The Victory of Faith

“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” —I John 5:4

THE SCRIPTURES LAY a great deal of stress upon the subject of faith. Hebrews 11:6 states, “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God].” The Apostle Peter tells us that by adding certain qualities of character to our faith we shall have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and that we shall never fall. Our Master says, “According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matt. 9:29) Here we have inspired authorities who stress faith in no uncertain terms.

Why do the Scriptures emphasize faith so strongly? Because it is the soil in which all other graces of the Spirit take root and grow. How could one develop meekness, which means submission to the Divine will, without a strong faith? Again, how could patience, cheerful endurance, be cultivated without a strong mental conviction that this also is one of the qualities that the Lord is looking for in us? Realizing, then, that faith is so very important, let us consider what constitutes faith.


In treating this subject we are not doing so from the standpoint of the doctrines or the tenets of the Scriptures, but, rather, from the standpoint of one of the graces of the Spirit. In Hebrews 11:1 we read: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Only from the standpoint of spiritual vision is this statement understandable. In II Corinthians 4:18, the same apostle says: “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” This indicates that the things we see with our natural eyes are temporal, while the things we do not see with our natural eyes, but with the eyes of faith, are the eternal things. Linking this up with the Apostle Peter’s statement that we are begotten to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, we can see that the unseen things are the real, tangible, enduring things.—I Pet. 1:4

It has been said, “Faith is the operation, the exercise of our minds in respect to God and his promises.” This is a wonderful statement. Ordinarily, unless we are careful, when confronted by any trial we do almost everything else but exercise our minds, especially in respect to God and the promises he has given us.

The world has certain apt ways of expressing things. It speaks of ‘flying off the handle’, or of ‘blowing our tops’, or ‘going all to pieces’. All of these expressions indicate a loss of control. With the Christian this would mean a failure to properly exercise the mind in respect to the promises God has made to us. We should take time to stop and think, taking into account the familiar promise that all things work together for good to the called ones, according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28) If we would do this, then whatever experience we might be having would take on an entirely different aspect.

We have still another definition of faith: “Faith is a heart reliance, based upon a mental conviction, not positively proven to our senses, but received upon supposedly good authority.” None of us can say positively that we know there is a God from the standpoint of having seen him with our natural eyes, or having heard him speak audibly, or having shaken his hand; but we have a mental conviction that he IS, because of what he has done, is now doing, and yet purposes to do for the human family.

This latter definition indicates that faith is composed of two parts: 1. an intellectual assurance, and 2. a heart reliance. The foundation of our faith is an intellectual grasp of the fundamental principles of Divine truth—the existence of an intelligent, personal God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the fact that he has a purpose and a plan of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To have this foundation is not all there is to having faith. In order to have the faith without which it is impossible to please God, we must have the superstructure, which is a heart reliance in the promises of God, who is the Author of our being, and who, as a Father, invites the implicit confidence of his children.

To believe that God exists cannot in itself be particularly pleasing to him, because even devils believe this much, and tremble. Therefore the faith structure which we as Christians are to build might be compared to a dwelling, with its foundation and superstructure. The foundation is not the house; neither is a house without a foundation very satisfactory. It requires the two to constitute a proper house. So it is with faith.

Let us suppose that we are about to build ourselves a house. We would consult an architect. He would draw up plans and specifications to meet our requirements. Then we would enter into a contract with a builder. In this contract let us suppose that we agreed to furnish all the material. The contractor goes to work and in due course reports that our house is ready for inspection. Our architect looks it over and he finds that the foundation is according to the plans, and that material specified was used. But if, when he comes to the superstructure, he finds that the dimensions of the rooms are not according to the plan, and the material called for was not used, it is obvious he would not approve the building.


We who have made a consecration to the Lord are contract builders, and have made a solemn covenant with the Lord to build him a house, a dwelling place. The apostle says, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rom. 8:29) In Christ we have the plan—the specifications, or the copy, after which we are to build. The Lord has provided the material. In fact, he has provided everything.

