“Editorial” American Sentinel 9, 22, pp. 169-171.

ay 31, 18940

“WHATSOEVER is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23.

FAITH is of God and not of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8); therefore whatsoever is not of God is sin.

WHATSOEVER is of God is righteousness: faith is the gift of God: and whatsoever is of faith is therefore righteousness, as certainly as that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

JESUS CHRIST is the Author and Finisher of faith (Hebrews 12:2), and the Word of God is the channel through which it comes and the means by which it operates. For “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Where there is no word of God there can be no faith.

THE word of God is the most substantial and most powerful thing in the universe. It is the means by which all things were produced. It carries in itself creative power. For “by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” “For he spake and it was; he commanded and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:6, 9. And when this world was thus made, and darkness covered all the face thereof “God said, Let there be light: And there was light.”

THUS the word of God is self-fulfilling, and of itself accomplishes the will of God in every one who receives it as it is in truth the word of God. “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Thus to receive the word of God; to yield the heart to it that thus it may work in the life; this is genuine belief, this is true faith. This is the faith by which men can be justified, made righteous indeed. For by it the very will of God, as expressed in his own word, is accomplished in the life by the creative word of him who has spoken. This is the work of faith. This is the righteousness—the right doing—of God which is by faith. Thus “It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Thus the character, the righteousness, of God is manifested in the life, delivering from the power of sin, to the saving of the soul in righteousness.

THIS is justification by faith alone. This is justification by faith, without works. For the faith being the gift of God, coming by the word of God, and itself working in man the works of God, needs none of the work of sinful man to make it good and acceptable to God. The faith itself works in man that which is good, and is sufficient of itself to fill all the life with the goodness of God, and needs not the imperfect effort of sinful man to make it meritorious. This faith gives to man good works, instead of being itself dependent upon man for “good works.” It is not expressed by “faith and works;” but by “faith which works,” “for in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6. “Seest thou how faith wrought?” James 2:22. “Remembering without ceasing, you work of faith;” “and the work of faith with power.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. And, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29. This is “the faith of God” which Jesus exhorts us to have (Mark 11:22, margin); which was manifested in him; and which by his grace is a free gift to every soul on earth.

NOW of this faith it is the boast of the Catholic Church that she knows nothing. This is the very doctrine of faith, and of justification by faith, which produced the Reformation and made original, genuine Protestantism. And of this faith, and of the Reformation which was produced by it, the Catholic Church speaks thus:—

As in revolutions the leaders try to gain the people over by the bait of promised independence, so at the time of the so-called Reformation—which was a revolution against church authority and order in religion—it seems that it was the aim of the Reformers to decoy the people under the pretext of making them independent of the priests, in whose hands our Saviour has placed the administering the seven sacraments of pardon and of grace.

They began, therefore, by discarding five of these sacraments…. They then reduced, as it appears, to a matter of form, the two sacraments they professed to retain, namely, Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. To make up for this rejection, and enable each individual to prescribe for himself, and procure by himself the pardon of sins and Divine grace, independently of the priests and of the sacraments, they invented an exclusive means, never known in the church of God, and still rejected by all the eastern churches and by the Roman Catholics throughout the world…. They have framed a new dogma of Justification by Faith Alone, or by Faith only.

Luther invented, as we have said, the doctrine, and was the first to affix such a meaning to the word faith…. And from that period only there existed man who saw in the word “faith,” occurring so frequently in Holy Scripture, that which has never been seen by the fathers, doctors, saints, and by the whole Church of God.—Catholic Belief, pp. 365, 366, 374.

These extracts are enough to show, and they declare plainly enough, that the Catholic Church does indeed know nothing of the faith which is of God, and which, because it is of God, bears in itself sufficient power and merit to justify and save the sinner who will allow it to work in him the righteousness of God. What meaning then does she affix to the word “faith”? Here it is:—

These texts, all of which refer to saving faith, prove beyond a doubt that not trust in Christ for personal salvation, but the faith of the Creed, … is the faith availing for justification.—Ib., p. 370.

