Living by Faith

Tonight at Bible study, we were working our way through Hebrews and the end of chapter 10 into the beginning of chapter 11 (and we had a great time too).  Most believers remember Hebrews 11 as the “Faith Hall of Fame” or some similar moniker.  But we sometimes forget the faith embodied by those mentioned there.  It wasn’t perfect or flawless.  The men and women cited there were deeply flawed in most cases, just like all of us are as well.  So what does it mean to live by faith?

It might be easier to point out a couple of things that it doesn’t mean.  The life of faith for a follower of Jesus isn’t a blind faith.  It should be an examined faith.  The writer of Hebrews says that faith is being certain and sure.  These words point to a faith that is based on something solid.  Many scoff and say that there is no proof for God or for Christianity, but in so doing they reveal themselves to be less than curious and unwilling to examine the evidence (or they try to hide behind the veil of scientific evidence, which is considered less valid than eyewitness testimony).  There is evidence (some even claim there is scientific evidence, but that is another argument) and Scripture has proved its reliability over several thousand years now.  Hebrews 11 presents a case for the faithfulness of God in the lives of many who have found him faithful, but I can certainly make a list of the times He has proved faithful in my life and I am sure many of you can as well.

The writer of Hebrews presents a second statement regarding faith that we must look to as the bedrock of this idea of living by faith.  He says, “and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

The first step of living by faith is to believe that God exists.  This is in fact the first commandment of the 10 commandments from the Jewish perspective:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. – Exodus 20:2

I know most Christians don’t count this as a commandment, but they should if Hebrews 11:6 is anything to go by.  Without accepting this very basic premise, faith is pointless.  We have to believe that God exists.  Paul makes his case in Romans 1 by telling us that God has left Himself a witness:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  – Romans 1:19-20

There is another part to the original statement from Hebrews 11:6 though.  God rewards of those who seek Him.  I was listening to some teaching about this passage of Romans and heard an interesting comparison.  There are plenty of people who do “good things” for various reasons.  In fact, there are many atheists who do things that could be considered obedience to God’s commandments.  Things like not lying or stealing and other parts of the “moral laws” as some would label them.  We have a conscience (Paul also mentions this in Romans 1) that tells us some things are simply right or wrong.  Atheists do not expect God to reward them for these things, even though He often does so because He does not discriminate in the application of His principles(Matthew 5:44-45).  The point being, that it doesn’t take a person of faith to do some of God’s commandments; they are self-evident if you will.  But there are some commandments that don’t seem to make sense to us.  If we are honest, believers tend to point to these as the ones that are “done away with” or “outdated” or something along those lines.  Sometimes, it is because they are inconvenient or unpalatable.  But let me challenge you a little bit.  Those commandments that are doable but in some way inconvenient or less understood by us (and there are many of them), may be a perfect opportunity for you to experience God in a new way as you take them on, by faith.  They provide a framework to live out a life of faith in the one who gave them as instructions for His people.  They don’t save us, although God does promise rewards/blessings for those who keep them, and who am I to argue with Him about that.

So what do you think?  Is it worth living by faith that gives birth to experiencing the One who is faithful in all things He has promised?  It has been for me, and I invite you to take Jesus at His word and see for yourself.

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Categories: Atheists, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Grace, Hebrew, Law, Love, Science, theology, Truth | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Living by Faith

  1. Amelia

    I love you and am so thankful God has blessed you with being such a great teacher and thinker. And that you can help me really understand the word.

  2. Thank you. I am blessed to have a wife that supports me like you do and who loves me like you do. We have made quite a journey of faith together over these last few years.

  3. Hi Jeff!

    Living by faith is tough. Very tough. The old sinner in us just naturally wants to revert to living by sight, or relying upon what we do. The old sinner in us wants to revert to OUR obedience…or what we do.

    “What is it to do the works of the Father?” they asked him (Jesus).

