What Does It Mean to Live by Faith?
The greatest challenge some may face in becoming Christians is also a mindset that best represents a Christian. Yes, all people should be God-centered but one can not be God-centered without having faith, and that challenges people.
Hebrews 11 is essentially a summary of the Old Testament, but it presents that summary from the perspective of faith. It begins by defining faith.
“Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”
This can challenge some people. What they want is “proof” or “reason to believe.” But if you have proof, you don’t need faith. I don’t need faith to know I’m 5-foot-6 or 178 pounds. I measure my self. I can weigh myself.
Faith is the trust that something is real or will come without any real evidence. When we act on faith, we glorify the God we serve in faith. This, I feel, is the crux of faith and the message of Hebrews 11.
We start again with creation. Scientists have been working to prove one theory for as long as I can remember, and while that theory is commonly accepted, it is far from proven. Why? Where evolutionists rely on evidence they still have yet to find, creationists live by faith. Is it wrong to seek to understand? No, but any evidence I seek is more to defend my faith than to secure it. This is because, “By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3).
To live by faith is to live as God commands, trusting you will receive the promises His word makes. The challenges come when something doesn’t go the way one would wish. I’m not immune to this. I didn’t want my mother to die. I didn’t want the corona virus to attack the world. This leads to the questions like, “why would God … “ and “why do … “
I wouldn’t argue it’s wrong to ask questions. Plenty of people asked God plenty of questions through prayer. Even that can be an act of faith. When things happen, and someone prays to God genuinely seeking his comfort and council, they glorify God.
But one can’t become lost because of the lack of answered desires. All of our best promises are to come when Christ returns. There are good things in store for believers, but as long as we are in the cursed flesh of sinful humanity, the pains of that curse will remain. But if we live by faith and walk by faith, the greater promises that will come when Christ comes again are ours.
When our prayers are unanswered, we continue to pray in faith. When our desires are denied, we move on in the faith that those desires weren’t a part of God’s plan. We have faith that God’s plan will lead us to our greatest joy, and that joy isn’t one we will have on this earth. Even if a Christian were to have the most ridiculously happy life a person could imagine on this Earth, not all of those days together would be in any way comparable to a moment in Heaven. People have probably heard the inverse of this from Romans 8:18, but both are true. Nothing is worth comparing, and that is the promise we trust in as we live by faith.
Does that mean we are never given assurance? Of course we are. The Bible is full of assurances of faith, and Hebrews 11 is just a short summary of so many examples. Christ being raised from the dead is in itself an assurance of faith, for he was the perfect, sinless man, who lived by faith and walked by faith. So when man, in his wicked rejection of Christ, led him to crucifixion, Christ accepted that humiliation. He walked in faith, knowing he was doing as the Father commanded, and the Father rewarded that faith with the resurrection that thus serves as the assurance for our faith.
So we’re called as Christians to live in faith that if we hold fast to Christ as our hope, we have been saved and are assured a place with him in Heaven.
So we can not allow despair or sadness to take our faith. If it does, then our faith was false, and we never had hope. Please read that carefully. It does not say despair or sadness is a symbol of a lack of faith. What I wish to emphasize is that if despair or sadness can cause one to turn away from faith, their faith was false.
This is what never giving up means. The guy who keeps struggling even when he’s lost 1,000 times shows that he has faith he can win just once. That is faith. The only reason one would have to stop is if he becomes convinced he won’t win. If faith is what keeps us going, than only its absence can be the reason we stop.
I urge you all to never stop. Pray when you are happy, sad, lost, confused, assured, confident, or in despair. Live as Christ lived trusting that you will receive the rewards He promised. Do not let the seasons of this world lead you to forget the glorious eternal life that is to come. Live by faith, and you will be commended.
For our panel: What is your favorite story of faith from the Bible? Do you have a personal trial of faith you would like to share? Does fear or sadness immediately mean you have no faith? How does one endure suffering in faith? Does the absence of answered prayers mean an absence of faith?