Faith and Love.

Faith and love are as the very life-breath of the saint. We find that they are communicated, as a new moral being, at the outset, as taking the place of the old life of sin, in the antagonism to both God and man of that life. Saul of Tarsus was, as he tells us, "a blasphemer and persecutor and an insolent overbearing man" (1 Tim. 1:13). Towards both God and man he displayed the whole force of the nature he possessed; blaspheming upwards, persecuting outwards, "in ignorance and in unbelief." Then, in the fulness of his energies "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9), the blessed, blessed Lord intervened: "The grace of our Lord surpassingly overabounded with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:14). Faith and love are communicated, "faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." They spring thence, are one there (the verb is in the singular): "faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Further, they are never separated from their source, we possess them in Him. The whole man, thus, in his moral being, in the in-breathings of his soul, and the outgoings of the same, and in his whole actions, is now characterised by what he has thus derived from Christ in the overabounding grace of the Lord and possesses in Him. Well does he add, "Faithful is the word and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first." It was a plant which would grow indeed, as he himself traced its development in his epistles to the saints; but it was now planted livingly. This, then, stands at the outset of the christian career, that which he has received in the overabounding grace of the Lord, and it traces its way through that career until the end when faith will be changed to sight and God known as love.

In the development of faith and love this is seen in its brightness and freshness with the Thessalonians, in their "work of faith, and labour of love, and enduring constancy of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father" (1 Thess. 1:3). Paul saw in them thus that which assured him of their election: "Knowing," says he "brethren, beloved by God, your election" (verse 4). And if, in his second epistle it is manifest that their "hope" was in somewise wanting, he can yet speak of their faith and love: "Your faith increases exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all towards one another abounds" (2 Thess. 1:3); so that he boasted in them (verse 4). But further in 1 Thess. 5:8, he would have these very two things put on as armour: "But we," says he, "being of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as helmet the hope of salvation." They are as a robust nature in exercise (for we must remember that while the breastplate is "put on" it is faith and love which are so) to resist attacks upon it, just as a healthy body does the germs which would invade it. What could Satan do in assaulting them as to the tribulations they were witnessing in the apostle and enduring with him if each was characterised by faith, hope and love? But without attempting to trace fully these two precious things, it may be indicated that they stand at the gateway of three great spheres of development of the mature christian. I refer to
(1) the glory of Christ,
(2) the counsels of God in Christ, and
(3) the family of God.
Let us look at them briefly.

First then, if we take the Colossian epistle; and if I speak of the mature christian here, it will be realised that the term is used; bearing also in mind that there was a certain immaturity in evidence in that Assembly, and which the apostle sets himself to correct. But there is a maturity here also which justifies the term. What, then, is the ground of the apostle's thanksgiving when praying for them? It is their "faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which ye have towards all the saints" (Col. 1:4). He gives thanks, as basing his prayers upon that, "for the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens; of which ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Glad Tidings, etc." So again, faith, hope and love are found also together and the Gospel. Let us hold fast to that. Faith and love then stand at the outset for the development, in doctrine, of the supreme glory of THE SON. It is not to go into this development here, but to note the fact.

Then in the Ephesian epistle, to which indeed we might attach the term of maturity as to the christian state, it is the same thing: these two things — faith and love — are the very basis of his prayer for them in the first chapter. "Wherefore I, also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is in you, and the love which ye have to all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you at my prayers, etc." (Eph. 1:15, et seq.). Hope, one might say incidentally is not brought in here, because the form of the mystery in this epistle is not as in the Colossian "Christ in you the hope of glory," but in the present communion of the saints in the power of the Spirit.

Finally, in respect of the family of God in John's first epistle, we have, when the christian state is brought to completion so far by the words "He that keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in Him," we have "And this is His commandment, that we believe on the name of His Son, … and that we love one another even as He has given us commandment" (1 John 3:23). Then immediately, after a parenthesis as to proving the spirits, in 1 John 4, we get, "Beloved, let us love one another; because love is of God, and every one that loves has been begotten of God and knows God." And then follows the, manifestation of that love in God, in the Son; its perfecting in the saints; and its perfecting as to us as giving "boldness in the day of judgment" because "even as He is, we also are in this world" (1 John 4:17); the whole wealth of love for the family of God.

The Lord give us by His present grace to be maintained in faith and love, so that we may breathe and move in our own proper sphere, and enjoy HIM who has communicated the nature that we might so know Him. C. N. Snow.