Living By Faith
by Tom StewartApril 30, 2001 "The just shall live by faith"(Romans 1:17).
George Mueller of Bristol is remembered for his ministry of supporting thousands of orphans without advertising his needs to man, but God only. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). At times, lacking the very bread to place before the orphans, their needs were always met, when mealtime actually came. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). Mueller believed in the literal necessity of praying, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). Because he loved his God supremely, he desired that all men, and especially the Saints, would know the faithfulness of God. "O Thou That Hearest Prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come" (Psalm 65:2). And, loving his neighbour as himself, he desired to relieve the material and spiritual needs of the homeless orphans. "Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17). But, as touched as he was with the plight of the orphans, he desired more to prove that he was no different from his fellow Christians, in that, if God, the "Father of the Fatherless" (Psalm 68:5), would answer his prayers, then He would do the same for the Brethren. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not" (James 5:17).Briefly, what is living by faith?
As exceptional a man as George Mueller was, when compared to contemporary Christianity, George Mueller only did what all True Christians must do, which is to live by faith. "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). Likewise, Abraham is held up to us as an example of a righteous man who was justified before God; but, Abraham merely did what all men must do. He believed God. "2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (4:2-3). Ordinary Christians are expected to "live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20), to provide for them-- body, soul, and spirit. "25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 33 But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (6:25-34).
First, faith must be in God, not man. "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man" (Psalm 118:8).
Second, the Father has specifically appointed His Son as the object of our faith. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life" (John 3:16).
Third, faith is the voluntary confiding in and trusting of the LORD Jesus Christ, Whose "Name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).
Fourth, faith is a product of the Word of God and the Spirit of God, working in a willing heart. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). "And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27).
Fifth, living by faith is necessary for those who desire to please God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
Sixth, living by faith is in contrast to allowing yourself to be controlled by simply what your physical eyes see. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Corinthians 5:7).
And, finally, since faith is the substantial controlling element of every aspect of the Christian life, no part of life can be divorced from its overriding influence. "1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report" (Hebrews 11:1-2).
Those who realize their need to live by faith must read, meditate upon, and study much the Word of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). It can be seen that every Saint throughout the ages has had the responsibility and privilege to trust God and live by faith. "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). Whenever we find ourselves making decisions and judgments without asking the Spirit, "What saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3), or consulting the Father through prayer, then we are walking like the world, and "not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8). "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, [the Holy Spirit] saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21). Recognizing that God is able to direct our thoughts, we are to consciously choose out "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8) with the understanding that this is walking by faith. This is thinking God's thoughts after Him. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). This then is discerning the pattern of action that best corresponds to our understanding of His Word. "I being in the way, the LORD led me" (Genesis 24:27).
In addition to the supremacy of the Word of God and a continual attitude of praying "without ceasing" (1Thessalonians 5:17), to those who walk by faith, many other factors need to be considered:
(1) The LORD Jesus Christ is the sum total of all-- moral, physical, material, and spiritual-- the supply of what we need to walk by faith. "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). [Read "In Christ Jesus" ---New Window by A. T. Pierson to explore this idea. Also, Charles G. Finney's "The Relations of Christ to the Believer" ---New Window elevates the centrality of Christ for the life of faith.]
(2) Our moral agency should work in concert with God's sovereignty and not get in the way, if we seek Him first. "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
(3) A quick confession and hatred of personal sin, so that we walk in no known sin, must be the rule of those who must walk by faith. "23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way Everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).
(4) God's Providence in our circumstances and in current events must and will guide us, if we are looking for His guidance of our walk of faith. "Seek, and ye shall find" (Matthew 7:7).
(5) Patience will be necessary in our walk of faith, i.e., the "trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:3), because we are not aware of all the factors that God must manage in the performance of His promises. "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD" (Exodus 14:13).
(6) Communion with God, where we continually converse with the High and Lofty One That Inhabiteth Eternity in the consciousness of our mind, keeps our purpose fixed to live by faith. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him... for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).
(7) A non-Pharisaical separation from the world-- "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2Corinthians 6:17)-- and from sinning Professed Brethren-- "19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the Truth, and one convert him; 20 let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from Death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20), and "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2Thessalonians 3:14)-- is necessary, if we are to live by faith.
(8) Ensuring that we allow our physical bodies to do no more than make suggestions to us of our physical needs, e.g., pain, hunger, thirst, and pleasure, we must not allow ourselves, as the world is, to be dominated by them, i.e., "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1John 2:16), if we would live by faith. "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1Corinthians 9:27).
(9) We must ask for and desire earnestly the protection under the shadow of the Wings of the Almighty against the temptations and assaults of the Devil, if we expect to live by faith. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you... Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your Brethren" (James 4:7; 1Peter 5:9). And,
(10) an expectancy of the imminent return of the LORD Jesus Christ, i.e., "and the LORD, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple" (Malachi 3:1), to Rapture and Resurrect His Saints, and to judge the world for its impenitent sins, will be our hope and encouragement for sanctified living and service, in our present distress, because we are living by faith. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:23)..