Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): What is faith?
HULDREICH ZWINGLI (1484-1531): Faith is a matter of fact, not of knowledge or opinion; for it is born only when a man begins to despair of himself, and to see that he must trust in God alone. And it is perfected when a man wholly casts himself off and prostrates himself before the mercy of God alone, but in such a fashion as to have entire trust in it because of Christ who was given for us. What man of faith can be unaware of this? For then only are you free from sin when the mind trusts itself unwaveringly to the death of Christ and finds rest there.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Faith is that act of the soul whereby it rests on Christ crucified for pardon and life, and that upon the warrant of the word. The person of Christ is the object of faith as justifying: secondly, Christ as crucified. First, the person of Christ, not any axiom or proposition in the word:―this is the object of assurance, not of faith. Assurance saith, “I believe my sins are pardoned through Christ:” faith’s language is, “I believe on Christ for the pardon of them.”
C. H. SPURGEON: Indeed, my brethren, even those who know what faith is, personally and experimentally, do not always find it easy to give a good definition of it. They think they have hit the mark; and then, afterwards, they lament that they have failed. Straining themselves to describe some one part of faith, they find they have forgotten another, and in the excess of their earnestness to clear the poor sinner out of one mistake, they often lead him into a worse error. So that I think I may say that, while faith is the simplest thing in all the world, yet it is one of most difficult upon which to write.
JOHN G. PATON (1824-1907): For a long time no equivalent could be found [for the word “faith in the native language of Aniwa Island], and my work of Bible translation was paralyzed for the want of so fundamental and oft-recurring a term. The natives apparently regarded the verb “to hear” as equivalent to “to believe.” I would ask a native whether he believed a certain statement, and his reply would be, should he credit the statement, “Yes, I heard it.” But should he disbelieve it he would answer, “No, I did not hear it,” meaning, not that his ears had failed to catch the words, but that he did not regard them as true. This definition of faith was obviously insufficient. I prayed continually that God would supply the missing link, and spared no effort in interrogating the most intelligent native pundits, but all in vain, none caught the hidden meaning of the word.
One day I was in the Mission House anxiously pondering. I sat on an ordinary kitchen chair, my feet resting on the floor. Just then an intelligent native woman entered the room, and the thought flashed through my mind to ask the all-absorbing question yet once again, if possible in a new light. Was I not resting on the chair? Would that attitude lend itself to the discovery? I said, “What am I doing now?”
“Koikae ana, Misi,” the native replied, (You are sitting down, Misi).
Then I drew up my feet and place them upon the bar of the chair just above the floor, and leaning back in an attitude of repose, asked, “What am I doing now?”
“Fakarongrongo, Misi,” she answered, (You are leaning, wholly, Misi, or, You have lifted yourself from every other support).
“That’s it!” I shouted with an exultant cry; and a sense of holy joy awed me, as I realized that my prayer had been so fully answered. To “lean on” Jesus wholly and only is surely the true meaning of appropriating or saving faith. And now “Fakarongrongo Iesu ea anea mouri” (Leaning on Jesus unto eternal life, or, for all the things of eternal life) is the happy experience of those Christian Islanders, as it is of all who thus cast themselves unreservedly on the Saviour of the world for salvation.
ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): It will mean that they rest their whole weight upon Him, upon the Christ. O! as long as a man leans and supports himself partly upon Jesus, and partly upon duties, for sure the left hand will be pierced by the broken reed of Egypt, by legal duties, and self-strength. Here we must lean upon Him and upon none other, else we shall ever be wrong in the exercise.
C. H. SPURGEON: It is essential that our faith rest alone on Jesus. Mix anything with Christ, and you are undone. If your faith stand with one foot upon the rock of His merits, and the other foot upon the sand of your own duties, it will fall, and great will be the fall of thereof…Recumbency on the truth was the word which the old preachers used. You will understand that word: Leaning on it; saying, “This is truth, I trust my salvation on it.” Now, true faith, in its very essence rests in this—a leaning upon Christ. It will not save me to know that Christ is a Saviour; but it will save me to trust Him to be my Saviour. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing that His atonement is sufficient, but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this—a casting one-self on the promise. It is not the lifebuoy on board the ship that saves the man when he is drowning, nor is it his belief that it is an excellent and successful invention. No! He must have it around his loins, or his hand upon it, or else he will sink.
HUGH BINNING (1625-1654): To believe in Christ is simply this: I, whatsoever I be, ungodly, wretched, polluted, desperate, am willing to have Jesus Christ for my Saviour. I have no other help or hope if it be not in Him.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Many are lost because they cannot use possessive pronouns.