"For the message of the cross . . . is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH
by Given O. Blakely
"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we
also believe, and therefore speak." - 2 Corinthians 4:13
The Spirit has been declaring the virtues and superiority of the Gospel, particularly in comparison to the
Law. The Gospel exceeds the Law in glory; i.e., it reveals and produces more. More of God is seen in the
Gospel; more of His heart, and more of His purpose. But that is not all. The Gospel produces effects that
intensify and grow, compared to the Law, which left effects that diminished. The people who heard the Law
soon forgot it, returning to their lustful ways. The face of Moses upon the holy mount epitomized the nature
of Law. At first it glowed with such intensity Moses had to cover his face with a veil, else it blind the people.
Thus is it written, "And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not
steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished" (2 Cor. 3:13).
The Gospel is more in keeping with the nature of God. It strikes more to the heart of His purpose, and
produces effects in harmony with His nature. It is the "ministration of righteousness" (2 Cor. 4:9): the
appointed means of men gaining Divine approval. That is why it is "exceeds in glory," and possesses "glory
that excelleth" (v. 9-10). The marvels of the Gospel are not commonly perceived in our time. Too many are
intrigued by the supposed methods and techniques of sociological and academic experts. Programs are
instituted that simulate life, giving the impression of spiritual progress, when there has actually been none.
Paul knew the inestimable power of the Gospel. Therefore, he spoke without shame or guile. In his own
words, "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which
put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is
abolished" (2 Cor. 3:12-13). The thrust of Paul's efforts was to forthrightly declare the Gospel, and to do so
with boldness (translated "plainness of speech" in the KJV).
THE SURROUNDINGS OF UNBELIEF
While the Gospel is "glorious," it is proclaimed in a defiled and degenerating environment. The world,
from one perspective is under the dominion of the wicked one. He is its "prince" and "god," dominating
ruthlessly wherever men are powerless against him (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4). The devil's
primary objective is not to make men immoral, although he surely promotes such declines with diabolical
fervor. His aim is not merely to produce political confusion or domestic unrest, although he maintains
constant influence in those areas. His predominant efforts, however, have to do with blinding the minds of
men to the nature and power of the Gospel. As it is written, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded
the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of
God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:4).
Wherever men are not motivated by faith, these conditions bring debilitating discouragement. Legion
is the name of ministers and teachers that have ceased to proclaim the Word of God because of the
overwhelming rejection, and often aggressive opposition, they received. But such things ought not to be!
PAUL RESPONDS TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES
He did not faint, or succumb to the pressures of unbelief and rejection. "Therefore seeing we have this
ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not" (2 Cor 4:1).
He renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, refusing to mitigate the message. "But have renounced
the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully;
but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of
God" (2 Cor 4:2).
He did not preach himself, drawing attention to a private agenda, and engaging in fleshly competition
with false teachers. "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your
servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor 4:5).
He knew what he had, not being intimidated by his surroundings. "But we have this treasure in earthen
vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor 4:7).
He weathered the storm, refusing to be subdued! "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we
are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor.
4:8-9). Faith had produced a dichotomy of experience!
He continued to die to this world and self, rejecting the temptation to conform to religious corruption.
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be
made manifest in our body" (2 Cor 4:10).
He saw the reasons that produced the often frustrating experiences endured. "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. So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (2 Cor. 4:11-12).
Faith will enable you to respond to your environment in a manner that will glorify God, profit your
listeners, and bring personal satisfaction and joy. Above all else, BELIEVE GOD!
What constrained the Apostle to speak under these conditions? They certainly were not "favorable" or
"pleasant," as men reckon things. His testimony, in this regards, would not attract ordinary men into the
labors of the Gospel. Dying to self is not attractive to the flesh. What about being "troubled on every side"?
or being "perplexed," "persecuted," or "cast down"? How does a person become superior to such
Our country, and perhaps the world, is filled with ministers and teachers that have toned their message
down because they know it will incur opposition. Too often I have heard men admit that they know what the
people need, but withhold it in preference of a salary, financial stability, or provisions for their family. Such
men should leave the ministry, for they are defiling it, handicapping people, and giving the advantage to the
devil. Absolutely no tolerance is to be given to such individuals. They deserve no sympathy or
understanding, and should receive none. The reason for this is obvious; they are not motivated by faith, and
"without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6).