We found ourselves under condemnation, sentenced to death, and by his grace we were enabled to see our condition. He pointed us to the only way of escape—Christ Jesus—and, as we accepted him and consecrated our lives to do God’s will, we passed figuratively from death unto life. We were called of God with a heavenly calling. Responding, we were begotten of the Holy Spirit, and were given exceeding great and precious promises. We were given God’s Word with which to build the character likeness of his dear Son. He has given us everything—as we sometimes sing: “What more can he say than to you he hath said? You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled.”

He could not do more unless he actually forced us into a condition of obedience. That he will never do because he wants us to appreciate these favors and privileges to such an extent that we will strive to attain them regardless of the cost.

The question then is, How are we building? Are we using what he has provided? Some are browsing around here, there, and everywhere, for something else, and as a rule they find what they look for. According to Paul’s statement, we can build with different kinds of material. He says, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”—l Cor. 3:11-15

This scripture shows us that we can build with material that will endure the trial, the fire, or with material that will not. Again we inquire, How are we building? Are we building a character structure that will endure the trials of faith? This is very important to all of us who have consecrated. It is a question that each one of us must answer individually. Will the Great Architect of the universe pass favorably or unfavorably upon our superstructure?

In Romans 10:17, we have the statement that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. This implies that a certain kind of faith is the result of knowledge. That evidently is true so far as a faith which is a natural quality is concerned, but it is not strictly true of the faith which is a fruit of the Spirit. One may ask, What is the difference? The former is a natural inherent quality, while the latter is an acquired quality, a grace that is being put on, a fruit that is being developed.

Does all Biblical knowledge result in a living, active faith? By no means. If it did, it would prove that those who have the largest amount of knowledge would also have the greatest degree of faith. This does not necessarily follow. At least we have not seen it work out that way among the Lord’s people. Many have had a great deal of knowledge, and a wonderful ability to tell what they knew, and yet they have not continued in the narrow way. Why is this so? Evidently they did not have the other essential element of faith—a heart reliance upon God, which enables us to keep the terms of our consecretion. Knowledge alone is not the faith which is the victory that overcometh the world. From the standpoint of the Apostle Peter, however, the true knowledge of God is an outgrowth of faith.—II Pet. 1:5

The faith which leads to God is a quality which many natural-minded people possess. But there are others who just cannot believe, because they do not have the faculty to believe that which they cannot see. And the Scriptures verify this, as it is stated, “All men have not [Greek, the] faith.” (II Thess. 3:2) But the faith which enables one to endure all sorts of trials, persecutions, afflictions, losses and reverses, aches and pains—cheerfully, gladly, rejoicingly—is a faith that is not a natural quality, but one that has been painstakingly developed.

This is shown by Peter’s statement where he says, “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” (II Pet. 1:5) If all faith were the result of knowledge, the apostle could have said, ‘Add to your knowledge virtue, and to virtue faith’; but we notice he did not put it that way. He said, ‘Add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, love’.

Ephesians 3:14,17-19 reads, “For this cause I bow my knees [in prayer] unto the Father of our Lord Jesus … that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”

What kind of knowledge is it that is surpassed by the love of Christ? It is evidently what we speak of as ‘head knowledge’. There is a great difference between knowing something, and appreciating it. So it may be with truth. We know it is valuable, but do we realize how really valuable and precious it is? Do we realize that the great God who owns everything could not give us in our present condition anything of greater value than what he has given us—an understanding of his character, his plan and purposes?

Besides this, he has invited us to share his glory, to become heirs of his and joint-heirs with his only begotten and well beloved Son. The apostle adds, “that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages.”—Eph. 3:19-21

What is this power that works in us, if it is not the power of faith operating through the Holy Spirit? It is through the exercise of the natural faith in Jesus and our full consecration to do God’s will that we passed from death unto life. What a transforming power this is! And if we carry this thought on it means that, though taken from the lower strata of society, we have the prospect, through the exercise of faith, to be elevated to the highest plane in the universe! The only faith that can accomplish this is the faith, without which it is impossible to please God.

Should we not believe God? Has he ever deceived any of us? Has he ever asked anything unreasonable of us? Let us suppose that we have a child who has reached the years of discretion and with whom we always dealt fairly—always gladly and willingly kept our promises, never asked anything unreasonable. We make a certain proposition, and the child shows by his conduct a lack of trust and confidence. Would we be very pleased? No! We would say, Why should not that child believe me; I never deceived him, never expected anything but what is reasonable. On the other hand, can we think that God can be pleased when, in confronting a certain trial or experience, we show by our conduct that we do not trust him? This evidently is what the apostle meant when he said, “Without faith”—trust, confidence, heart reliance—“it is impossible to please God.” Lord, increase our faith!


