1857. The Necessity Of Growing Faith

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No. 1857-31:469. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, August 30, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, since it is fitting, because your faith is flourishing, and the love of every one of you all towards each other abounds. {2Th 1:3}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 205, “Lecture for Little Faith, A” 198}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1857, “Necessity of Growing Faith, The” 1858}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3250, “Growth of Faith, The” 3252}
   Exposition on 2Th 1:1-2:4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2991, “What We Have, and Are to Have” 2992 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 2Th 1; 2 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3179, “Comprehensive Benediction, A” 3180 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Last Lord’s day I tried to say cheering and encouraging words to “Little-Faith.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1856, “The History of Little Faith” 1857} I trust that by it the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, strengthened some to whom the Saviour said, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” But none of us would desire to remain among the Little-Faiths; we long to press forward in our march to the better land. If we have just started in the heavenly race, it is good; there are grounds of comfort about the first steps in the right way; but we are not going to stop at the starting-point; our desire is towards the finish line and the crown. My prayer at the beginning of this discourse is, that each of us may rise out of our little faith into the loftier region of assurance, so that those who love us best may be able to say, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, since it is fitting, because your faith is flourishing.”

2. The church of Jesus Christ at Thessalonica did not begin under very propitious circumstances. Remember that often quoted text about the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so.” That record does not relate to the converts in Thessalonica, but to those Jews who heard Paul preach in the synagogue, and refused to test his teaching by a reference to the Old Testament. They were not a noble kind of people, and yet from among them there were taken by almighty grace a certain company who were led to believe in the true Messiah. So they became more noble than even the Bereans; for we do not hear of a church in Berea, neither was an epistle written to the Bereans. Thessalonica received two epistles, bright with hearty commendations. Paul praised the Philippians, but he praised the Thessalonians even more, thanking God at every memory of them, and boasting about them among the churches of God for their patience and faith.

3. I shall ask you, with your Bibles open, to see whether we cannot account in some measure for this remarkable condition of things. The verse before us is full of thanksgiving to God for the growth of the Thessalonians in faith and in love; and to my mind it sounds like an echo of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. The First Epistle is the key and the reason for the Second. Very often a man’s success in this place, or in that, will tally with his own condition of heart in relationship to that place. As we sow we reap. The grace of God enabled Paul to sow toward the Thessalonians with great hopefulness, and trust, and prayerfulness, and subsequently he reaped plentifully.

4. Observe how Paul began by distinctly recognising the existence of faith and love in that Church. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” {1Th 1:2,3} Recognise the root, and then look for the flower. See that faith is in the soul, smile upon it and foster it, and then you may expect that the faith will steadily increase. In our text Paul mentions faith as growing, and love as abounding, while in the next verse he mentions patience, which is the outgrowth of hope — “the patience of hope.” He noticed in the Thessalonians the birth of those three divine sisters — faith, hope, and love. What he recognised with pleasure he later saw flourishing: those who cherish the seed shall rejoice in the plant. Observe in the children under your care the first blossoms of any good thing, and you shall observe its increase. Do not despise the day of small things. When you have learned to recognise faith in its buds, you shall soon see faith in its flowers, and faith in its fruits. Do not overlook feeble grace, or criticize it because it is as yet imperfect; but take note of its beginnings with thankfulness, and you shall see its advance with delight.

5. In addition to recognising the beginnings of faith, Paul laboured hard to promote it. Look in the second chapter, and these verses: — “But we were gentle among you, even as a mother cherishes her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us. … As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his children, so that you would walk worthy of God, who has called you to his kingdom and glory.” {1Th 2:7,8,11,12} He threw his whole strength into the work of building that church up, toiling night and day for it; and subsequently he obtained his desire; for still it is true in the husbandry of God, that those who sow, and steep their seed in the tears of earnestness, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.

6. Paul had accompanied his public labours with his private prayers. See how this verse tallies with our text: — “And may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love for each another, and for all men, even as we do for you.” {1Th 3:12} This was his prayer; and he received exactly what he prayed for. He saw abounding love in each one for each other. The Lord seemed to have noted the wording of Paul’s prayer, and to have answered him according to the letter of his request. If we open our mouth wide, the Lord will fill it. Brethren, what we pleasantly recognise in its gracious beginnings, what we labour to increase and what we earnestly guard with prayer, shall in due time be granted to us!