But who made the creed?—Men, and men only. Constantine was the chief agent in the making of the original Catholic creed, the Nicene creed. Men being the sole authors of the creed, and “faith” being “the faith of the creed,” it follows at once that that faith is solely of themselves, of their own manufacture, and not the gift of God at all, and is therefore not true faith at all. For the true faith, the faith that really saves, is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” And as men only made the Catholic creed, and as Catholic faith is only “the faith of the creed,” it is as certain as anything can be that the Catholic faith is a base counterfeit that she would pass off upon all the world, and by force too, to supplant the true faith.

IT is not enough, however, to say that [170] it is a mere human invention; it comes from lower down than that. And she herself has given us the means of tracing it to its original. Here it is:—

By faith is not meant a trust in Christ for personal salvation, but evidently a firm belief that Jesus is the Messias, the Christ, the Son of God, that what is related of him in the Gospel is true, and that what he taught it true.—Ib., p. 369.

Now there are recorded in the Scriptures several examples of this same identical “faith” here defined. And now, as we read these examples, and have the plain word of God as to what they were who held this “faith,” we can have no difficulty in knowing the real nature and origin of the Catholic faith, “the faith of the creed.”

Here is one: “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him.” Luke 4:33-35.

Here is another: “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.” Mark 3:11, 12.

And here is another: “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” Matthew 8:28, 29.

And yet another: “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” Acts 19:13-15.

In these examples there is every element of the “faith” above defined and set forth as the “saving faith” of the Catholic Church. Every one of these devils showed “evidently a firm belief,” and actually proclaimed it, “that Jesus is the Messias, the Christ, the Son of God”! And that legion of them that found a home with the swine and set the whole two thousand of them crazy, showed also “evidently a firm belief that what is related of him in the Gospel is true.” For from the beginning of the gospel in this world it had been related of him that he should bruise the devil’s head; and it was indeed related of him that he should destroy the devil. And that this legion of devils had “evidently a firm belief” that this is true is clearly shown by their terrified inquiry, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” They thoroughly believed that this time of torment was coming, as it had been related; and what they feared now was that it was to befall them “before the time.”

Not only do these examples supply every element of that which is authoritatively defined and set forth as Catholic “saving faith,” showing it to be but the faith of the devils, but the Scripture plainly states that that is just the kind of faith that it is. Here are the words: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19. There is the plain word of the Lord, that this “faith” that is proudly set forth as the Catholic faith is simply the faith that the devils have. And it does not save them. It has no power to change their lives. They are devils still. And, moreover, Jesus forbade them to preach this “faith.”

This is precisely “the faith of the creed.” It is of themselves and not of God. And being only of themselves, it is impotent to bring to them any virtue to change the life; it is powerless to work in them any good. Being incapable of working, it is a faith that is dead. And those who hold it, realizing that it is lifeless and so unable to do anything for them, are obliged to give it the appearance of life by doing great things for it in the multiplication of dead works. For, works that are not of faith, that are not wrought by the faith itself, are dead works. They are worse than valueless, for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Any faith that is not able to itself to produce, to work, but works of God in him who professes it, is a dead faith. It is “the faith of the creed.” It is the “faith” of the devils. It is the “faith” of the papacy. And when such “faith” is passed off for Christianity, it is the mystery of iniquity, wherever it is found. And therefore it is that the Scripture, immediately after describing this “faith” of the devils, exclaims: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” James 2:20, 22. Thus the works by which faith was made perfect, were wrought by the faith itself. When the faith is living, the works of faith appear just as certainly as when the tree is living the fruit appears in its season.

The only thing that will be accepted in the judgment is works. The only works that will be accept in the judgment are works of righteousness. And the only righteousness that will be accepted or countenanced in any way whatever in the judgment is the righteousness of God. And this righteousness is a free gift to men, and is wrought in man by faith alone—“even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.”

