See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright -- but the righteous will live by his faith-- (Habakkuk 2:4)
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 1:3)
There are a great number of aspects concerning the subject of faith that are important for us to understand and experience. In many minds today the word faith represents the power people have to be healed from diseases or to become financially prosperous. To others it speaks of the act of believing in things that they cannot see. In this brief article, I would like to examine the meaning of living by faith. It would be helpful to understand and learn how to practice that kind of faith that can produce pure, powerful and abundant Life in all of us!
To be sure, there are many mystical sides of the operation of faith in us. God is in fact, very mysterious in that He is a Spirit, and we as human beings are often unfamiliar even with our own spirits. We are more experienced in the realm of physical things that we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Faith enables us to extend ourselves both outward and inward, that we might experience the many wonders of a God that transcends both time and space.
The writers and the narrators of the New Testament had much to say concerning faith. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that our great salvation is made possible by grace through faith, not of our own works lest any should boast. Then in his writings, James emphasizes the need for works. He states that true faith, which is alive will produce holy deeds of kindness toward others. To him faith that is not followed by action is dead. All of these words have taken on a very religious sound over the years, but they are nevertheless very practical.
Now we are focusing on how to live by faith. After 30 years of being a Christian, with 20 of them in the "public ministry," I believe that I am beginning to really live! This is a dimension that is much more than merely existing. It is a place that all of us can come into in Christ, who died to give us His Life. In this abundant life there are stresses that would make strong men and women crack, and there are seemingly hopeless situations confronting us regularly. There are also times that make you wonder if you have already died and went to heaven! In the midst of it all the juices of life are coursing through our veins, that give a greater rush than parachuting out of an airplane!
So living by faith is becoming a reality to many in this hour, and those who have tasted it are compelled to lure as many brave souls into this adventure that they can. A hunger is calling forth from the hearts of many today, compelling them to contend for the faith of the primitive Church that Jesus Himself brought forth. It is a faith that frees us from the dull and ordinary, and releases us from the pursuit of vain and empty things. It is an energy that fills every thing we do, giving us hope and power to change many things that we know are not pleasing to God.
This faith is born in our hearts by the Word of God Himself. Many of us first realize it when we are drowning in hopelessness and despair. Like a child trapped in a burning building as the fireman comes to rescue her, we too must set aside our fears. As this great hulking figure reaches out to us, we must trust in His ability to bring us safely home. Hear Him calling unto us in a reassuring voice, giving us confidence and calm to yield to Him, while He lifts us up in His Great Arms of love and compassion!
As the child is saved by her faith in the skills of the trained rescuer, we too are saved by our faith in the power, love and grace of Jesus Christ. Then as we continue to walk with Him and listen to His Voice, our faith grows accordingly. It might have begun as a level of trust in His wonderful Person, but now it flourishes into a firmness and stability as well as a bold persistence for the will of God. This is the conviction that James testified of that will produce good works.
These are not legalistic or religious acts that James is speaking of. This same writer also extolled the perfect Law of Liberty and the Royal Law of Love! He knew as well as Paul did that dead religious ceremony could not give us life. He also knew that we need to be useful to God and a blessing to humanity.
This is part of our salvation. Salvation means simply to be delivered or "open and free." As people who have been liberated we continue in that freedom by releasing others from all kinds of oppression.
God has given to His Church the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers to equip us for these works of service. With the aid of God's servants, each of us can find and develop our individual spiritual gifts, ever moving into a higher dimension of living by faith. Our lives begin to make a difference to those around us. No longer will it be said of us that we are so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good!
Many of us have experienced pressure from outside ourselves to believe in certain things or conduct ourselves in certain ways. Instead of motivation we often receive guilt and condemnation instead. God may use these methods to get our attention at first, but ultimately faith must be a living thing, born out of our living relationship with Him. A strong Word from God should convict us of wrongdoing or the neglect for the things that are right, but if we listen to His Heart we will also receive His desires to empower us.
Deep within us all is the need for intimacy with Him, and He is ready to answer that need if we seek Him first. Out of this relationship we receive something truly worth believing in. You see, when you really believe in something or someone, your actions come very naturally. You want to give yourself to a person or cause that has validity and meaning. Think of the zeal that people express for the things of the world that they identify with. Today we are being inspired, motivated and energized by our vision of the greatest Quest of all!
In the 11th Chapter of the book of Hebrews, we find a wonderful exposition on faith. These are verses that have blessed preachers and congregations for centuries. How often have we cheered for the great heroes of the bible that demonstrated their faith on the pages of scripture. They have greatly inspired us over the years, but something has become wrong with this picture. In chapter 12, verses 1 and 2 we see how the writer envisioned the situation. He did not see us in the bleachers, cheering on the saints of old, vicariously enjoying their adventures. He saw the living in the arena, with those that have gone before wishing they could be where we are!
Faith takes us out of the grandstands and into the arena of life, where we take chances and sometimes even make mistakes. Here we are driven to enter into a greater reliance on God and the Christ within, as our human weaknesses become more evident. This deepening relationship stimulates us to take on responsibilities and make better decisions. While we are on this mission from God, even our failures cause us to learn more of Him, but spectators and "arm-chair quarterbacks" will miss this revelation.
Playing it safe and remaining in our comfort zone actually inhibits living faith. It is not that we all must quit our jobs and go out into "full-time ministry," but we enter into true full-time ministry in the mission field we are already on today. Our security is in our relationship with the Father and His Will. The trust that we have in Him and one another insures that standing, even when our faith is tested.
Consider this: Whether you are young or a more mature child of God, you are not a spectator. You are a leader and are at center-stage. People are watching you. You may be following someone who is ahead of you in the race, but you are ultimately responsible for your part. Do you feel both the pressure and excitement? Do you feel the butterflies in the pit of your stomach? Then you are beginning to be really alive! Hold on to the security of God's Word and His Love for you and get ready for the ride of your life!
You are going to find yourself in situations that you never expected and saying things you never thought of before. You will need to stay plugged in to the endless resources of an eternal God and Saviour, but as you release what you possess, His mighty River will flow through you! What are you waiting for? Say to the Father, "Here am I! Send Me!" and allow His fire to both fill your spirit and cleanse your life for the great purpose He has chosen only you for! Then you can begin for yourself to travel on the road of living by faith!!