Part 1: Faith That Rings Out!
Faith! What Is It?
“I live by Faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
“The righteous will live by Faith.”
“According to your Faith will it be done…”
“If you have Faith as small as a mustard seed…”
“Have Faith in God…”
“We live by Faith and not by sight…”
“Will he find FAITH on the earth?”
To “live by Faith in the Son of God”—THAT is the Christian life! So what is Faith? Faith is what we BELIEVE! Faith is active. It is to live with every fiber of your being turned fully toward God in every issue of life. It has nothing to do with what we know in the intellectual sense and everything to do with what we BELIEVE in an ACTIVE sense. Faith is to turn to Jesus of Nazareth in everything—every accomplishment, every failure, every disappointment, and every sin and emptiness that you would ever see in your life. Faith has to do with what we BELIEVE from the heart in the midst of stress and strain and difficulty.
Beholding Him, turning to Him, and resting your case in Jesus as the Answer to the Father’s every question and the satisfaction of the Father’s every demand of you—that is Faith. Holding up Jesus in every circumstance of life as the Answer and the Solution and the Anchor that holds within the veil.
Faith in Christ is the Power unto Salvation! It’s us believing from the heart the Good News of what God has done to redeem a fallen humanity. It’s what God has done to restore everything that Adam lost—and so much more! But, we’ve got to believe it in order to access it.
Call on the Name of the Lord and turn your face toward Him. He will hear your heart cry and come swiftly, healing your wounds and changing your life. He will make you a man or woman after His own Heart, and you’ll see Him and trust Him and worship Him all your days. That kind of trust and adoration is God’s heart for you and is your inheritance in Christ Jesus. Take hold of all that God has in store for you, by this glorious Faith in the Risen Son. Let the work of Jesus Christ and Faith in Him as a Redeemer of men’s souls well up within you as a ray of Hope in spite of anything else that would ever happen in your life.
Watch for that word “faith” as we go. It’s Faith that makes us whole—an unwavering trust and dependence on the Father because of the work of His Son on Calvary.
What Is Your Attitude?
Reading through Romans is not some attempt to be a bunch of doctrine heads who have a perfect grasp of Pauline theology. Our desire really and truly is to find God’s Heart for our lives and to understand what it has to do with us personally. How do His Heart and Word affect how I live at home and what comes out of my mouth? How does it affect my work ethic? How does it affect my ability to look at someone else, whether Jew or Gentile, in a market or in a mall and understand how to view them? What effect does His Word have on me? Can I let it touch my heart to change who I am, that God could be further glorified in my short stay here?
All my days I want to be a worshipper! I want to reflect the Glory of God and the vast depth of the riches of the Wisdom of God. I want to reflect His Life and Glory in my daily life, and not just be able to spout things off because I’ve memorized and processed certain truths. I want to be a changed person so that God’s Glory can shine through me.
The key that Paul speaks of again and again to the Romans is that all of this Wisdom and Glory and Life and depth of God are, from first to last…by faith. Both our justification and our sanctification are by faith. Our ability to find God and reflect His Glory in the inner man comes not by striving but by “seeing Him who is invisible.” It comes by being able to live a life from first to last that is focused on Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s requirements of us, and focused on Him as the potential for all of the Power and Glory of God to be manifest in us.
So, how does that affect my daily life? If I’m a complainer or a whiner…if I slump back in times of difficulty and trial…if I sever relationships rather than pour into them…if I pull away from God and shrink back and forget Him rather than turn my face fully towards Him—then I’m walking by sight and not by faith. I’m walking in a way that invites demonic presence into my life, rather than God’s Presence and Glory into my life.
If you had to describe what faith is, there are many ways you could do that because faith is a diamond with many facets. But one thing that faith will always be is an attitude. Certainly faith has to do with the knowledge of God—no question about that. So now, in view of your knowledge of God, what is your attitude? That will be the indicator of whether you really believe God or not. If you really believe God, it will affect your point of view. How you view other people will totally depend on whether your faith for them and for yourself is in Christ, or whether your faith instead is in works—theirs or yours.
