Siebrand explains this Christian expression.
Walking by faith or living by faith. This is a very nice, Christian expression. It sounds good, catchy. It distincts from worldly life, it has a taste of religiousness, so it’s a proper and well used phrase. I tend to be a bit allergic to religious phrases, to be honest. These expressions are often used to frame one’s lifestyle as being the standard or norm. These phrases are often used to show how well people are doing compared to others. I don’t like it, especially when it becomes window dressing: looks nice but it has no substance. A religious lifestyle could hold people back from the truth itself if we are not careful enough, because accepting a religious style removes the trigger to dig deeper and the urgency to get to the core of the gospel: the Lord Jesus Christ himself! So if we would not dig to the level of encountering the Lord Jesus today, we are not digging deep enough!
And this phrase indeed is not to be taken lightly. We read in 2 Corinthians 5: We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:5 It is God who made us with the purpose of being with him forever (2 Cor.5:1-5) and gives the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (vs5). … Therefore we are confident of what is to come… We live by faith, not by sight. (vs.7).
Do you see that this life by faith has substance, it is based on the purpose of creation, the meaning of life! God made us with the purpose… we are confident in what we have in front of us and God gives his own Spirit of life to us as deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. That is our foundation, that is the basis on which we live by faith.
Our life is therefore dedicated not to this world, not to our jobs, not to our family and friends, not even to ourselves. It is dedicated to something we cannot see and cannot touch. It is dedicated to a great plan and a great future. It is dedicated to God. Every single step we take in life is Gods, not ours.
I’m a business consultant working for a technical consultancy agency. About 6 years ago we made future plans, plans of growth with great expectations. We dreamt of a company of 100 employees and we laughed at wild ideas of working for the Shell, DSM and Heineken. Within 3 years our 5 year goals were achieved, resulting in a new growth strategy: route 2020. 5 times more revenues, 4 times more employees, offices around the world, serving 20 top multinational industry companies. We are defining our focus, we are cutting away activities that are non-core, we are aiming for everything that is in line with our goal: route 2020. We are aligning our actions with the strategy, although sometimes projects seem profitable, we reject them for not being in line with our strategy. And if choices have not the desired result, we review them and make better decisions. And again we laughed at these wild ideas. And a colleague said: if your ideas and dreams are not being laughed at, they are not enough ambitious. You see, we dreamt of things we couldn’t imagine that were possible. And still all actions and decisions were in line with this dream of goal 2020. Is that living by faith? Is that walking or working by faith? No, that it still far off. No one promised the outcome of route 2020. It could succeed, but it could also fail. We could get there or we could land on a totally different area. Future was unknown. We thought it might work out, we were confident. But true faith is so much stronger: faith is a sure thing, it is a 100% certainty. And still, we as a company are still acting upon the dream. We live a dream. But Christians don’t live a dream, we live by faith!
What is faith?
The new testament of the bible is literary packed with the topic of faith. Faith in God, Jesus, the gospel. Faith and trust, faith and assurance, faith and obedience, faith and works and so on and so forth. It has a very prominent position in the plan of God. We don’t just walk by faith, we live by faith! Faith is the means by which we live. Faith is the basis for our salvation! Faith comes from God and is received through God and faith in Jesus is the way by which we are saved. And it is the same faith in which we have received new life, eternal life and by which we live our daily life now and in the future! Faith is the basis for our relationship with Jesus and therefore with God.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God… (Hebr. 11:1)
It is a certainty and it is about being sure. It has nothing to do with hope for a possibility, it has nothing uncertain in it. Although it is about a hope and certainty of what we do not see.
Faith in what?
So the primary issue with the topic of faith is: faith in what? What is it that we have faith in, what do we believe?
God reveals his plan throughout the creation. God reveals his purposes through the bible. He reveals himself in great ways and ultimately through his Son Jesus Christ. All creation shows Gods majesty and glory. From the beginning of time until the end of time God is ruling with righteousness, love, truth and faithfulness. From the beginning of time Gods plan has always been the revelation of himself to humankind and the restoration of the world and the reconciliation of men with God.
Do you see the difference with our business plan, our strategy 2020 from the company I work for? In business we found our business decisions on a plan as well. But this plan is nothing to believe in and nothing to have faith in. It is just an opportunity of an estimation of a smart and creative CEO. Nothing from future is yet revealed. My boss would surely hope for revelation of future happenings, but he needs looking for and testing opportunities, that is all. And still all decisions are based on this plan.
It is revealed what great plan God has with his world and his people. And not just the plan is revealed, God himself is revealed. And the more we get to know God truly and we get to know his father heart, the more we see and understand his plan, his all changing and eternal plan and the more we have faith and trust his promises.
The great plan of God is revealed in the old testament to the people of Israel. In the old days God spoke through prophets at many times and in various ways. But further on he spoke to all of us by his Son. The message was clear: the Lord Jesus was made low and lifted up high with glory and honor. He brought atonement for the sins of people.
In Hebrews chapter 8 the promises of God to his people, the people of Israel are described. The covenant through the prophets and Moses are compared to a new covenant, a new promise, a new phase of the eternal plan of God. It says in Hebrews 8:
Read Hebrews 8:6
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
For he finds fault with them when he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
The restoration of men and reconciliation with God is central in this new covenant. I will remember their sins no more… They shall know me from the least of them to the greatest…I will put my laws into their minds and hearts…
3 items that are continuously prominent in the covenant, the promises of God and therefore with our faith in Him:
1 restoration and forgiveness,
2 knowing God
3 and this resulting in obedience.
