By J. G. Morrison, D.D.
ALL POWER RELEASED OVER FAITH
The caption of this chapter is “all God’s power is released over somebody’s faith.” A better wording of the thought that we have in mind would possibly be that none of God’s power is released except over some one’s faith.
After God’s dealings with the first pair in the garden, it appears to be a truth that little or nothing is ever accomplished on this earth that concerns the welfare of mankind especially in its relation to his moral and spiritual nature that is not brought to pass because of the faith of some human being.
Having broken with God first of all, at the point of faith, God seems to be determined finally to convince the race that it must be along this very channel that all His activities are released in connection with mankind’s restoration to the estate from which it has fallen. Practically all Christians are aware that all salvation activity is precipitated over the faith channel, and it is our contention that the same can be said of all achievement that is in any way related to moral and spiritual conditions. Hence we have coined the expression that “all God’s power is released over human faith.”
Following this thought let us review the occurrences that were brought about in the Old Testament. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews states in the famous eleventh chapter that what was accomplished by the men and women of the age of Israel was wrought by faith. In that classic recital of the victories of faith, there is little that is said about faith for salvation, but the great bulk of it was exercised for achievement. The contention of this chapter might almost be allowed to rest on a careful commentary of that one chapter in Hebrews. Let the reader notice that wherever there was something being accomplished that related itself to the moral and spiritual purposes of God, there we find some earnest human beings believing God. In other words we find some one releasing God’s power over his faith cable for the performance of that desired thing.
In fact, there are several instances mentioned in the Old Testament where God distinctly promised something, and then insisted that men exercise a conscious faith in order, so we contend, to enable Him to do what He had promised to do. Notice the promise to Abraham of a son, and then recall the statements concerning the faith that he exercised with regard to this: “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, . . . he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:18 to 21). If, as we allege, faith is an invisible cable that releases the power of the Infinite over it, as a wire does the electric current, then here is an explanation as to why God insisted on the faith of Abraham and other Old Testament worthies. It was because He had to have that channel, in order to bring to pass the very thing that He had promised.
Take the case of Elijah praying on Mt. Carmel. God had promised rain. Why, then, did not Elijah calmly await the coming of that promised event? Why did he go to prayer with such earnestness after the contest with the priests of Baal? Why bury his face in his knees, and grow desperate, when already he had a promise from God that rain would come? Why send the boy repeatedly to the hill-top to look for it, while he himself was praying? We insist that he was offering to God a perfect faith cable so as to enable God to do what He had already promised to do. Soon the boy reported the coming of the “cloud the size of a man’s hand!” “The rain is at hand,” shouts the prophet, and starts for the shelter of the city! Would that rain have come, if he had not held a faith steadily up to God? Was not that faith the very means of releasing the power that produces the rain storm? Is this not the answer to the many failures to secure what we pray for? We started to ask in faith, and while that faith was real, and touching the divine, He worked over it. But we “wavered” in the matter, and in this manner broke the connection, and stopped the flow of the creative power of God, and the thing asked for was not received.
Take the case of Daniel. He learned from reading the prophecies that the time for the return of the Israelites to their own land had come. Consequently he betook himself to prayer in order to furnish God the faith that would enable Him to bring about the very thing that He had stated in the prophecies that He would do.
As we pass from the Old Testament over to the New, we find that the same law holds good. It would not be difficult to make out a case showing that the Lord Jesus’ first advent coincided with the faith of a number of the saints of God. All through the ages, the faithful Israelite had believed that He would come, some time. But only in the few years that antedate His actual appearance in Judea, do we find some one who believed that His coming was near at hand, and that they, themselves, would see it. Was it not on account of her child-like and humble faith that Mary was made the ideal channel for His physical birth? Were not Simeon, Anna, Zacharias and Elisabeth confidently looking “for the consolation of Israel”? And if the contention we offer stands, was it not their faith, perfect and complete in this matter, as it was, the very channel over which God could operate in order to consummate “the fulness of times”?