7. More than this: Paul had gone on to exhort them to abound in love and faith. Look at the next chapter: — “As touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught by God to love each other. And indeed you do it towards all the brethren who are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that you increase more and more.” {1Th 4:9,10} Paul did not only quietly pray for the church, but he added his earnest admonitions. He tells them to increase more and more; and in response they do increase, so that he says, “Your faith is flourishing.” When a man says, “more and more” it is only another way of saying “flourishing”: is it not so? There was a big heart in Paul towards the Thessalonians. He wanted them to grow in faith and love “more,” and then to take another step, and add another “more” to it. The exhortation being given out of a full heart, behold, God has fulfilled it for his servant, and the people have willingly followed up the apostolic precept.

8. But Paul had added faith to his prayers and his exhortations. Look at the next chapter and see if it is not so. “And the very God of peace sanctify you completely; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it.” {1Th 5:23,24} When we are sure that God will do it, it will surely be done. We miss many a blessing because we ask without faith. The apostle believed that he had the petition which he had sought from the Lord; and he received according to his faith. He who can firmly believe shall before long fervently pour out thanksgiving. The church at Thessalonica, the child of Paul’s prayers, the child of his labours, and at last the child of his faith, obtained a remarkable degree of faith, and an exceptional warmth of love. May the Lord give to us who are workers the mind and spirit of Paul, and lead us to follow him in our conduct towards others, and then I do not doubt that our good wishes shall be realised. If we are right ourselves, we shall see prosperity in the churches, or classes, or families whose good we seek; and as we feel bound to pray about them, we shall also feel bound to thank God concerning them.

9. Before I plunge into the sermon, I should like to pause, and ask whether we as Christian men and women are such that Paul could say of us, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, since it is fitting, because your faith is flourishing, and the love of every one of you all towards each other abounds.” What do you think? Could your pastor bless God for you? Could your nearest and dearest Christian friend feel that he was bound to thank God always for you? If not, why not? Oh that we may rise into such a happy state that we shall be the reason for gratitude in others! It ought to be so; we ought to glorify God, causing men to see our good works, and praise our Father in heaven.

10. One more question: “Do you think we are in such a condition that it would be safe for anyone to praise us?” Would it be safe for us to be commended like this, and made subjects of thankfulness? It takes a great deal of grace to be able to bear praise. Censure seldom does us much harm. A man struggles up against slander, and the discouragement which comes from it may not be an unmixed evil; but praise soon suggests pride, and is therefore not an unmixed blessing. “Just as the refining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold, so is a man to his praise.” Would it be safe if Paul were here to say good things about you as he did about the Thessalonians? Did it not prove that the brethren there were sober, well-established believers?

11. Once more, do you ever feel it in your heart to talk like this about your fellow Christians? Paul himself was in a fine condition when he could extol his brethren like this. Few men are ready with hearty commendations for others. We are greedy in receiving praise, and niggardly in dispensing it. We seldom speak too kindly of each other. Now and then you hear a person say, “There is no such thing as love in the church at all.” I know that gentleman very well, and I never saw any excess of love in him. I heard one say, “Brotherly love is all a mockery; there is no reality in Christian love” — and truly he measured his own grain very accurately. Most men would see others better if their own eyes were clearer. When a man honestly feels that his fellow Christians are for the most part much better than himself, and that he would willingly sit at the feet of many of them, then he is himself in a healthy state. I admire the grace of God in many around me. I see their imperfections as though I did not see them. I am not looking for the thorns, but for the roses; and I see so many of them that my heart is glad, and in spirit I bless the name of the Lord.

12. The man who can commend the work of the Lord in others without saying a word about himself, has, by that fact, given himself a good character; his eyes must have been washed in the fountains of love; they must have been cleansed from the dust of pride, envy, and self, or he would not have seen or spoken so. I love the text because it is an example of a man of great grace, of a man under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, who still delighted to speak enthusiastically of a church which certainly was far from perfect. I delight in that eye which can be a little blind to faults while it exercises a clear vision in seeing all that is good and praiseworthy towards God.

13. So, then, we come to our text, and the subject runs like this: for us to grow in faith is a subject for devout thanksgiving; and in the second place, it is an object for diligent endeavour. Thirdly, if we greatly grow in faith it will be the source of other growths: for as faith increases, love, patience, and every other virtue, will flourish.

