4.

3) Mark xvi. 15, 16.

4) Acts xvi. 31.

5) John i. 6, 7.

6) John i. 12.

7) John ii. 11.

8) John ii. 23.

9) John iii. 14, 16, 18.

10) John iii. 36.

11) John iv. 39, 41, 42.

12) John iv. 50, 53.

13) John v. 24.

14) John v. 46.

15) John vi. 29.

16) John vi. 35.

17) John vi. 40.

18) John vii. 38, 39.

19) John viii. 31.

20) John ix. 35-38.

21) John x. 37, 38.

22) John xi. 25-27.

23) John xi. 42.

24) John xi. 45.

25) John xii. 36.

26) John xii. 46.

27) John xiii. 19.

28) John xiv. 1.

29) John xiv. 11.

30) John xvi. 8, 9.

31) John xvi. 27.

32) John xvii. 20, 21.

33) John xix. 35.

34) John xx. 30, 31.

35) John vi. 69.

36) John i. 11-13.

37) John i. 49, 50.

38) John iv. 25, 26.

39) John ix. 35-38.

40) Acts viii. 37, 38.

41) Matt. xvi. 13-17.

42) John vi. 47.

43) John viii. 24.

44) John XX. 31.

45) 1 John v. 1.

46) 1 John v. 5.

47) John i. 29.

48) Matt. xx. 28.

49) Matt. xxvi. 28.

50) Rom. viii. 3.

51) 2 Cor. v. 21.

52) Gal. i. 4.

53) 1 Cor. xv. 3.

54) Heb. i. 3.

55) Heb. ix. 26.

56) 1 Pet. ii. 24.

57) 1 John i. 7.

58) 1 John ii. 2.

59) 1 John iii. 5.

60) Rev. i. 5, 6.

61) Rom. i. 4.

62) Acts ix. 20.

63) Acts x. 43.

64) Acts xiii. 38, 39.

65) Rom. iv. 5.

66) Rom. iv. 16.

67) 1 Pet. i. 23.

68) Rom iv. 20-25; v. 1, 2.