It is true that “the Church” says that “this faith,” “the faith of the creed,” this faith of the devils, “leads to trusting in Christ, and to all other virtues.” But it is a notable fact that it has not done this for the devils. And it is just as notable and just as apparent that “this faith” has not, in all these hundreds of years, led the Catholic Church to trusting in Christ nor to any other virtues.

BUT she gives an illustration to show the difference between the faith of Christ and “the faith of the creed,” and here it is:—

To show the unfairness of taking the word “faith,” occurring in the Holy Scripture, in this new Protestant sense of trust in Christ for pardon, to the exclusion of any other dispositions or means, and not in the Catholic sense of belief in revealed truths, … allow me to use the following illustration: Suppose a man afflicted with a grave disease sends for a physician of repute. The physician comes and prescribes, and to inspire the patient with more confidence, tells him, “Only believe in me and you will be cured.” Can we suppose that the poor sufferer, on the departure of the physician, would say: “I shall take no medicine, for the physician said: ‘Only believe and you will be cured’” This way of reasoning and acting seems impossible to be adopted in regard to the cure of the body, but respecting the cure of the soul it is an unhappy matter of fact that thousands of persons fall into this sad mistake.—Catholic Belief, pp. 374, 375.

NOW there is not the least doubt that this statement perfectly illustrates the difference between the faith of Christ and Catholic faith, for it proceeds altogether upon the view that there is no more power or virtue in the word of God than there is in the word of a man; that the word of Christ, the heavenly Physician, has no more power to cure than has the word of an earthly physician. And that is indeed just the difference between true faith, the faith of God, and Catholic faith, “the faith of the creed”—and of the devils.

True faith finds in the Word of God, the word of the heavenly Physician, the living—creative—power of God to accomplish all that that word says. When the centurion asked Jesus to cure his sick servant, Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” And Jesus himself decided this to be “faith,” and even “so great faith” as he had not found in Israel, and then said to the centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” Matthew 8:5-13. A nobleman also came to Jesus beseeching him: “Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” And when the man neared his home “his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.” John 4:46-53.

This is faith, genuine faith. It finds in the word of God itself all sufficiency to accomplish all that the word expresses. And over and over again, in fact in all the cases recorded in the New Testament, it was believing the word spoken and thus receiving the power of that word to accomplish of itself the thing that was spoken—it was this faith that healed the sick, restored the palsied, made the impotent to talk, and forgave the sinner. This is believing God. This is faith.

But when the word of God is held to be as powerless as the word of a man; when the word of Jesus Christ is held to be as empty of healing virtue as is the word of a mere human physician; when the word of the living God is thus reduced to the level of the word of men, and to all intents and purposes is received as the word of men, and the words of men themselves, formulated into a creed, are really put in the place of the word of God; then such belief, such faith, is only of themselves and is as powerless and as empty of saving virtue as are the men themselves. It is the same story over again, of the effort of men to save themselves by themselves from themselves. And this “faith” that is altogether from men themselves, that stands only in the words and wisdom of men, this “faith of the creed” that is [171] identical with the “faith” of the devils—this, by her own showing, by her own boast, and by her own illustration, is the faith of the Catholic Church. Very good. We accept her showing in the case. Undoubtedly it is the truth. The illustration is perfectly satisfactory.

THERE is another statement that she makes which so clearly reveals again the essential nature of the “faith” which is held, and the salvation that is offered, by the Catholic Church, that it is worth quoting. Here it is:—

We seem to hear Jesus, our heavenly Physician, say: I died for all, and thereby prepared in my blood a remedy for all. If you would have the merits of my passion and death applied to you, to free your souls from sin, you must … believe that I am what I declare myself to be, and believe what I teach. Do also what I have told you to do, and then you shall have the merits of my passion and death applied to you and you shall be justified.

