Boldness of Faith
Girdle of Truth (available from Present Truth Publishers)

Hebrews 10:19

The present Gospel-day is called "the last days," in Hebrews 1:2. And wondrously does that epistle unfold those characteristics of it which entitle it to be so called. It witnesses Christ to us after He has finished His work, filling the heaven of God on high, and all the visions and thoughts of faith here on earth. And does not this, I ask, entitle this Gospel-day, these days in which we have been living since the ascension of our Lord Jesus, to the honor of "the last days?" What can remain after such a condition of things as this, but glory and the kingdom? Adam's condition in the Garden of Eden could not have been called the last days; for all was then bearing witness of uncertainty in the relations of God and His creature. Man was tested. A command had been delivered, and all hung upon his obedience. Death and ruin might be the issue, or a keeping of the first estate. 

So, during the age of Moses, or under the law. Man was again tested, and therefore that time could not have been called "the last days." The creature, in the person of Israel, was then again under probation, as Adam had been, and all was uncertainty. But now, in the stead of things being put to the proof, and the creature tested, and relationships between God and man made to rest on man's fidelity; things are now proclaimed as finished and perfected because of the sealed and accepted fidelity of the Son of God. The Son, now in glory, at the end of His work, is speaking of salvation already wrought out by Himself. 

He is there, because He has been here; in the highest now, because He was in the lowest before; dispensing the fruit of grace now, as once He had gathered sympathies with the feeblest of us, and made an end of sin by the sacrifice of Himself; delivering from the and fear of death now, because He once destroyed, through His own death, him that had the power of death. Such an one may well entitle the day in which His Name is published, and His virtues dispensed, to be called "the last." 

Our duty it is to use Him and to trust Him in the place and character He thus fills, to consider Him, to hold fast by Him as our confidence and rejoicing, which is our answer to Him in this His place of glories. The epistle to the Hebrews is busy and constant in making Christ its object. It presents Him as now filling the heavens in various glories. It shows Him to us there, as the Purger of our sins, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, the Mediator of the new covenant, the Author of salvation and the Captain of salvation, the true Moses, the true Aaron, the true Joshua, and the Melchizedec of God. 

And as this epistle is thus busy and constant in presenting Christ to us, so is it fervent and unwearied in exhorting us to maintain that attitude of heart that is the due answer to such an object. It would fain form in us a soul in harmony with these glories thus revealed in the object presented to us. 

It tells us to give "earnest heed" to what we have heard, so full of authority is it. It tells us to "consider" Christ in His fidelity to Him that appointed Him to the gracious, wondrous offices of High Priest and Apostle of our profession. It tells us once and again, "to hold fast" by Him, to "come boldly" to the throne now erected in the heavens, and to go on in the study of the great subject of "perfection," which tells us of our sure salvation in Christ. It reproves us for not being " teachers," intimating by this, that we ought to have fully, and solidly, and clearly learnt for ourselves the blessed lesson of grace and righteousness. It encourages us by the example of Abraham, who obtained the promise confirmed by an oath, so that we may have "strong consolation," and enter in full assurance of hope within the vail. And, again, it encourages us by Abraham, who took blessing from Melchizedec, who was but a shadow of the Son of God, in whose hand our blessing as surely lies. It would also have us lost in admiration at the dignity of the sacrifice which has been rendered to God for us, that we may know--and know with fullest, happiest assurance the perfection and certainty of the purging of our conscience. It tells us to pass with boldness through the vail, and there to serve at an altar, as the priesthood of God, with eucharistic, thanksgiving offerings. 

These things we find as we pass through the epistle, by which we learn that it proposes to form a mind in us, which, from its certainty, and strength, and liberty of faith, and brightness and assurance of hope, shall be somewhat of a suited answer to the glories of that Object which it has lifted up before our souls. 

When it calls us to "fear," or to "take heed," it is lest we should be tempted to turn our eye from that which it is thus ever keeping in our view. It never speaks of fear or of caution, as though we were to render that object a timid or suspicious thought. Surely otherwise. As it presents One to us full of glories, and glories all suited to our necessities, so it cherishes in us a heart, and mind, and conscience, full of light, and strength, and liberty. 

The boldness of faith has been again and again exhibited all along the line of Scripture, in some of the saints of God, and is seen ever to have met a greeting and an answer from God. 

Adam exhibits it. He came forth, naked as he was, at the bidding of the gospel, at the bidding of the good tidings about the death and resurrection of Christ, the bruised yet bruising seed of the woman, and at once talked of life in the midst of death, calling his wife "the mother of all living." 

Abraham does the same. He does not consider the dead condition of his own body, nor that of Sarah. He has listened to a promise from the living God, the life-giver, and that promise occupies and commands his soul. It is everything to him, let circumstances be what they may, and the conditions of things outside that promise as hopeless as they can be. 

Sarah, too, in her day, was bold. She did not consider her former unbelief and naughtiness when she laughed behind the tent-door, but in the light and power of the gift and grace of God, she would have the house left entirely for her and her Isaac. She would clear away from her spirit all that might cloud or chill it. 

Jacob was under rebuke. His unbelief in the matter of Esau his brother had called forth the divine wrestler to withstand him. But even in such a moment as that, Jacob stands. He faints not under this rebuke--but knowing the Rebuker as he felt the rebuke, he lets Him know that He is not to go until He bless him. The day may be breaking, and it may be time to go, but the blessing must come first. 

