“25 qualities of unbelief and faith” by John Bunyan

“Let me here give thee, Christian reader, a more particular description of the qualities of unbelief, by opposing faith unto it, in these twenty-five particulars:—

1. Faith believeth the Word of God; but unbelief questioneth the certainty of the same (Ps. 106:24).

2. Faith believeth the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubteth thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).

3. Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, saith, How can these things be? (Rom 4:19–21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11, 12).

4. Faith will make thee see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he saith he loves us (Matt 15:22, 28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).

5. Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13, 14).

6. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20, 21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26; 27).

7. Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).

8. Faith maketh great burdens light; but unbelief maketh light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14–18; Mal 1:12, 13).

9. Faith helpeth us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8–10; Heb 4:11).

10. Faith bringeth us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12, 13).

11. Where faith reigns, it declareth men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declareth them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).

12. Faith putteth a man under grace; but unbelief holdeth him under wrath (Rom 3:24–26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).

13. Faith purifieth the heart; but unbelief keepeth it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15, 16).

14. By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23, 24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).

15. Faith maketh our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).

16. Faith giveth us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief worketh trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).

17. Faith maketh us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2, 3).

18. By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).

19. Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief layeth us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4, 5; Luke 12:46).

20. Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter;. (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24–27; 1 Cor 15:32).

21. Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).

22. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

23. By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

24. By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16–22; Num 14:11, 14).

25. By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28–30).

Thus might many more be added, which, for brevity’s sake, I omit; beseeching every one that thinketh he hath a soul to save, or be damned, to take heed of unbelief; lest, seeing there is a promise left us of entering into his rest, any of us by unbelief should indeed come short of it.”

–John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, The Works of John Bunyan, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1991), 1: 293-294.

“Faith looks to Jesus” by Hugh Martin

“Now this is the very essence of the contest between faith and unbelief. Unbelief shrinks from being contented with having my eternal salvation entirely in the hands of another.

Unbelief searches diligently for something to trust to in myself, and would look upon it with complacency, and rest upon it with peace and delight, could it but succeed in the search.

The search is vain. In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. (Rom. 7:18)

But faith looks out. Faith looks to Jesus. Faith says, ‘Jesus is sufficient; Jesus is infallible. Jesus is true.’

Faith sees salvation safe in His hand and says, ‘My Lord and my God,’ (John 20:28) I am thine: and we so are one, that Thy will to save me is as good to me as my own willingness to be saved; yea, better, brighter, steadier, unslumbering, unflagging, changeless.’

And then: ‘Thy power is all-sufficient. Thou art all my salvation. Thou art all my desire.’

None but Christ: none but Christ.”

–Hugh Martin, The Shadow of Calvary (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2016), 132.

“His mercy will live longer than thy sin” by John Bunyan

“Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlasting mercy upon thee.

This is long-lived mercy. It will live longer than thy sin, it will live longer than temptation, it will live longer than thy sorrows, it will live longer than thy persecutors.

It is mercy from everlasting to contrive thy salvation, and mercy to everlasting to weather it out with all thy adversaries.

Now what can hell and death do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him? And this hath the man that feareth the Lord.

Take that other blessed word, and O thou man that fearest the Lord, hang it like a chain of gold about thy neck—’As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him’ (Psalm 103:11).

If mercy as big, as high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privilege, the man that feareth God shall have a privilege.

Dost thou fear God?—’Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him’ (Psalm 103:13).”

–John Bunyan, “A Treatise on the Fear of God,” in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offer, 3 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1: 470.

“Turn from broken cisterns and drink from the Fountain of living waters” by Joel Beeke

“This is only a sampling of the many false views about God. Calvin rightly said, ‘Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.’ (Institutes, 1.11.8)

It is not our intention, however, to look down upon other people and thank God that we are not as other men, but to reflect upon ourselves and cry out, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:11, 13).

The sad fact is that the idols we have just exposed exist in hearts that attend Christian churches every Lord’s Day. To indulge in sin is practical atheism. If our hearts are divided in loyalty, we are guilty of polytheism.

Whenever we give our adoration to created things, we live as practical pantheists. Our trust in our own thoughts and feelings as if they had divine authority is no better than panentheism.

When we fail to trust God’s sovereign providence and plan for the future, we engage in finite theism. We might add other idols to the list, such as greed for material things (Col. 3:5).

John’s warning ‘Keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21) is directed to believers, and the only idols he specifically lists in that epistle are ‘the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ (1 John 2:16).

How pitiful are such things compared to the true God! He is the great ‘I AM,’ the infinitely personal and immanently sovereign Lord. His beauty shines in the world that He created, but He is not the world.

Instead, He transcends the cosmos in glorious and eternal independence. Unspeakable splendor and joy dwell in His presence. And all who trust in Christ have access to His presence, the holy place, even while they sojourn on earth.

God’s wisdom, righteousness, and power radiate from the crucified Christ. At the cross, while all natural glory lay in ruins, God was redeeming the nations.

The resurrected Lord now reigns over all things as the only Mediator of the kingdom of grace. He will return with the holy angels to Judge the wicked and reward those made righteous by grace.

God’s call for men to repent of idolatry is not the death knell of human happiness, but the beginning of real life. God commands us to turn from broken cisterns and drink from the Fountain of living waters.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit say, ‘Come, eat and drink.’ The feast to which they summon us is nothing less than fellowship with the One true and living God.”

–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God, Volume 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 1: 602-603.

“The riddles of God” by G.K. Chesterton

“In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, the right method is to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.

This, I say, is the first fact touching the speech (i.e. Job 38-42); the fine inspiration by which God comes in at the end, not to answer riddles, but to propound them. The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the world work religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable.

Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told.

The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Book of Job,” in On Lying in Bed and Other Essays, Ed. Alberto Manguel (Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2000), 176.

“I will pray” by John Bunyan

“Now, while these Scriptures lay before me, and laid sin ‘anew’ at my door, that saying in the 18th of Luke, with others, did encourage me to prayer.

Then the tempter again laid at me very sore, suggesting, That neither the mercy of God, nor yet the blood of Christ, did at all concern me, nor could they help me for my sin; ‘therefore it was in vain to pray.’

Yet, thought I, I will pray.

But, said the tempter, your sin is unpardonable.

Well, said I, I will pray.

It is to no boot, said he.

Yet, said I, I will pray.

So I went to prayer to God; and while I was at prayer, I uttered words to this effect:

Lord, Satan tells me that neither Thy mercy, nor Christ’s blood, is sufficient to save my soul.

Lord, shall I honour Thee most, by believing Thou wilt and canst? or ‘him,’ by believing thou neither wilt nor canst?

Lord, I would fain honour Thee, by believing Thou wilt and canst.”

–John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Works of John Bunyan, Vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 31-32. [HT: MED]

“Faith” by John Bunyan

“Faith sees more in one promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder. But unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, saith, ‘How can these things be?’ (Rom 4:19-21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11,12).”

–John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2011), 202-203.

“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio


The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1601-1602)
Oil on canvas. Sanssouci of Potsdam, Germany.

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Gospel According to John, chapter 20, verses 24-29, ESV

“The ultimate cause of all spiritual depression” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief. It is because we listen to the devil instead of listening to God that we go down before him and fall before his attacks.”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965/2002), 20.