“Being justified therefore by means of faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
So much depends upon what God actually means by the word “faith”; every benefit that flows from the atoning sacrifice of the Son comes by way of “faith”; repentance, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God, justification, inner cleansing and regeneration, answers to prayer and just the knowledge of the Holy One are all given to faith.
Faith, in the Bible, is more than belief, which is what it has come to mean in today’s Christianity. We are approaching the season when many, in our part of the world, will be called upon to give up their lives for their faith, as many are doing elsewhere in the world; so it behoves us to know what faith truly is.
Christian faith, essentially, is trust in Jesus Christ; not trust for the hereafter, but trust for the here and now! If we don’t trust Him for the present it is a mockery to say that we trust Him for the future. It is a worthwhile spiritual exercise to examine how we trust Jesus in our lives. Do we trust Him for the decisions that we have to make every day? Do we consult with Him and wait upon Him before proceeding on some course of action? Do we trust Him to remake us in the divine image so that we can become children of God? Do we, in effect, make room for Him to truly rule our lives and be our true Lord?
These are deep questions that we must ask ourselves. True faith is a miracle; it is a response of the soul to the revelation of the divine character as set forth in the holy scriptures; it is the God given ability to trust in Christ Jesus for everything in this life and beyond; it is the driving force that enables the individual to choose to bring his life under plenary obedience to the Son of God.
The contemporary moral climate does not favour a faith as determined and resolute as that taught by Jesus and the apostles; the fact that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ is a well kept secret, yet everyone who has endeavoured to live for Christ in a Christless world will have suffered some loss or endured some pain that could have been avoided by the simple expedient of laying down his cross. Alas, in today’s religious hothouses, the delicate, fragile and brittle saints being produced are not being prepared for the future that is revealed in the prophetic scriptures.
Today, too many Christians are living in a religious twilight zone where they try to find refuge from the hell to come on one hand, and from the rigours, disciplines and demands of true faith on the other.
The nature of true faith means that to be right with God often means being in trouble with men: “And you will be hated by all because of My name” (Matthew 10:22).
The fundamental truths that Jesus sought to impart consistently make a clear distinction between God and the world. To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God; to receive Christ it is necessary to reject self; to love righteousness we must hate sin; to follow God’s way we must flee from evil. The scriptures are replete with urgings to choose rightly in every aspect and transaction in life. There are also adequate warnings about the consequences, amongst our neighbours in the world, of choosing God.
Today, more than ever before, we must heed the words of Paul;
“Be watchful! Stand fast in the faith; act like men; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). All of these verbs are in the imperative!