While our Lord was Himself on the earth, then for the first time since the Garden of Eden incident, God had a perfect channel of faith over which He could operate to accomplish that for which a divine wisdom was asking. Notice the calm faith that He manifested when He turned the water into wine, healed the multitudes of sickness and disease, produced great draughts of fishes, walked on the water, stilled the tempest, multiplied the loaves and fishes, made the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the lame to walk, cleansed the incurable lepers, and raised the dead! Although on the great errand of atoning for man’s sins, nevertheless the exercise of His perfect faith in God, was times without number for achievement. Though His faith failed Him not when it came to the tragic crisis of the Garden and the Cross, nevertheless His miracles were for the most part for accomplishing things, outside the realm of purely spiritual transactions. One of His parting injunctions, close to the end of His life, was that almost incomprehensible statement: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father,” thus commissioning His church to duplicate His deeds.
After His departure, as long as the church was in a pure state, it followed in His footsteps, of achieving by faith. By faith, they precipitated the greatest spread of salvation that the planet has ever witnessed. The lame were cured, the blind were made to see, the dead were raised, prison doors leaped open of their own accord, multitudes believed, the gospel ran like fire in the grass, till from the narrow streets of Babylon to the palace of the Caesars, the power of the Lord Jesus Christ was felt and known.
The enemy assailed the church of Jesus just as he assailed the Mother of all living, and just as he assails the individual heart of humanity: he struck at the faith of the church! As fast as possible he induced men to cease believing God. Soon the burning achievement of the apostolic days was a memory. In spite of the fact that Jesus had said that, “He that believeth, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works shall he do because I go unto my Father,” nevertheless, the church refused to give Him the necessary faith, consequently, the achievement ceased. From doubting God’s ability to do things, to doubting God for personal salvation, is a short and almost inevitable step. Soon personal salvation changed to a devotion to the church, a fanatical insistence upon creeds. Then doctrines began to disappear, and at last the “Dark Ages” were on in all their unbelieving horror.
The Dark Ages were precipitated because of unbelief. They persisted through the centuries because of the same gloomy severance of the only channel over which the life of God can come to the hearts of men. The wars, the tortures, the hatred, the iniquisition, the baleful fires that consumed human beings were a direct result of the fact that the enemy had broken man’s faith cable, and light, uplift, liberty, salvation and holiness were excluded. The only way that man can live the life of God, is by faith—”the just shall live by faith”—and that faith connection was for the most part, completely severed during the Middle Ages.
It is very interesting to note that the recovery of the race from the Dark Ages, began at the point of faith. Nothing was accomplished till someone began believing God. The first glimmer of any historical size occurred when St. Francis of Assisi stepped out by faith, and precipitated the revival that spread over much of Europe. Faith again released God, and men began to find forgiveness and cleansing, regeneration and a satisfied soul life. God was again among men, but, mark you, He came only as a faith channel was offered Him, over which He could come. His long pent-up power was again released upon the sons of men, because there was a connection by which that power could leave the heart of Omnipotence, and find its way to the needy souls of humanity.