    And Jesus told them, “Believe in the one whom the Father has sent.” There it is again…’faith’.

    “If you love me you will keep my comandments.”

    No one really loves Him. Not always. Not all the time, anyway. We are bound to sin. Read ‘The Bondage of the Will’.

    But who does He love? Sinners. That’s good news. We need a Savior, and in Christ Jesus, God has sent us One!

    Thanks, my friend!

  4. Hey Steve,
    Fixed the oops for ya at no charge. I know we have had many discussions at your place along these lines, but I will repeat it here for some who haven’t seen or heard it. I am surprised that you didn’t remember this, but I have read “The Bondage of the Will” by Luther. I always thought he said many good things, but I guess with the way my mind works and filters these things through Scripture, I must have supplied a couple of conclusions that he didn’t write.

    Scripture says that we have “died to sin” and thus been freed from its curse(Romans 8:1-4). Once the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. The “will” is no longer bound to sin without a choice. I always thought Luther figured this out and said as much in that book, but I keep running into people who missed it; so maybe it was my brain putting two and two together with Scripture that got there instead. Paul describes a “war of choices” over whether or not to sin for the believer (Romans 7:21-25). If we were simply bound to sin, there would be no war within, nor would we have any decision to make. Thanks be to God for setting us free from our bondage and giving us a new will, His will, by His Spirit within us (Romans 8:4, 6, 9, 12-17). Actually, it would be fitting to quote those last ones:

    12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

    There is no reason to be in slavery to sin any longer once God has adopted us as His own. This does not mean sin isn’t tempting to the believer (we all know that it is), but we are not chained to it or bound to it any longer.

  5. Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jeff!

    I think you draw the wrong conclusion about being dead to sin. We are to consider ourselves dead to sin, that is sure, but that is for righteousness. Jesus’ righteousness that He has won for us and freely gives to us. But, as Romans 7 clearly states, and as our own lives clearly show, we are still bound in it. We still sin. Everyday. We neither love God, nor our neighbors as ourselves.

    We are free from the condemnation of our sin. But we still pay the price here.

    Living by faith places trust in those truths, that even though we sin, we “have an Advocate in Christ Jesus”.

    Even though we sin, we don’t live in it. We don’t give in to it and turn our lives over to it. We live in repentance and forgiveness (a picture of baptism – death and resurrection)

    Luther took Erasmus to the woodshed over this in the book.

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion, my friend.

    – Steve

  6. udtlearner

    Be careful of the NT,it’s plagued with heresy…The Trinity is Babel all the way.How can God,have a son,and be Savior and be lower than Father?That’s demonic wisdom.

  7. udtlearner,
    I think you need to read the Hebrew Scriptures a little more. They clearly speak about the Spirit of the Lord apart from God the Father and there are plenty of references to God’s Son as well. Proverbs 30:4-6 for instance:

    4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?
    Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
    What is his name, and the name of his son?
    Tell me if you know!

    5 “Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

    6 Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

    This contains not only the reference in the text as translated, but also some additional clues in the Hebrew text that give the name Yeshua. I invite you to investigate a little further yourself.

    Take a look a Yeshua’s midrash regarding Psalm 110 in Mark 12 or Luke 20. In fact, Psalm 110 is the most quoted passage in the NT or Apostolic Scriptures for precisely this reason. The promises made to David and the words spoken here point to something more than a simple “human heir.”

    The NT is not plagued with heresy, but some of the interpretations that are offered from it by modern theologians often are. I invite you to study the NT from a Hebraic perspective. The whole thing was written by Jewish writers in a Jewish mindset and is in one sense sort of an inspired commentary on the Tanak, if you will.
    What you call demonic wisdom regarding the Trinity is simply God showing that His ways are very much beyond our understanding. You are trying to fit God into a “man-shaped box” and He won’t go there.

  8. Excellent post, Jeff. For your consideration: Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The end of Christian apologetics http://pbrd.wordpress.com

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