Living By Faith
This weighty statement in the second chapter of
the prophet Habakkuk is quoted by an inspired apostle in three
of his Epistles; namely, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews; with
a distinct application in each. In Rom. 1:17, it is applied to
the great question of righteousness. The blessed apostle declares
himself not ashamed of the gospel; "for it is the power
of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first,
and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God
revealed, on the principle of faith, to faith (lit.): as it is
written, The just shall live by faith."
Then, in Galatians 3, where the apostle is seeking
to recall those erring assemblies to the foundations of Christianity,
he says, "But that no man is justified by the law in the
sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Finally, in Hebrews 10, where the object is to
exhort believers to hold fast their confidence, we read, "Cast
not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence
of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done
the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little
while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now
the just shall live by faith." Here we have faith presented
not only as the ground of righteousness, but as the vital principle
by which we are to live, day by day, from the starting-post to
the goal of the Christian course. There is no other way of righteousness,
no other way of living, but by faith. It is by faith we are justified,
and by faith we live. By faith we stand, and by faith we walk.
Now this is true of all Christians, and all should
seek to enter into it fully. Every child of God is called to live
by faith. It is a very grave mistake indeed to single out certain
individuals who happen to have no visible source of temporal supplies,
and speak of them as though they alone lived by faith. According
to this view of the question, ninety-nine out of every hundred
Christians would be deprived of the precious privilege of living
by faith. If a man has a settled income; if he has a certain salary;
if he has what is termed a secular calling, by which he earns
bread for himself and his family, is he not privileged to live
by faith? Do none live by faith save those who have no visible
means of support? Is the life of faith to be confined to the matter
of trusting God for food and raiment?
What a lowering of the life of faith it is to confine
it to the question of temporal supplies! No doubt it is a very
blessed and a very real thing to trust God for everything; but
the life of faith has a far higher and wider range than mere bodily
wants. It embraces all that in any wise concerns us, in body,
soul, and spirit. To live by faith is to walk with God; to cling
to Him; to lean on Him; to draw from His exhaustless springs;
to find all our resources in Him; and to have Him as a
perfect covering for our eyes and a satisfying object for our
hearts -- to know Him as our only resource in all difficulties,
and in all our trials. It is to be absolutely, completely, and
continually shut up to Him; to be undividedly dependent upon Him,
apart from and above every creature confidence, every human hope,
and every earthly expectation.
Such is the life of faith. Let us see that we understand
it. It must be a reality, or nothing at all. It will not do to
talk about the life of faith; we must live it; and in order
to live it, we must know God practically -- know Him intimately,
in the deep secret of our own souls. It is utterly vain and delusive
to profess to be living by faith and looking to the Lord, while
in reality our hearts are looking to some creature resource. How
often do people speak and write about their dependence upon God
to meet certain wants, and by the very fact of their making it
known to a fellow-mortal they are, in principle, departing from
the life of faith! If I write to a friend, or publish to the church,
the fact that I am looking to the Lord to meet a certain need,
I am virtually off the ground of faith in that matter.
The language of faith is this: "My soul,
wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."
To make known my wants, directly or indirectly, to a human being,
is departure from the life of faith, and a positive dishonour
to God. It is actually betraying Him. It is tantamount to saying
that God has failed me, and I must look to my fellow for help.
It is forsaking the living fountain and turning to a broken cistern.
It is placing the creature between my soul and God, thus robbing
my soul of rich blessing, and God of the glory due to Him.
This is serious work, and it demands our most solemn
attention. God deals in realities. He can never fail a trusting
heart. But then, He must be trusted. It is of no possible use
to talk about trusting Him when our hearts are really looking
to creature-streams. "What doth it profit, my brethren,
though a man say he hath faith?" Empty profession
is but a delusion to the soul and a dishonour to God. The true
life of faith is a grand reality. God delights in it, and He is
glorified by it. There is nothing in all this world that so gratifies
and glorifies God as the life of faith. "Oh how great is
Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee;
which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the
sons of men!" (Ps. 31:19)
Beloved reader, how is it with you in reference
to this great question? Are you living by faith? Can you say,
"The life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith
of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me?"
Do you know what it is to have the living God filling the whole
range of your soul's vision? Is He enough for you? Can you trust
Him for everything -- for body, soul, and spirit -- for time and
eternity? Or are you in the habit of making known your wants to
man in any one way? Is it the habit of your heart to turn to the
creature for sympathy, succour, or counsel?
These are searching questions; but we entreat you
not to turn away from them. Be assured it is morally healthful
for our souls to be tested faithfully, as in the very presence
of God. Our hearts are so terribly treacherous, that when we imagine
we are leaning upon God, we are really leaning upon some human
prop. Thus God is shut out, and we are left in barrenness and
And yet it is not that God does not use the creature
to help and bless us. He does so constantly; and the man of faith
will be deeply conscious of this fact, and truly grateful to every
human agent that God uses to help him. God comforted Paul by the
coming of Titus; but had Paul been looking to Titus, he would
have had but little comfort. God used the poor widow to feed Elijah;
but Elijah's dependence was not upon the widow, but upon God.
Thus it is in every case.