Saturday, June 18, 2011

Faith and Trust as a Rule of Life

Many times we as Christians regard faith as something we use when we need something from God. The car is going on the fritz and what do we do, we pray. The kid is sick, and sometimes seriously, we pray. The church needs a new roof, we pray. We should indeed pray for these things. After all, did not Paul tell the Philippian church that, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus?” (Phil. 4:19) If it is a need, we should pray, right?

The problem I have is with the word use. It sounds like how we use a screwdriver when we want to tighten a bolt, or when we want to use the right kitchen implement. Is faith a “tool” we get out of the “prayer shed” when we have a need for it and then put it away when were done with it and until the next time we need to use it?

Faith is not to be regarded as a tool that we need to use when a need arises. It is not to be thought of as something we only get out of the drawer when something goes wrong and then put it away when things cool down. Faith is the rule, practice, moment by moment manner of life, and not the exception, by which we live in the physical and spiritual world. It is not something we use when we are in trouble. A true child of God, a real Christian, lives by faith as a rule of life.

Look at this text of Scripture:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6,7)

Another translation put the clause, “In the same way you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him...”

How did you receive Christ Jesus the Lord? According to Ephesians 2: 8,9 it was “by grace through the instrumentality of faith,” that we were brought to faith and trust in Christ Jesus. The text goes on to tell us that it was the act of God alone and not of ourselves. Even the faith to believe was a gift of God. We could not generate the necessary faith. God had to make us alive from the dead, regenerate us, in order that we might believe unto salvation.

In that way, the way in which we were brought to faith in Christ, is how Colossians 2:6 and 7 tells us we are to walk in Him. By grace through the instrumentality of faith we are to walk in Christ. That is how we received Christ Jesus as Lord and that is how we are to walk in Him!

I want to make a connection between what I just said and the Word of God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

In the tenth chapter of Romans, Paul speaks to the Gospel and shows us another instrumentality by which we were brought to faith and trust in Christ: by the hearing of the Word of God. Beginning with the 14th verse of chapter ten, he makes the point that it is through the preaching of the Word of God that the Gospel message is heard. Linked to the Colossians 2:6,7 text, “In the same way you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him,” we could also say that it is through the hearing of the Word that we are to walk in Him. Just as faith to believe savingly comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so does faith to walk in Him come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Do you see that?

In other words, faith exercised in prayer is not a Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog to order what we think we need from a deity. Faith is the instrumentality, means, by which we not only come to faith in Christ but how we are to live in this world. It is by faith in God and His Word that we live as a rule of life if we are truly born again.

I want to share a very practical application to what I have just written. If we are to live (walk) by faith in God and the promises of His Word, how exactly does that work? What does this look like in the life of the believer?

Take for example Paul's explanation in Galatians:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:6,7)

Does not this pretty well sum up the point in the Christian's life? Walk in the Spirit and you will not do the evil within your sinful flesh that you do not wish to do? (See Romans 7) But how do you do this thing of “Walking in the Spirit?”

Now, in 1 John:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14,15

And, Philippians:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2;12,13)
Now, think with me through this:

1. Does God want us (Is it His will?) to Walk in His Spirit that we not fulfill the lusts of our flesh? According to the Galatians 5 text the answer is, yes.

2. Does God promise that whatever we ask according to His will that He not only hears us, but we can know that we have that which we have asked of Him in 1 John? Yes.

3. Does God tell us in Philippians that we can “work out our salvation (Walk in the Spirit) with fear and trembling because it is He, and He alone, who works in us the desire and the doing of His good pleasure (His will)?” Yes.

Then as a child of God go to Him praying in believing faith:

My Lord and God, I thank you for the promise in Your Word (1 John 5:14,15) which tells me that whatsoever I ask according to Your will that You hear me. And, if I know that You hear me in whatsoever I asked I can know that I have that which I have asked of You. Therefore, grant me the Grace I need to obey your Word where you command me to Walk in Your Spirit (Gal. 5:16,17) that I not fulfill the desires of my flesh. Thank-you that it is, again according to You Word, You Who is working in me this desire and it is You and You alone that will work in me the doing (Phil. 2:12,13) of walking in the Spirit. I ask these things in Jesus' name Who said that whatsoever I ask in His name You would give me (John 15:6-8). Amen.”

While I do not mean that you should pray this pray literally, what I am meaning is to show you the connection between prayer, faith, and the Word of God. What is expressed in that prayer example is a life ruled by faith in God and the promises of His Word. That is what should characterize the life of the believer. That is the principle by which we should be living if we really are men and women of God.

Do you have a need in your life? Whether it is a physical or spiritual need, find in God's Word a text of Scripture that matches that need then claim it according to the promises of His Word. Have as your heart's desire the glory of God in His answering that prayer:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8)