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Written by R. Anna Phillips   

 

The Gospel Messenger-March 1886

FAITH THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR--By Rebecca Anna Phillips

Elder B. L. Landers
Dear Brother,
Your late letter suggests too many questions of the deep mysteries of God, to be answered in one ordinary letter for the GOSPEL MESSENGER, even if I could. But are not ministers of the gospel commanded to give themselves, mind, heart and service, wholly to it? What is the gospel? It is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” Now believers are those to whom they are sent to establish in the truth. And faith-”from faith to faith”-is not only the medium of access to them, as spiritual, but also of revelation and inspiration from God. Then let us not turn from this and go out yonder, and through the distorted vision of human reason search the decrees and predestination of God, as from far off misty mountain tops.

Still, in so far as the predestination of God is a “power unto salvation,” it is included in the scope of knowledge dispensed with the gospel; and hence stands as a fact to be handled and demonstrated. I believe that God predestinated all things in connection with the salvation of his people; and that this predestination stands as a bulwark to it as a structure. And that God’s counsel, purpose and will—so often referred to as embracing all things of good and evil, and to be accomplished as such, is also confined to this salvation; in that they are all accomplished in Jesus, and all for good and not evil.

Not but God has a will concerning all things good and ill, and  that will be fulfilled; but not as willing evil—not as charging sin to his predestination. But since Jesus came as effect—so to speak—embodying all primary cause; embodying all the attributes and powers of God unto salvation; as that the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, and as such, fulfilled the counsel and decrees, accomplished the will of God, (Heb. x, 6,) in that “he died, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures;” and as thus crucified, in himself comprised the gospel-is the gospel, is salvation. I say, why not like Paul, that highly learned man, that eminent apostle to whom God gave far more abundant revelations, desire to “know nothing among the people but Jesus CHRIST, and him crucified.”

Then, with a sense of relief, I come to your last question; “What is faith? I mean as a substance”--not because it is not a mystery too, but it is the medium of life from, and approval to, God; and hence of first concern.

You will notice that faith, as a substance, is that of things hoped for, and hence not seen; else how hope and wait for it? And things unseen are eternal-divine. It is only the spiritual man that has faith; or hope of eternal things.

Now to bring it home to your own heart: what is it you hope for? I mean your consummate desire and expectation spiritually. “I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness” is the fervent expression of that hope. “To be found pure, incorruptible, immortal, as having my vile body fashioned like unto the glorious body of Jesus.” Then the resurrected Jesus is the substance, or rather, is faith as a substance.

To illustrate: What blood is to the natural mortal body so is faith to the spiritual. In order to physical health, growth and perfection which implies a proportional mental strength and increase of knowledge-is implicit obedience to the laws of being. So with the spiritual child. See a healthy man partake of proper, lawful food, and all the internal invisible organs, representing God’s spiritual operation by faith, actually performing their respective functions; and how surety is that food assimilated to blood. And that blood holds and transmits vital life to the whole body; it is the life of the body. How different this vital fluid from the food partaken; yet it is that food in substance.

Now let the spiritual man partake of that food only adapted and provided for him; that bread that came down from heaven; let him eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ-without which there is no life iii him-and how soon it is assimilated-so to speak-to faith, and that holds and transmits the spirit of life to the whole body spiritual~ that faith is the life of the body. How different in form from the food partaken, nevertheless, it is that very food in substance- it is the resurrected Jesus in bodily substance, like unto which, we hope our vile bodies shall be fashioned. And for which hope’s sake, says Paul, “we groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to-wit, the redemption of our bodies.” And thus hoping for that we see not, we do with patience wait for it. -Rom. viii, 23, 25. Therefore this “is Christ (in substance) in you, hope of glory.” And truly such may say “the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God.”

And this brings me to your question as to “how shall I feel and know faith as a substance?” or rather you want to feel and know faith in evidence of things invisible, for in connection with faith as a substance of things hoped for, it is “the evidence of things not seen.” But remember that to feel and know things not seen-things spiritual, can only be by faith; hence, you must take faith as evidence, in evidence. Else you would walk by sight and you yourself said that whatsoever was not of faith is sin; and you would not walk sinful. But to the evidence:

If I show you a strong, robust, well-developed young man, glowing with health, I need not tell you he partakes of nourishing food; you know it from the evidences manifested in his body outwardly. I need not tell you his digestive organs are in good health, performing their respective functions, or that his blood is pure and rich; you see and know these by external manifestations. All these external evidences-the flesh, bone, muscles, etc., as assimilation of the blood, is the blood in substance; and so become evidences, not only of the literal unseen blood, but of its richness and purity. For the blood ramifies the whole body, feeding and nourishing to the remotest fiber, even as Christ, by faith, nourishes and cherishes his body. For if the spiritual man will constantly and exclusively partake of Christ, his faith, as rich, pure blood, will feed, nourish and energize the whole body; so that the whole man is spirit and life, or faith in substance, and thus will outwardly testify to its unseen presence, power and purity within. And thus evidencing faith testifies to Jesus, its source and substance. And this is to “manifest the life (faith) of Jesus in your mortal body.” And this is faith “the evidence of things not seen.” Furthermore, we know that in order to this perfect physical development, the members- limbs-must have been well exercised. And that for this healthy action of the skin, the body has been kept cleansed. (Pure water is the element of cleansing as applied outwardly.) Even so in order to spiritual health and growth, the members must be exercised, (Heb v. 14,) and the body “washed in pure water.”-Heb. x, 22, and 2 Cor. vii, 7. For you know to mix poison, or mud with the water, the body will he all the worse for the washing; and also one of the strongest external evidences lost. Indeed James says, “Show me your work by your faith, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Therefore to obey the practical laws of Christ; the pure word unmixed with the traditions and “commandment of men,” is “the washing of water by the word” that leaves the body unblemished, “unspotted from the world.” And your practical walk and conversation pure and clean, is one of faith’s best evidences of things unseen. For the spiritual leaven thus working, not only testifies to the principle working within, but also to the ultimate leavening of the whole lump as certainly.

But to make a personal application, or search, for these evidences you want to “know” and “feel,” it is well to remember, that as like begets like, so you must attain to that body hoped for, like Jesus did. If you would reign with him, you must first suffer with him. While in this world he was a man of sorrow. We hear more of his grieving and groaning than rejoicing in spirit; we hear more of his agony than exultation of soul.

Then, if, for your satisfaction, I “seek a proof of Christ in you,” and especially as approving yourself the minister of God, it must necessarily be in patience, in affliction, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, &c.; and by long-sufferings, by besettings, by reproaches, &c.; and as unknown, and yet well known; as daily dying, and behold you live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. Have you not felt these “afflictions in Christ?” Then know that the consolations abounding by Christ are yours. You are made Christlike by suffering like Christ. Afflictions the clearest imprint the image of Christ. Lowliness and meekness give the brightest crown to that image. All these are faith iii substance and in evidence.

R. Anna Phillips
Butler, GA

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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