14. I. For us to grow and increase in faith is A SUBJECT FOR DEVOUT THANKSGIVING.

15. Paul gives a commendation of the Thessalonian church which is extremely warm and hearty. One critic says the words may be regarded as somewhat extravagant, after the mode of the Apostle when he wishes to be emphatic. He writes fervidly: “Your faith is flourishing, and the love of every one of you all towards each other abounds.” It is an intense and unreserved commendation. As I have already said, this church was not absolutely perfect; for, because of the love of every one towards another, and their great kindness towards the poor, certain unworthy people encroached upon their liberality. To use a very rough word, cadgers {a} were multiplied among them, as they always are where generosity abounds. Shame that it should be so. In chapter three we find: — “For we hear that there are some who walk among you disorderly, not working at all, but are busybodies.” {1Th 3:11} There also had been among them here and there a person of loose life and of sharp business dealings, and to such he spoke in the First Epistle; but these flies in the pot of ointment did not destroy its sweetness. They were so few comparatively that Paul speaks of the whole body with approbation. When our faith shall grow and our love abound, it may be proper for a pastor to speak with unrestricted admiration of what the Lord has done.

16. The blessing of increased faith is of unspeakable value, and therefore praise should be largely rendered for it. Little faith will save, but strong faith is what builds up the church, which overcomes the world, which wins sinners, and which glorifies God. Little-Faith is slow and feeble, and to suit his pace the whole flock travels softly. Little-Faith is a wounded soldier, and has to be carried in an ambulance by the armies of the Lord; but the faith which is flourishing, lifts the banner aloft, leads the vanguard, meets hand to hand the foes of our Prince, and puts them to the rout. If we were invoking blessings upon a church we could scarcely ask for a greater blessing than that all the brethren might be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Strong-Faith ventures into large endeavours for Christ, and hence missions are projected: Strong-Faith carries out the projects of holy zeal, and hence daring ideals are turned into facts: Strong-Faith is a shield against the arrows of error, and hence she is the object of the contempt and hatred of heresy. Strong-Faith builds the walls of Zion, and throws down the walls of Jericho. Strong-Faith strikes the Philistines hip and thigh, and makes Israel to dwell in peace. Oh that the night of Little-Faith were over, and that the day of glorious faith would come! Our young men would soon see visions, and our old men dream dreams, if faith were more among us. When the Son of man comes shall he find faith in the earth? At the revival of faith we shall see another Pentecost, with its rushing mighty wind, and its tongues of flame; but during our lack of faith we still remain in weakness, and the enemy will prevail. Oh God, we beseech you, make your face to shine upon us, cause our faith to flourish, and our love to abound even more and more; then there shall be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

17. So Paul fervently gave thanks to God because the blessing came to the church at a remarkably seasonable time. The people of Thessalonica had risen against the church and persecuted it; so, outside were fightings, but inside there were no fears; for the brethren were firm in faith and fervent in love. The church was subject to constant tribulation; but its faith flourished. Has it not often been so with the Lord’s people? Times of cloud and rain have been growing times. Pharaoh dealt harshly with Israel; but the more he oppressed them, the more they multiplied. The more the church of God is downtrodden, the more it rises into power and influence. The bush burns and is not consumed; indeed, rather, it flourishes in the flame. I do not say that this increase of faith is the immediate result of persecution, but it usually accompanies it. God knew that when his poor servants were haled to prison, when they were brought before rulers and kings for his name’s sake, when their goods were plundered, they needed increased strength, and therefore he gave it to them by growth in faith. As the persecution rose upon them like the deluge, their confidence in God rose above it, like Noah’s ark, which rose all the higher the deeper the waters became. They stood firm in the day of trial, and became an example to all other churches, whether persecuted or not; and this because their faith flourished. Beloved, I pray for each member of this church that your confidence in God may rise from ebb to flood. We need it much just now. This is a time of economic depression, when many are suffering lack, and almost everyone finds their means decreased. We need to be rich in faith, for we are growing poor in pocket. Many children of God cannot find employment with which to earn their bread. This is, moreover, a time of abounding vice. Perhaps never in our memories were any of us so shocked as we have been recently by the discoveries of unspeakable abominations. We need that our faith should flourish, for sin runs down our streets in torrents. It is also a period of grievous departure from the faith once delivered to the saints. Looking back to our younger days, we are amazed at the progress of error. We mourned in those days that men trifled with the doctrines of the gospel; but what shall we now say, when men deride those doctrines, and mock at them as antiquated fables? The foundations of the earth are removed, and only here and there will you find a man who bears its pillars up; therefore we need that our faith should be very steadfast. I charge you, brethren, to be rooted and grounded in faith, since the times are evil! I cannot speak emphatically enough about the abounding dangers of the times: they demand of us that we not be of doubtful mind, but that we take firm hold of infallible truth, and endure as seeing him who is invisible. He who cannot say, “I believe, and am sure,” is one born out of due time.