Men of God are motivated by faith. As it is written, "We having the same spirit of faith . . . also
believe, and therefore speak." What is "the spirit of faith"? Here, Paul alludes to the 116th Psalm. The
Psalmist cries out to God out of great duress. He is compassed about with "the sorrows of death" (v. 3), and
has been "brought low" (v. 6). His soul had been jeopardized by "death." His eyes have been filled with
"tears." His feet were nigh unto "falling"(v. 8). Yet, as difficult as those circumstances were, the Psalmist
did not despair. His faith was greater than his surroundings. The divine resources were larger than his
handicaps. The future was bright with promise, even though the present was grievous.
Because the Psalmist believed, his tongue was loosened. His faith motivated him to cry out in distress,
even though it looked hopeless. "I will walk in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken
. . . " It is true that he was "greatly afflicted." His circumstance was so grievous that he said in his haste,
"All men are liars" (v. 11). No one could be trusted. No one came to his aid, or offered comfort to his weary
soul. Yet, in the midst of all of this, the man of God did not think of temporary well being. His faith pushed
his eyes upward to loftier considerations and more noble aspirations. "What shall I render unto the LORD
for all his benefits toward me?" (Psa. 116:12).
His faith draws the right answer from his soul. "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name
of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people" (Psa. 116:13-14).
His difficulty became an occasion for taking the "cup of salvation." He saw that God wanted to deliver, and
here was an occasion that qualified him for the blessing. He spoke in this transcendent manner
because he "believed."
Paul declares he also had the "spirit of faith;" i.e., he also spoke because he believed. His spiritual
insight prompted his expressions. He declared what he had seen. He too was required to speak while in great
difficulty. He too was in jeopardy of death. There is nothing pleasant about being "hard pressed,"
"perplexed," "abandoned," and "thrown down" (NIV). Such experiences have driven many a weak man
from the ministry of the Word. It is often fashionable for such individuals to point the finger of blame to
weak churches and carnal elders. But that is not where the finger of blame must be pointed. It must rather
be pointed at the unbelief of the quitter. Do not think this is a heartless saying. If the person serving the Lord
does not confront and overcome his unbelief, it will not go well with him. And, if his circumstances have
caused unbelief and the spirit of fear to surface, it must be struck down by taking the cup of salvation and
calling upon the name of the Lord!
Candidly, I am concerned about what motivates preachers. Too often, it is not "the spirit of faith."
Everything from the "love of money," to the desire to be approved of men are found among those professing
to be preachers. Such men do not relate preaching to the Gospel. They do not see themselves as "stewards
of mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1), or "stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10). Yet, that is
precisely what they are, and they will give an account of their stewardship.
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH
Faith is the breath of the soul. It is what validates our actions, and particularly our speech. Speaking
that is not motivated by faith--a real conviction of unseen realities--obtains no kingdom benefit. Academic
brilliance, historical knowledge, and etymological expertise do not qualify an individual to speak for God.
None of these things are evil of themselves; but neither are they good of themselves. Like every other human
endeavor, they are sanctified by faith, not effort or study disciplines.
"The spirit of faith" is another way of saying spiritual insight. The individual possessing it has been
joyfully persuaded of the truth of God. Beyond that, his persuasion has been developed in the crucible of
conflict. His confidence in God provokes insightful expressions when circumstance seems to forbid it.
This is the result of the opening of the eyes of the understanding (Eph. 1:18ff). For those possessing it,
the "spirit of faith" causes heaven to eclipse the earth. It makes the promises of God loom larger than the
rejection of men.
The compelling nature of faith seen in Jeremiah
The experience of Jeremiah was similar to that of Paul. While living in a time of less spiritual advantage,
his faith constrained him to speak the words of God, knowing it would incur the indignation of his peers.
"Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine
heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jer.
