IT is obvious from an examination of the Bible record, both in the Old and the New Testament, that in the lives of the men of God there was invariably a background of fully-functioning faith, we might almost call it a technique of faith, to all their activities. We say fully-functioning faith, because the simple word faith (together with the other words of Christian experience which have become commonplaces, such as love) has been so watered down from its original content, that to many it now conveys very little more than merely its first stage-the belief that God can, not necessarily that He will, and still less that He does. But fully functioning faith includes all these.
We do not think that we can stress a more important subject to all active Christians than this fully-functioning faith. Our Scriptural grounds for doing so are obvious. It is made as plain as daylight that the right and full use of faith is the mainspring of every spiritual achievement. Pre-eminently this is so, of course, in the attaining of spiritual objectives, in the salvation of souls, in revival, in all concerns of the Church of Christ. But by no means exclusively so. Faith is shown to be the principle of effective action, of supply, of the solution of all problems, in every single thing, small or great, temporal and material, in the home or in the business, at work or at play, that affects a Christian's daily life. It is necessary to say this, because many people have got the idea that victories, deliverances, or the supply of need by faith, are privileges confined to those set apart for the Christian ministry, and not to be experienced in the ordinary home and the everyday life.
Watch the men of the Bible and it will be seen how central faith is in all their actions and attitudes. That unique chapter, Hebrews 11, the only approximation in the whole Bible to a biographical outline of Bible characters, clinches the matter for us. It is written for the one purpose of showing that faith was the dynamic of all they did. Abraham's whole life centered around obtaining the heir through whom was to come the promised race, and the birth of that son was simply and solely an achievement of faith. Moses, in leading the revolt against the Egyptian oppressor, was but a straw fighting against a mill race until he learned the secrets of faith: from then on, the position became exactly reversed; the weak, the base, the foolish, put to confusion and utter rout the wise, the mighty and the noble. Not only that, but, just as simply, the ordinary necessities of life, food and drink and protection, were obtained by faith for two millions, for forty years in a "waste and howling wilderness".
Joshua could lead a successful invasion against seven nations and thirty-two kings, where, before he had learned the secret, one nation nearly overwhelmed him, had it not been on that occasion that Moses knew and used that same secret on his behalf. (Exodus 17: 8-13) David learned it as a lad guarding his father's flock; and, by the application of it at a moment of national crisis, though still in his teens, met and overthrew the giant who had scared all the rest of Israel out of their wits. In spite of that, because he did not yet know it as a working principle for all life, as we have previously pointed out, he had to spend eight years as a fugitive in a cave. How well Elijah and Elisha knew the secret and could apply it to an endless variety of needs and circumstances. And pre-eminently, of course, the Savior, who lived in the calm elevation of an inner union with the Father which caused Him to speak of Himself as "in heaven" (John 3:13) when on earth, and to act with all the authority and resources of the Creator in human flesh: yet it is equally remarkable and significant that He made it perfectly plain that He knew the secret of union with the Father and the consequent power at His disposal, not through reliance upon the fact that He was by nature the Son of God, but because, as Son of Man, He walked with unfaltering footsteps along the highway of faith. (e.g. John 5: 19, 20; 14: 10-12)
Not only that, but nothing could be more remarkable than His constant efforts to stimulate faith in His disciples and to impress upon them its working principles. It was to faith that He attributed His "mighty works;" not His faith, but that of the suppliants. To the centurion who asked Him not to come to his house but just to speak the word, He said: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." To the woman who touched the hem of His garment: "Daughter, go in peace, thy faith hath made thee whole." When the four men let their paralyzed friend through the roof, Jesus pardoned and healed him, "when He saw their faith". To blind Bartimeus it was: "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" And then, "Go thy way. Thy faith hath made thee whole." By the Syrophenician woman He allowed Himself to be compelled into action with the comment, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Others He stirred into faith. He asked the two blind men: "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" To Jairus, when the servants came to say that his daughter was dead, He said: "Fear not, only believe." He told the father of the lunatic son: "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth"; and afterwards told the disciples that they had failed to cure the boy because of their unbelief. And sometimes it was a rebuke or amazement at their slowness to believe. On the stormy waters of the lake, after He had silenced the tempest, it was: "O ye of little faith;" and "How is it that ye have no faith?" To Peter it was the same: "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" And to Martha at Lazarus's tomb: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" In one case, at Nazareth, it was openly stated that unbelief cut the lifeline of power, and "He could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief."
Could any list give clearer proof that Jesus was turning the world's attention to a key that is actually in man's hands, which can unlock, at will, the storehouses of God's power?
After Pentecost, in the new-born Church, it was obvious that faith was given a pre-eminent place. There were the outstanding incidents of the record in Acts. The lame man healed "through faith in His Name;" the word of faith which brought death to Ananias and blindness to Elymas; Stephen, who, "full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people;" the command of faith which healed Dorcas and raised up Tabitha; the cripple at Lystra who Paul perceived had faith to be healed; the raising of Eutychus; and Paul's statement in the great storm that all would be rescued, adding: "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me."
To this long list is to be added the complete exposition of "the law of faith" in all its aspects in the writings of all four apostles, Paul, Peter, John and James; the faith that saves, in Romans; the faith that frees, in Galatians; the faith that is tested, in Peter; the faith that overcomes, in John; the faith that works, in James; the faith that endures and achieves, in Hebrews; the faith that sanctifies, in Thessalonians: the faith that is to be fought for, in Timothy; the faith that centers in Christ, in Ephesians and Colossians.