18. The apostle’s commendation was fitting, since, if there is any growth in faith, it is the work of God’s Spirit. Faith is the gift of God in its beginnings, and it is equally the gift of God in its increase. If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, God gave it to you; and if you have faith as a spreading tree, God has given the increase. The infancy of faith is from God, and so is its perfect manhood. In the natural world we ought as much to admire God’s hand in growth as in creation; for, indeed, the outbursting of spring, the advance of summer, and the maturity of autumn, are all a kind of creation, seen in detail. Even so the progress of faith reveals the same power as the beginning of faith. If you do not look to God for more faith, you will never have more faith: great faith in its strong broad current flows as much from the fountain-head of grace as in its first trickling streamlet of hope in Christ. Let God have all the glory of faith from its Alpha to its Omega. If you are a strong man in Christ Jesus take heed that you do not sacrifice to your own net, nor burn incense to your own drag, and boast in your own experience as if you made yourself strong and rich in the things of God. We are bound to render all the thanksgiving to God; it is fitting that it should be so. Look how the apostle puts it: “We are bound to thank God always for you.” I like the modesty of that. He does not so much say that he did thank God, though he did do so; but in deep humility he admits the debt which he could not fully pay. He did not judge his thanksgivings to be sufficient, but admitted that he was still under bonds to render more praise. I rejoice to be bound with these bonds, to be bound to thank God every day, and all the day. I wear these golden fetters and consider them my best ornaments. “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even with cords to the horns of the altar.” I would be bound over, not to keep the peace, but to keep praise for ever. Let the altar of incense be always burning, yes, flaming higher and higher with the sweet spices of love and gratitude. Blessed be God for what he is doing for his people, when he causes their faith to grow; for it is a blessing so immense, so incalculable, that our praises ought to rise to the height and glory of loud-sounding hallelujahs. Brethren, let us bless God for every good man we know whose faith has grown, for every holy woman whose love in the church is obvious to all; and when we have done so, let us turn our eye to God, and say, “Lord, make me such a one so that others may glorify God in me also, I am as yet sadly weak and undeveloped; make me to grow until all your image shall be seen in me, and my fellow Christians shall bless God concerning me.” So I have set growth in faith before you as a subject for thanksgiving. It is indeed a jewel worth more than both the Indies.

19. II. In the second place, it is worthy to be AN OBJECT FOR DILIGENT ENDEAVOUR. If you do not have it, labour speedily to attain it. Just as the merchantman seeks goodly pearls, so seek a growing faith. Covet earnestly the best gifts and the noblest graces. Never be self-satisfied, but cry with Jabez, “Oh that the Lord would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border.”

20. Why? Because the proof of faith lies in the growth of faith. If you have a dead faith, it will always be the same; but if you have the faith of God’s elect, it must grow. If I heard of a child who was born some years ago, and had never grown, I should begin to guess that my friend was tricking me, and that the child was dead from the birth. Life in its earliest stages is always attended with growth. Brother, you must have more faith, or we shall fear that you have no faith; you must have more love, or else for sure you have no love at all. What does not grow towards God does not live for God.

21. We ought to have more faith because God’s truth deserves it. It ought to be the easiest thing in the world for us to trust God; to believe every word of the Lord should be an act to which we need not to be exhorted; it should be as natural as for the lungs to breathe, or the heart to beat. We ought, as children of God, to believe our Father by instinct, even as young eaglets hide under the mother’s wing. We ought to exercise faith even as the eye sees, and the ear hears, because we were created for this by the Holy Spirit. It should be a necessity of our spiritual existence, that we must and will trust the Lord Jesus Christ even more and more. I pray that it may be so; for unbelief is a horrible crime. Have you doubted God? Have you in any sense doubted him? Have you limited the Holy One of Israel? Then do not continue as the slave of such a sin, but give to God your heart’s confidence from this time on, and for ever.

