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John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 69

*Faith was Added as a Means

The Lord God called to the man.

Genesis 3:9 NIV

It is not certain that faith, even in the general sense of the word, had any place in paradise. It is highly probable, from the account we have in the book of Genesis, that Adam (before he rebelled against God) walked with Him by sight and not by faith.

For then his reason’s eye was strong and clear,
And (as an eagle can behold the sun)
Might have beheld his Maker’s face as near
As th’ intellectual angels could have done.

He was then able to talk with God face-to-face, the One whose face we cannot now see and live. Consequently, Adam had no need of that faith whose work it is to supply the lack of sight.

On the other hand, it is absolutely certain that faith in its particular sense had then no place. For in that particular sense, it necessarily presupposes sin and the wrath of God declared against the sinner. Without these, there is no need for atonement for sin in order to the sinner’s reconciliation with God.

As there was no need for an atonement before the fall, so there was no place for faith in the atonement. For man was pure from every stain of sin; holy as God is holy.

And love, even then, filled his heart and reigned there without a rival. But when love was lost by sin, faith was added, not for its own sake, but as the means of reestablishing the law of love.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this sixty-ninth lesson on prayer, Wesley gives us something interesting to ponder; that faith was not a necessity before the fall. As confirmation of this, let us look in Hebrews 11, the “faith chapter” of the New Testament.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE. 13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb. 11:1-16 NASB).

We notice the chronology of not only these verses, but the verses that follow. The writer to the Hebrews begins with Cain and Able, the sons of Adam and Eve, in his great narrative of faith. Had Adam and Eve been under the same requirements of faith before the fall, it seems logical the story of faith would have begun with them.


Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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