I once received a consignment of telescopes in connection with my business. When it began to get dark, I unwrapped one of the telescopes, and on directing it towards the night sky I was astonished to find that a star was visible where none had been apparent to the naked eye. I took the telescope away, and nothing was to be seen; I put the telescope back to my eye, and there was the star again.
True faith is like this telescope. The mind of man is in darkness as to the things of God, and without faith, he gropes in the shadows and does not know where he is going. However, the moment the Spirit of God imparts faith to the soul, Christ is seen exactly as the star was seen in the sky. If it is only the telescope that reveals the unseen star, so it is only true faith which reveals the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus the apostle could write: “And the light appears in darkness, and the darkness apprehended it not” (John 1: 5). Without the telescope, the natural eye could not see the star, and, in the same way, the natural eye of man cannot see the glories of Christ. Man must have the ‘eye’ of faith imparted to him to see the risen Christ.
Another thing about the telescope: it enabled me to see the star, and to know it was there, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with making the star. This illustrates a most important fact as to salvation. Many, though they know that salvation cannot be attained by works, still think that is in some way connected with having the ‘right’ faith or ‘enough’ faith. This is making faith the saviour instead of Christ Himself. Faith has no more to do with producing salvation, than the telescope had to do with producing the star. The star in the sky was there long before you ever lifted the telescope to your eye, and the work of Christ was finished long before you ever thought of becoming a believer. Faith does not produce salvation, but sees it to be in Christ, and knows that salvation to be mine because God has said it is. Thus: “Be it known unto you, therefore, brethren, that through this man remission of sins is preached to you, and from all things from which ye could not be justified in the law of Moses, in him every one that believes is justified” (Acts 13: 38, 39, my emphasis). Do you believe what the word of God says here? I do not ask what sort of faith you have—there is only one true faith, all else is unbelief—but is your faith in Him? ‘What is faith?’ said a doctor to his Christian patient. ‘Well, Doctor’ said the believer, ‘when I came to you I put myself entirely in your hands. That is faith’.To the natural man, Jesus Christ is a person of history, a man of long ago who is no longer with us. Just as no star was visible to the naked eye without the telescope, so the natural man cannot see the present glories of the Christ in heaven. What a contrast to the believer! Through faith, he can see things which eye has not seen, and enter into the things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit (see 1 Cor. 2: 9, 10). Thus Stephen “having fixed his eyes on heaven ... saw [the] glory of God, and Jesus” (Acts 7: 55).