22. Moreover, we ought to grow in faith, because it will be so much better for our own spiritual health, and strength, and joy. Does Little-Faith know what it might be, and do, and enjoy if it could only leave its littleness? There are many ways of being a Christian, as there are many ways of being an Englishman; but all are not equally desirable. I may be an Englishman in banishment, or in the workhouse, or in prison; but I prefer to be an Englishman at home, in health, and at liberty. So you may be a Christian, and be weak, timorous, and sad; but this is not desirable; it is better to be a happy, holy, vigorous, useful Christian. Just as your being an Englishman does not depend on your health or wealth, so neither does your salvation depend on the strength or joy of your faith; yet much does depend on it. Why not glorify God on the road to heaven? Why not have foretastes of it now? It is not my desire to go through the world in miserable style, singing always — 

   Do I love the Lord or no?
   Am I his, or am I not?

I infinitely prefer so to trust God that my peace may be like a river and my righteousness like the waves of the sea. Look at the difference between Abraham, the father of the faithful, and his nephew Lot. Lot was righteous, but he was by no means as strong in faith as Abraham, neither was he so great or so happy. Abraham is calm, bold, royal; Lot is greedy, timid, trembling. Lot, in Sodom, is with difficulty made to run for his life, while Abraham alone with God is interceding for others. Lot escapes from a burning city with the loss of all things, while Abraham dwells peacefully with the Lord who is the possessor of heaven and earth. Abraham’s faith makes him rise like some lone Alp until he touches the very heaven of God. It is good to be Lot, but it is infinitely better to be Abraham. Seek the utmost degree of faith; for if this is in you and abounds, you shall not be barren or unfruitful. Heaven lies that way. More faith, more rest of heart. To grow heavenly we must grow more believing.

23. The question is, How is this to be done? How is my faith to be made to flourish? I have already told you that it is the work of the Holy Spirit: but still he uses us for the increase of our own faith. If we are to grow in faith, certain evils are to be avoided with scrupulous care. Avoid continual change of doctrine. If you have a tree in your garden and you transplant it often, it will yield you scanty fruit. Those who are everything by turns, and nothing for long, are “always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Unstable as water, they shall not excel. Those brethren who believe this today, and that tomorrow, and the other thing the next day, do not believe anything in downright earnest. They cannot grow; they are not rooted and grounded. Like the moon, they are always changing, and what light they have is cold and sickly. He who can change his religion has nothing to change. Those who prefer philosophy to Christ never knew him.

24. Then, again, if you had a tree, and did not transplant it, but began to dig away the earth from it, removing the ground in which it stood, you would impoverish it, and prevent its fruitfulness. I know certain professors who are giving up the ground which their souls should grow in. One doctrine after another is forsaken, until nothing is held to be important. They do not believe much now, and they are on the verge of believing nothing at all. The experiment of the Frenchman who had just brought his horse to live on a straw a day when it died, is being repeated among us, faith being literally starved to death. What low diet do some men prescribe for their souls! They do not even get a smell of marrow and fatness! How can your faith flourish when vital truths are abandoned, or held with a feeble grasp? Oh for a band of Puritan believers! Oh for a troop of spiritual Ironsides!

25. Next, a tree cannot grow if it is shut out from sun, and rain, and dew. Without heavenly influences we must be barren. Plant a little tree right under a great oak so that it is always in the shade, and it cannot grow; clear the big tree away, or the sapling will dwindle to death. Some men’s faith cannot grow because it is overshadowed by worldliness, by tolerated sin, by love of riches, by the pride of life, by cares of lower things. The pursuit of Christ crucified must be all-absorbing, or it will be ineffective. To know what you believe, and to remain steadfast in it, is the way to be robust in faith. Men whose hearts are not in their business, men who chop and change — these are the men whose names appear in the Gazette as bankrupts; are not many spiritual bankruptcies due to the same cause?