From the time of St. Francis to the present day, whenever there has been anything accomplished along moral and spiritual lines, you will find some there offering a more or less perfect faith channel to God, and instantly, automatically, he flashes His power over it, and accomplishes the very thing for which that believing soul was exercising faith. We find Savonarola believing God and deluging the great city of Florence, Italy, with a holy revival; Martin Luther rediscovers the long lost doctrine of justification by faith, and through his own, and the faith of his associates, precipitated the Reformation that covered much of Europe with salvation, and recovered some of the ground that was lost during the Dark Ages; George Fox takes another advanced step and realizes that men cannot only be justified by faith, but be sanctified by faith as well; John Wesley and his brother, with the Holy Club of Oxford, reinforce Fox’s teaching, and with a mighty faith inaugurate the greatest awakening of modern times; by faith, John Knox conquered Scotland; John Calvin captured Geneva, Switzerland; Jonathan Edwards, the Tennants, and Francis Asbury subdued the wilderness of the new world; Charles G. Finney swept through the central states with a flame of fire in the forties and fifties; Dwight L. Moody led his tens of thousands to God, and the modern holiness movement precipitated itself upon the world of our day, with revivals, conventions, campmeetings and schools. But, reader, you will find that it was faith, faith, FAITH, that brought victory, secured every advance, toppled the walls of hoary superstitions, translated the Bible into hundreds of languages, inaugurated missionary enterprises, founded holiness churches, and brought us to the present hour with everything that we now know of God, His salvation, and His Book, that is precious to our hearts! Where there was no faith, nothing was done, but the race staggered on in its darkness, sin, horror, wickedness and “old night”! Let the Latin races and countries be a witness! Where there was faith, there immediately God operated. Where there was more faith, there He poured Himself forth more abundantly, whether in spiritual experiences, or in achievements to spread the truth! Where there was, for a season, a perfect faith, there the lightning of God struck with flashing spontaneity and with amazing accomplishment, somewhat as in Jesus’ day. When faith waned, experience died down, achievement went into an eclipse, and God’s power was stayed!
Faith is the “lost key”! A man may have a new automobile, that is perfect in all its parts, filled with the best high test gasoline, the battery loaded, and just waiting to flash its intense spark into the expectant gas. The family may, indeed, be in the car, and everything ready for the desired trip, pleasure or pressing business. Why does not the machinery move? Why is everything at a standstill? The key is lost! No key, no spark! No spark, no explosion! No explosion, no whirling machinery, and no journey, no pleasure, no business! The owner is frantically seeking for the key. He perspires with anxious searching. He groans out his anxiety and eagerness. Things wait, and stand still! Everything depending on the key. At last, with a shout, he finds it! The, anxiety is over, the perspiration ends, the eagerness vanishes! With calm certainty he thrusts the key into the aperture, turns it with quiet assurance, confidently opens the throttle, unhesitatingly steps on the starter—when w-h-i-r-r—the burning spark is released, the eager gas explodes, the wheels spin, the journey is on, the business transacted! Faith is the lost key! There are sweating, anxiety and groans, only when we do not believe, but are trying to do so! As soon as faith, perfect faith, has made the connection with God, the trying has ended, the quiet confidence has come, the power of God is released, and the project under the perfectly able hand of Omnipotence is as good as done! May God grant unto His people the possession of the lost key! All power is released when we have “the key”!
Some writers on the second coming of Jesus, have been so bold as to say that His advent is dependent on our faith. That the thing that has kept Him from this old needy earth so long has been the fact that the “Bride had not made herself ready!” That just as it was the faith of the holy people of God, that enabled Him to come the first time, so it will be the faith of His Bride on earth that will enable Him to come the second time. At all events this line of thinking would enable us to understand how His coming had been imminent in all ages, but had not occurred yet, because of the fact that no perfect faith channel for His second coming had been accorded Him so that He could come. It might also lend significance to the statement in the New Testament, as to why the unbelieving steward who said: “My lord delayeth his coming,” was punished so severely. He blamed the delay onto Jesus, while the teaching that He cannot come till He has a perfect faith over which to come, lays the blame where it belongs, onto the church. The steward lied, and was taking advantage of his lie, and “beating the men servants and maidens, and eating and drinking with the drunken.” If the age that gives Him the necessary faith to come on, gets Him, then it behooves us to lift up our heads, for our redemption as a people of God may he more nearly within our reach than when we first believed!
We have faith for our own salvation, but when it comes to faith for achievement, we stop, we hedge, we falter, we -hesitate, we lie down, we fail! Although God’s unlimited resources are just swelling above our heads, filled with a plenitude of power; although His pentecosts are pent-up just awaiting releasement; although He, himself, has said that we can have anything that we will really believe for, and reiterates it with almost painful frequency, and assures us that everything that has been accomplished in the past was brought about because some one had the audacity to believe God, nevertheless we are still shorn of power, stalled in our efforts to advance the kingdom, sometimes weak as to our own salvation, and ready to blame onto this age, the failures that are due to our own lack of faith.