Thus far we have been considering what constitutes faith. Now let us consider the rewards of faith. First, the present reward, and then the future reward. In Romans 5:1 we read, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Is this worth anything when all the world lies in the wicked one, being at enmity with God? And in this same connection, the apostle tells us, “By whom [the Lord Jesus Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”—vs. 2

That we, by nature fallen creatures, should be given an opportunity to strive to attain to God’s eternal glory, is beyond the power of the human mind to fully grasp! If it were not stated over and over again, we would be unable to believe it. The apostles could not tell us what this glory is, not having experienced it themselves. The Apostle John contented himself by saying, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”—I John 3:2

Then we are told that we can have the peace of God. What greater blessing could anyone have than a peace of heart and mind in this present time of distress, when men’s hearts are failing them for fear and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth? In proportion as we are able to realize that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, it is our privilege to enjoy peace.

It is our privilege to realize that God loves us: “The Father himself loveth you.” (John 16:27) He has our interests at heart. He wishes us to learn these lessons of faith, trust, and confidence in him, and thus have his peace ruling in our hearts. When all about us are in doubt and perplexity as to the outcome of the present distressful conditions, it is our privilege to view matters from God’s standpoint. Though we see the Social, religious, financial, and political institutions tottering to their fall, we know that it is only a part of the work of “the day of his preparation.” (Nah. 2:3) “When … these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption [deliverance] draweth nigh.”—Luke 21:28

How wonderful it is to think that God would take us into his confidence and reveal to us his plans and purposes, making known unto us things that were hidden from ages and generations, which are now “made manifest to his saints.”—Col. 1:26


Sometimes we are inclined to wonder why it is that since we have given our hearts to the Lord, we should have so many very trying experiences. Gradually we learn that these tests are to qualify us for the work to which he has called us, according to his purpose; and that these trials are great blessings in disguise. Peter says, “The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”—I Pet. 1:7

Think what efforts men have put forth in acquiring gold. Those who went into the 1849 gold rush sacrificed every convenience and comfort. They trekked across the continent in the hope of securing some of this precious metal. Surely they must have considered it very valuable. The apostle tells us that the trial of our faith is much more precious than gold that perishes.

Suppose we had all the gold in the world, and we should die tonight. What good would that gold do us? It would have perished so far as we were concerned. It would not do us a particle of good. But if we exercise the faith without which it is impossible to please God, we would just enter into life in a condition where we could really glorify God, as we would like to do now if it were not for these broken bodies, warped and badly twisted minds, and stammering tongues. So we see that Peter knew what he was speaking about when he said that the trial of our faith is much more precious than gold.

And what about the future reward of faith? Peter explains that there “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature,” the nature of God. (II Pet. 1:4) Again, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him,” who was highly exalted, far above angels, principalities and powers. Yes, we shall be like him and see him as he is, who is the “express image of his [the Father’s] person.” “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”—I John 3:1-3; Heb. 1:3

Here again, it is well to note that there is a difference between knowing about this hope and really having it in us, and appreciating it. Do all who know about this hope purify themselves? Evidently not; for if they did, there would not need to be a warning. The standard is high, and those who do not meet this standard still have a place in God’s kingdom. They are known as “a great multitude” who are victors, though coming up through “great tribulation,” and who have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”—Rev. 7:9-17

We realize full well that we cannot be actually pure, as God is pure, but we can be pure in thought, in intention; and the Lord takes the will for the deed. It is possible to be of such heart and mind that if we had a perfect body we would do perfectly, and this attitude is graciously accepted by the Lord.

How appropriate are the following comments on faith: “It is your faith that is on trial now. In the calmer days, when the sun of favor shone brightly upon you, you were quietly laying the foundation of a knowledge of the truth, and rearing the superstructure of Christian character. Now you are in the furnace to be proved; summon therefore all your courage; fortify your patience; nerve yourself to endurance; hold fast to your hope, call to mind the promises, they are still yours; and cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him, and faith hath gained her victory.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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