Faith Does Not Save You

faithwithoutworksOctavius Winslow, Personal Declension

Be careful of not making a Savior of faith. There is a danger – and it cannot be too vigilantly guarded against – of substituting the work of the Spirit for the work of Christ; this mistake it is that leads so many of God’s saints to look within, instead of without, themselves for the evidences of their calling and acceptance; and thus, too, so many are kept all their spiritual course walking in a state of bondage and fear, the great question never fully and fairly settled, or, in other words, never quite sure of their sonship. The work of Christ is a great and finished work; it is so glorious that it can admit of no comparison, so complete that it can allow of no addition, and so essential that it can give place to no substitution. Precious as is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and essential as it is to the salvation of the soul, yet he who places it where the work of Jesus ought only to be, deranges the order of the covenant, closes up the legitimate source of evidence, and will assuredly bring distress and uncertainty into his soul. ” Righteousness, peace, and joy,” are the fruit of a full belief in the Lord Jesus Christ; and he who looks for them away from the cross, will meet with disappointment: but they are found in Jesus. He who looks away from himself, from his vileness, guiltiness, emptiness, and poverty, fully and believingly unto Jesus, shall know what the forgiveness of sin is, and shall experience the love of God shed abroad in his heart.

If, then, your faith is feeble and tried, be not cast down; faith does not save you. Though it be an instrument of salvation, and as such, is of vast importance, it is but the instrument; the finished work of Immanuel is the ground of your salvation, yes, it is your salvation itself. Then make not a Savior of your faith; despise it not if it is feeble, exult not in it if it is strong, trample not on it if it is small, deify it not if it is great; such are the extremes to which every believer is exposed. If your faith is feeble and sharply tried, it is no evidence that you are not a believer; but the evidence of your acceptance in the Beloved, is to arise from Jesus alone; then let your constant motto be, “looking unto Jesus”; looking to him just as you are; looking unto him when faith is feeble; looking unto him when faith is tried; looking unto him when faith is declining, yes, looking unto him when you fear you have no faith. Look up, tried and tempted soul! Jesus is the Author, the Sustainer, and he will become the Finisher of your faith. All you want is in him. One glimpse, dim though it be, of his cross, – one touch, trembling though it be, of his garment, – will lift you from your lowest depths, lighten your heaviest burden, gild your darkest prospect, and when you arrive at Jordan’s brink, will bear you safely through its swellings, and land you on the sunny and verdant shores of Canaan. Let this be your prayer, urged unceasingly at the throne of grace until it is answered – “Lord, increase my faith “; and then, with holy Paul, you too shall be enabled with humble assurance to exclaim, ” I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day!”

 

What is the real state of your faith?

What, reader, is the real state of your faith? OctaviusWinslow

is it as lively, vigorous, and active, as it was when you first believed?

Has it undergone no declension?

Is the Object of faith as glorious in your eye as he then was?

Are you not now looking at second causes in God’s dealings with you, instead of lifting your eye and fixing it on him alone?

What is your faith in prayer?

- do you come boldly to the throne of grace, asking, nothing doubting?

Do you take all your trials, your wants, your infirmities, to God!

What is your realization of eternal things, – is faith here in constant, holy exercise?

Are you living as a pilgrim and a sojourner, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,” than float along on the summer-sea of this world’s enjoyments?

What is the crucifying power of your faith?

- does it deaden you to sin, and wean you from the world, and constrain you to walk humbly with God and near to Jesus?

And when the Lord brings the cross, and says, “Bear this for me,” does your faith promptly and cheerfully acquiesce, “any cross, any suffering, any sacrifice for you, dear Lord?”

Thus may you try the nature and the degree of your faith; bring it to the touchstone of God’s truth, and ascertain what its character is, and how far it has suffered declension.

Permit us to adduce a few causes to which a feeble and declining faith may frequently be traced. When a believer’s visits to his closet grow less frequent and spiritual, faith will assuredly decline. Prayer is the channel that supplies faith with its nourishment and vigor. As well might we cut off all the rills and streams which flow down the mountain’s side, and expect that the valleys beneath will present their enameled and verdant aspect, as to close up the channel of prayer, and then look for a healthy, vigorous, and growing faith. There is a beautiful connection between faith and prayer, – their influence is reciprocal: constant and ardent prayer strengthens faith, and faith, brought into exercise, stimulates to prayer. A praying man will be a believing man, and a man of faith will be a man of prayer.

Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension

thou standest by faith

“thou standest by faith.” (Rom 11:20)

Why is it that you have been kept to the present moment? You have seen many a tall cedar bowed to the earth; many who did appear to “run well,” but who, in the hour of temptation, when worldly power, and wealth, and distinction increased, made shipwreck of their fancied faith, and fell into diverse lusts and snares which drowned their souls. Why have you been kept? your vessel weathering the storm, your feet yet upon the rock? Because “you stands by faith,” – the “faith of God’s elect” has kept you; and though you are deeply conscious of many and great departures, – sins, it may be, which if known to an ungodly, ignorant world, would bring upon you the laugh of scorn, – yet you have never been left quite to unhinge your soul from Jesus; you have discovered your sins, and mourned over and confessed them, and sought their forgiveness through a fresh application of the atoning blood, – and still, “you stands by faith.” Ah! if faith had not kept you, where would you now have been? where would that temptation have driven you? into what consequences would that sin have involved you? But O, that brokenness, that contrition, that mourning, that going afresh to the open fountain, does prove that there was that in you which would not let you quite depart! The cedar may have been bowed to the earth, but it has risen again; the vessel may have been tossed in the tempest, and even may have been worsted by the storm, yet it has found its port: the “faith of God’s elect” has kept you. “Be not high-minded, but fear.” Your own vigilance, and power, and wisdom, had been but poor safeguards, but for the indwelling of that faith that can never die. – Octavius Winslow

One Faith

Octavius Winslow,

The Holy Spirit speaks of but “one faith (Eph 4:5),” and that faith the “faith of God’s elect (Tit 1:1).” And still the question recurs, What is faith? Briefly and simply, it is that act of the understanding and the heart by which a repenting sinner – a sinner under the mighty operation of the Eternal Spirit, convicting him of sin, and working in him true contrition – closes in with God’s free proclamation of pardon through a crucified Savior: he believes, he receives, he welcomes the promise of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus “sets to his seal that God is true.” Personal Declension

Enter into it!

