Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
1. Why should it have been needful to give such a command as this to any intelligent person? In one sense all men believe in God. We acknowledge and recognize a power which passes all control, measurement, or thought. We recognize an authority to which we are responsible. As the moral nature is cultivated, we recognize a moral order in the universe, a law of righteousness, and therefore a Lawgiver and a Judge. In the time of calamity or death all men call upon God. Why, then, teach men to believe in God, and command it? and especially the disciples who had been trained under the ancient system.
2. Of course the answer is that belief may be real and yet wholly ineffective. You see the vapour issuing from the kettle and disappearing through the air. It is steam power, but not enough to drive the train. You step upon the beach and find the little puddles of water, but there is not enough to float the boat and keep alive the fish. So belief may be real in the mind and yet be entirely insufficient for any useful and inspiring purpose. The master would have us carry our belief in God to a point where it shall involve every spiritual force within us. Believe to the roots of your nature; with all your strength and life: and your heart shall not be troubled. What is it thus to believe in God? It is to affirm —
I. HIS ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL PERSONALITY OF EXISTENCE. And yet this it is not easy for us to do. If we search into our thoughts we shall find very often that He is to us rather a force without affection, intelligence, and life. So multitudes of men conceive of God, and scientific investigation often comes in to encourage this tendency of thought. On the other hand, the Scripture everywhere manifests to us God as a person. Our own personal constitution reflects and demonstrates that personality. As impossible as that the clod of the valley should generate a human soul, as that the blossoming branch of the tree should bring forth living intelligence; so impossible is it that personality in you and me should come from impersonal forces and mechanical laws. We see the indications of it in His works, where intelligent contrivances present themselves to us in the adjustment of force to force, in the relations of one object to another; and in Christ, who said, "I and My Father are one." And this is to be affirmed, with all energy of conviction, and intensity of feeling, as the absolute and everlasting truth.
II. HIS PRESENCE WITH US in every hour and every place. Amazing! Yes, God is amazing in every attribute. The soul is amazing because it has something of God within it. Even natural theology affirms this; for it would imply Divine imperfection if God were not everywhere. The recognition of a moral order in the universe implies that; for otherwise the administration of that order would be necessarily imperfect. The constitution of the universe implies that, since otherwise there would be parts of the universe self-supporting and independent of God. His omnipresence shines throughout the whole Scriptures. There are times in spiritual experience when we feel it. But you say, We do not see Him I Do we see the air, magnetism, the productive force in nature, music, fragrance, the voice of a friend? We see the result.
III. HIS CHARACTER OF PERFECT HOLINESS AND PERFECT TENDERNESS. Undoubtedly there is much to perplex us in the prevalence of sin, and the long delay of punishment. These facts disturb our impression of the Divine holiness. And yet we do not doubt the sun when for a time obscured by cloud. The holiness of God must be recognized by anyone who would for a moment feel safe in the universe. If God were otherwise than holy, what could restrain any arbitrary exercise of His power? He could not properly be worshipped except He were holy. Worship mere power, and it demoralizes and demonizes. Worship intellect, and it degrades the moral nature. Worship can only be offered to absolute and sovereign purity of character; and that must be God's character, or else let every harp on high be silent and every heart on earth be dumb. God's holiness shines upon us through His law in our own reason and conscience and in the person of Christ. But then, with this holiness is united tenderness; and it is that which it seems harder still to recognize, for we associate with absolute justice absolute sovereignty rather than absolute tenderness: and yet there is in His Word the declaration of His tenderness. There is a reflection of that tenderness in our own hearts. Whence did these tender loves within us spring? It is idle to say they are transmitted. From whence did they come to our parents? We see them illustrated most perfectly in Christ, whose mission it was to so reveal the Father that we might not be afraid of His holiness.
IV. AFFECTIONATE SOLICITUDE FOR EVERY ONE WHO SEEKS HIM. And this is the most difficult. He is so infinite and we are so weak. Yet even here we find instruction from those who are nearest to Him in spirit and character. We get our clearest view of it from Christ, again, always so welcoming to all who sought Him, so tender towards those who trusted and loved Him. Conclusion: If thus we believe in God, then —
1. There is peace for us and in us. We shall no more be afraid of any real harm while we are affiliated with God in spirit.
2. There is power, the power which sent forth the disciples on their errands of love.
3. Creation reveals its mystery of majesty and loveliness to us, and redemption its higher glories both of majesty and beauty.
4. We anticipate the promises and the provisions of grace.
5. We are assured of the victory of righteousness in the world.
(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.