“Without faith it is impossible to please him,” the Bible says (Hebrews 11:6). So no matter what we do in the name of our Lord and how much of it we do, if we are not rooted in faith in Him He is not pleased with us. It goes without saying then that faith is indispensible in the life of a Christian.
When I talk about faith in this article, I mean it in a biblical sense. Biblical faith is more than “believing without proof,” as some dictionaries define it. It includes that, yes, but biblical faith goes farther. It must be accompanied by works. For the Bible says faith without works is dead (James 2:17). It is in this context that I will be using faith in this article.
Walking by faith—as we will discuss--is not natural for us. For one thing, before we met Christ we were driven by our natural senses. In other words, we walked mostly by sight. That mode of operation is burned into our psyche. It’s much less risky. But in Christ we have to unlearn that old way of living and learn to walk by faith.
Many times when the disciples failed to measure up, Jesus attributed their shortcoming to a lack of faith. In fact, that seemed to be their main problem. From what I can see in the accounts of Jesus’ public ministry, He seldom scolded them on issues of personal immorality. Faith, or the lack thereof, was their challenge.
Luke the apostle records a day when Jesus and His disciples entered a ship to cross a lake. “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake,” He said (Luke 8:22). But as they traveled the lake, Jesus fell asleep, and a storm came and filled the boat with water. The Bible says, they “were in jeopardy” (verse 23). That must have been a scary moment for them.
Sure enough the disciples pressed the panic button. “Master, master, we perish,” they cried to Jesus (v. 24a). He in turn arose and rebuked the wind, and “there was a calm” (v. 24b).
Looking at this event on the surface, the average person might say he can understand why the disciples were so afraid. The boat was filled with water. Sinking seemed certain.
But after Jesus rebuked the wind He rebuked the disciples. “Where is your faith?” He asked them (v. 25). You see, as they entered the ship, He decreed that they would go over to the other side. So sinking was not an option, but Jesus’ promise that they were going to the other side seemed so insignificant when the storm came.
Before we are too quick to judge the disciples, what about us? If we would be honest about it, we have been there as well. That is, we have embraced a promise from the Lord—one that speaks to a situation in our life—during which a series of events came a long causing us to lose hold of our faith. Here is one most of us have probably experienced. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to them that love God….” Note the word all. That means no matter what our ordeal is we should be confident that it will all work for our good. The truth is that we sometimes agonize over how things will turn out. I am not talking about the minor struggles in our mind we all at times encounter, but literal torment—depression even. Jesus is saying to us, Where is your faith?
Walking by faith tends to be a struggle for Christians because of a conflict that rages in each of us. It exists between our flesh and our spirit: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17). In other words, when we make up our mind to walk in the spirit, our flesh diametrically opposes that plan. So any decision to walk by faith and keep the faith meets stern resistance from our flesh.
I believe that a strong faith in God can come only through a serious journey with Him. I learned this during my last pastorate. When I first started the church and for several years thereafter finances were a struggle. You know how it is with finances. You like to have the money on hand when the bills come. And you want at least a little more than you need. That was not the case with us. Nearly every month was a press.
At first I agonized over what was happening. Even though deep down I felt sure the Lord would meet our needs I was far from being at peace with the matter. Being a small congregation, we really felt the pinch during summertime when several families went on vacation. But somehow, every month the bills were met. After several years I grew to the point that I just expected God to come through for us, and He did. It was only through this journey with Him that I was able to arrive at this peace.
As a pastor, I have met a number of believers who even wrestle with whether or not they are saved! Oftentimes, it has to do with how they feel, or how they don’t feel. They say something like, “I don’t feel like I’m saved.” Now we know Romans 10:9-10 tells us how to become saved. The promise in that passage is “thou shalt be saved.” That is a promise from God Almighty. Yet some people who claim they have obeyed the instructions in that passage and acknowledge the promise of salvation from the God who cannot lie do not believe they are saved. Where in the world is our faith?
I am not talking about lip service. Remember, biblical faith requires work. I am sure that if most believers were asked about their faith in God they would give themselves a good report card. But if you observe their actions you might have trouble reconciling what believers say with what they do. As James the apostle said, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18b). Clearly then our works—or the lack thereof—reflect our faith, or the lack thereof.
The degree to which we are committed to walking by faith is a matter of choice. Yes, we must trust in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross if we want to be saved. But if we don’t want to trust Him to work out things for us, and if we don’t believe we can do great works through Him, that is a matter of choice—though such a life would not please Him.
If you have never taken this vital area of your Christian life seriously, I invite you to embark on this exciting journey with God. Faith is the only vehicle through which He can work mightily in our life. If we want Him to answer our prayers we must couple them with faith as well. There are some believers who can’t even believe God can help them go without food for a day or two to accomplish a short fast. To some of us, this might not be a struggle at all but for others it is. Let us start wherever we are and put our faith to work. Our quality of life in Christ depends on it.