In one section of his book, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Thomas Brooks gives some biblical examples of what it means to be weak in faith: those weak in faith have a fair amount of worldliness in their hearts, they fret and worry excessively about troubles and trials, they often think more of their sin than God’s grace, and they often judge their spiritual condition by feelings rather than facts (among other things). Brooks followed up this section with another great section we can properly call, “Support for Those Weak in Faith.” Brooks gives twelve “supports”; I’ll list a few of them (edited for length) below:
1) The weakest Christians have as much as interest and propriety in Christ as the strongest saints in the world. Weak saints are as much united to Christ, as much justified by Christ, as much reconciled by Christ, and as much pardoned by Christ as the strongest saints. A soul weak in grace has as much interest in the Lord as the strongest saint has, even though the weak saint might not have the skill to improve upon that interest.
2) The Lord will not cast away weak saints because of the weakness that clings to their persons or services. Christ looks more upon Peter’s sorrow than his sin, more upon his tears than upon his oaths. The Lord will not cast away weak saints for their great unbelief, for there is a little faith in them. He will not throw them away for that hypocrisy that is in them because of that little sincerity that is in them. He will not cast away weak saints for that pride that is in them, because of those rays of humility that shine in them. We would not throw a little gold away because there is a great deal of dross in it, neither will God throw his people away though there is a great deal of weakness in them. The Lord Jesus has as great and as large and interest in the weakest saints as he has in the strongest.
3) The Lord will graciously preserve and strengthen those weak graces that are in his weak saints. Though your graces be as a spark of fire in the midst of an ocean of corruption, yet the Lord will preserve and blow up that spark of fire into a flame. It was the priest’s office in the time of the law to keep the fire in the sanctuary from going out; it is the office of our Lord Jesus – as he is our high priest, head, husband, and mediator – to blow up that heavenly fire that he has kindled in our souls. A bruised reed he will not break, nor quench the smoking flax (Mt. 12:27).
4) Weak Christians do not stand before God in their own righteousness, but in the perfect, spotless, and matchless righteousness of Christ. Weak hearts are prone to be troubled and discouraged when they consider the sin that is in them and when they consider the imperfections clinging to their good deeds. Then they are ready to say, ‘We will one day perish because of the strength of our lusts or the defects of our good deeds!’ Remember this, however, that weak Christians stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, so God owns them and looks upon them as his people wrapped up in his royal robe (Jer. 23.6, 1 Cor. 1.30). Though weak saints have nothing of their own, yet in Christ they have all, for in him is all fullness (Col. 1.19).
5) Weak Christians have a share in Christ; they are firmly united to him. Christ shares with them in their human nature. Christ shares with them in their afflictions. Christ shares with them in their suffering and persecution. Christ shares with them in all their temptations. Weak saints share with Christ in his image, in his Spirit, his grace, his victory, his honor, and his glory (Eph. 2.6, John 14.2, 3, Rev. 3.21).
Practical theology indeed! If a Christian is weak in faith, he should not delight in this fact nor should he despair, because the gospel is still the gospel for those who have even a little faith. Or, in other words, the strength of our faith does not save us; the strength of our Savior does!
Thomas Brooks, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ in Thomas Brooks, Works III.60-75.
Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his bog and is used with permission.