Home > Assurance, Faith > True saving faith described – William Guthrie

True saving faith described – William Guthrie

November 29, 2009

This justifying faith, which we assert to be so discernible, is, in the Lord’s deep wisdom and gracious condescension, variously expressed in Scripture, according to the different actings of it upon God, and outgoings after Him; so that every one who has it may find and take it up in his own mould. It sometimes acts by a desire of union with Him in Christ; this is that looking to Him in Isaiah ‘Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’ (Isa. 45:22.) This seems to be a weak act of faith, and far below other acting of it at other times perhaps in that same person. Men will look to what they dare not approach (in their apprehension), which they dare not touch or embrace; they may look to one to whom they dare not speak: yet God has made the promise to faith in that acting, as the fore–cited Scripture shows: and this He has done mercifully and wisely; for this is the only discernible way of the acting of faith in some. Such are the actings or outgoings of faith expressed in Scripture by ‘hungering and thirsting after righteousness’ (Matt. 5:6), and that expressed by willing ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ (Rev. 22:17.)

Again, this faith goes out sometimes in the act of recumbency, or leaning on the Lord, the soul taking up Christ then as a resting stone, and God has so held him out, although he be a stumbling–stone to others. (Rom. 9:33.) This acting of it is hinted in the expressions of trusting and staying on God, so often mentioned in Scripture; and precious promises are made to this acting of faith ‘God will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are stayed on Him; because such do trust in Him. Trust in the Lord: for with Him is everlasting strength.’ (Isa. 26:3, 4.) ‘They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which abideth for ever.’ (Ps. 125:1.) I say, the Lord has made promises to this way of faith’s acting, as knowing it will often go out after Him in this way with many persons; and this way of its acting will be most discernible to them.

It goes out after God sometimes by an act of waiting. When the soul has somewhat depending before God, and has not clearly discovered his mind concerning it, then faith doth wait; and so it has the promise: ‘They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.’ (Isa. 49:23.) Sometimes it acteth in a willful way upon the Lord, when the soul apprehendeth God thrusting it away, and threatening its ruin: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’ (Job 13:15.) The faith of that poor woman of Canaan (Matt. 15.), so highly commended by Christ, went out in this way of willful acting over difficulties: and the Lord speaketh much good of it, and to it, because some will be at times called upon to exercise faith in that way, and so they have that for their encouragement. It were tedious to instance all the several ways of the acting of faith upon, and its exercise about, and outgoings after Christ, I may say, according to the various conditions of man. And accordingly faith, which God has appointed to traffic and travel between Christ and man, as the instrument of conveyance of His fullness unto man, and of maintaining union and communion with Him, acteth variously and differently upon God in Christ: for faith is the very shaping out of a man’s heart according to God’s device of salvation by Christ Jesus, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell’ (Col. 1:16); so that, let Christ turn what way He will, faith turneth and pointeth that way. Now He turns all ways in which He can be useful to poor man; and therefore faith acts accordingly on Him for drawing out of that fullness, according to a man’s case and condition. As for example, The soul is naked, destitute of a covering to keep it from the storm of God’s wrath; Christ is fine raiment (Rev. 3:17, 18); then accordingly faith’s work here is to ‘put on the Lord Jesus.’ (Rom. 13:14.) The soul is hungry and thirsty after somewhat that may everlastingly satisfy; Christ Jesus is ‘milk, wine, water, the bread of life, and the true manna.’ (Isa. 40:1, 2; John 6:48, 51.) He is ‘the feast of fat things, and of wines on the lees well refined’ (Isa. 25:6): then the work and exercise of faith is to ‘go, buy, eat, and drink abundantly.’ (John 6:53, 57; Isa. 40:1.) The soul is pursued for guilt more or less, and is not able to withstand the charge: Christ Jesus is the city of refuge, and the high– priest there, during whose priesthood, that is, forever, the poor man who escapes thither is safe; then the work and exercise of faith is ‘to flee thither for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us.’ (Heb. 6:18.) In a word, whatsoever way He may benefit poor man, He declares Himself able to do. And as He holdeth out Himself in the Scriptures, so faith doth point towards Him. If He be a Bridegroom, faith will go out in a marriage relation; if He be a Father, faith pleadeth the man to be a child; if He be a Shepherd, faith pleads the man may be one of His sheep; if He be a Lord, faith calleth Him so, which none can do but by the Spirit of Jesus; if He be dead, and risen again for our justification, faith ‘believeth God has raised Him’ on that account. (Rom. 10:9.) Wheresoever He be, there would faith be; and whatsoever He is, faith would be somewhat like Him; for by faith the heart is laid out in breadth and length for Him; yea, when the fame and report of Him goes abroad in His truth, although faith sees not much, yet it ‘believeth on His name,’ upon the very fame He has sent abroad of Himself. (John 1:12.)

Source: The Christian’s great interest, by William Guthrie

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