Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," or so goes the author of the book of Hebrews. My definition goes somewhat differently, though I suspect it comes to the same thing in practice. Faith is that which keeps me going, following the command of Christ, when all reason, all outward evidence, and all advice points a different direction. Faith is the willingness to look like an absolute fool for the sake of being obedient to Christ's direction. Faith keeps trudging forward when the garments of hope have worn so thin they show knees and elbows.
Paul puts it thus, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the preaching of Christ." If I do not hear the voice of Christ speaking the truth within me, I do not have faith. I may have religion and profession of certain words, but faith is the response of hearing and following the voice of Christ. This faith that comes by hearing Jesus teaching us gives the victory over the world, over sin, over death, and over hell. It is a faith that Satan cannot enter into. This is the faith of the people of God against whom the gates of Hell cannot stand.
This has been the ground upon which the people of God, in scorn called Quakers, have stood since they were brought forth. "Our gathering has been to Christ and by Christ," Fox asserted time and again. We can build upon no other foundation and expect to accomplish the work of God.
Many would relegate that work to soul-winning, i.e. seeking the personal salvation of others. There is much more to the work of God than "personal salvation," even regarding the individual. God will not rest until His kingdom comes and His will is done on Earth as it is in heaven. This is not accomplished by the soul-winning horde whose only admonition is to read your Bible, attend the church of your choice, and do the best you can.
Jesus stated, "It is not those who say unto me, 'Lord, Lord' that shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father." The obvious question is, "How are we to know the Heavenly Father's will?" The next question is, "How are we to have the power to do that will?"
The work of Christ as he is present in the midst of his people is to speak to them concerning the Father's will, to fit them for the work of carrying out this will, and to give them the power to walk faithfully in that work.
For such a people to say, "We walk by faith," does not imply they walk in ignorance, hoping that somehow God will make everything work out. Faith is not ignorance, rather it is knowing based upon hearing the voice of Christ. Thus Christ is the author of that faith.
The call to come into faith, is a call to encounter the living God who speaks to his people demanding a response. The call to faith is a call to have the library of the heart emptied to make room for the works of a different author. He requires all the shelf space. The call to faith is a call to be part of that people whose purpose is to hear Christ in their midst, to follow him, and to suffer the consequences.
By Ellis Hein
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