Admittedly, Jeremiah was not as advanced in his spiritual experience or expression as Paul. This was
not, however, owing to personal deficiency. He was not made perfect "without us" (Heb. 11:40). An inferior
covenant handicapped Jeremiah; yet his faith propelled him beyond the confines of a law that was "weak
through the flesh" (Rom. 8:30. HIS FAITH WOULD NOT LET HIM BE QUIET! Keeping silence wore
him out, and finally he could keep silence no longer.
The expression of Elihu
Although the youngest of those who visited Job, Elihu appeared to be the wisest. His expression,
whatever the motivation, places into words the effects of the "spirit of faith." "And Elihu the son of
Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst
not show you mine opinion . . . For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me . . . Behold,
my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles . . . I will speak, that I may be
refreshed: I will open my lips and answer" (Job 32:6,18,20). He was constrained from within, and that
during a time when Scripture was not yet given!
The "spirit of faith" makes you "full of matter," constraining you to speak when it may not be
fashionable to speak--when it is "out of season." The "spirit of faith" must vent through the mouth! There
is no other way to be refreshed! Even when the word is not received, the speaker finds refreshment in
declaring it. This condition exists because he is declaring what he sees and loves. He wants the people to
receive it, but if they do not, he finds great delight in it himself.
An unspiritual society--particularly a degenerate one--will provoke the speaker to major on the negatives,
or threats, of God's Word. To be sure, these expressions must not be neglected. The warnings and the curses
have been spoken by God, and therefore cannot be ignored. They must be declared! But they are not the
heart of His message. God sent Jesus to "bless," not to curse (Acts 3:26). Jesus did "not come to destroy
men's lives, but to save them" (Lk. 9:56). He did not come to "condemn the world, but that the world
through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). That is the heart of God, and it is the heart of the Gospel.
The "spirit of faith" has more to do with the Gospel than with condemnation for rejecting the Gospel.
Like Paul, we are to "warn every man" (Col. 1:28), never backing away from rebuking or correction where
it is required. The fundamental message we proclaim, however, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The "spirit of
faith" constrains us to cry out "BE YE RECONCILED TO GOD" (2 Cor 5:20). We will "warn them that
are unruly" (1 Thess 5:14). We will "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim
4:2). But when men are brought again within the circumference of hearing, the "spirit of faith" will sound
our the Gospel of Christ. It will affirm the "exceeding great and precious promises of God." That is the
appointed means of participating in the Divine nature
"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore
have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak" (2 Cor 4:13).
Our next meeting will be held on Monday, November 24th, 1996. The theme will be "BUILDING ON THE
FOUNDATION." With great solemnity, we are told of the importance of building on the foundation
provided for our faith. Preaching plays a key, if not the preeminent, role in building upon that foundation.
Prepare a message from one of the following texts.
Remember the suggestions that have discussed thus far, and integrate them into your preparations
according to your perception of them.
God has said much about preaching. Recall and believe what He has declared.
Focus your preaching--set your mind and purpose to unveil something particular. Avoid speaking in
broad generalities. Do not allow your introductions of conclusions to hide your point.
Declare what you have seen. Do not attempt to preach what you do not understand.
Consider your audience, and do it from God's perspective. Consider their edification and preparation
for eternity. That is something you have in common with them.
Make you preaching relevant by joining with the Lord in His revealed objectives. Remember, any
preaching that does not assist in bringing men into harmony with the Lord is really not relevant, even
though it may deal with, what men conceive to be, contemporary issues.
Avoid the judgment of God in your preaching. Declare His mind and purpose, and zealously avoid
saying things that either contradict or obscure what He has revealed.
Let your preaching be satisfying to God--a sweet smelling fragrance to Him. If He is well pleased with
what you say, He will undergird and support it with His Divine power.
Speak from your own perception. Take jewels old and new from your own treasury--what you have seen
and heard. In your studies, target developing a divers and large treasury of understanding, from which
you may freely speak.
Experience personal refreshment in your preaching. Preach what is burning in your soul--what you have
perceived by faith. As what is in your heart is energized by the Spirit, and spoken from your mouth, you
yourself will be refreshed, encouraged, and made stronger.