It is a great and eminent act of faith. [See] Hebrews 11, where the mighty efficacy and great success of faith is spoken of. One of the particulars, and that wherein many of the rest did center, is, “These all died in faith.” It was a great thing to die in faith under the Old Testament, when they were encompassed with so many shadows, and so much darkness, and when their view into things invisible, within the vail, was exceeding much beneath what God hath communicated unto us. Nay, the state of things within the vail was not the same then as now; there was not Christ upon the throne, administering his office. Notwithstanding, faith carried them through all this darkness, and caused them to make a believing venture of their souls upon God, his faithfulness, mercy, and grace.
When it comes to this consideration, it lays all things in the balance :—in the one scale, our being, our walking, and life in this world; our sins, and their guilt; our fears, uncertainties, and darkness of a future state; our abhorrence of a dissolution, the consideration of all things that are round about us ;—in the other, the power, faithfulness, and mercy of God, and his ability to receive, preserve, and keep us to that day, and to be better to us than all these things. ” Here shall be my portion,” saith faith; “all things in the other scale are of no value, of no weight to this exceeding weight of power and goodness of God.” This is a glorious exercise of faith! Have you tried it, my brethren? Lay things on the one side and the other in the balance, and see which way the scale will draw,—what faith will do in such a case.
It is the last victorious act of faith, wherein it hath its final conquest over all its adversaries. Faith is the leading grace in all our spiritual warfare and conflict; but all along while we live, it hath faithful company that adheres to it, and helps it. Love works, and hope works, and all other graces,—self-denial, readiness to the cross, —they all work and help faith. But when we come to die, faith is left alone. Now, try what faith will do. The exercise of other graces ceases; only faith comes to a close conflict with its last adversary, wherein the whole is to be tried. And, by this one act of resigning all into the hand of God, faith triumphs over death, and cries, ” ‘death, where is thy sting? grave, where is thy victory?’ Come, give me an inlet into immortality and glory; the everlasting hand of God is ready to receive me!”
This is the victory whereby we overcome all our spiritual enemies.
– John Owen –
from a sermon on The Christian’s Work of Dying Daily, volume 9 of Works, pages 339-340