LIVING BY FAITH
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Living by faith means living by obedience right now to the living Christ.

Living by faith means we ask the Lord each day, "What do you want me to do today?"

Living by faith means seeking the will of Christ at all times.

Living by faith means not taking anything for granted but praying continually about everything.

Living by faith means forgetting the past and pressing forward in Christ.

God shall shake out of His Kingdom things that are made, that is, everything that is not wrought by faith in Christ.

"The righteous shall live by faith" is one of the principles that emerged from the Protestant Reformation.

Those who followed the Catholic faith sought to please God by penances, indulgences, and self-torture. Martin Luther is famous for his position that righteousness does not come by acts of self-mortification but by faith in Christ and His salvation.

So far so good.

However, what does it mean to live by faith?

If I am not mistaken, the prevailing definition is that living by faith is continually believing that Christ has finished the work of redemption and those who profess faith in Him will go to Heaven when they die.

Those who take this position are adamant that we are saved by faith alone and any effort we make to live righteously is as filthy rags. By professing faith in Christ we are assured of our mansion in Heaven and there absolutely is nothing we can do to add to that.

The result of this unscriptural teaching is that Christian people live ordinary lives in the world, waiting to die and go to Heaven.

This current teaching is wrong on two counts. First, eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of salvation. The goal of the Divine salvation is people who through the working of the Spirit of God have been changed into the image of Christ.

In other words, the goal of salvation is not a change in where we are but in what we are.

The second error is massive. Because of the incorrect goal, believers, being persuaded that Christ has made them perfect by their belief alone, do not do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded in the New Testament. Their pattern of life is one of living their adamic life while waiting for Christ to take them to their mansion in Heaven.

Neglecting the commands of Christ and His Apostles will not lead to a new creature of righteous behavior. It hardly what is meant by the life of victory in Christ.

What then does living by faith mean, if it is not that of holding fast our doctrinal belief while we are waiting to die?

Living by faith means living by obedience right now to the living Christ.

Living by faith means we ask the Lord each day, "What do you want me to do today?"

Living by faith means seeking the will of Christ at all times.

Living by faith means not taking anything for granted but praying continually about everything.

Living by faith means forgetting the past and pressing forward in Christ.

Living by faith results in a new creation, a person changed into the image of Christ.

Let's see what Paul says about living by faith:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

The word "therefore" indicates that Paul's admonition here is the consequence of what he has just written previously:

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Romans 11:26)

"Zion" is the Christian Church.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. (Hebrews 12:22)

Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD's. (Obadiah 1:21)

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

Mount Zion is the Christian Church, the "Church of the Firstborn." Out from the Christian Church will comes saints who will "turn away godlessness" from Israel. Because this is true, Paul urges us to offer our body as a living sacrifice.

Because of the unscriptural "faith alone" emphasis, the Christian people are unprepared to serve as deliverers. Yet, this is our appointed destiny.

Let's think about what it means to offer our body a living sacrifice, because this is that it means to "live by faith."

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Under the Law of Moses animals were sacrificed to make an atonement for sin.

We Christians are to present our physical body to God as a living sacrifice. This means that we count ourselves dead to our adamic life and are embarking on a new life in which we live by the Life of Christ.

How does this work out in practical daily living?

Living by faith means living by obedience right now to the living Christ. We do not plan out our life in accordance with what we think is best and desirable. Rather we keep looking to Jesus to see what He wants.

How often do we do this? Every moment of every day and night. We keep looking to Jesus to make sure we are doing exactly what He wishes.

Right now, Lord, am I in the center of Your will?

We keep asking Christ for direction.

Living by faith means we ask the Lord each day, "What do you want me to do today?"

Instead of living by our own plans and wisdom, we strive to be directed by the Lord Jesus in every aspect of our life. This means any thoughts or hopes for the future are buried for now. All of our treasures are in Heaven. All of our loved ones are on the altar of God.

Living by faith means seeking the will of Christ at all times. We can see at a glance that the current doctrine of grace works against our living by faith. We are taught that under grace we are excused from having to obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles. Where, then, is the way of righteousness?

If we do not have to obey Christ at all times, where is the pilgrimage of faith that all the heroes of God have pursued?

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

Does current Christian teaching agree with the passage above?

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. (Hebrews 11:29,30)

We see from the two verses above that living by faith is not a passive agreement with the statements of Christ belief but of actively obeying God.

Why do we have to present our body as a living sacrifice?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Here is the crux of the matter. The Christian life is not one of passive belief in theology but a continual seeking of God's will. God hides Himself, so to speak. We have to dig and dig and dig to find His will for our life each day.

It is easy to be deceived. It requires considerable experience before we are able to accurately determine what God's will is for the day.

The best armor against deception is our resolve to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ. When we try to make our way pleasurable we open ourselves to deception. We must patiently carry our cross of deferred desire as Jesus leads us. We must share His sufferings if we are to prove the will of God for ourselves.

So the way of faith is the way of continual obedience to the Lord as we earnestly test and approve what God's will for us is for the moment. Meanwhile as we leave the world behind our mind is renewed until we have the mind of Christ, bringing every thought into subjection to the Lord Jesus.

The rewards of life and service to the Lord go to the overcomers, to those who through Christ gain victory over all forces that would seek to discourage and defeat them.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (Hebrews 11:32-34)

The passage above is a description of the victorious Christian life. The faithful saint who is fighting his way through the problems of life understands very well that God included these verses in Hebrews to encourage him and show him he is on the right path.

Living by faith means not taking anything for granted but praying continually about everything. When we assume what we are doing is the right thing, and do not bring it before Christ, we are going to be deceived. The soldier of Christ learns to trust nothing except the Lord to make his path successful.

Living by faith means forgetting the past and pressing forward in Christ. As Jesus said, the flesh profits nothing. When we find ourselves mooning over the past, thinking about days gone by, family and friends who have gone on before, we are not living by faith. We have no clear view of the future in which we all will be reunited.

Nostalgia is not of God. It is a weakness of the adamic nature. We are to be marching forward in the Lord Jesus. When the mistakes of the past come to haunt us we are to ask Jesus to put them behind our back. Then we are to press forward in Christ.

The life of faith is dynamic. Our faith always is being challenged. Carl Hoferer, a friend of mine from Marine Corps days, used to say, "God delivered us from all our past problems. How is He going to deliver us from what we are faced with today?"

We do not know how God is going to deliver us from the vicious attacks of today, but as He has done in the past, He shall deliver us today if we hold up the shield of faith and do not faint.

If you are a believer in Christ, and are dawdling along with most of the American believers, living the typical American worldly life, I encourage you to come to Christ. Ask Him to put you on the way that the saints of all time have traveled.

Every morning ask the Lord what He wants for the day, and obey Him strictly. You may not hear His voice, but if you ask Him to, He will guide you through the day.

It is an exciting, adventurous way, because you do not know what Jesus will do next.

I do not say it is an easy way. It is not for the fearful, or lazy, or those who lack integrity. But it is the path in which God's true saints have walked since the days of Abel.

Hard times are coming to America. Believers are going to be needed who know the Lord Jesus, who are living by His life. Satan and his Antichrist cannot overcome those who are walking humbly with Christ and doing His will.

You and I can be among those who make up the hedge and stand in the gap for the Lord so He does not completely destroy America.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:35,36)