And how is this boldness again and again answered by the Lord? Always under some expression or another of its full acceptableness with Him. Adam gets a coat of skin made for him, and put on him by the Lord Himself. Abraham is promised a seed as many as the stars in the heaven for multitude. Sarah's word is confirmed at once by God Himself. And the Lord does not leave Bethel, whether the morning have broke or not, till He blesses as Jacob desired, and gives him a new and honorable name--a name that attaches to him and his seed to this day, and will forever. 

What harmonies are these! Grace abounding, faith full, certain, and confiding, and the Lord again in grace sealing this way of faith as with His whole heart! 

Does the course of time change this? The scene may change, but God who fills it and orders it is one. Moses, after the patriarchs, illustrates this boldness. The Lord had said to him that he must leave Him alone, and let His wrath wax hot against Israel, for they had now disowned Him for their own golden calf. But Moses will not hear of this. He speaks out to the Lord, telling Him that He had sworn by His own Name to multiply His people as the stars of heaven. It was impossible that He could do as He was threatening. He must turn from His fierce anger. This was bold, but not too bold--and the Lord vindicates it all by doing all that Moses could desire and plead for (Ex. 33). 

David is in the same line, and of the same temper, with all these from the days of Adam. Ziklag is in ruins before him, and all that was there has been plundered. Cattle in their flocks and herds, nay, wives and children, have all been borne away by the invaders. Here is a scene, not only full of misery, but of reproach likewise. David's sin has to account for the ruin of Ziklag, as Adam's had to account for the ruin of creation. But what read we? "David encouraged himself in God." And what came of this? The Lord gave him a victory; and out of the hand of the Amalekite all, everything and everybody, was rescued; so that not a hoof was lost: together with spoil of the enemy, sent afterwards to the cities of Israel as trophies of what the God of Israel, in grace and strength that abounded, had wrought for David. (1 Sam. 30). 

Here were harmonies again! The boldness of faith and the aboundings of grace--striking, blessed, precious concords! 

Can we let centuries upon centuries pass, and still find the same? Yes--New Testament atmosphere is just the same. In the Gospels, we find the Lord again and again rebuking a "little" faith, but ever delighting in the approaches of a bold faith. No finer instance could there be of that than what we get in the case of the palsied man and his friends. There, the roof was broken up, that the needy one might be let down before the Lord. A rude act, one might say, and done without leave or apology. But the Lord delighted in it, and sealed His acceptance of it at once. No rebuke was on His lips then. Confidence suits grace; ceremony stands in its way. Love delights in being used, but resents the reserve that would approach suspiciously. The blessed Jesus of the Gospels was the God who, of old, answered the bold faith of Adam, of Abraham, of Sarah, of Jacob, of Moses, and of David, and of thousands whom time would fail to tell of. And the Holy Spirit who moved the apostles at the end of the book of God, is the Spirit of Him who acted all through, in days of patriarchs, prophets, and evangelists. This we find, for examples, in the Epistles to the Galatians and to the Hebrews. 

The Galatian saints had given up this confidence. They had receded to the elements of the world, the spirit of the law, observing ordinances; by which the soul really loses sight of God--or, in the language of the epistle, by which it proves that it has not the knowledge of Him (ch. 4:8, 9). The Spirit, in the apostle, is fervent and indignant. He seeks to restore the harmony between God and the soul--the faith that answers grace--the liberty that suits adoption. He will have "Christ" in them, as He was for them, the Spirit of the Son, as He had given them the privileges of sons like Himself. 

Thus is it throughout the volume. I have already considered the Epistle to the Hebrews in this connection--and thus it is, again we may say, all through Scripture. A character of mind is formed in the saint by the Spirit of God answerable to the grace of God. These are divine harmonies. The riches of grace entertained by the faith and confidence of the soul, and that again sealed by the acceptance and delight of the Lord. 

What consolation! How this tells us that we may assure our hearts before Him! How it verifies the word of Manoah's wife to her husband! "If He were pleased to kill us, He would not have accepted a meat-offering and a drink-offering at our hand." The greater includes the less. If He accepted worship, surely He had thoughts of peace. If He inspires and encourages this boldness of faith, and thus lets me know that He delights in it in His saints, surely this tells me of forgiveness of sins--that He who entertains this confident, assured attitude of heart in His presence has provided for the remission of sins, without which none of this could possibly be between Him and us. The building, in its stateliness and strength, assumes a foundation. And accordingly, in such Scriptures as the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, when unfolding the high conditions and character of our calling, the apostle takes up the forgiveness of our sins, somewhat by the way, as a thing implied and involved in what is taught us. 

It is surely the foundation. It is Christ as on the cross that says, "The earth and its inhabitants are dissolved; I bear up the pillars." The cross is the foundation of all blessing. The reconciliation made by the blood of atonement sustains all. That is true indeed, and the age of glory will have to recognize that through its own eternity. But the glory makes that a necessary truth. And the high conditions of our calling, this very boldness of which I am speaking, the mind of confidence and full assurance which the Spirit would form in us, may well leave the forgiveness of our sins, or the acceptance of our persons, as a grace of easy, natural, necessary admission by our souls. 

The father never told the prodigal that he forgave him. To be sure, he did not {tell him}. It is among the exquisite touches of the parable, the absence of such a thing. It would grate upon the ear. Let higher things bespeak forgiveness. They can do it far better than the lips of the father. The fatted calf may tell it--the robe, the ring, and the shoes. The music and the dancing shall proclaim it, as with the voice of a trumpet!