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W. W. Prescott
The Faith of Jesus, The Commandments of God,
and the Patience of the Saints
9 of 22
Key Thought: “We are to study the law in Jesus Christ, who kept His Father’s commandments, and then we are to submit to it, that the very life that was manifested in Jesus Christ shall be manifested in us.”
Faith of Jesus; The Commandments of God; The Patience of the Saints
November 2, 1895, Armadale Camp Meeting
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
In our study at this time we will reverse the order, and say, Here are they that keep the faith of Jesus and the commandments of God. Here is the patience of the saints. The first experience necessary in order to keep a thing is to get it. So before we can keep the faith of Jesus we must get it. Faith is the gift of God, and no one need say that he cannot have it. “For I say through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3. No one need say that he cannot have faith; for God has given it to him. God gives faith, and our part is to exercise that faith, and just as in the physical frame exercise causes growth, so exercising what faith we have will cause it to grow.
You will observe that this is a closing message; for the next thing John saw was one “like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” What is seen just before the Saviour is revealed?—Those that keep the commandments of God. The commandments and teaching of men have come in to take the place of the commandments of God; but here is to be a people on the earth just before Christ comes, who will keep the commandments of God, and who will not be carried away by the traditions and teaching of men.
WHAT IS THE FAITH OF JESUS?
These people are also to have the faith of Jesus. In this time there is a great deal said about faith, but the subject is not worn out yet. This is to be the faith of Jesus, in contrast with the faith of the devil. Here are they that keep the commandments of God rather than the commandments of men, and have the faith of Jesus rather than the faith of the devil. What is the devil’s faith? It is spoken of in James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.” When Jesus was here in the flesh, the devils said to Him, “I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God.” The devil believes that God exists; he knows it is so, and he trembles at it; but he has not the faith of Jesus. He has the faith that assents to the truth of a certain fact. We may believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God; we may believe that the blood of Jesus Christ is able to cleanse from all sin; we may believe that every statement made in the Bible is true; and yet not have the faith of Jesus. We may believe in the creed of the church, which says, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in His only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;” we may confess to all that, and believe it as a fact, and yet not have the faith of Jesus.
What is the faith of Jesus as contrasted with the faith of the devil? Let us find out from the word. When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, and said to him that was dead, “Lazarus, come forth,” He knew that He was speaking the word of God. He was sure of that; for He spoke the words of God continually. “The word which ye hear,” He said, “is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.” John 14:24. He knew that the word of God had power to accomplish that which He had spoken, and that Lazarus would come forth. That is, the faith of Jesus is that faith which believes that God’s word will do what it says. It simply lets God’s word be true.
But the word of God is true whether we believe it or not. John says, “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you.” 1 John 2:8. The purpose of the word of God is that it shall be true in us. The word was true in Jesus Christ, and He was the true representative of the word. What the word said, He was. And if the word of God is true in us, it will make us like Christ. We have faith in the word of God when we believe that it is a living word, and that it has power to transform our characters, and to work in us that of which it speaks.
FAITH IN THE WORD
This is the kind of faith that Jesus commended. We read in Matthew’s Gospel that “when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under [not having] authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:5-10. Here is the centurion, a commander of one hundred men in the Roman army. He says to Jesus, Speak the word; that is all you need to do.
We will say that the Roman authority is Caesar, that the centurion’s name is Julius, and the soldier’s, Alexander. Julius the man says to Alexander the man, “Go;” but Alexander the man says, “What right have you to command me to go? I shall go when I get ready.” That is Julius the man talking to Alexander the man apart from any authority. But Julius the centurion says to Alexander the soldier “Go,” and the soldier goes at once, because Julius is speaking as a representative of Caesar, and really, it is Caesar speaking. You see, then, the difference between the man talking to the man, and the centurion talking to the soldier. The soldier goes, because all the power of the Roman Empire is behind the word spoken by the centurion.
And the centurion said to Christ, I see that you, Jesus of Nazareth, are here, and that you are under authority, representing God. When you speak, it is not Jesus the son of Joseph speaking, but the Son of God; and I know that the word you speak is the word of God, and that it has power in it. This is the kind of faith that Christ commends. The centurion had confidence that Christ was not simply the son of the carpenter, but the Son of the living God, and he believed that the whole authority of God was in the word spoken through Him.
“Faith cometh by hearing,” and it is no use for us to talk about faith apart from the word of God. The fact that we desire something with all our heart, is not the least evidence that it will be done. Faith is confidence in God’s word, dependence upon God’s word, letting God’s word be true. Faith is seeing Christ in His word as the power of the living God, and believing with all the heart that He will do what He says. Faith is not sentimentalism, not merely a belief that something is true; it includes submitting and yielding wholly to the word of God. See to it whether you have the faith of Jesus or the faith of the devil. He believes that the Bible is true, and believes it more fully than many who make a high profession! He knows the Bible is wholly true. He knows it is true but he does not allow it to be true in him. He is a lie; his whole life is a lie; he is a falsehood from the first to the last; and so is everyone whose character is like his, and whose faith goes no further than his. Our very characters are a lie if they are not in harmony with the word of God.
