RA Torrey, What the Bible Teaches

I’m qualified to discuss the topic of Faith. 1 Why? Because I’ve received a Divine revelation. (Uh-oh, you’re thinking to yourself!) But I’ll admit I’m not uniquely qualified. The reason? Because every genuine Christian has received this same Divine revelation. The verse in Matthew explains succinctly: “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 16:17 (see Matt. 16:15-17) This is what drives pre-Christians crazy. This is knowledge that is outside their grasp and they don’t like being outsiders so they reason that Christians are just goofy. Until that day that the Lord opens their eyes and they see the truth and their hearts are illuminated and they become Believers. Then they become a pain to other pre-Christians not understanding why non-believers don’t see the truth the way they now see. Funny how this all works. 2

Funny too how, how since Faith is the number one way people get saved – OK, the only way people get saved – that there is only one place in all of Scripture where the word is actually defined. There are plenty of places where faith is used and described in action, especially (and beautifully) in all of Hebrews chapter 11. But if you were asked for a definition you could find it in only one place. Hebrews 11.1. More on that in a moment. But first I have to opine the misuse of the word Faith. Faith is not the same as Religion or organization, in my opinion. There is no Protestant Faith, no Catholic Faith, no Muslim Faith, no Buddhist, Hindu, or Agnostic Faith. There are Religions galore in this world. Man has had no problem making up all kinds of rules and regulations to explain his way to the God he has rejected and has replaced by every other creature and creation. But from the Christian perspective these can not be called Faiths. This is specifically because of the definition found in Hebrews 11:1.

Which reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” At its foundation, Faith is assurance, meaning “certainty.” Faith is knowing. It is not guessing. It is not “I’m pretty sure,” or “I think so,” or “I sure hope so, or probably.” Or the odds tell us.” It is “yes, I know.” And the reason for this certainty is as explained in Matthew 16:17 above, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” You’re living your life, minding your own business and at some point God personally intervenes and your eyes and mind are opened, the eyes of your heart see Him for who He really is and your life is changed forever. Before you knew about God, now you know Him. He shows you the ultimate reality and you are born again. That is the New Testament experience and it hasn’t changed in two thousand years, it keeps happening every day around the world.

In this chapter of What the Bible Teaches Torrey first writes about faith in connection with prayer and with God and with Jesus Christ. And in each connection the link is the knowing, the certainty. Pray knowing God can grant your prayer, know that God is who He says He is, and know that Jesus is the person and power He claims to be. In the gospels people heard Jesus speak and were confident that what He says was the truth and acted on that by asking Him to heal their sons, daughters, servants, or they touched His cloak and were healed. Because they knew He was who He said He was because of His words.

Torrey talks at length about saving faith. That it comes from the heart, not from the intellect. Torry discusses all the normal preaching points of saving faith: seeing one’s own need, repentance from sin, hearing the gospel story, being born again. And that there must be fruit of that faith; what James calls “works” in his letter is probably better termed fruit (James 2:17-26). Torrey also advises that even though difficult time inevitably follow the initial flush of joy in the glory of seeing God face to face as it were, perseverance will have its reward, as Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 Those words from a man who saw plenty of suffering! But his eyes were always on Jesus, never wavering. Because he knew from where faith began and ended.

This is the concept we need to learn and for most of us, in this world full of so many distractions it is a wonder we really ever look at Jesus in our daily lives at all. But we need to remember that to have any success in living a life in the fulness of faith we need to be constant in our keeping our eyes on Jesus. In a literal meaning of the term. Just as is declared in Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And considering the brutality of the Passion that Jesus went through, He knew the outcome was the salvation of so many souls, out of Satan’s death-grip. And that was something He could be joyous about!

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

1 This the 39th chapter of 52 in RA Torrey’s 1898 publication What The Bible Teaches. We are reviewing them hoping you’ll join the conversation. See all of Lex’s posts here. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded here. You are welcome and encouraged to join the discussion in your comments to these posts.

2 There are lots of other verses especially in the gospel of John concerning the Father’s gift of revelation to the believer. And by that I don’t mean special revelation like the false prophets of a Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith, but to be able to understand the Scriptures by the guidance of the holy Spirit. See verses such as these in John John 16:13-15 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

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