FAITH IN CHRIST A DELUSION IF IT ISSUES NOT IN LOVE FOR THOSE WHO ARE HIS
“After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” [Ephesians 1:15].
Faith and love are the best evidences of a genuine conversion, for they are the fruits brought forth by the two principal graces communicated to us at the new birth. Faith is known by what it effects and produces. It was not the Ephesians’ first believing in Christ that the apostle alluded to, for he had witnessed that for himself, but rather the working and constancy of their faith of which he had heard — the influence it had on their daily walk.
The faith of God’s elect is active in purifying the heart [Acts 15:9] by engaging it with holy objects. The faith of God’s elect brings forth good works [James 2:14-22], such as those described in Hebrews 11. This faith “overcometh the world” [1 John 5:4], enabling its possessor to resist the world’s seduction, scorn its principles and policy, and be “not of it” in his affections and ways.
Another mark of the faith of God’s elect is that it “worketh by love” [Galatians 5:6]: love for the truth, for Christ, and for His redeemed. Faith is but an empty name if it does not fructify in love. Faith in Christ is only a delusion if it issues not in love for those who are His. Scripture is too plain on this point to admit any uncertainty:
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20). Saving faith in Christ and spiritual love for all whom He loves are inseparably connected [see Colossians 1:4; Philemon 5; 1 John 3:23].
“We KNOW that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
If we love one saint as a “saint” — for what we see of Christ in him — we shall love ALL saints. Faith in Christ and love for His people are inseparable, and as one waxes or wanes so does the other. If my love for Christians is cooling (if I pray less for them and am less active in seeking to promote their highest good), my faith in Christ is declining.
The two things are inseparably connected: where love to our neighbor is lacking, love to God will not be in exercise. The two tables of the law must not be divorced: God WILL NOT ACCEPT OUR WORSHIP in the house of prayer while we entertain in our heart the spirit of bitterness toward another! [Matthew 5:23, 24]