The term “living faith” is strictly proper; because faith indeed is a living thing. The just live by faith, and no man can live by what has no life in it. As we can live only by that which brings life to us, and as we live by faith, it is plain that faith is a living thing.
Again, faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) and He is a living God; Jesus is its Author (Hebrews 12:2), and in Him is life—He is the life. In the nature of things, that which comes from such a source must be of itself imbued with life. and as faith does come wholly from Him who only is the living God, from Him who alone is life, and not from ourselves (Ephesians 2:8), it is certainly imbued with life, and so brings life to men, by which we may live indeed.
Again, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17); that word is “the faith word” (Titus 1:9), that is, the word full of faith; and that word is “the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). Therefore as the word of God brings faith, and is full of faith; and as that word is the word of life, it is evident that faith is life, is a living this, and brings life from God to whom who exercises it.
What life is it, then, which faith brings to men?—Coming as it does from God, through Jesus Christ who is the “Author of life,” the only life with which it is imbued and which it could possibly bring to men is the life of God. The life of God is what men need and what we must have. And it is the life that God wants us to have; for it is written: “Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:17, 18).
Jesus came that men might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11, 12). And Christ is received by faith, and He dwells in the heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17). Therefore as the life of God only, eternal life, is in Jesus Christ, and as Christ dwells in the heart by faith, it is as plain as anything can be that faith brings the life of God to him who exercises it.
It is the life of Jesus Himself that is to be made manifest in our bodies: “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11). And the life of Jesus is manifested in us, by Christ himself living in us; for “Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). This is living faith.
Again He says, “I will dwell in them and walk in them;” “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you;” and “because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:18, 19). It is by the Holy Spirit that He dwells in us; for He desires you “to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (Ephesians 3:16, 17). And “at that day”—the day that ye receive the gift of the Holy Ghost—“ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). “And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (1 John 3:24). And we “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13, 14). We must have the blessing of Abraham in order to receive the promise of the Spirit. The blessing of Abraham is righteousness by faith (See Romans 4:1-13.) Having this, Abraham “received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” And we, having this, can freely receive the promise of the Spirit circumcising the heart unto holiness and the seal of the righteousness of the faith which we had. Having the blessing of Abraham, and so being sons of God, God sends forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Galatians 3:26; 4:4-6). Having the blessing of Abraham, that you may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, then ask that ye may receive—yea, ask and ye shall receive. For the word of God has promised, and faith cometh by hearing the word of God. Therefore ask in faith, nothing wavering, “for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10).
Such is living faith—the faith that comes from the living God; the faith of which Christ is the Author; the faith which comes by the word of God; the faith which brings life and power from God to men, and which works the works of God in him who exercises it; the faith which receives the Holy Spirit that brings the living presence of Jesus Christ to dwell in the heart and manifest Himself still in mortal flesh. This and this alone is living faith. By this Christians live. This is life itself. This is everything. Without this, everything is simply nothing or worse; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
With such faith as this, that is, with true faith, there never can arise any question as to works; for this faith itself works, and he who has it, necessarily works. It is impossible to have this faith and not have works. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). This faith being a living thing, cannot exist without working. And coming from God, the only works that it can possibly work are the works of God.
Therefore, anything that professes to be faith which of itself does not work the salvation of the individual having it, and which then does not work the works of God in him who professes it, is not faith at all, but is a fraud that that individual is passing off upon himself, which brings no grace to the heart, and no power to the life. It is dead, and he is still dead in trespasses and sins, and all his service is only a form without power, and therefore is only a dead formalism.
But on the other hand, the faith which is of God, which comes by the word of God and brings Christ, the living word, to dwell in the heart and shine in the life—this is true faith which through Jesus Christ only lives and works in him who exercises it.
Christ Himself living in us; Christ in you the hope of glory; God with us; God manifest in the flesh now, to-day in our flesh, by the faith of Jesus Christ—this and this only is living faith. For “every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:2-4).
Therefore, “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Jesus said unto them and to us all: “Have the faith of God” (Mark 11:22, margin).
(This article was taken from the January 14, 1895 issue of The Bible Echo. Some minor editing was done for this publication. Editor)