3. True Faith
One day a centurion came to Jesus, and said to Him: “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. … When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matt. 8:6-10.
Jesus pronounces this to be faith. When you find what that is, you have found faith. When you know what that is, you will know what faith is. There can be no doubt about this; for Christ is “the Author … of faith,” and He says that what the centurion manifested was “faith;” yes, even “great faith.”
Where then, is the faith? The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, “I will come” and do it, the centurion stopped him, saying, “Speak the word only,” and it will be done.
Now, what did the centurion expect would do the work? “The word only.” On what did he depend for the healing of his servant? “The word only.”
And the Lord Jesus says that is faith.
Here was a Roman, despised and shunned as a heathen by Israel, and believed to be hated by God. He had spent his life among heathen influences, without the advantages of the Bible. Yet he had discovered that when the Lord speaks, in that word itself there is power to do what the word says, and he depended on that word to do what it said
Then there were the people of Israel, who all their lives had been in daily connection with the word of the Lord, who prided themselves on being “the people of the Book,” and boasted of their knowledge of the word of God; and yet they had not learned that in the word there is power to accomplish what the word says.
All their lives that word had plainly said to them: “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isa. 55:10, 11.
Nature itself held constantly before them the lesson that the earth of itself could produce nothing; that it was the moisture of rain and snow from heaven that made it bring forth and bud, and produce fruit.
And the Lord said, “So shall My word be.” As the earth of itself can do nothing, so you of yourself can do nothing. And as the moisture of rain and snow from heaven makes the earth bring forth and bud, and produce fruit, so shall My word make you bring forth the fruit of righteousness to the glory of God. “My word, … IT shall accomplish that which I please.”
Many a time Israel had read this scripture. And year in and year out they had read the word of God, and had said: I will do what the word says; I will accomplish what pleases Him.
And that they might be certain that they should do exactly what the word said, they separated the word into parts, and each part was divided out into many fine distinctions. Then they set about to diligently, carefully and particularly, do each specification of the word, on their own.
True, nowhere in all this did they find any peace, much less any joy. With all their doing, they never found the things done. Always they found themselves far short of having done what the word said—so far short, that it was the despairing cry of Israel that “if but one person could only for one day keep the whole law, and not offend in one point—no, if but one person could but keep that one point of the law which affected the due observance of the Sabbath—then the troubles of Israel would be ended, and the Messiah would come at last.” But they still slaved on in the treadmill round of their own fruitless doings—all of works, and none of faith; all of themselves, and none of God; all of their own doing, which was not really doing at all, and none of the word itself doing, which is the only real doing of the word of God.
How refreshing it was to the spirit of Jesus, in the midst of this desert waste of Israel, to meet a man who had found the word of God in truth; who knew that when the word was spoken, that the word itself would accomplish the thing spoken; and who would depend on “the word only.” This was faith. This opened his life to the power of God. And the result was that there was accomplished in his life that which pleased God.
“My word, … IT [not you] shall accomplish that which I please.” “The word of God … effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thess. 2:13. To depend on it to work in you that which is well pleasing in His sight—this is faith. To cultivate this dependence on the word is to cultivate faith.
Read the fourth chapter called The Creative Word.