The Consequences of Faith

[Rom. 15:13]---'Now the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.'

It is a question we ought to ask ourselves, in our quiet hours of meditation, whether we really know the joy and peace which form the benediction of the text. It is a great thing to be resigned amid the various buffetings of life. Resignation is better than rebellion. But resignation, however fair it be, is not peculiarly a Christian virtue; it marks the Stoic rather than the Christian. The Christian attitude towards the ills of life is something more triumphant than acceptance. It has an exultant note that resignation lacks. It is such a reaction on experience as suggests the certainty of victory---the victory that overcomes the world. It is a searching question for us all, then, whether we truly know this joy and peace.

Contrast, for instance, joy and peace in believing with joy and peace in working. Most of us can say with perfect truth that we have experienced joy and peace in working. Not always, certainly, for sometimes work is wearisome, and sometimes it is ill-suited to our bent. And there are days, and sometimes there are years, when men are physically unfit for duty. But, granting that, is it not the case that we have experienced joy and peace in working, and that if our work were taken away, much of our joy and peace would also go?

Or think, again, of joy and peace in loving. There are few who have not had experience of that. Think, for example, of the Christian home, that beautiful creation of the gospel. Imperfect though it must necessarily be, is it not the dwelling-place of joy and peace? And all the joy of it and all the peace, which are deeper and truer than any passing shadow, rest on, and are continually refreshed by, the presence of love in the home. The splendid carelessness of children, their gladness that makes others glad, spring not only from the heart of childhood, but from the love that encircles them. Now Paul does not speak of joy and peace in working, nor does he speak of joy and peace in loving. His theme here is different from these: it is joy and peace in believing. And the question is, do we, who know these other things, know this in our experience of life, and amid the jangling of our days?

Think for a moment of the kind of people to whom these words were originally written. They were sent to a little company of Christians, whose lot was very far from being easy. Separated from us by around two thousand years, we are apt to think of them as dim and shadowy. If our own woes grow dim with passing years, how much more those of centuries ago. Yet they had sorrows and trials as intense as ours. They were called to be saints, they were just poor and faulty men and women. And some were slaves, and some were city merchants, and some were mothers in undistinguished homes. Yet Paul when he thought of them made no exceptions. This blessing was for every one of them. It never occurs to him that there might be any body incapacitated for this joy and peace. We are so apt to think that an inward frame like this can never be possible for us. But just as Paul never dreamed there were exceptions in the various temperments he was addressing, so the Holy Spirit, who inspired the words, never dreams there are exceptions now. This is for everybody who knows and loves the Lord. Not rebellion---not even resignation, when life is hard an difficult and sorrowful---but something with the note of triumph in it; a song like that which Paul and Silas sang; a peace that the world can never give---and cannot take away.

Lest anyone should mistake the frame of mind which is here indicated as our peculiar privilege, observe how in the Scriptures joy and peace are linked together. There is a joy that has no peace in it. It is tumultuous, feverish, unsettled. It is too eager to be the friend of rest---too wild to have any kinship with repose. Its true companionship is with excitement, and, like other passions it grows by what it feeds on, demanding ever a more powerful stimulus, and, in the end demanding it in vain. And then there is a peace that has no joy. They make a solitude and call it peace. It is like a dull and sluggish river moving through an uninteresting country. There is a joy that is devoid of peace---it never blesses. There is a peace which is devoid of joy. But not such is the peace of God.

Now, the notable thing is that on the page of Scripture joy and peace are in the closest union. Wherever we light upon the one, we are not long in coming on the other. We sometimes say of inseparable friends that when you find the one you find the other. And so it is with joy and peace. 'Peace I leave with you,' said Jesus, and then, 'these things have I spoken unto you that your joy might be full.' And the fruit of the Spirit is not love and joy. Paul does not stop his enumeration there. 'The fruit of the spirit is love and joy and peace.' That then is the peculiar frame and the characteristic temper of the Christian---a joy that at the heart of it has peace; a peace that is so deep that it is glad.

Sometimes, it may be, we lack this inward comfort because we have lost the wonder of salvation. We are so familiar with the gospel message that we have ceased to feel the wonder of it all. If we only realize the unspeakable wonder of the love of God, there is not one of us so hard and worldly but would be visited by joy and peace. And if we are not so visited, may not the reason be that we have heard of the love of God a thousand times, and have grown so familiar with it all that it has little power to move us now. It is not the man who dwells amid the woods who feels most deeply their ministry of peace. It is not the children of unbroken sunshine who best appreciate the joy of sunshine.

Or, it may be, we fail in joy and peace because we meddle with things that are too high for us. We vex ourselves, and vex ourselves in vain, over the hidden things of the Almighty. It may be that there is something in our life that is very difficult to understand. Or we look abroad on evil in the city, and we say, Can God be witness to it all? No one would suggest that a Christian should never think upon these things. This is inevitable---constituted as the human mind is. But if, in thinking so, we lose our joy and peace, we are not trusting as we ought to trust; we are not living as we ought to live. It is our duty to honor Jesus Christ, if we would not have Him ashamed of us. And we honor Him when, amid all the darkness, we believe that all is well for He is King; we honor Him not with a darkened heart, but with a believing full of joy and peace.

There is no way of commending the gospel like this. It was this, the living Epistles of men's lives, the flush and fervor of the joyous faith, the abounding hope, which won for Christ His first great triumphs in the early centuries. The rich beauty of holiness, the winsome attractive graces, were ambassadors for God more powerful and eloquent than preacher's voice or apostles pen. Spiritual conviction does not come by argument. Logic is not the key which unlocks the Kingdom. Life more abundant, undying hope, fragrant peace, the strange unearthly joy, these were the missionaries of the Cross.

How eminently fitted the gospel message is to create this inward frame of joy and peace. The gospel has not been given to make us sad. It was good news, the gladdest of all news---the most glorious message the world has ever heard. Sweet is the message of the morning sun when it touches the window after a night of pain. Sweet is the message of returning spring when the time of the singing of birds is come again. But a thousand times more wonderful is that message as old as spring and yet new---the message that has been ours since we were children, and that shall be ours when the last shadows fall. Do we believe it? That is the vital question. Do we hold to it through the shadows and the buffetings? Do we swing it, like a lamp which God has lighted, over the darkest mile our feet have got to tread? Then, like joy and peace in working and in loving [with which we are all perfectly familiar], we shall experience joy and peace in believing.

In Christ, Timothy.


The Lord has given us the grace to reconcile the children to their Fathers

As One Body

  • We prepare for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
  • Harvest the Fruit of the Latter Rain
  • Follow Him as the Army of the Lord into His Glory

Help To Prepare A Holy Bride!

Issue Oriented Discussion Newsletter

Prayer Requests

Index | Search This Site | The Latter Rain | Babylon the Great | The Kingdom | The Nicolaitans | Jezebel
The Baptism With the Holy Ghost | The Grand Delusion | World Trade Org | Alphabetical Index