Is our Faith the Ground of our Peace or the Cause of our Blessing?

Dear Mr Editor —

In Mr. Boyd's valuable paper in April Issue of Scripture Truth he makes one or two statements that seem to me to be open to question, any way in some cases.

He cites the case of one who believes the tidings of the death and resurrection of Christ, but "who cannot believe himself to be a believer," and says, "This is only an attempt to justify himself," etc., and that, "what he has to learn is that Christ, not himself, is to be the object of his faith."

Now, I cannot see that the person in the state described is necessarily either trying to justify himself, or has himself as an object of faith.

If you were satisfied, in a given case, that a person really did believe the precious facts of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus as feeling their importance for his own salvation (not a mere mental assent as accrediting historical facts), would you not rather assure such a one, if you found he had doubts as to his faith, on the strength of such a passage as Acts 13:38-39, that he was justified from all things?

What Mr. Boyd says would discourage, rather than help such, it seems to me.

A.H.L.

My Dear Brother —

I think that upon further consideration you will see that the statement you question is altogether right and of great importance. There are many who never enter into peace with God and the full assurance of salvation, because they are looking within themselves for some cause why God should bless them. They confess that by their works they have no claim upon Him, but think that their faith might give them this claim, and so the quality or quantity of their faith becomes the question that fills their minds rather than the free grace of God, the efficacy of the work of Christ and the infallibility of the Word of God.

They are really self-occupied, looking within for the cause of justification and the ground of it, instead of outside themselves to God and the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Take a verse of Charlotte Eliot's beautiful hymn

"Just as I am; Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe:
O Lamb of God, I come!"

The "because" of that verse is more often misplaced than not, and it is supposed that, because we believe and come He will welcome and pardon, etc.; but that is wrong, it is because in the gospel God proclaims the fact that He will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve whosoever will come to Him through Christ, that we, emboldened by His Word, believe and come. A very great difference. The cause is on God's side and not on ours.

"Being justified FREELY by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23), means this, for the word "freely" might be translated "without a cause"; indeed, it is so translated in John 15:25. There was no more cause in us why God should justify us than there was in Jesus why men should hate Him. God has found the cause in Himself, it is entirely of His grace.

Of course it is on the principle of faith, and this excludes all boasting on our part, for faith is merely receiving what God is offering. If a man has been saved from drowning, he does not go about boasting in the fact that he allowed his rescuer to do it by trusting him. He makes his boast in the power and willingness of the one who rescued him, and by so doing confesses that he himself was helpless and lost. So faith means turning away from self-effort and self-righteousness as a means of justification before God to find it in another — even Jesus. And we learn the blessed fact that God is just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

God's grace is the cause of it; the redemption which is in Christ Jesus is the righteous ground upon which He accomplishes it; our faith is simply submission to God's grace. It is what God is and does and says in and through Christ that draws out our faith and love. But all this was God offering to us before we believed it; it was not our faith that turned God towards us, but His grace that turned us towards Him.

No scripture could be better than Acts 13:38-39 for such a case as you mention, but the emphasis should not be laid upon the faith but upon "this Man" through whom the blessing comes and in whom it is enjoyed; then Christ and not our faith becomes our occupation, joy and confidence.

Yours affectionately in Christ,
The EDITOR. (J.T.M.)