Everything in life comes back to this issue of where we place our faith. Where do we place our confidence and trust? How do we decide how we’re going to feel about things and how we’re going to view other people? It’s either “faith from first to last” or there’s a curse on your life, as Paul said to the Galatians. As you perceive the world around you—the heavens and earth, the circumstances at work and home, your health, your business dealings and relationships—if you live by anything other than faith, then there’s a curse on your life. If we won’t perceive things through the eyes of faith, other attitudes begin to creep in…bitterness, frustration, anxiety, fear, judgment, criticalness, and laziness. Nothing but corruption begins to fill our lives and hearts.
“Faith from first to last,” isn’t some generic, “Yes, I believe in God,” and “Yes, I know the proper doctrines.” Forget that junk—we’re talking about…do you really trust Him from the heart? Do you look at life through the eyes of what happened on Calvary? If so, your faith in Him will affect your attitude. It will change how you view and respond to others. It will determine the kinds of things you whisper in the inner chambers—the remarks you make to your spouse, children or roommate and the behind-the-scenes thoughts you hold in your heart. How you view people and what you say comes either from faith in Christ, or from worldly, carnal attitudes where you see both men and God after the flesh.
Set Apart Ones
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the good news of God-the good news he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:1-4). If those words alone don’t make you just want to sing…“Jesus Christ our LORD!!” If that doesn’t make your heart just want to burst with…“YES!” Confidence, Strength and Power from on high! That’s the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, dwelling mightily in your heart! If those words don’t make your heart just well up, then there’s an element of unbelief in your heart. If it’s just, “Oh, that’s a neat way to say that,” or “I’m not sure I followed the train of thought there,” then there’s a lack of awe in you, and you need to face God and ask Him to help you.
“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5).
There is an obedience that comes from faith. It’s not simply knowing about something and saying you believe it. There’s an obedience. In other words, if we really believe God, it changes what we do. That doesn’t mean we’re justified by obedience. No, we’re justified only by our faith in Him. We really believe He is God. Faith is believing that God is, and that He’s a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And without faith, it’s impossible to please Him. It’s a faith that declares, “You are who You say You are, the I AM. You are Jehovah God, the Provider, and the King of the Galaxies. You are who You are, and You’ve called me and chosen me.” We believe that God is, and if we diligently seek Him (not being lazy or sloppy), He will be a Rewarder because He’s a loving Father. An obedience comes from faith simply because we believe that He is who He is. We’re not gods! We’re not meant to be little gods who make our own decisions, like whether we’re going to believe in God or “go to church.” That is not it. It must be a total abandonment of the heart and life and will. “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst…” I humble myself before God, and an obedience wells up out of truly believing that He is who He is.
And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ (come to be the possession of—to belong to Jesus Christ). To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6,7).
“Called to be saints”—set apart ones. Get the religious jargon out of your mind. We’re called by God to be set apart, holy, separate. “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. But some say, “Well, I don’t think we need to take that so seriously. It got a bunch of people martyred in the first century, and we wouldn’t want that to happen again. Let’s just eat, drink and be merry. Let’s mix it up a little—after all, Jesus was ‘a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
The words “saint” or “chosen” or “elect” all find their root in the expression of God’s heart and mind: “set apart for God’s purposes.” Set apart, pulled away. Come out from among them and be separate. If you’ll do that then God says, “I’ll be a Father to you. I’ll show you My love and you’ll be My very children. If you will come out from among them and be separate, rather than clinging to a love of the world and the things of the world, trying to then just add Me on the side... If you’ll truly lay your heart and your life down... If you’ll do what John did with My Son Jesus by laying your head in My lap... If you’ll trust me implicitly at the moment of trial and crisis... If you will come out from among them and not cling to the world, not demand your rights, not push your weight around… If you’ll let ME be God instead of you… If you’ll belong to My Son by your own free will… Then I will be your God, and you can be My people.”
An Implicit Trust
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).
When people have faith, it rings out!
We once knew a man from India and the one quality that stood out about him was his faith. He was a man who could see through any circumstance that came upon him, including his own terminal cancer. In spite of a lot of pain and difficulty and personal rejection, he let faith ring out from him, and it expressed itself in every area of his life. There was still joy in his heart, and there was a peace in him. His faith affected his attitude.
