There is a most unwarrantable distinction made by some, between the obligation to believe a doctrine, or truth, and the obligation to obey a command.
It is quite common to say, “that is only an article of faith”—“it is not a divine command.” “If men do not differ in matters of duty, a mere point of faith is of little moment.”
Multitudes of professed Christians, it is to be feared, sadly impose upon themselves, in this matter. There is as much of the divine authority connected with the revelation of a point of faith—an article of doctrine, as there is with the revelation of a statute law,—a commandment regulating our life and practice. Are we not under the same obligation to yield obedience to God, in that which he commands us to believe, as in that which he commands us to do? A man who lives and dies despising the law of God, will no doubt die in his sins. And eternal ruin is connected with making light of Jehovah’s commandments. But is not the man in an equally dangerous situation, who makes a mock of what God has revealed as an article of faith, and commanded him to believe? If ye believe not that I am he, says the Redeemer, ye shall die in your sins.*[John 8:24.]
All that God has commanded us to believe is truth, emphatically the truth of God. All the doctrines of the Bible are his truths. Can there be among these, a little truth—a truth of little value, so that it is a matter of small importance whether we believe it or not? As the same authority is equally connected with commands, we might with equal propriety, ask, if there can be a little divine command? If either is admitted, the consequence doubtless will be admitted also, namely, that for the breach of it, there can be but a little eternal punishment—a little everlasting hell!
“As things are proposed unto us,” says Dr. [John] Owen, “to be believed as true, faith in its assent respects only the truth or veracity of God; but whereas this faith is required of us in a way of obedience, and is considered not only physically in its nature, but morally also as our duty, it respects also the authority of God, which I therefore join with the truth of God. Thus saith the Lord, is that which is proposed unto us as the reason why we should believe.”[(John Owen) Reason of Faith in Scrip., p. 25, 26. Glasgow, 1801.]