2. The Development of Faith
FAITH has an abiding place in man's consciousness. This place of abiding is described in the Scriptures as the "house of Simon and Andrew." A house is a structure that some person has built for a home. A man's house is his castle. Perhaps generation after generation is born and reared in the same house. The house where a great genius was born is preserved with care, and it is visited year after year by those who are devotees of the one who expressed some great thought, art, or discovery. If the barn cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, were found, it would become the most famous shrine in the world. The importance that we give to the places where great men and women were born is founded on the centralizing power of thought. All structures are thought concentrations. Constructive thinking ultimates in the construction of places of abode. Savages do not build houses or cities, because they do not think constructively.
In the time of David the Children of Israel were nomads. The consciousness of indwelling Spirit had not been born in their minds, and could not, in consequence, be formed in their bodies. That the time was ripe for a more constructive state of mind is set forth in these words of Jehovah, in II Sam. 7:5,6:
Shalt thou build me a house for me to dwell in? for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
After receiving this message, David, the drawing power of love, began gathering material for Solomon's Temple. Jehovah told David that he could not build the Temple because he was a man of war. The temple of God is man's body ("Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit"), but if man has not complied with the law of permanent body building, he is like the nomadic Children of Israel; he goes from body to body and from tabernacle to tabernacle.
Except Jehovah build the house,
They labor in vain that build it.
— Psalms 127:1
The tents and the tabernacles that the Children of Israel built for Jehovah represent the transitory bodies of flesh. The Lord has merely "walked" in these flimsy temples; they have not afforded an abiding place for Spirit, because of their unsubstantial character. The underlying weakness of the tent body was its lack of faith in the inhabiting soul. A new consciousness of the indwelling spiritual substance and life was necessary, and a man was chosen to bring it forth. This man, named Abraham, represents obedience and faith. His original name was Abram, which means "exalted father." The name is identified with the highest cosmic principle, the all-pervading, self-existent spiritual substance, which is the primary source of the universe.
Abraham was tested again and again, to the end
that he might be strong in faith. His great test of faith was his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac in the mountain of the Lord. "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided" (Gen. 22:14).
This incident is intended to show the necessity of a man's giving up that which he considers his dearest possession before he can realize the divine providence. The incident takes place in the mount of the Lord; that is, in a high spiritual understanding.
The law of giving and receiving pertains to the realm of ideas; one must give up personal attachments before one can receive the universal. If a parent idealizes a child, loves it so dearly that its pleasure is first in his consciousness, the spiritual development of the parent is impeded. Then, before the love of God (which is the supreme thing) can fill the heart, there must be a sacrifice of human love. If like Abraham one is faithful and obedient and willing to give to the Lord his most precious possession, there is always a receiving or providing equivalent.
When Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved Isaac, the Lord stayed his hand; his attention was directed to a ram in a thicket nearby, and he was directed to sacrifice the animal upon the altar, in place of the child. Here is illustrated an often misunderstood law of sacrifice or renunciation. We do not have to give up our cherished things, if they are
real, but the error that prevents their full expression must be destroyed. The ram (which represents the resistance and opposition of personality to the complete expression of Truth) must be sacrificed.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38) is the statement of a law that operates in every thought and act of man. This law is the foundation of all barter and financial exchange. Men scheme to get something for nothing; but the law, in one of its many forms, overtakes them in the end. Even metaphysicians, who above all people should understand the law, often act as if they expected God to provide abundantly for them before they have earned abundance. It is an error to think that God gives anybody anything that has not been earned. The Holy Spirit comes upon those who pray in the "upper room." The "upper room" (Acts 1:13) corresponds to the "mount of Jehovah" (Gen. 22:14). It is the high place in consciousness where man realizes the presence of Divine Mind. The greatest work that one can do is to strive to know God and to keep His law. God pays liberally for this service and the reward is sure. Faith is built up in consciousness under this law.
"Faith is assurance of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1). When there has been an aspiration and a reaching out for the spiritual life, the faith faculty becomes active in consciousness. The prayer of supplication is impotent—the prayer of affirmation is immediately effective.
Intellectual faith admits doubt, and hope of fulfillment in the future; spiritual faith includes unfailing
assurance and immediate response. These two attitudes of faith are often observed acting and reacting upon each other. Peter started to walk on the water in spiritual faith, but when he saw the effects of the wind he was afraid, and began to sink. Then the I AM (Jesus) gave its hand of spiritual power, the wind ceased, and there was no longer any doubt of faith's ability to rise above the negative consciousness.
The first and greatest disciple of Jesus was Peter, who has been universally accepted by the followers of Jesus the Christ as a type representing faith. Before he met Jesus, Peter was called Simon. Simon means "hearing," which represents receptivity. We understand from this that listening to Truth in a receptive state of mind opens the way for receiving the next degree in the divine order, which is faith. Jesus gave Peter his new name and also its meaning: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18).