You can have a lot of other things besides faith. You can have great doctrine or some really cool worship or super talent in some area or another. You can be a real pioneer in some doctrine, or thought process or cultural lifestyle adjustment. But you know what? That’s all chaff. What rings out to the heavens and the earth, and what God commends, and what Gabriel accompanies with a trumpet blast, are people who have faith during times of crisis and stress. They let God’s hope and God’s promise answer all their questions in Jesus Christ. To people with Faith, He is the “Yes” and “Amen” to every question that could ever be asked and any difficulty that could ever arise. When people have faith, it will be reported throughout the world. It will “ring out throughout Macedonia and Achaia.” When we, like the Thessalonians, turn from idols to serve the living God, it becomes an expression of the obedience of the faith. But it won’t be our obedience that rings out. It will be our faith!
“…Your faith is being reported all over the world.” That’s pretty impressive considering they didn’t have telephones and jet planes and e-mail at their fingertips. “Hey, did you hear about so-and-so’s faith?” That report went from person to person to person all over the world: “Did you hear about so-and-so’s FAITH?” That ought to be reported about us! It ought to be reported about you and me. We can do a lot of great things in life, but I somehow feel that if the report around the world was, “Did you hear about their faith?” it would be quite a compliment in the heavenly courts.
That doesn’t mean you’ll always be laughing, “Oh, I’m just so filled with joy!” That’s not the issue. The old stereotype of a Christian bubbling over with joy all the time simply isn’t true. Jesus was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Bopping around with some sort of flippant, “joyous” attitude is not what Jesus was about; that’s not Christianity. But I’ll tell you what Jesus was about—an implicit trust of the Father! Everything was filtered through the knowledge that the Father’s Hand is sovereign over all things. Jesus’ attitude was always held in check by His Faith and Trust in the Father. His complete devotion to the Father, and His complete trust of the Father’s devotion to Him, defined His attitude. That’s why Jesus could say, speaking of Himself, “The Father loves the Son.” That’s faith!!
Nothing can interfere with a person’s walk with God or his relationships with brothers and sisters or his sanctification before God if he knows in his heart…“the Father loves the Son.” He’s resolved all the open issues within himself and the open issues between he and God by the work of Calvary. Faith is not some impotent doctrine where we uphold a certain “belief system” about who God is. If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: faith affects your attitude in everything you do in every circumstance of life. Otherwise, you’re walking in unbelief—NOT FAITH!
“Oh, sure, I believe in God.” Do you really?
Let’s see your attitudes when you’re under stress. Let’s see what you do when you’ve been treated unfairly (or so you think), or something isn’t going right on the job. What do you do then? What will you do when a relationship isn’t turning out as you thought it should, or someone treats you in a way you don’t think is proper or right or just or kind? How do you respond? What will you do? Faith is not measured by how many doctrines you can spew off. Your faith is measured by what you do under stress. What do you do when life isn’t adding up and it isn’t meeting your expectations? What do you do when your circumstances take you out of your comfort zone and out of your element of understanding? Is your face towards God with implicit trust?
Everything will be affected by your faith. Do you have faith? In your work ethic, in every relationship you have—do you have faith? Show me how you get along with your spouse, or your roommate, or your children. Let me see how you function in a work environment when difficulties and injustices arise. Those are the places where the statements of faith in Christ happen.
If nothing else comes from this, let me remind you again that true faith has to do with what you actively believe from the heart in times of stress, strain, confusion and difficulty. That’s true faith according to the Biblical definition of the word—the way that word was used historically as Jesus taught it, and the way Peter, John and Paul again and again elaborated on it and demonstrated the workings of that word. Faith is an active word that has nothing to do with what we believe with our minds. It has to do with what we BELIEVE in an ACTIVE sense from the heart in the midst of difficulty.
So please, watch God carefully and totally throw your heart out to Him in every kind of trial and confusion. Let your faith in Him mend every relationship with those who also trust in the Name of the Lord. Let your faith bring a glimmer of Hope at the moment of your darkest failure. Let the Work of Jesus Christ and Faith in Him as a Redeemer of men’s souls well up within you as a ray of Hope in spite of anything else that would ever happen in your life. Faith in Christ—that’s the Power unto Salvation. It’s the Good News we BELIEVE of what God has done to redeem us. We’ve got to believe it if we want to access it.
