“IF ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed.” – Matt. xvii. 20.
Small indeed is this measure of faith; though small it is genuine, pure. This holy principle is all-important for the accomplishment of anything in the spiritual kingdom, for without faith it is impossible to please God. This teaching of Jesus shows the inestimable value of faith: “as a grain of mustard seed.” This is wonderful, so small yet powerful in the conscience of the saints in light. It also points out to the children of God the great importance of being clothed with the “faith of God’s elect.” There is great difference between a “big” notion in the mind, and the “least” amount of faith. There is no intermediate point between having no faith and having the smallest faith possible. If faith the size of a grain of mustard seed will remove mountains, how great is that faith. Nothing in nature can illustrate the preciousness of faith, since a seed, the smallest of all seeds, has almost unlimited power, being centered in the King of kings. Even the trial of this faith is much more precious than gold, though it be tried with fire. This precious jewel of the kingdom outshines any earthly treasure, though it may be as small as a grain of mustard seed. It is certainly the riches of the saints, for they are rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. This comparison of faith with the mustard seed grain is of the utmost force, showing the great power granted unto the saints in the kingdom of Jesus; there is nothing like unto it. They live by faith, they walk by faith, their faith shall overcome the world. Is not this a most precious treasure! They are not justified by works, but they are justified by faith. This is my understanding of Paul’s teaching in Romans in the third, fourth and fifth chapters. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” The apostle says, “We conclude.” Is not this sufficient authority to establish the truth of justification by faith! In speaking of the way of salvation in the next chapter (iv.) he confirms his conclusion of the previous one by saying, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” After much argument upon this subject the apostle opens the fifth chapter with a positive declaration: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If then we are justified by faith, is it not most precious to us in our mortal pilgrimage! Faith is the evidence of things not seen – evidence to our understanding, comprehension. Faith is the result of the work of Jesus; it conveys to the hearts of his people the power of his love, mercy and grace. Whereas Jesus died under the law and redeemed all his people from under the law, and they stand justified through his righteousness, it is necessary to acquaint them with the great work done for them, hence he gives them faith; he is the author and finisher of it; the evidence of things not seen by mortal eye. This evidence to them is justification; they are justified by this evidence to believe on his name. Without evidence they could not believe. They cannot produce this evidence from anything that they naturally possess, neither can they know anything of spiritual things by natural things; revelation alone must break through the veil of flesh to give the evidence of things not seen. How futile then are all the efforts of man to become justified in believing on Jesus, seeing that the work of believing is the work of God. If to believe that Jesus is the Savior of sinners is the work of God in the heart, how then can man be justified in believing, only through the faith given him of God! In olden time men wanted to do the work of the great Jehovah, as they do to this day; they made inquiry of Jesus what they should do to work the works of God. Jesus showed them by his answer, though they could not understand, that the natural man is forever barred from doing God’s work. If man could possibly do God’s work, then there would be room for boasting. Where then is boasting? It is excluded by the law of faith. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” They still thought that they could do God’s work by asking for a “sign,” not knowing that they never could believe through signs tangible to the flesh independent of the grace of God. To-day we have the same notions among the children of the flesh, viz., all men can believe that Jesus is the Christ if they will to believe so. Hence all legalists hold to the notion that they are justified by works, thinking that they have the power to believe, and this is called something for them to do. If all men should agree in all points of doctrine concerning what the Scriptures teach until they get to this place, where the fan of discrimination purges the floor and divides the wheat from the chaff, their one offence here in rejecting the clear testimony of Scripture, as well as the power of God’s revelation in making men believe through the evidence given unto them, is enough to blow them into the regions of despair.
Much might be said about “our common faith “and then the subject would still be inexhaustible. Faith is connected with all the display of gospel light. It is often contrasted with the law, and it speaketh better things than the law, inasmuch as it lays hold of the things of Jesus. Abraham was not devoid of it, though he lived before the coming of Jesus. His faith was the same as the faith of God’s elect; he was justified by faith, says inspiration, and not by works. This belief of his in God was justifiable, because it was through faith and not through “signs,” or things tangible to the natural senses.
With these hints I shall leave the subject for the present.
In hope of immortality,
J. F. BEEMAN
Helena, Okla., Dec. 25, 1907.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 6
MARCH 15, 1908.