These are extracts taken from Arthur Tappan Pierson’s sermon on the sin of Habitual Unbelief. He was a regular speaker at the Keswick Conventions in England during the period 1897 to 1909. It’s a pity that not many of AT Pierson’s writings are available on the Internet.
He was lithe, tall, stern, and even severe person in appearance, with the burning eyes of a prophet. But behind his formidable appearance, was a heart of concern and prayer. When he spoke, the convicting work of the Spirit was felt. One example was when he preaching his sermon, “Habitual Unbelief” at a Keswick meeting. He left a young visitor, W. Graham Scroggie, spellbound, oblivious to the fact the congregation had left, until suddenly looking about and noticing he was left alone in the large tent!
1. Men consider unbelief a trifling sin against God, while it is the one damning sin that, if persisted in, has no forgiveness, because it forfeits forgiveness and rejects the Atonement. You were unable to keep the Law: ‘This do, and you shall live.’Now by unbelief, you reject Grace. ‘This believe, and you shall live.’ You reject the gospel of grace by persistent unbelief. Wake up, O sinner! Cry out, O unbeliever! Believe, and be saved.
2. We know why unbelief is found in that fearful catalogue of sin and crime against God, in Rev 21:8. The condemnation reserved for murderers, whoremongers, sorcerors, idolaters, is reserved also for unbelievers. Yes, the unbelieving, like the fearful, the idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the lake of fire. Do not ever think of unbelief as a trivial sin; it is the mother of all sins in the eyes of God.
3. Unbelief limits the power of God, paralyses testimony, makes us deaf to God’s voice, permanently forfeits God’s blessing (remember Esau!).You may lose your life’s privileges, and even God cannot give them back; for He cannot restore the lost hour, the wasted year, the misspent life. The famished life of an unbelieving soul cannot be compensated. What a loss! What peril lies in unbelief!
4. Heb 6:6 and 10:29 are two strong passages which are an arraignment of the awful criminality of unbelief. Listen! Unbelief makes void the Word of God. God has given you wonderful promises (thousands of them) in such universal terms, and yet you close your eyes to the infallibility and faithfulness of God’s Word. If you cannot trust God’s Word, it means you cannot trust God. You make Him a liar!
5. Read Heb 6:6 and 10:29. Listen! Unbelief makes void the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God gave all He had, at infinite cost, when He gave His Son as a public sacrifice on the Cross, to purchase eternal redemption for you. When you reject Christ, you are virtually flinging aside this sacrifice. You are putting Him to open shame without any reward for His sufferings. You are scorning the blood given for deliverance!
6. Heb 10:29. You insult the Spirit of grace, by your unbelief. God said, ‘This do, and you shall live.’ But Adam failed under the probation of law. Now God gives the probation of grace. He says, ‘Accept Christ & His sacrifice, and your sins shall be passed over.’ If you accept Christ crucified, you sins are wiped out by the atoning Blood. But will you? Will you clear this probation of grace, by the test of simple faith?
7. Oh, the tremendous guilt of unbelief. It crucifies the Son of God afresh. It puts Him to open shame. Instead of sprinkling the Blood on the doorposts and above your head, for your protection & deliverance, you are pouring it aside and trampling it under foot. Instead of taking shelter under the Blood, you are treating it with contempt. You are making void the stupendous sacrifice of Jesus Christ your Lord!
8. Unbelief not only crucifies the Son of God afresh, and puts Him to open shame, trampling underfoot the blood that should have been put on the two side-doorposts and lintel overhead. You have by your unbelief in Christ’s sacrifice made the dispensation of grace by the Holy Spirit absolutely void. ‘This believe, and you shall live’ – a simple probation of grace & faith – you cast away by your gross unbelief.
© Roland N Oliver/Pratonix
(These are extracts from AT Pierson’s famous sermon on the folly and criminality of Habitual Unbelief.)