Very few people have ever believed God and let it affect their lives and attitudes. Very few people. Yet, that’s the kind of Faith God desires from us. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones out of two million people who were willing to believe God and take the Land He promised them. We’re talking about a rare quality. The Israelites did not combine what they knew with faith and they lost their inheritance because of their attitudes. They grumbled and were cut off. The destroying angel wiped them out because of their attitudes—because of unbelief in their hearts (1Cor 10). Joshua and Caleb were the only exceptions to that. When it was time to take the Promised Land, they said, “The battle is the Lord’s. This is God’s deal here. We’re His servants, and with His help He’ll give us the land.” The rest of the Israelites, millions of people, thought otherwise.
Let’s do something that very few people throughout history have done—BELIEVE GOD! Let’s be like Joshua and Caleb and exhibit that rare quality of FAITH! Few people have ever walked that way, but it IS our inheritance in Christ. And I encourage you to take a hold of it.
Even if you feel like a total failure and you do everything wrong, let it always be said, “But he sure has faith in God. He trusts implicitly in the Blood of Christ and the Power of God to work miracles. Even though many, many times he’s failed, this person turns his face towards God every time.” Now that will be reported throughout the earth, I assure you. Simple trust in God is just such a rare thing. But that is God’s heart for each of us—for anyone who calls on His name.
1 You will be filled with a joy far more deeply than the average person is, worshiping constantly. Worship isn’t a “thing” you do with others or a “thing” you do by yourself. Worship is an expression of “GOD, YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE! You are the I AM! I trust You, I’m Yours.” That’s worship! That’s Trust! Back
Everything Traced Back to Faith
“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in proclaiming the good news of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:9-12).
Even spiritual gifts are somehow related to faith. “I want to impart a gift to you…that is, that we could be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Remember how Paul himself, “Looking out, saw the man had faith to be healed”? Somehow, believing God has everything to do with spiritual gifts. Receiving an impartation from God or from someone with a spiritual gift is very related to our ability to walk in faith.
I know of three people who have been prayed for about their health in the last two or three days. Two of those people were utterly, ridiculously healed very quickly from ailments that had them flat on their backs. The other person had to grapple just a little with this issue of having faith to be healed. They wanted to be healed in order to find God somehow. So there was a wrestling over that issue of faith as it related to God’s spiritual healing.
I don’t think there’s anything in life that is not in one way or another traced back to our faith to see God and to find God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the voice of God—the utterance of God. That’s what Christianity is all about—finding God, finding faith and then forging ahead without doubting. Abraham is known as the Father of our Faith, and we will read again and again that faith is the issue that’s at stake. I can’t possibly encourage you enough to resolve in your own heart to believe that God is and that He’s a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Resolve in your heart that Jesus Christ is the “Yes” and the “Amen” to all the promises of God. You’ve got to resolve that God is able, that He hears you and knows you, and that He will meet you on the ground of believing Him. He is who He said He is, so don’t let any unbelief linger in your heart.
Paul could impart no spiritual gift, just as Jesus could bring no healing in his hometown, because of the unbelief of the people. If you are skeptical, and you’re going to doubt…if you roll your eyes or withdraw your heart and pull back even just a little bit, you will not find the healing of God in your life or the power of God welling up from within you. You will never find your inheritance. If you shrink back, you’ll be amongst those who are destroyed, the Hebrews writer said. If you shrink back, you will reap destruction and devastation in your heart in one form or another.
I don’t know how to best say this, but I do know that it has to be our faith that rings out, and it has to be your faith that apprehends the Heart and the Mind and the Voice of God and stands firm on that in spite of any circumstances or heartache that life will bring you. The storms will come. Have it fixed in your heart and mind exactly who Jesus is and that His promises are your Anchor and Hope. You will not be among those who “grumble and are destroyed by the destroying angel” as Paul wrote. You’ll not be “of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”