We put our faith in the restoration of the world and of ourselves, the forgiveness of our sin, the reconciliation with God. We have faith in God himself and his everlasting love for us. How shall this effect our daily life if we don’t realize this is actual and for ourselves. It is for us personally?
Based on what?
Based on what should I believe what you are saying and promising? Would that not be the first question to a politician should you encounter someone to convince you from voting for him? Based on what should I believe you?
And I have decided to vote for a party, not with the best statements or even with the best program, but with people that are trustworthy (relatively speaking). The political items that are highlighted by the press are just a view percent of all issues a politician needs to deal with, so how will he act in 95% of the cases?
Have you ever asked yourself why should you believe God, why should you have faith in him, his plan, his promises, his covenant? I would know the answer God would give you: don’t you know me? Don’t you know who I am?
On numerous occasions in the bible’s old testament, the people of Israel is losing faith and lacking trust in God. They complain and pour out their heart before the Lord. Why is this disaster coming over us? Why is your people dying from starvation? Have you forsaken us? Have you deserted us? Have you turned away from your own people? And time and time again, God doesn’t explain or expound the situation. He says: don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know who I am?
Who measured the waters in his hands?
Why doesn’t he explain the specific situation? Because our faith and our believe is not in a situation of God acting, it is in God himself! If we abide in him, our faith, our believe, our trust in him grows. We won’t doubt in the Lord in any situation, when we know who he is. When we’d truly understand his Father heart, his righteousness, his faithfulness and the love he poured out creating this earth, creating us human beings and when we see his love sending his son to die for us… then our faith is founded not on our own ideas, or wishful thinking, it is not founded on occasions and situations, it is founded on a rock.
Resulting in what?
Now that we know that faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen, not being a business plan. And that our faith is in God and his promises of restoration and forgiveness, reconciliation, eternal life with God. We know that we have faith and develop faith when we get to know God more, when we see the plans of God, when we see God himself.
What happens when we see God? What happens to us when we see God?
In the old testament there is a beautiful example of a man seeing God and the effect of this on him. It is Moses who saw a glimpse of the glory of God. The effect of this was very visual: his face became radiant. It was so radiant that the people asked him to cover his face with a veil. Everyone could see that Moses had seen God, it was obvious and clear for anyone to see; no doubt. The effect was visable. Paul writes about this in
2 Cor. 3: 15
Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
There are a view items to emphasize in this piece of text.
The first thing is: other than the people in the time of Moses, we are able to turn to the Lord. We are able to enter into his presence, without a veil. When reading Moses a veil still covers their hearts, but whenever anyone turns to the Lord himself, the veil is taken away.
The veil is taken away, we can truly come close to God with confidence of being saved, cleansed and restored.
The second thing is that we can turn to the Lord in Freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We could think of being free of sin, which is true, but here it is also freedom in turning towards God. There is freedom to come into the presence of God. There is no fixed way in approaching the most high, on the contrary: we are free.
In Romans chapter 14 Paul explains that we can do anything, make any choice, as long as we do it to the Lord. Whether someone eats everything and he does it by faith: that’s alright. Whether someone is a vegetarian, by faith: that’s alright as well. One man considers one day more sacred than another: another man considers every day alike. The first man does this to the Lord and the other one as well: God gives freedom. By faith we choose, by faith we decide. And this faith is based on knowing and seeing God! Don’t condemn yourself or judge others; by grace we all live in freedom. Strive to draw closer to God, strive to know him more and see him more. Trust in the Lord and He will make your paths straight, it says in Proverbs 3:6.
Well that is very relaxing. As long as we trust in the Lord, see the Lord, know the Lord, invest in our relation with the Lord; Hé will make our paths straight.
The third thing is that we reflect the glory of the Lord: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory…
Reflect the Lords glory? Just by turning towards God? Isn’t that a bit easily put? Isn’t that a result of a lifetime hard work? Emmanuel talked about our relationship with the Father two weeks ago. A relationship which leads to imitate the Father. Like young children do imitate their parents. Not because they have to, but because of their relationship with them. And that’s a sure thing: . And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…
The fourth thing therefore is that we are being transformed into his likeness. Do you see that this is all God acting? God makes our paths straight and hé transforms us into his likeness.
What shall we do?
When there is a new strategy presented in our company, the whole company is gathered and the offices in Kuala Lumpur and Houston are connected through teleconference. With no exception anyone would leave that session enthusiastically. Wow: that’s where we’re going. And the next day we all go to work again and we think: well, this day is like the previous; what should we do? What should we do to take the next step?
So the question now is also: what should we do, what shall we do?
Hebrews 10: vs 19
Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…!!!
And it continuous: let us hold on to the hope…
And: Let us not give up on meeting together…let us encourage one another…let us encourage one another toward love and good deeds.
The faith we have, the faith we develop while seeking and drawing near towards God results in building the church. Encouraging one another, meeting together. It is the walking with God Joop preached about last week. We live by faith and not by sight. And we live by faith, not alone, but in community with each other.
Together we seek God, together we encourage each other, together we point to the final goal: the ultimate meeting with God, being in the presence of God for ever; made possible through the blood of Jesus.
And toward that goal we encourage one another daily (Hebr. 13) to aim not to please the world, but the Lord.