26. There are methods which the spiritual gardener uses to cause faith to grow. First, faith grows by an increase of knowledge. Many people doubt because they are not instructed. Some doubt whether they shall hold on to the end; they are ignorant of the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints. Some are in despair because they find evil desires arising in their hearts; they do not know the teaching of Scripture concerning the two natures and the warfare between flesh and spirit. Many think themselves condemned because they cannot wholly keep the law; they forget that they are justified by faith. A great deal of unbelief vanishes when knowledge, like the morning sun, drives away the mists. Unbelief is an owl of the night, and when the sun arises, it hides away in a dark corner. Study the Word of God: give your heart to searching it; seek to get at the inner teaching, and learn the analogy of faith; practise deep-sea fishery, and you will reach those mysterious truths which are the secret riches of the soul. These truths are much despised now; but those who rejoice in them will find their faith flourishing.

27. Even better than mere knowledge, which would only puff you up, faith grows by experience. When a man has tried and proved a thing, then his confidence in it is greatly increased. Take a promise and test it, and then you will say, “I know that is so.” When you have tested it again, and again, and again, no one will be able to shake you, for you will say, “I have tasted and handled this good word; I have made it my own, and I am not to be driven from it.” The experienced Christian is the established Christian. The man who has proved all things is the man who holds firmly to what is good. May God give us grace to increase our faith by knowledge and by experience!

28. Faith also grows by much meditation and walking with God. If you want to believe in a man, you must know him. Half the disputes between Christian people arise from their not knowing each other. There is a hymn of Mr. Sankey’s which I venture to alter like this:

   When we know each other better
   The mists will roll away.

When we know each other, our suspicions, prejudices, and dislikes will speedily disappear. I am sure it is so with our God. When you walk with him, when your communion with him is close and constant, your faith in him will flourish. Some of you, I am afraid, do not give five minutes in the day to meditation. You are in too great a hurry for that. In London life, men get up in a hurry even as they went to bed in a hurry and slept in a hurry. They swallow their breakfast in a hurry; they have no time to digest it; the bell is ringing at the station, and they must hurry to catch the train; they reach business in a hurry; they hurry through it, and they hurry to get back from it. Men cannot think, for they have barely time to blink their eyes. As for an hour’s meditation and reading the Scriptures, and communing with God, many professors nowadays would think they committed robbery against the god of this world if they took half-an-hour out of his service to give it to fellowship with the world to come. If our faith is to flourish, we must maintain constant communion with God.

29. Another way of increasing faith is by much prayer. Pray for faith and pray with faith; so your soul shall become firm in its reliance on the promises. It is while we wrestle with the angel that we find out our weakness, as the sinew of our thigh shrinks; but at the same time we prove our God-given strength, since as princes we wrestle with God and prevail. Power from prayer as well as power in prayer is what we need. On our knees we gather strength, until doubting and fearing disappear.

30. We must be careful to render obedience to God. A man cannot trust God while he lives in sin: every act of disobedience weakens confidence in God. Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He who obeys God, trusts God; and he who trusts God, obeys God. He who is without faith is without works; and he who is without works is without faith. Do not oppose faith and good works to each other, for there is a blessed relationship between them; and if you abound in obedience your faith shall flourish.

31. Again, faith grows by exercise. The man who uses the little faith he has will get more faith; but he who says, “I do not have enough faith for such and such work,” and therefore shrinks back, shall become more and more timid, until at last, like a coward, he runs away. Go forward with your little faith, and to your surprise it shall have grown as you have advanced. Accomplish much, and then endeavour something more, and something more. I have often used an illustration taken from a person who teaches the art of growing taller. I do not believe in that art: we shall not add a cubit to our stature just yet. But part of this professor’s exercise is, that in the morning, when you get up, you are to reach as high as you ever can, and aim a little higher every morning, though it is only the hundredth part of an inch. By that means you are to grow. This is so with faith. Do all you can, and then do a little more; and when you can do that, then do a little more than you can. Always have something in hand that is greater then your present capacity. Grow up to it, and when you have grown up to it, grow more. By many little additions a large house is built. Brick by brick up rose the pyramid. Believe and still believe. Trust and have further trust. Hope shall become faith and faith shall mature into full assurance and perfect confidence in God Most High.

32. This then, brethren, is what I commend to you. May God the Holy Spirit help you all to go from faith to faith.

33. III. Finally, this growing faith becomes THE CENTRE OF OTHER CHRISTIAN GRACES. “Your faith is flourishing, and the love of every one of you all towards each other abounds.”