Faith in the reality of the invisible builds a real, abiding substance in mind and in body. All kinds of ideas grow quickly when planted in this rich substance of the mind. Jesus also called this substance of faith the "earth," and He said to Peter, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind [affirm] on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose [deny] on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). In all His teaching Jesus emphasized that the ruling forces of both heaven and earth are in man. "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). "Is it not
written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (Psalms 82:6 John 10:34). When we understand the omnipresence of Spirit (God) we quickly see how simple and true this beautiful doctrine of Jesus is.
There is but one real faith; the avenue of expression determines the character and power of faith. Trust is a cheaper brand of faith, but trust is better than mistrust. As a rule, people who merely trust in the Lord do not understand all the law. If they had understanding they would affirm the presence and power of God until the very substance of Spirit would appear in consciousness—and this is faith established on a rock.
Faith words should be expressed both silently and audibly. The power of the spoken word is but slightly understood, because the law of the Word is not rightly observed. The Word is the creative idea in Divine Mind, which may be expressed by man when he has fulfilled the law of expression. All words are formative but not all words are creative. The creative word lays hold of Spirit substance and power. Physical science hints at this inner substance and energy, in its description of the almost inconceivable power inherent in the universal ether. We are told that the manifest forces, such as heat, light, and electricity, are but faint manifestations of an omnipresent element which is thousands of times greater than these weak expressions.
Radio is opening up a new field of activity in the use of the spoken word. A newspaper article on the wireless telephone says:
Do you happen to know that a single word spoken in Lower Broadway, New York, among the skyscrapers, could break every pane of glass in adjacent buildings and create a disturbance that would be felt for a mile in every direction?
The human voice, transformed into electrical energy for wireless transmission, develops 270 horse power. The power of ten men is equal to one horse power. The human voice electrified for wireless purposes is equivalent to the power of 2,700 men. In the various processes that step up a voice for radio transmission across the Atlantic ocean, it becomes 135,000 times more powerful than when uttered by the person sending the message.
Thus, starting with an initial energy of 1/1,000 of an electric watt, the voice is boosted by a powerful station until it is intensified 100 million times.
If the spoken word can be mechanically intensified a hundred million times, how much greater will be its power when energized by Spirit! When Jesus said with a loud voice to Lazarus, "Come forth," He must have made contact with the creative word referred to in the 1st chapter of John, because the results showed its life-giving character. When He healed the centurion's servant by His word sent forth on invisible currents, He said that the work was done through faith. So faith must boost the spoken word even more than a hundred million times, as evidenced by its marvelous results. That the word of faith has an inner force, and that this force rushes forth and produces remarkable transformations in the phenomenal world, is the testimony of thousands who have witnessed its results.
Jesus 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." He knew about the great spiritual machinery that the word of faith sets into action. He illustrated how man spiritually developed could by faith control the elements, quell storms, walk on water, retard or increase the growth of life and substance in grains, trees, animals, and men.
The ponderous dynamos that generate electricity to light a city are set going by a touch on a button. There is a button in the mind of man that connects him, through faith, with almighty energy. When the word of faith is spoken to large tumors and they melt away, is not the transformation equal to the removal of mountains? When a paralyzed limb, or a lifeless organ, is quickened and restored to natural functioning, is not that quickening a raising of the dead?
It is not necessary that the one who touches the button of faith shall understand all the intricate machinery with which he makes contact; he knows, like one who turns the electric switch, that the light or power will spring forth. The faith center, the pineal gland, opens the mind of man to spiritual faith. Merely affirming the activity of this superpower will quicken it in consciousness. Jesus said, "I speak not from myself: but the Father [faith] abiding in me doeth his works" (John 14:10).
The transformers of electricity are paralleled by the transforming power of mind. That if a man
sanely believes he can do a thing he will eventually find a way to do it is an accepted axiom of psychology. The mind generates an energy that contacts the universal energy, and causes circumstances and events to fall into line for the attainment of the latent ideal. John came crying in the wilderness of mortal thought, "Repent ye"; that is, change your mind. Paul discerned a like necessity, hence his call: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2).
When people see the possibilities that follow a right change of mind, they will crowd the halls of metaphysical teachers as they now crowd moving-picture shows. When it is clearly understood that doubt, fear, poverty, disease, and death—every thought, good or bad, that men have expressed—have existence through mind we shall see a shifting of consciousness and a radical change in thought and word by everybody of sane mind. Then we shall ask for the true source and find it, as did Paul, who said: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). It was not Jesus but the mind in Jesus that did the great works. He was the center of faith that transformed the mighty creative forces of Being (which are active in the universe through the mind and brain of man) into a form of force usable in His environment. Tap this inner reservoir of faith, and you can do what Jesus did. That was His promise; its fulfillment is the test of a true follower.
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death ... By faith Noah ... prepared an
ark to the saving of his house ... By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac ... By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents ... By faith the walls of Jericho fell down ... And what shall I more say? for the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens. Women received their dead by a resurrection."