Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 14-14 Faith in Christ

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to | Download

Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 14-14 Faith in Christ

Subjects in this Topic:



The things done for us will truly be to us as though they were not, unless they are believed. Hence, to the untutored and unbelieving barbarian or infidel, the universe is without a sin offering, a Sun of Righteousness, a Lord, Redeemer, and a Holy Spirit. Faith is necessary only as a means of attainment; as a means of enjoyment. It is not, then, an arbitrary enactment or requisition, but a gracious means of salvation.

Faith in Christ is the effect of belief. Belief is the cause; and trust, confidence, or faith in Christ, the effect. "The faith," sometimes means the truth to be believed. Sometimes it means "the belief of the truth;" but here we speak of it metonymically, putting the effect for the cause--or calling the effect by the name of the cause. To believe what a person says, and to trust in him are not always identical. True, indeed, they often are; for if a person speaks to us concerning himself, and states to us matters of great interest to ourselves, requiring confidence in him, to believe what he says, and to believe or trust in him, are in effect, one and the same thing. Suppose a physician present himself to one that is sick, stating his ability and willingness to heal him; to believe is to trust in him, and to put ourselves under his guidance; provided, only, we love health rather than sickness, and life rather than death.

While, then, faith is the simple belief of testimony, or of the truth, and never can be more nor less than that; as a principle of action it has respect to a person or thing interesting to us: and is confidence or trust in that person or thing. Now the belief of what Christ says of himself, terminates in trust or confidence in him: and as the Christian religion is a personal thing, both as respects subject and object, that faith in Christ which is essential to salvation is not the belief of any doctrine, testimony, or truth, abstractly, but belief in Christ; trust or confidence in him as a person, not a thing.1 We take Paul's definition of the term and of the thing, as perfectly simple, intelligible, and sufficient. For the term faith, he substitutes the belief of the truth. "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through the sanctification of the spirit; through the belief of the truth."2 And of the thing, he says, "Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."3 And John says, it is "receiving testimony," for "If we receive the testimony of man," as a principle of action, or put trust in it, "the testimony of God is greater," and of course will produce greater confidence.4 Any belief, then, that does not terminate in our personal confidence in Jesus as the Christ, and to induce trustful submission to him, is not faith unfeigned; but a dead faith, and cannot save the soul.

1 See the Essay on the Foundation of Christian Union, on the terms fact, testimony, faith, etc., where this subject is treated at large.

2 2Th_2:13.

3 Heb_11:1.

4 1Jn_5:9.