This is in very substance, and even in terms, the old covenant. It is identical with the covenant “from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage.” Galatians 4:24. Here are the terms of the old covenant, the covenant from Sinai. “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” Exodus 19:4-6, 8. Their agreement to obey his voice indeed, was an agreement to keep the ten commandments indeed. For when his voice was heard from Sinai the ten commandments alone were spoken. And of these it is written: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. So that in substance this covenant from Sinai, just as certainly as this Catholic statement, says, I have done this great thing for you. Now, if you would have the benefit of it, believe what I teach, do also what I have told you to do, and then you shall have it and you shall be justified. And the people all said they would do it, and this, too, with the hope of being justified. These two statements are identical in substance and in doctrine. The thought of both is that man must do righteousness in order to be righteous, instead of first being righteous in order to do righteousness.

It will not do though to say that as the Lord made the statement from Sinai, therefore this statement from Rome is truth. The Lord had a purpose in this covenant from Sinai even though it did then “gender to bondage.” That covenant from Sinai corresponds to Hagar in the family of Abraham. The children of that covenant, the people who entered into it, correspond to Ishmael, the child of Hagar. As Hagar was a bondwoman, so the child that was born of her was a bondchild. And thus she gendered to bondage. As Hagar represents the covenant from Sinai, and her child was a bondchild, so the covenant from Sinai gendered to bondage and the children of that covenant were bondchildren.

Moreover, Ishmael was “born after the flesh.” And as Ishmael represents the children of the covenant, so they were “after the flesh” and knew only the birth of the flesh. Knowing only the birth of the flesh, and minding only the things of the flesh, they thought themselves capable of fulfilling all the righteousness of God. The Lord knew full well that they could not do it; but they did not know it, and they would not believe that they could not do it. In order to convince them that they could not do it, and enable them to see it so plainly that they themselves would confess their inability to do it, the Lord gave them a full and fair opportunity to try. Within forty days they had fully demonstrated their utter inability to do what the Lord had told them, and what they had freely promised to do. They were in deeper bondage than ever. They were then willing to have the Lord deliver them from the bondage of sin to the liberty of righteousness by his own power, through his own word, in his own promise, even as he had delivered their father Abraham. In a word, they were then willing to attain to righteousness, to be justified, by faith, instead of trying to obtain it by works. They were willing to be children of promise, instead of children of the flesh. Having found by this experience that “the minding of the flesh is enmity against God, and it not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” they were willing to be born again and of the Spirit of God, rather than to trust longer to the ways of the birth of the flesh. Having found that by this old and temporary covenant they were lost, they were willing to be saved by the new and everlasting covenant, which is this: “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; and they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” In this covenant there is no “if.” It depends not upon what we shall do, but upon what God will go “unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Such was the covenant from Sinai, such was its nature, and such its purpose. And that the recording of it, with the nature and experience of those who caused it to be made and who entered into it, was necessary for future ages, is demonstrated by this repetition of it in the Catholic system of “faith.” That covenant was faulty, as it rested upon the promise of the people to obey God’s law without faith in Jesus Christ; but this repetition of it is infinitely faulty and altogether bad, as compared with the original example. For there, although it was their own sinfulness and self-righteousness that led to the making of it, yet through the sad experience of it God would draw them away from themselves to the knowledge of Christ. While here and in this, the Papacy takes the very revelation of the gospel of Christ itself and perverts it into the old covenant, and through this perversion draws men away from Christ to the exaltation of self. It puts the old covenant in the place of the new. It puts works in the place of faith. It puts bondage in the place of freedom. It puts ceremonies in the place of Christ. And it puts man in the place of God.

This is the papacy, and this her doctrine of “faith.” And as God said of Hagar and Ishmael in the family of Abraham, and of the covenant from Sinai and its children in the family of Israel, so he says of this same wicked thing as it would be in the family of Christianity: “Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” Galatians 4:30.

There never was a truer description of the papacy than that given in a quotation in these columns a few weeks ago, in the words that pronounced it “a method of forgetting God, which shall pass as a method of remembering him.”

A. T. J.

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