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Through Faith to Freedom
"Into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
As a preliminary to writing on any subject it is necessary first of all to define our terms; for, if we do not, the reader may receive an erroneous idea, through attaching a meaning to the terms used different from the meaning attached to them in the mind of the writer.
First of all, then, what is meant by the term "faith"? Paul says; "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,' or, in other words, that faith is the assurance we have concerning the things we hope for; and the inward conviction we possess respecting the things which are unseen and eternal. It is an inward spiritual faculty that is awakened in us through the indwelling of the Spirit of Truth. It is through the use of this faculty that we are able to believe in the reality of things that we cannot see, and to put our trust in a God Whom we also cannot see. Through the exercise of this faculty we not only are able to believe in this which cannot be proved by any external evidence, but we are also enabled to hang on to that which we believe until we see it manifested.
Saints in all ages have been able to trust their soul to God. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." This text or declaration of belief in a God who can save the soul and bring man into eternal life, is still the foundation of faith of thousands and I have nothing to add to it. We must all admit that the welfare of the soul is of primary importance, 'for what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall he give in exchange for his soul? But, while this is true, it is not right that we should limit God's power to the next life. God is a God who is available in this life, as well as in the life to come. Also, it is through finding God in the practical affairs and experiences of life that we are regenerated. It is only through regeneration that eternal life becomes possible and as regeneration is worked out in the practical experiences of life, then these of necessity are of first class importance. Life is a practical thing, filled to the brim with practical experience. It is given us to live in a practical way. Life is the great initiator. Through its experiences and discipline we learn to exercise faith, and in so doing become regenerated, or re-born, and re-made from above, and our self-nature changed into god-nature.
Regeneration is of such extreme importance that it would not be worth while spending a moment in writing about living a life of faith if it were not for the fact that to live by faith and thus be victorious is in itself the Path.
By the term 'regeneration' I do not mean conversion. This is but the entrance to the new life. Regeneration is a lengthy process, consisting of several stages, during which we become entirely changed in character and disposition, and concurrently with this change there is built up within us a Celestial body, the possession of which alone makes it possible for us to function in Celestial Spheres. 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
The work of regeneration proceeds the while we are dealing with the practical affairs of life, bringing God into our daily work, and, in the Power of Omnipotence, rising victorious over our difficulties. Put briefly, faith, or rather the exercise of faith, can be described as " Trusting God instead of judging by appearances." By the term " God," I mean the Creative Fount and Source of all life and manifestation. This Creative Life expresses perfection, i.e., Divine order, to the extent that we trust It and allow It scope to manifest itself in time and space conditions. It cannot manifest imperfection or disorder, but only perfection and order, these being inherent in Itself. THAT which is perfect can only manifest perfection. This is where the man of faith or right thinker (one who thinks from the standpoint of Truth) differs from all other men. When he sees disorder of any kind (disease, poverty, disharmony, misery) he knows that it is not Truth, but is a manifestation of "not-Truth"- a form of disorder due to man's separateness from God and his belief in something other than Truth. The man of faith declares the disorder to be not the Truth, and affirms the Truth as it is in God. He puts his trust in It, relies upon It, and gives It time to manifest. Truth is omnipotent because it is the only reality and the only thing that is true in the Universe.
By the term " appearances," I mean life and circumstances as they appear to be. Disease is an appearance only, it is not Truth; as was proved by the Lord Jesus Who was Truth incarnate and lived in its perfect realization. Jesus did not accept as Truth the blindness of the man who was born blind. He recognized only the Truth about the man - the Truth in the mind of God about the man - and the man received his sight. Error must always flee at the approach of Truth, for the simple reason that Truth is the only thing there is. By 'appearances' then, I mean those states and conditions that are generally accepted by humanity as real, and which are disorderly, i.e., not manifesting the Divine order and perfection. What I wish to draw attention to, therefore, is the use of faith in the practical affairs of life. Somehow, in spite of the cloud of witnesses described so eloquently in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews; and in spite of the example set by George Muller and others in modern times, the majority of those of us who call ourselves Christian, do not live lives of faith as far as this world is concerned. We may believe that Divine Power is available in times of moral temptation; but we do not believe in an available God or Power which can make us victorious in the practical affairs of life. The term 'victoriously', is used advisedly. Living in faith, as I understand it, does not mean retiring from the world, or giving up our work in order that we may live a so-called spiritual life. Some think otherwise, and retire to some monastery or Retreat. If we live truly a life of faith we overcome and become victorious in the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. We may be tempted to give up our job or retire from the arena of modern life, but if we examine our motives we find that we wish to do this in order to avoid the difficulties of our life, and to escape from them to something more congenial. We find also that we have been deceiving ourselves by thinking that our motive is a noble one - that it is solely in order that we might live a higher life, one of faith in God, instead of by our own exertions, that we desire to retire from the conflict, This is a subtle temptation, but we can counter it by remembering that we must never run away from any experience. What is required of us is to overcome and be victorious in our present circumstances.
If our life is difficult, then this proves that we have not yet mastered our problem, To master our present problems is to live the life of faith. When this is achieved other avenues of service open up before us without any seeking on our part. The life of faith is a victorious life, lived in the place where we are now, in the circumstances in which we now are. To do this is to maintain the positive attitude which always wins, in the long run, To do otherwise is to adopt the negative attitude which always leads to failure and to added trouble and difficulty.
