Faith is a popular commodity these days.
There are "faith-based initiatives." We can name & claim something if we have enough faith. There is the faith that intellectually assents to what is assumed is truth. "The faith" can be a body of doctrines that a person holds to. Faith can be the means by which we can earn something with God. And on and on.
But what is a true, living faith, according to God's definition?
To understand a faith that is alive, vibrant, real and restful, we need to explore two verses and two questions. Both of our verses contain the same interesting phrase, “yet not I.” And both are from Paul’s writings: Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 15:10.
1. What is “the faith” by which we live while on this earth?
I am crucified [united with] Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
2. If God lives the life that only He can live in and through me, what about me? Do I do anything?
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God with [united with] me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
1. What is “the faith,” the trust, by which we live as believers? We will explore this with several synonyms, metaphors from scripture, a real-life example, and a description from an old classic devotional book. Maybe you will find something that resonates with you.
What Faith is NOT
We know it’s not just “intellectual assent” to certain truths. The devil himself has that much faith. … (James 2:19)
We know it’s not just a positive confession, power of positive thinking. Oprah has and teaches that (The Secret by Rhonda Byrne), and extremes in the “name it and claim it” camp of Christianity and New Age thinkers hold to that also.
We know it’s not just following a list of do’s and don’ts… the Pharisees did that and crucified our Christ…I’ve had my list and maybe you have too, and it only has resulted in greater bondage, failure, exhaustion… So
What Faith IS
Years ago, when I was grappling with that very question, “what is faith?” the Lord took me to two places: the Gospel of John and Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. And I’ve never wondered about faith since. I’m sure there are many other ways to look at faith, but let me share what the Lord showed me and see what grabs hold of you.
Jesus Himself lived in total dependence on the Father. He lived by faith in His Father. He had surrendered His will to His Father. Nowhere do we see this more plainly than in the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Belief.
In the Gospel of John, we see that Jesus Himself as man only did what He saw His Father doing; only said what He heard His Father saying. He was totally dependent on the Father for His every word and action. He was in total submission to the Father. The Father in Him did the doing. And it’s ”the faith of the Son of God” who indwells us by which we live. This same faith courses through our spiritual veins because of the indwelling Christ.
And also Jesus Himself described what real faith is by using synonyms and metaphors, as well as our usual words “believe,” “faith,” and “trust.”
Come -- John 1:39; 1:46; 4:29; 11: 34
Receive – John 1
Behold, See – John 3
Eat – John 6
Drink – John 7:37-39
Hear and follow – John 10:27
Abide, dwell in, remain in – John 15:1-5
Did you notice they are all action words and in the original language they are all in continuous present tense? So faith is a continual coming to Christ, a constant receiving Him into our life situation, a beholding, a seeing Him and focusing on Him everywhere and always, a partaking of Him as our food and drink as our satisfaction in every situation, a listening to hear Him in our spirit so we can follow, and an abiding in Him as our home…settling down deep into Him… And all of THIS IS LIFE IN HIM! And THIS IS FAITH!
Friends, I encourage you to spend time in the gospels and LOVE JESUS. Pay attention to Him. Get to know Him.
One of my best friends has a very unusual faith story, and one that illustrates how varied and colorful living by faith can be. The minute we try to put God’s working in a box, He disrupts our categories.
Here is my friend Penny in her own words:
Our son was hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle. He was taken to Children's Hospital where he was in a coma for several weeks. We were not Christians at the time. I felt that the world had pulled the rug out from under me. But as time went on I was surprised by an amazing feeling of peace and deep deep love that enveloped me. The world looked different. I really didn't understand what was happening and how I could feel so in love. I actually felt in love. At such a terrible time, how could I be feeling such love?
Earlier that summer my children had attended VBS with some friends. They brought home a paper flier, which had a sketch of Jesus on the front. Somehow it was leaning against a lamp in the living room one morning. For some reason I looked across the room at it and my eyes locked onto Jesus' eyes. Tears ran down my face. I said out loud, " You? You are the one I am in love with?" I was so amazed! I knew instantly that He was the One whose love I had been feeling and He was the one I was in love with!
He was the one who sustained me through that hard, hard summer and every day since then. He changed my world. I'm never going back.
And I know this is how Penny continues to live by faith…loving her Lord, beholding her Lord, listening for His Voice and following Him every “now” of her every “today.” And that’s FAITH!
In case this may still be not concrete enough, let me share what the Lord gave me from my second source, Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. And this is where I stayed and read over and over until it finally began to sink in. I believe it was the “key to the kingdom” for me as a believer.
My question when I came to Murray’s little volume was, if faith is not a work, what is abiding, real, living faith anyway? How do I do “a faith that abides”?
Here is Andrew Murray’s description of faith that jumped out at me…and I quote:
“Faith is the ceasing from all nature’s efforts, and all other dependence; faith is confessed helplessness, casting itself upon God’s promise, and claiming its fulfillment; faith is the putting ourselves quietly into God’s hands for Him to do His work.” (p. 73)
And so I began to realize and actually embrace that I am needy and helpless in myself. And here I had been thinking that if I am IN CHRIST, I should be able to do this and do that spiritual thing, do righteousness…as if the ability and the strength were in me to be able to do it.
No, strength and ability are in the Christ who lives in me! And realizing my inability and helplessness (my mantra word) is actually a good thing. It became the “key to the kingdom” for me. It’s in my helplessness and bankruptcy that I grab hold of the indwelling Christ, the Strong One.
So WHEN I TOUCH CHRIST, I TOUCH LIFE! AND THAT’S FAITH!
Next time we will look at our second question and Scripture passage. But for today, rejoice in the living faith-filled, indwelling Christ. He is your life and it's by HIS faith that we live! Praise Him.