Still slowly working my way through the complete set of John Owen, currently in my custody until its rightful owners reclaim it, which hopefully won’t be any time too soon.
Faith is, actually, taking a leap. Not a leap into the unknown, though, but into the known, the truth. It’s still heart-stopping in its awfulness though, because of how your everything depends on the truth being true. Is it safe to take God’s word at face value? And look at all your stuff you’ve got to leave behind.
John Owen, Vol 9, p106:
In the midst of all our obedience which is our own, we must believe and accept of a righteousness which is not our own, nor at all wrought or procured by us – of which we have no assurance that there is any such thing, but by the faith we have in the promise of God: and thereupon, renouncing all that is in or of ourselves, we must merely and solely rest on that for righteousness and acceptance with God.
… [Paul] reckons up all his own duties – is encompassed with them – sees them lying in great abundance on every hand – every one of them offering its assistance, perhaps painting its face, and crying that it is gain. But saith the apostle, ‘You are all loss and dung – I look for another righteousness than any you can give me.’
Man sees and knows his own duty, his own righteousness and walking with God – he sees what it costs and stands him in. He knows what pains he has taken about it – what waiting, fasting, labouring, praying it hath cost him – how he hath cut himself short in his natural desires, and mortified his flesh in abstinence from sin. These are the things of a man, wrought in him, performed by him, and the spirit of a man knows them. And they will promise fair to the heart of any man that hath been sincere in them, for any end and purpose that he shall use them.
But now, for the righteousness of Christ – that is outside him. He sees it not, experiences it not – the spirit that is within him knows nothing of it. He has no acquaintance with it, but merely as it is revealed and proposed in the promises – wherein yet it is nowhere said to him, in particular, that it is his, and was provided for him, but only that it is so, to and for believers.
Now, for a man to cast away that which he hath seen, for that which he hath not seen – to refuse that which promises to give him a fair support in the presence of God, and which he is sure is his own, and cannot be taken from him, for that which he must venture on upon the word of promise, against ten thousand doubts, and fears, and temptations that it belongs not to him: – this the heart of a man is not easily brought unto.
Every man must make a venture for his future state and condition. The question only is, upon what he shall venture it? Our own obedience is at hand, and promises fairly to give assistance and help: for a man, therefore, wholly to cast it aside upon the naked promise of God to receive him in Christ, is a thing that the heart of man must be humbled unto. There is nothing in a man that will not dispute against this captivity of itself: innumerable proud reasonings and imaginations are set up against it, and when the mind and discursive, notional part of the mind is overpowered with the truth, yet the practical principle of the will and the affections exceedingly tumultuate against it.
But this is the law of God’s grace, which must be submitted unto, if we will walk with him. The most holy, wise, and zealous, who have yielded the most constant obedience unto God – whose good works and godly conversation have shone as lights in the world – must cast down all these crowns at the foot of Jesus, renounce all for him, and the righteousness that he hath wrought out for us. All must be sold for this pearl – all parted with for Christ.
In the strictest course of exactest obedience in us, we are to look for a righteousness wholly outside us.