"...this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4
Saving faith must always be reflected in a working faith. Our response of faith to the redemptive work of Christ transforms us; but then we need a daily motivating faith if we want to live overcoming lives. To live by faith is to believe with conviction that God's purposes for us will ultimately prevail. In fact, prevailing faith anticipates victory and celebrates in advance. For example, read the Old Testament account of how singers preceded the warrior into battle and the defeat of the enemy was accomplished (2 Chronicles 20:20-22).
Our faith does not develop merely through intellectual assent to biblical dogma or through wishful thinking. Rather, it is a lifetime commitment to the person of Christ with a response of obedience to His Word (Romans 10:17).
This hymn of faith and victory was first published in 1891 in the Christian Endeavor Hymnal. The author, John Henry Yates, was a licensed Methodist preacher who was later ordained by the Baptists. Ira Sankey, the composer, is often called the "father of the gospel song."
Encamped along the hills of light, ye Christian soldiers rise, and press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled; faith is the victory , we know, that overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love, our sword the Word of God; we tread the road the saints above with without shouts of triumph trod. By faith they like a whirl-wind's breath swept on o'er ev'ry field; the faith by which they conquered death is still our shining shield.
On ev'ry hand the foe we find drawn up in dread array; let tents of ease be left behind, and onward to the fray! Salvation's helmet on each head, with truth all girt about: The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread and echo with our shout.
To him that overcomes the foe while raiment shall be giv'n; before the angels he shall know his name confessed in heav'n. Then onward from the hills of light, our heart with love aflame; we'll vanquish all the hosts of night in Jesus; conq'ring name.
Chorus: Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! O glorious victory that overcomes the world.
Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 3
Often we fail to realize the great price many of our forefathers paid to establish and preserve the Christian faith. It is good for us to be reminded often that the history of the Christian faith is a rich heritage for countless people whose faith in God was considered more dear than life itself. Much could be said about the first century Christians and their persecution be the Roman Empire, or even the religious persecutions of our American forefathers in their quest for a new land where they could enjoy religious freedom.
The "faith of our fathers" referred to in this hymn, however, is the faith of the martyred leaders of the Roman Catholic church during the 16th century. Although he was raised as a Calvinist and later was a minister in the Anglican church, Frederick Faber left the state church and joined the Roman Catholic fold. He became known as Father Wilfrid. Faber began to make it his life's mission to write hymns that promoted the history and teachings of the Catholic church. Frederick Faber wrote 150 such hymns before his early death at the age of 49. His "Faith of Our Fathers" text first appeared in 1849 in the author's collection Jesus and Mary; or Catholic Hymns for Singing and Reading. It was always Faber's hope that someday England would be brought back to the Papal fold.
The three stanzas found in our hymnals, however, are very usable for evangelical worship and can be reinterpreted to challenge our commitment and loyalty to the gospel that our spiritual fathers often died to defend:
Faith of our fathers, living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword-O how our hearts beat high with joy whene'er we hear that glorious word!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free; how sweet would be their children's fate if they, like them, could die for thee!
Faith of our fathers, we will love both friend and foe in all our strife; and preach thee too, as love knows how, by kindly words and virtuous life.
Refrain: Faith of our fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee till death.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22,23
Some people claim to have accepted Christ as Savior, yet they live in the tragic uncertainty of doubting their personal relationship with God. The Scriptures teach, however, that we can know with absolute confidence that we have the life of God within us (1 John 5:13). This confidence is note based on inner feelings or outer signs. Rather, this assurance is founded upon the promises of a faithful God and His inspired Word. It depends not on the amount of our faith but on the object of our faith-Christ Himself.
Though blinded at six weeks of age through improper medical treatment, Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,000 gospel songs texts in her lifetime of 95 years. her many favorites such as "Blessed Assurance" have been an important part of evangelical worship for the past century. Only eternity will disclose the host of individuals whose lives have been spiritually enriched through the texts of Fanny Crosby's many hymns. Engraved on Fanny Crosby's tombstone at Bridgeport, Connecticut, are these significant words taken from our Lord's remarks to Mary, the sister of Lazarus, after she had anointed Him with costly perfume-"She hath done what she could" (Mark 14:8).
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now bust on my sight; angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission-all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blest; watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Chorus: This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savor all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.