Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.…
I desire to speak to those who are weak — weak where they ought not to be — and who feel a growing tendency to rest content in that weakness; I would stir up those who are beginning to imagine that weakness is the normal and proper state of a Christian; that to be unbelieving, desponding, nervous, timid, cowardly, inactive, heartless, is at worst a very excusable thing.
I. MENTION CASES OF CURE. I shall not now cite cases from the Old Testament of bodily cures which have been wrought by faith, though I might mention Hezekiah. In the apostolic times it was through faith that many sicknesses were made to fly before the healing touch of the apostles. That power of healing has probably become extinct, or is lying dormant in the Church; yet there are still indications that faith has some power in that direction. I cannot but think that when honest John Wickliffe, raising himself up in the bed of sickness, said to the monks who surrounded his couch expecting him to die and tempting him to recant, "I shall not die, but live to declare the wicked deeds of the monks" — I cannot but think that his faith had much to do with his cure; had he been a man of a timorous, wavering frame of mind, his sick-bed might have been his death-bed, but the vital forces were all thrown into energetic action by the mental energy of his faith, and the crisis was safely passed. I do not know how far faith may still operate upon the bodily frame, for there is certainly an intimate connection between the soul and the body. That faith strengthens Christian men has been proved often in the history of the Church of God. The Church's weakness springs mainly and mostly from a want of faith in her God, and in the revelation which God has entrusted to her. When men believe intensely they act vigorously, and when their principles penetrate their very souls, and become precious to them as life itself, then no suffering is too severe, and no undertaking is too laborious, and no conflict too heroic. This seems to me to be the great work which Luther did in his day, under God the Holy Spirit's power. He brought back the Church to the strength of faith, and then her whole force returned. What has been proved upon the largest scale has been true in all other instances. For instance, the weakness of depraved human nature always gives way before the energy of that faith which the Spirit works in us. The same is true of subsequent spiritual debility. Christians who are alive unto God, and are endowed with some Divine strength, are attacked at times with a spiritual, universal decline. Just as we sometimes see a strong and healthy person growing pale, losing appetite, and falling into sickness, until he becomes a mere skeleton, so have I seen it with Christians; they do not lose life, but they do lose all their energy. Then they can scarce walk, much less run, and mounting with wings as eagles were quite out of the question. Such persons will bear witness that the only way of recruiting their strength is by faith. They must come again to the first principles, and trust their souls anew with Jesus, believing over again with a novelty of energy the old doctrines of the gospel. They must go to God as to a real God in believing prayer, and they will not long remain weak.
II. ANALYSE THE MEDICINE. The subject is so very wide that I must confine myself to one instance, and shall speak of the medicine as it would be mixed for a man struggling at very dreadful odds against a gigantic system of evil. He was very weak, but through faith he becomes strong. One of the first ingredients of faith's medicine is a sense of right. Everybody admits that when a man is sure that right is on his side, he finds strength in that belief. Faith is a belief in the rightness of that which God reveals, a trusting in its truth, and who wonders that a man who believes, therefore becomes strong? A second ingredient is heavenly authority. Everybody knows that a man who is naturally weak will often act very bravely when he has authority to back him. Let the Christian combatant feel that he is armed with Divine authority, and you will not wonder if from a dwarf he rises to a giant. Mixed with this is a consciousness of heavenly companionship which makes the believer courageous. Many a man who would have been afraid to go to battle alone has marched along very cheerily because of the many thousands who are hurrying to the same attack. The Christian feels that he has the companionship of his God and Saviour. In addition to all this, faith has an expectation of supernatural help. Faith hears the wheels of Providence working on her behalf. I must not omit one powerful ingredient in faith's life-draught — the prospect of ultimate reward.
III. ADMINISTER THIS MEDICINE. I cannot do it. You must go to Him who compounded it, namely, the blessed Spirit of the living God, and take with you this prayer, "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief," and this other one, "Lord, increase our faith"; but I will just give you a few hints. Some of you are going through a present personal difficulty; you are embarrassed in money matters, or a child is sick, or the wife is dying, or some other providential trim is vexing you — you are saying, "I cannot bear it! " I will not pray with you that you may be comforted in that sinful weakness, but I do beseech you to ask for faith in that Father's hand which wields the rod, that you may get out of the weakness, and may now be made strong to suffer with holy patience what your loving Father's wisdom appoints for you. Others have a spiritual duty before you, but you are shirking it because of its difficulty. You do not like to "go through the ordeal "-that is what you call it. You are disobediently timid. Now, I shall not ask God to comfort you in that weakness; you know your Master's will, and you do it not; may you be beaten with many stripes, and may the stripes be blessed to you. I will ask that, knowing your duty, you may rise out of that weakness by believing that God will help you to obey, and so out of weakness you may be made strong.
IV. PRAISE THE PHYSICIAN, and who is this? Who is it that has taught us to believe? It is our Father who is in heaven, who has taught us and bidden us trust Him; blessed be His name.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,