Monday, June 15, 2009

Walking by Faith

What does the Bible teach about faith? Many Christians would be quick to point out, and rightly so, the Bible teaches salvation (being accepted by God) is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. In other words, ONLY by trusting in the perfect life, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ can anyone be saved. The faith or trust is in another, not yourself. The faith is in some work that someone else performed on your behalf to satisfy God's justice and absorb His wrath because of your sin. There is absolutely nothing that any person can do to earn salvation or obligate God to save them. All that must be done is to believe God's promise to grant you salvation because of Christ if you simply collapse, rest, trust in Him. AND faith isn't something that a person can "muster up" it is a gracious gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Inherently then Christian or biblical faith is anti-self, anti-works, anti-earning. Even though faith is something that a person can exercise its very nature is self-diminishing so that it never takes credit for doing anything. That is Christian/biblical faith and that's the ONLY way into the kingdom of God - faith in Jesus Christ.

But what about after salvation? What keeps you saved, what keeps you walking in sweet fellowship with God and living an obedient, courageous life? Many people answer, "disciplined living", or "obedience", or "will power" or various other efforts. But the Bible teaches that we are saved by faith AND we walk/live by faith (Romans 1:17, 2Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 2:20-21, Hebrews 10:38-39). So how does that work? What is it about faith that enables it to provide power for faithful Christian living?

The goal of the Christian life is to become more and more like Christ so that our lives, our very existence exalts Christ and brings glory to God. That's the whole point! How does faith enable that? Hebrews 11 is probably the best place to go for that answer. In Hebrews 11 we find example after example of people who are presented as heroes of faith. What did they do? They chose to believe God, trusting His promises even when they could not see how those promises could be fulfilled. They took God's word for it regarding issue after issue. If God said to Noah, "Noah, it's going to rain and flood the earth so build a boat to weather the storm" Noah believed God and therefore obeyed (Genesis 6:13ff). That's what faith does. I'm sure Noah's brain went into action with things like, "But God it has never rained so why should I think it's ever going to rain"? Or, "But God, the people will laugh at me and think I'm nuts". Or, "God, it's too big for me, I'm afraid I can't finish such a daunting task". Whatever the excuse Noah ultimately responded in faith, simply taking God at His word. Abraham did the same regarding Isaac. God made Abraham wait until he was too old to naturally have a child with Sarah so that God could display His power and glory through a miraculous birth. Then after waiting all that time for Isaac, God told Abraham to sacrifice him - kill him as a sacrifice on an altar. Wow, can you imagine Abraham's excuses for not doing that one! Yes, but he believed God so much that he figured God would raise him from the dead if need he obeyed (Genesis 22:2-19).

In both cases above (and Hebrews 11 recounts many more) there were MANY other voices and promises screaming at Abraham and Noah to doubt God. If Noah and Abraham had NOT believed God they would have listened to those other promises and voices and obeyed them instead. But they chose to believe God and walk accordingly. By believing God over and above the other voices (voices from false gods) and promises (that claim to satisfy but cannot so they are false promises from false gods) the people of God make choices that are obedient to and therefore glorifying to Christ. They are also ultimately satisfying and rewarding to us because only God can give us true and full joy. What glorifies Him satisfies us because to the Christian the ultimate joy and satisfaction is God Himself!

So how does a Christian walk in victory over fear? Believe God that He will provide true security and that nothing can overcome Him (Romans 8:28ff). How does a Christian walk in victory over sin? Believe God that He will provide a superior joy (Matthew 25:21-30). How does a Christian walk in obedience? Believe God that a life lived in obedience to Christ's teaching is simply the very best possible option (at all levels) for living (Matthew 7:24-29). When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they doubted God and believed the serpent and acted accordingly. True biblical faith produces works that please and glorify God. Anything other than true biblical faith produces works that seek to glorify and satisfy you rather than God and that will always incur God's wrath and achieve your misery. Trust God's promises and His character. Faith believes that God is powerful and sovereign so that He can accomplish His promises AND that He is good toward His people and WILL accomplish His promises (Romans 8:28ff). What an awesome God we serve!

No comments:

Post a Comment