“We love him, because he first loved us:” he took the first step, and made the first advance, – “He first loved us.”

O heart-melting truth!

The love of God to us when yet we were sinners, who can unfold it? what mortal tongue can describe it? Before we had any being, and when er were enemies, he sent his Son to die for us; and when we were far off by wicked works, he sent his Spirit to bring us to him in the cloudy and dark day. All his dealings with us since then – his patience, restoring mercies, tender, loving, faithful care, yes, the very strokes of his rod, have but unfolded the depths of his love towards his people: this is the love we desire you to be filled with. “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God.” Draw largely from this river; why should you deny yourselves? There is enough love in God to overflow the hearts of all his saints through all eternity; then why not be filled? “The LORD direct your hearts into the love of God;” stand not upon the brink of the fountain, linger not upon the margin of this river, – enter into it – plunge into it; it is for you, – poor, worthless, unworthy, vile as you feel yourself to be, – this river of love is yet for you! Seek to be filled with it, that you may know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, and that your heart in return may ascend in a flame of love to God. – Octavius Winslow

A Modern Demas

“This enemy of your soul will steal upon you by silent and insidious encroachment. It has its disguises many. It will present itself masked in a proper regard for business, in a diligence in lawful callings, a prudent yielding to domestic claims, and will even quote scriptural precept and example, and assume the form of an angel of light; but suspect it, guard against it. Remember what is recorded by the apostle of a primitive professor: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Be not a modern Demas: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” No Christian man can maintain his spirituality unimpaired, his love uninjured, his robe unspotted, his walk irreproachable, who secretly admits the world to his heart. How can he exemplify the life of a pilgrim and a sojourner; how can his heart rise in a constant flame of love to God? What attraction can the throne of grace have, what zest in spiritual duties, what delight in the communion of saints, while his heart goes out after covetousness, and worldly ambition, love of place, and human applause are the rival passions of his soul? Let it, then, be solemnly remembered, that an inordinate, uncrucified attachment to the world, must be parted with, if the precious grace of love to God is to enthrone itself in the affections of the believer.” – Octavius Winslow

Evening Thoughts

 

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. Acts 8:32, 33

In the person of the Son of God, the two extremes of being—the infinite and the finite—meet in strange and mysterious, but close and eternal union. The Divine came down to the human—Deity humbled itself to humanity. This was humiliation indeed! It was not the creature descending in the scale of creation, but it was the Creator stooping to the creature. “God was manifest in the flesh.” “He humbled Himself.” Oh, it is an amazing truth! So infinitely great was He, He could thus stoop without compromising His dignity, or lessening His glory.

But, if possible, a step lower did He seem to descend. Thus in prophetic language did he announce it: “I am a worm and no man.” What astounding words are these! Here was the God-man sinking, as it were, in the depths of abasement and humiliation below the human. “I am a worm, and no man!” In the lowliness which marked His external appearance, in the estimation in which He was held by men, in the contemptuous treatment which He received from His enemies, the trampling of His glory in the dust, and the crushing of His person on the cross, would seem in His own view to have robbed Him, not only of His glory as God, but even to have divested Him of His dignity as man! “I am a worm, and no man!” Oh, here is glory—glory surpassing all imagination, all thought, all power of utterance! He who bent His footsteps along this flinty path, He who sunk thus low, was Jehovah, the “mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! Lowliness and majesty, humiliation and glory, how strangely were they blended in You, O incarnate God!

The assumption of our nature, in its depressed and bruised condition, constituted no small feature in the abasement of the Son of God. That, in the strong language of the Holy Spirit, He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” is a truth we cannot too distinctly affirm, or too earnestly maintain. The least misgiving touching the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of our Lord tends to weaken the confidence of faith in the atonement, and so to enshroud in darkness the hope of the soul. As a single leak must have sunk the ark beneath the waves, so the existence of the slightest taint of sin in Jesus would have opened an inlet through which the dark billows of Divine wrath would have rolled, plunging both Himself and the church He sustained in eternal woe. But that “holy thing” that was begotten of the Holy Spirit knew not the least moral taint. He “knew no sin,” He was the sacrificial “Lamb without spot.” And because He presented to the Divine requirement a holy, unblemished, and perfect obedience and satisfaction, we who believe are “made the righteousness of God in Him.”

But His taking up into subsistence with His own our nature in its fallen condition, comprehends the sinless infirmities and weaknesses with which it was identified and encompassed. When I see my Lord and Master bowed with grief and enduring privation, when I behold Him making the needs and sorrows and sufferings of others His own, what do I learn but that He was truly a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”? Is there any spectacle more affecting, than thus to behold the Incarnate God entering personally and sympathetically into all the humiliations of my poor, bruised, vile nature, and yet remaining untouched, untainted by its sin?—taking my weaknesses, bearing my sicknesses, sorrowing when I sorrow, weeping when I weep, touched with the feeling of my infirmities, in all points tempted like as I am. – Octavius Winslow