“FAITH cometh by hearing.” Granted, but do not all men hear, and do not many still remain unbelieving? How, then, doth any man come by his faith?
To his own experience his faith comes as the result of a sense of need. He feels himself needing a Savior; he finds Christ to be just such a Savior as he wants, and therefore because he cannot help himself, he believes in Jesus.
Having nothing of his own, he feels he must take Christ or else perish, and therefore he doth it because he cannot help doing it. He is fairly driven up into a corner, and there is but this one way of escape, namely, by the righteousness of another; for he feels he cannot escape by any good deeds, or sufferings of his own, and he cometh to Christ and humbleth himself, because he cannot do without Christ, and must perish unless he lay hold of him.
But to carry the question further back, where does that man get his sense of need? How is it that he, rather than others, feels his need of Christ! It is certain he has no more necessity for Christ than other men. How doth. he come to know, then, that he is lost and ruined? How is it that he is driven by the sense of ruin to take hold on Christ the restorer? The reply is, this is the gift of God; this is the work of the Spirit. No man comes to Christ except the Spirit draw him, and the Spirit draws men to Christ by shutting them up under the law to a conviction that if they do not come to Christ they must perish. Then by sheer stress of weather, they tack about and run into this heavenly port. Salvation by Christ is so disagreeable, to our carnal mind, so inconsistent with our love of human merit, that we never would take Christ to be our all in all, if the Spirit did not convince us that we were nothing at all, and did not so compel us to lay hold on Christ.
But, then, the question goes further back still; how is it that the Spirit of God teaches some men their need, and not other men? Why is it that some of you were driven by your sense of need to Christ, while others go on in their self-righteousness and perish? There is no answer to be given but this, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” It comes to divine sovereignty at the last. The Lord hath “hidden those things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.” According to the way in which Christ put it — “My sheep hear my voice;” “ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” Some divines would like to read that — “Ye are not my sheep, because ye do not believe.” As if believing made us the sheep of Christ; but the text puts it “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep.” “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” If they come not,. it is a clear proof that they were never given; for those who were given of old eternity to Christ, chosen of God the Father, and then redeemed by God the Son — these are led by the Spirit, through a sense of need, to come and lay hold on Christ.
No man yet ever did, or ever will believe in Christ, unless he feels his need of him. No man ever did, or will feel his need of Christ, unless the Spirit makes him feel, and the Spirit will make no man feel his need of Jesus savingly, unless it be written in that eternal book, in which God hath surely engraved the names of his chosen. So, then, I think I am not to be misunderstood on this point, that the reason of faith, or why men believe, is God’s electing love working through the Spirit by a sense of need, and so bring them to Christ Jesus.