Lectures on Faith 7: The Effects of Faith
6 As faith, then, is the principle by which the Heavenly hosts perform their works and by which they enjoy all their felicity, we might expect to find it set forth in a revelation from God as the principle upon which his creatures here below must act in order to obtain the felicities enjoyed by the saints in the Eternal world, and that when God would undertake to raise up men for the enjoyment of Himself, he would teach them the necessity of living by faith and the impossibility there was of their enjoying the blessedness of eternity without it, seeing that all the blessings of eternity are the effects of faith.
7 Therefore, it is said, and appropriately too, that without faith it is impossible to please God. If it should be asked, Why is it impossible to please God without faith?, the answer would be, Because without faith it is impossible for men to be saved. And as God desires the salvation of man, he must of course desire that they should have faith, and he could not be pleased unless they had, or else he could be pleased with their destruction.
8 From this we learn that the many exhortations which have been given by inspired men to those who had received the word of the Lord, to have faith in Him, were not mere commonplace matters, but were for the best of all reasons, and that was because, without it there was no salvation, neither in this world nor in that which is to come. When men begin to live by faith they begin to draw near to God. And when faith is perfected they are like Him, and because he is saved they are saved also, for they will be in the same situation he is in because they have come to Him, and when he appears they shall be like Him for they will see Him as he is.
9 As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation also (We mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual). In order to have this subject clearly set before the mind, let us ask, What situation must a person be in, in order to be saved? Or what is the difference between a saved man and one who is not saved? We answer from what we have before seen of the Heavenly worlds, They must be persons who can work by faith and who are able, by faith, to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation. And they must have faith to enable them to act in the presence of the Lord, otherwise they cannot be saved. And what constitutes the real difference between a saved person and one not saved is the difference in the degree of their faith: one’s faith has become perfect enough to lay hold upon Eternal life and the other’s has not. But to be a little more particular, let us ask, Where shall we find a prototype into whose likeness we may be assimilated, in order that we may be made partakers of life and salvation? Or in other words, where shall we find a saved being? For if we can find a saved being, we may ascertain without much difficulty what all others must be in order to be saved — they must be like that individual or they cannot be saved. We think that it will not be a matter of dispute that two beings who are unlike each other cannot both be saved, for whatever constitutes the salvation of one will constitute the salvation of every creature which will be saved. And if we find one saved being in all existence, we may see what all others must be or else not be saved. We ask, then, Where is the prototype? Or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the bible that it is Christ: all will agree in this, that he is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our interrogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he is a just and holy being. And if he were anything different from what he is he would not be saved, for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else. For if it were possible for Him to change in the least degree, so sure he would fail of salvation and lose all his dominion, power, authority and glory, which constitutes salvation. For salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses, and in nothing else, and no being can possess it but himself or one like him. Thus says John, in his first epistle, 3:2, 3 [1 John 1:13]: Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And any man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as he is pure. Why purify himself as he is pure? Because if they do not, they cannot be like Him.