The Bible tells us three times that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." By faith, he became "the Friend of God" and is called the father of the faithful. Noah believed God. By faith he sawed timbers, drove pegs, rubbed pitch and devoted 120 years to building an ark. He endured the ridicule of the world and saved his family while everyone else perished by water. Elijah believed God, prayed, and there was no rain for 3 1/2 years. Afterwards, by faith, he prayed again and torrents of rain poured down and soaked the hard, sun scorched earth. Moses and Rahab and Daniel and Gideon and David all believed God and are listed in God's great Hall of Faith. How can we today join that elite group of believers who lived "by faith."
by Jerry Gentry
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19).
". . . 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" (Gal. 2:20).
Did you know that Satan and all his demons believe in Jesus Christ? Yes, not only do they believe, but they fear and tremble, saying, "Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt. 8:29). There are countless millions of people in this world who also believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But do these "believers" live "by the faith of the Son of God?" Or is their belief little different from that of the devils, who believe, yet are destined for the flames of hell? Is it true that a "believer" can be without faith? Can believers be rejected?
Are you a believer? Will you "be found in him, not having. . . [your] own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9)?
Do you have the "faith of Christ?" Will you be in the kingdom? Or will you be among those believers who, like the devils, are told, "depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Luke 13:27). Will you hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:21). How can you know for sure that if you die tonight, you will not die in the devils' hell-bound belief? How can you now rest each day in absolute assurance that you are living "by faith," that God is pleased with your life?
There is no more important question in your life today than this one. Where you will spend eternity rests on your personal answer to this most important of all questions. It is not only the worldly unchurched who are destined for hell. You, my friend, can be a church going believer and still find yourself outside the kingdom, unless you have a particular kind of belief, called in the Bible, the "faith of Christ?"
Great men of faith inspire us all. By faith, Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego defied the flames of the burning, fiery furnace, saying, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
"But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (Dan 3:16-18). Living "by faith" is making a stand for God, even in the face of potential death. Living "by faith" means you hang your life in the balance between God's hoped for deliverance and whatever consequences may be imposed by men.
By faith. How can we understand this concept? How can we find it, and know that it is not the devil's belief we have found? How can we find true Biblical faith and apply it to our lives? We are told by Jesus, "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark 11:23).
What awesome power this kind of faith produces! Simply speak words "by faith," and a mountain is removed and cast into the sea! Have you ever witnessed such a mountain remove and fall into the sea in your lifetime? Jesus promised such, to His disciples, and His Word cannot fail. You can rest assured that there are Christians alive in our generation who are speaking such words "by faith," and mountains are removing and falling into the sea! Why then do your prayers fall flat to the ground? Why does the mountain you are trying to move grow even bigger the more you pray? Few Christians ever experience the miracles of a life lived "by faith." Few understand how to live by the "faith of Christ."
How can we find this kind of faith and make it operational in our lives? Is this faith something you work up through emotions and prayer? Is this kind of faith something you bring to God, or is it something He gives to you? Now if this kind of "faith of Christ" is a gift from God, what must we do to receive it?
The Bible teaches, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebr. 11:6). Yes, the "faith of Christ" requires diligence on our part. But it requires more than just diligence. Among certain denominations, "praying through" to God is a common practice, whereby these folks attempt to find answers to their prayers. But is this an exercise in the "faith of Christ," or an exercise in the will of man?
There is one key to living "by faith"&emdash;and it has nothing to do with our belief in Jesus Christ, in the way the devils also believe. They believe, even fear and tremble, at their future judgment, which is sure. But they are not yielded to God. They are disobedient believers who refuse to submit. If we are to receive the "faith of Christ," whereby we speak words and move mountains, then we will not only believe in Jesus Christ. We will yield to Him, so thoroughly and completely, that we will have no will of our own. Think about this idea. The Bible teaches, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1Co 6:19). We have all read this verse. But what does it mean?