34. A firm faith in gospel verities will make us love each other for each doctrine of truth is an argument for love. If you believe in God as having chosen his people, you will love his elect; if you believe in Christ as having made atonement for his people, you will love his redeemed, and seek their peace. If you believe in the doctrine of regeneration, and know that we must be born again, you will love the regenerate. Whatever doctrine it is that is true, it ministers towards the love of the heart. I am sure you will find a deep, firm, fervent unity with each other in those who hold the truth in love. If you are not filled with brotherly love, it must be because you are not firmly believing that truth which works towards love.

35. Firmness in the faith ministers towards the unity of the church. The church at Thessalonica did not have a secession, or a split, as some call it: the church at Thessalonica did not split under the pressure of persecution: they adhered closely to each other, all the more they were hammered, the more they were consolidated. They were welded into one solid mass by the hammer of persecution and the fire of love, and the reason was because each one of them held the truth with all firmness. I am always afraid of a church that is made up of mixed elements, when some are Calvinistic, some Arminian, some Baptist and some Paedobaptist. When the minister who holds them together dies, they will disintegrate. When certain reasons that now make them cohere cease to exist, the church will split like quicksilver, each little bit breaking into smaller bits, and so they will go rolling about in innumerable factions. But given a church that holds the truth firmly, with deep and strong faith, then if the pastor dies, or twenty pastors die, they believe in a Pastor who lives for ever, and whoever comes or does not come, the truth they hold, holds them in living unity. I cannot imagine a greater blessing for you as a church in years to come than for each man and woman to be intelligently established in the truth you have received. Who shall separate the men who are one in Christ by the grip of mighty faith? I commend firm faith to you with all my heart, as the source of love and the means of unity in years to come.

36. This faith fosters patience in men, and patience assists love. To tell the truth, some of God’s people are an exceptional tribe. A countryman was accustomed to say that if God had not chosen his people before they were born, he would never have done so afterwards. There is truth in that saying. Therefore if a man loves his fellow Christians as an act of mere nature, he will often feel himself baffled; he will say, “They acted very unkindly towards me. Who can love people who are so ill-mannered, so ungrateful?” But when faith is strong, you will say, “What is that to me? I love them for Christ’s sake. If I am to have a reward, it shall come from my Lord Christ. As for God’s people, I love them despite their faults; in spite of the mistaken judgments they form of me, I love all my brethren.” The way to make men better is not to be always censuring them, but to love them better. The quickest way to win a sinner, is to love him to Christ; the quickest way to sanctify a believer is to love him into purity and holiness. Only faith can do this. May faith, therefore, flourish; for faith by working patience helps us to bear with others. If there is anything grand, and good, and desirable, anything Christ-like, anything Godlike, the way to it is to let your faith flourish. If this church is to become a missionary church more and more, as I pray God it may, your faith must flourish. If you are to stand firm as a breakwater in these times of departure from the faith once delivered to the saints, your faith must flourish. If you are to be made a blessing to this wicked city, and shine like a lighthouse over this sea of London, your faith must flourish. If God has brought you as a church, together with other churches, to the kingdom for such a time as this; if you are to achieve your destiny, and work for God and glorify his name, your faith must flourish. The man who is timorous and faint-hearted, let him go home; he is not fit for the day of battle. The age requires heroes. The chicken-hearted are out of their place in this perilous century. You who know what you know, and believe what you believe, whose marching is that of fearless warriors, you have a high calling; fulfil it. You shall see what God will do for you and with you; and it shall be written in the pages of eternity that at such a time the church grew in its faith, and therefore God used it for his glory. May it be so. May those among us who have no faith be led to Jesus. Oh believers, test your own faith by speaking to unbelievers as they go away this morning: this afternoon in the Sunday School, prove your faith by winning your dear children for Christ: test your faith every day in the week by giving sinners no rest until they come to Christ. May God bless each one of you for his name’s sake. Amen.


{a} Cadger: One who goes about begging or getting his living by questionable means. OED.

Spurgeon’s Shilling Series. Bound in Cloth, 1s. 2d. post-free.

Christ’s Glorious Achievements.
Seven Wonders of Grace.
The Spare Half-Hour.
The Mourner’s Comforter.
The Bible and the Newspaper.
Eccentric Preachers.
Good Cheer.
Gleanings among the Sheaves.

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These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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