The Holy Spirit says without faith it is impossible to please God, (Heb. 11:6a) and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Rom. 14:23b). In such statements we are reminded that faith is the key which unlocks the door to us experiencing the true ways of the Lord in our lives. If there is no faith then there is no relationship with God. It is by faith that we come to know God and it is by faith that we live to please God. The principle that faith is essential to living a righteous life is set by Habakkuk when he says Behold his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him – but the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab. 2:4 ESV). This theme is taken up three times in the New Testament (see Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11 and Heb 10:38). In these three scriptures the essential nature of faith to experiencing life in Christ is developed.
But what is faith? When we have faith in someone we are trusting them; we are believing in them. We are reaching away from ourselves and our situation to rely on them.
Faith is not just an optional extra for those who take their religion seriously. Rather, faith is at the heart of everything that is done for God. Faith is the means by which things are accomplished by God. When we read through Hebrews 11 we have the continued statement “by faith”. The chapter tells us of men and women of God who accomplished great things for Him and the necessary ingredient for doing this was the exercise of their faith. We need to remember this. Faith is essential for the experience of God in our lives. The power of such faith is seen in what our Lord says to Peter ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them (Mark 11v 22-23). So we learn that to truly know God we need faith and to truly do anything to please God and for His glory we need faith.
This contrasts radically with the thinking of the world in which we live. The world in which we live relentlessly tells us of the need to trust in that which is tangible and “real”. That which can be touched and seen should be trusted is the message we hear. If we trust these things we will do well is the worlds’ mantra, but it is not so with God. God says “Trust me! Reach away from yourself and have faith in Me.” We need to fight against the deceptions of the devil as he urges us to trust in ourselves and all around us. We need to have faith in God.
But faith in God is not just some religious slogan which unites all “of faith”. It has value and meaning only in and through Christ Jesus our Lord. God has made a new and living way into His presence and that way is not just made by Jesus, it is Jesus. To use another image, faith is the pipeline which brings forth the flow of Jesus into our lives. The pipeline reaches from the place of need to the source of blessing, and from that source comes the blessing, wisdom and strength of God. Faith takes us out of ourselves and into God.
When we think of exercising faith and the blessings of God coming into our lives, we so easily assume that this means all will the work out pleasantly for us. But to conclude this is to be confused. The confusion comes because we view Gods’ ways through human spectacles. As a result we think if I have faith all will go swimmingly for me. Hebrews 11:35 in this context is an eye-opening verse. The verse starts with a statement which concludes a section about many people having glorious “successes” by faith (see vv33-35a), but it continues to start a list of how many others had exactly the same faith, but with radically different outcomes (see v 35b-38). Such outcomes, for the latter group, were mockings, floggings, chains, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, killed with the sword, destitution, affliction and mistreatment, living in deserts, mountains, dens and caves. This teaches us that we are called to trust God and live by faith. The consequences of such living faith lie with the Lord. Accordingly, we are very unwise to go with Job’s friends and conclude that Job was wicked because he was suffering. No, many like Job are suffering because God has determined that that is to be the outcome of their true faith.
So let us be of faith. Let us reject the way of the world which points us to trust in ourselves. Instead let us trust in God.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of Nov 2014)