Before a person is converted, he has the choice of saying, “I am true; I am righteous,” and thus making God a liar, or of saying, “God only is true,” thus making himself a liar. The Scripture says, “Let God be true; but every man a liar.” Romans 3:4. Every unconverted person must make his choice between calling God a liar, or admitting that he is one. Sin is being false, and that is what makes the devil wholly false, because he is a sinner from the beginning; he is a liar, and the father of lies. God says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We must let Him be true and say, “I have sinned.” But when we come to that experience in that way, there is something more to be said. When Nathan came to David to reprove him for his sin and said to him, “Thou art the man,” David answered, “I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” 2 Samuel 12:13. Let God’s word be true. When the Lord says, “You have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” answer, “I have sinned.” When we make that confession, He says to us again, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” To this we must say, “It is so, and let God’s word be true in us.” And so we will keep saying, “Amen,” not in word simply, but in our lives. That is faith, living, divine faith.
FAITH IN THE WORD BRINGS A REFORMATION
This faith brought the reformation of the sixteenth century, and it is the faith that is to work the reformation of the nineteenth century. In Luther’s time the church had covered up God’s word, and was giving the people its own teaching, just as it is doing to a large extent now. It was Luther’s work to bring the word to the people and let them feed upon it. The word of God is seen constantly in Luther’s writing. Faith in God’s word, that faith that believes God’s word regardless of any outward circumstances whatever, brought the Reformation. Our test will come on the same point. The word tells us that miracles will be wrought to sustain falsehood. The people who depend upon outward circumstances for evidence of their acceptance with God, are the very ones who are preparing themselves to be taken captive by the devil at his will. He can bring outward signs. The word says that he will make fire come down from heaven in the sight of men.
When the earth is removed, what shall we stand on? The word of God will be the only sure foundation, but if we do not learn how to stand steadfastly on that word, we will not be prepared to risk it in that day, and we will be of those that come before the Lord in fear. We need to become accustomed to living in the presence of God, to seeing Him who is invisible, and then, when He becomes visible, it will not frighten us in the least. This is the faith of Jesus,—the faith that believes that God’s word is true, that lets God’s word work in its power in us, and that submits entirely to that working. No man can have faith in Jesus who is not willing to give up all for Him. He gave us everything, and He takes everything.
Making an acrostic of “faith” may help to impress these thoughts on our minds.
The faith of Jesus means, Forsaking all, I take Him, and let Him be true in me. Being a saint is simply being a true man; being a sinner is simply being a liar. Christ is the faithful and true witness; Christ is the true vine; everything about Christ is true. To be like Christ is to be true; to be different from Christ is to be false.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS
Now let us turn to the other thought. “Here are they that keep the commandments of God.” But it is just as true with the commandments, that we must get them before we can keep them, as it is with the faith. How do we get the commandments?—In the same way that we get the faith,—God must give them to us. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” Hebrews 8:10. He must give us the commandments before we can keep them, and He must give them to us in His own way, by writing them in our hearts. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3. The commandments were first written with the finger of God on the tables of stone, thus foreshadowing the work of writing them on the heart by the Spirit of God. Compare two scriptures: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20. One says the “finger of God,” the other the “Spirit of God.” God wrote with His own finger on the tables of stone, and He says He will write His commandments in our hearts, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. This was foretold when He wrote them on stone. Moreover, as He wrote them on stone, He writes them now,—with His Spirit; and His writing in our hearts is to be just as eternal as His writing on stone. He that doeth the word of God abideth forever. He that keepeth My sayings shall never die.
The word of God is the very life of God, and this word being in our hearts keeps us through eternity. The word of God, written with the Spirit of God on the tables of the heart, will never change. It is His character. But God never puts anything into our hearts, and He never allows the devil to put anything into our hearts to stay there, unless we consent to it. God will never write His law in our hearts unless we consent. We will suppose now that God is going on with His work of writing His law in our hearts, and He writes, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” and you say, “I submit to that.” He writes again, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments;” and you say, “That is all right.” He writes the third commandment, and again you say, “I submit.” Then He begins to write the fourth, but you start and say, “O, no; do not write that; I cannot let that come in.” What happens?—He writes no more; and by your refusal to let Him write the fourth commandment, you rub out what He has written, and the law of God goes out of your heart. He does not write one portion of His law in our hearts contrary to our consent. We are to study the law in Jesus Christ, who kept His Father’s commandments, and then we are to submit to it, that the very life that was manifested in Jesus Christ shall be manifested in us. It is more a question of our submitting, and letting that life manifest itself, than of our manifesting it.
This is the first half of a sermon given at a camp meeting in Armadale Australia on November 2, 1895.