“He wavered not through unbelief; but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God. Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.” Rom. 4: 20, 22.
The question is frequently asked by those who have not yet come to faith, and who on this account do not yet fully understand it, What, pray, may be the reason why faith is so highly esteemed by the Lord and is capable of such great things? The answer is simple: It gives glory to God. It humbles the sinner in the dust as one who deserves nothing and is capable of nothing, and must on this account present himself to God as dependent on the promises of a free compassion. It glorifies God in the acknowledgment of His power and love which will bestow redemption; of His word and faithfulness also, since these are held to be so strong and glorious that the sinner, although he has nothing else, can commit himself to them. Faith sets God and man in the right relation to one another — God on the throne of His sovereign grace, from whom all must and shall come; man in his misery and nothingness, as one who has nothing in himself but guilt and its curse.
In the other virtues of the Christian life, such as humility and love, there is always something that is wrought in man, that he can feel, and of which he might be able to boast. True faith on the other hand is the confession of utter poverty and helplessness. It says: “I have nothing left, I can also do nothing. I must now simply remain silent to hear what God speaks, to see what He will do, to receive what He will give.” It is truly the attitude of a beggar, by which man is laid in the dust. And yet no angel in heaven can give God so much honor as faith, when out of the surrounding darkness and sin and poverty it still relies on God and expects from Him the certain fulfilment of that which He has promised.
Alas how great is the foolishness of the heart of man. How many are there still, who really imagine that they give glory to God by their unbelief. They fancy that, when they mourn heavily over themselves and their misery, telling how unworthy they are to appropriate such grace because they have so deep a sense of the greatness and holiness of God, this is to the honor of God. On the contrary, it is really to His dishonor: as if He were not sufficiently gracious towards the unworthy, not sufficiently powerful to rescue the utterly wretched, not faithful to perform His word. No: faith alone gives glory to God, for it sets no limits to the Holy One of Israel, It has but one question, What has God said? When it has once known this, then it asks nothing further about possibility or truth or anything else. The word of God is enough for the soul. Like Abraham, it gives glory to God by being strong in faith.
Beloved reader, it is a terrible sin to rob God of His honor. By being unbelieving you make yourself guilty of this offence. As God has revealed Himself in the gospel more gloriously than in the law, so is the sin of unbelief in relation to the promises much more dreadful than that of disobedience to the commandments. For this reason, I entreat you, believe what God says. Ask not what you are or what you have, but if there is anything with respect to which God will have it that you shall now believe, or if there is any promise with which He comes to meet the ungodly. Here is one: “Christ died for the ungodly.” Receive that word, keep it in your heart, ponder and believe it, and rest not until it abides as essential truth with you, even as it is with God: “Christ is for the ungodly.” Yes: this very day, O souls, give glory to the Lord, by going to Him as the gracious, almighty, and faithful Redeemer; commit yourselves to His word, be strong in faith and thereby give glory to God, as you go to Him.
Anxious ones, in God’s name, why do you not believe? This is the only thing that you are to do, the only thing that God will have — only believe.