If we endeavour to overcome in our present circumstances then we find that God is infinite, and His omnipotence is available according to the extent of our faith. But this infinite Power is not available if we do not even believe in it. So long as people believe that there is no available God, they can experience only that which confirms their belief. If they do not believe in an available God it is obvious that they will never find any evidence of His power. Our mind is either closed or expanded by our beliefs. If we believe that God is not available, but that we are bound by natural law, then we are limited by natural law, because our mind is closed to anything higher. Before we can experience anything greater in life than that which comes to the ordinary material man, we have to admit it into our mind. Our life is limited by the boundaries or walls of our mind. The more closely walled our mind, the more limited our life; for the reason that life, as we know it, is a reflection of our mind.
But on the other hand, if we push back the boundaries of our mind, so as to admit larger and less cramped ideas of life and the universe, then greater things become possible. When we admit into our mind an idea of the possibility of the (so called) impossible being accomplished, then it is brought within the bounds of possibility for us. This is why our Lord said: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." The Power is infinite, but lack of faith makes it non-available.
Faith, then, as the term is used in this article, is the exercising of a spiritual faculty, through which we are able to lay hold of Omnipotence, thus making It available, so that that which is humanly impossible becomes Divinely possible.
Next, what is meant by the term 'freedom'? The meaning that I wish to attach to the term is two-fold. First, a consciousness of freedom that is born of a realization that the Infinite and Omnipotent is our Father and Friend. We become completely carefree when we realize that the Lord is the Source of our life (the life that animates our body), and of the life of experience (through which we are led day by day), and of all that is necessary for our life and expression. We then know what the Psalmist meant when he said: "He brought me forth into a large place." In this "large place" every barrier and limitation falls away, and we stand in the Eternal.
"AIl the Divine forces ministering to our eternal joy."
We enter into freedom from all care, for who can have a care when the Infinite God is our All, our Father and Friend. We enter into freedom from all fear, for who can fear, when Omnipotence is our Friend, and Infinite Love and Infinite Wisdom our parents?
Secondly, we enter into a state of freedom in worldly or practical affairs. Through obeying Heavenly laws instead of the laws of self-interest and Mammon, we come under the laws and protection of Heaven. The forces which hold others in slavery, binding some in the bondage of golden chains, on the one hand, and forcing others into situations of penury and want, on the other, are powerless to affect the one who is established in God, the One Source of the Universe. The blessing of Jehovah rests upon the one whose mind is stayed upon God and who lives a life of faith in God. This is "the blessing which maketh rich, and with which He (Jehovah) added no sorrow." Not rich in worldly possessions, but rich in the knowledge that all our needs are met both now and will be forever, so that we can say with Carpenter, "All is well; today and a million years hence, equally". This is the blessing which makes us rich in the knowledge that Infinite Wisdom and Omniscience are guiding and leading us on to our eternal Good, and to higher and more glorious things.
We are able to stand aside, unhurried and unafraid:
"Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain or loss." Grounded in the Eternal, with our mind stayed upon God, we know that the only effect that circumstances and the experiences of life can have is to provide a blessing for us. All things work together for our good: even angels for "are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" But such freedom, or anything approaching it, does not come of itself. While it is true that all good comes from the Lord (the One Central Source of Life and Its manifestations), yet the state of knowing and certainty which makes freedom possible, or which constitutes freedom, can be arrived at only through the exercise of faith, such exercise of faith also necessitating the passing through of all the experiences which testing God and Life brings. When we live a life which tests God, or Life, then we find that God, or Life, is also testing us. It is through this 'proving' or testing, that our faith is exercised, and developed. Concurrently with this process of growth a state of awareness arises, so that it becomes possible for us to say: 'I know in whom I have believed'. We know beyond any question of doubt or uncertainty at all that an available God, "able to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think".
The world is passing through a time of depression and fear. This depression and anxiety should find no place in the life and mind of those who profess to live by faith. Yet on all hands we find the prevailing world state of consciousness, which is the unenlightened material mass consciousness, reflected in those who are professed followers of Truth. How is it that such a state of affairs exists, when no such ideas are to be found in Truth ? How is it that people who ought to be exclaiming with joy: "0, What a glorious thing is Truth, and how wonderful God is!" are saying: "What a terrible state the world is in: what fearful things are happening, and how dreadful it all is ?" Why are they thinking and speaking in this way, when they know all the time that the elementary law of right thinking is to think in terms of Truth, and from the standpoint of Reality, Heaven and Perfection? Why are they saying: "Isn't life dreadful?" instead of "Isn't life wonderful?" Why are they thinking and speaking in terms of human and material limitation, instead of as those who are enjoying "the liberty of the Sons of God?" Why is faith so weak, if not altogether non-existent? The reasons may be many, but one I know, and that is, the soul is not nourished with the bread of Heaven. The soul cannot receive its necessary nourishment if it is fed on clever books merely conveying man's ideas about God, and on newspapers and talks by intellectual but quite spiritually unenlightened people. The soul can be fed only by quiet meditation upon the Divine Word. If a small portion of Scripture is meditated upon each day until a sense of reality comes and one is consciously established in the Eternal, then the mind can live in Truth, and thinking can be maintained in the "Isn't life wonderful" attitude, instead of the "Isn't life dreadful" attitude. One who is established in Truth, and whose soul is nourished by Heavenly food gratefully declares, "My cup runneth over" while the starved soul cries: "What fresh horror is going to happen next?" The man of faith exclaims in the face of world depression and national disasters, "Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of mine enemies". He forever declares triumphantly the Truth which is unseen - the Truth that has power to demonstrate and vindicate Itself, because it is the Reality.
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