A Little Here, A Little There
Isaiah 28:10—“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”
THE GOSPEL IS PROGRESSIVELY REVEALED
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the essence of simplicity. The benefits that come to humanity as a result of the pure gospel being believed are too numerous to count and probably will never be fully comprehended in any one man’s lifetime. God does not put a series of demands upon lost humanity whereby, once accomplished, men can be saved. He really only asks one thing of us. That is to believe in His Son who sacrificed his life on Calvary. That simple object of faith is sufficient to redeem us from our lostness, to cleanse us holistically from our sinful state, and to introduce us to an inheritance that will last for all eternity. Our faith in Christ and His finished work on the Cross will accomplish all of this for all who will believe.
THE GOSPEL IS PROGRESSIVELY REVEALED
The problem that God has in bringing the blessings of salvation to humanity is not located in the gospel itself, but rather, it exists in the heart and mind of man who wants to depart from its simplicity. God’s plan is perfect. He operated in all prudence and wisdom in establishing it. The problem is getting man to believe it the way He designed it. In order to embrace the proper object of faith, man has to first of all release all hope that might exist of salvation, sanctification, or inheritance by any means other than placing one’s faith in the Cross. Man’s mind is full of reasonings that oppose God’s plan. Man’s actions are more inclined to gravitate toward the “doing” of something rather than the “believing” of something.
So, at salvation, God takes the human being and reveals to him that his need for a Saviour is a desperate need. God has to show us in no uncertain terms that our only hope is to trust in His Son and the penalty He paid on our behalf. The gospel is only effectively and honestly embraced by those who truly see that they are lost, hopeless, hapless, and helpless to produce a right relationship between God and themselves. Then and only then will they secure the right object of faith—the simple truth of Christ and Him crucified. Christianity starts for all people with this revelation. However, because man has learned to be independent from God due to the fall, we will also need to learn that our growth in this newly established relationship with God is also maintained by having the right object of faith. This lesson is an ongoing one, for if given half a chance, man will gravitate to a growth plan that is of his own making or design and will reject the simplicity of faith in the Cross as the only means of growth.
THE PROPER OBJECT OF FAITH
The biggest detriment to maintaining the proper object of faith usually comes because the believer begins to trust in an action that is correct or in an event that is biblical and right. For instance, in the old covenant, God gave Israel the law. I think it is safe to say that two key purposes of the law were (1) to reveal to the world the difference between right and wrong and, (2) to prove to man that he was incapable of performing properly at all times. This should have made Israel aware of its sinful condition, but Israel came to think that they were capable of keeping the 612 laws (or more) that were given. They claimed that keeping the law was the means of salvation, and they were deceived into believing that they could keep it. The keeping of the law then became the object of their faith. In addition, their ability to understand the law was removed, and sin began to dominate the lives of nearly all Israelites. Paul stated in Romans 2:24 that “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” Thus, their practice of making the law the object of their faith was disastrous.
THE MODERN CHURCH HAS THE SAME PROBLEM
In today’s world the wrong object of faith is still the greatest detriment to the success of living out the Christian life. In a more recent example, utilizing the Pentecostal movement, of which I am a part, we see quite plainly that Spirit-filled believers have the tendency to make the event of the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues the object of their faith. Nothing could be more needed, and nothing should be more desired or pursued than the baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, this event must not become the object of our faith. The believer is baptized into Christ at salvation and equipped by the Spirit to overcome sin as a result. When baptized with the Holy Spirit (a second subsequent work of grace), the believer is equipped for supernatural service. Both of these supernatural experiences are a benefit of what Christ did for us at Calvary. So, our faith must not be in the event or even in the mighty moving of the Holy Spirit. Our faith must rest in what has provided us with the presence of the Holy Spirit - the Cross. Pentecostals began placing their faith in the event of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and began to believe that they could live free from sin because they had experienced this event. This thought, in reality, robs Christ of the glory only He deserves, for He defeated sin by His sacrifice on Calvary. The wrong object of faith always proves disastrous and Pentecostalism has been experiencing a demise for decades because of the wrong object of faith.
None of us learn these lessons immediately. It takes time to remove the idols, the wrong thinking, or the wrong object of faith that believers establish in their hearts. But I am very excited to see that there is a group of believers in the world today who are holding exclusively to the Cross, which allows God through his Spirit to build us “here a little and there little.” I am glad to be a part of this Cross-believing remnant in the last days.