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (v. 20). When we become in fact the slaves of Christ, submitting our will to the greater will of God, then and only then can we receive and exercise the "faith of Christ." This "faith of Christ" is not just believing: it is believing in submission to God's will. For without submission to God's will, our belief is little more that that of the devils', who believe, but are unyielded and destined for hell. Our belief in Jesus Christ alone will never move a mountain, never shake even a small hill, never quench the burning flames or stop the mouths of lions. It is the "faith of Christ"&emdash;His faith working in us&emdash;that saves us and moves mountains at our command. Surely, we do believe in Jesus Christ. But it is only by the "faith of Christ" dwelling and working in us that we will miraculously move mountains, defy the flaming furnace, tame the hungry lions and kill a cursing giant.
When David was yet a shepherd boy, about seventeen years old, he slew the giant called Goliath. Picture this scene in your mind. King Saul, who himself stood head and shoulders above the crowd, had rallied the best men of Israel to fight the Philistines. Every day Goliath of the Philistines descended into the open valley between the two opposing armies. There, under the brilliant sun of broad daylight, this heathen devil-man cursed the God of Israel. Day after miserable day this cursing continued. Not one Israelite male would stand and fight Goliath, until young David came to visit his brothers, who were positioned in Saul's battle lines.
When David arrived, and after some chiding from his brothers, he heard the challenge of Goliath and responded, "who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1Sa 17:26). No more courageous words have ever been spoken, and from the lips of just a boy, no less!
These words were reported to King Saul, who called David in for an interview. David assured King Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him [Goliath]; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (v. 32). King Saul objected, but David assured the King that, "The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine" (v. 37). Where did this mere boy David find such faith, and muster such courage to do what not another man in all of King Saul's armies would do?
And David "took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine" (v. 40). Whatever fear and doubt David must have felt, was overcome by his hastening into the battle. He knew how to throw a sling. He had formerly developed his skill by smashing small targets at thirty paces. And he knew the power of the sling. But Goliath. . . a moving target. . . and if he missed with the first stone? . . yes, there would be four more. And then. . . Yes, David believed against doubt that God would deliver him. Otherwise, he knew it would be curtains for his life. Even knowing that possibility existed, he willingly hung his own life in the balance to defend God's reputation. He placed his own life secondary and subordinate to God's greater will.
"Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied (v. 45).
"This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel (v. 46). What patriotism! What selfless honor! What dauntless courage!
"And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands (v. 47).
"And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine (v. 48).
"And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth (v. 49).
"So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him" (v. 50).
You will notice from this story that it was not lengthy prayer with fasting, or crying and tears that brought victory to Israel. It was just a boy, seventeen years old, who dared to believe God's promises and was willing to hang his personal life in the balances to uphold the truth of his God. We look back, and conclude it was only the natural and right thing to do. But at the time, remember, not one other single man in all of Saul's army stood in the gap that day and defended the God of Israel.
David the shepherd boy stood alone that momentous day. He counted his own life of little importance, the reputation of the God of Israel of great importance. It was not mere belief in God that David exercised that day. For all Israel believed in God. David stepped out "by faith." He was careful to speak truth. But he did more than just speak the truth. He rushed into the battle to defend that truth with all his being, knowing the cost of failure would be his own life. He worked his faith, just like as Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, like Daniel, like Samson and Rahab and Moses and all the other members of God's great Hall of Faith. That is a life dedicated to living "by faith." That is the "faith of Christ" made operational in the life of a true believer. Later it was said, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will" (Acts 13:22). Yes, the "faith of Christ" always produces and fulfills the will of God, and not the will of man. Because, "as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17).
Will you live "by faith?" Then get ready to do so by subduing your will to the greater will of God. Find something for God that you are willing to die for and lay down your life in its defense. Take the risk. Hang your life on the promises of God. "Prove me now herewith," God says. Who has the courage to take the words of the God of Israel, speak those words, and live or die in active defense of them. Now that is living "by faith." It is "by faith" that a Christian moves from being just a believer, like the devils, and into the working "faith of Christ." Only then, can we join with members of God's great Hall of Faith, who "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions (Heb 11:33)
"Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (v. 34).
"Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection (v. 35).
"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: (v. 36).
"They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (v. 37).
"(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (v. 38).
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (v. 39).
"God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (v. 40).
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:25). Will you live "by faith?" Will you join God's Hall of Faith? Then you will believe in Jesus Christ, which even the devils do. But more, you will "by faith" yield your very being in life or death upon the defense of God and His Holy Word.