Forward by faith does not just have a nice ring to it; it is absolutely essential for believers in today's 21st century.
Just in case you needed a reminder, the past year has given ample evidence that we live in the “midst of a crooked and perverse nation” (Phil.2:15). I am just a young guy (comparatively speaking), but it has been amazing to me to behold the downward spiral of society just in the last ten years since I graduated from college. The fear, violence, hatred, selfishness, and pure lack of common sense in our land seems to be at an all time high. An anti-God agenda continues to be pushed, and its effects are finally spilling over to forcefully impact the people of God. Well, I have encouraging news for you today – things are only going to get worse! The Bible tells us, “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim.3:13). If you're a believer in Jesus, buckle up for a bumpy ride!
Unfortunately, I feel like many in the broad world of Christendom have practically resigned from their faith in the God of the impossible. Even some of us as Baptist conservatives (I consider myself to be both) have fallen into a fatalistic mentality concerning the last days. We may not verbally say so, but we really don't expect too much from God. The world is too wicked, the strongholds in people's minds are too strong, and the spiritual ground we have left to conquer is just too vast. We may see some mercy drops falling, but not the showers of blessing. Especially after this last election, I think there are many believers who feel like revival and a genuine awakening are just not possible. Yes, it's easy for us, even as Bible-believing Christians, to think this way when we focus on the state of our world.
And that is the key: where is our focus? Whatever you focus on reveals where your confidence and dependence is at. Perhaps our focus has been misplaced. Perhaps our view of revival is not accurate. I contend that God has a greater platform to work on now than when we had our preferred candidate in the White House. Can not a revived church come forth because of a persecuted church (read the book of Acts)? Doesn't the light shine brighter the darker the night is? If our view of going forward is more political than spiritual, then of course we're in despair! But going forward in God's sight starts with the spiritual, and that's where our focus should be.
How do we move forward and truly make a great impact for God and for good in our present society? It is by faith. Faith is God-focused – always! Faith is not just giving mental assent to facts (even the demons believe in God and tremble). Faith is being fully persuaded/convinced about something to the point of completely depending on that truth. I like to define faith as “depending on God to do for you what you could never do for yourself.” When a sinner comes to the point where he knows he cannot save himself, he has to exercise faith, dependence on Jesus alone, to save him. The same principle applies to a Christian seeking deliverance from a besetting sin, or a church seeking to shed more light in a hostile world. Whatever spiritual victory we're after, God has to be the One to move us forward, and He does so when we come to the end of ourselves and depend on Him alone.
In four different places the Bible tells us “the just shall live by faith” (Hab.2:4, Rom.1:17, Gal.3:11, Heb.10:38). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” He admonishes the believers in Colosse to walk (live) in the same way that they had received Christ (Col.2:6). Living by faith is the only type of living that is acceptable to God, because it is the way God intended man to live – always believing Him and dependent on Him. Faith accesses God's grace for salvation, sanctification, service, suffering, and any other area of need in our lives.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb.12:2). Here again we see the idea of focus. You cannot look at two things at one time! We must have a single focus – Christ and His cause. Living by faith is looking unto Jesus, the two are basically synonymous. Keep looking at the world and you will be discouraged. Keep looking at your flesh (trying to please God in your own strength) and you will be defeated. But keep looking at Jesus (drawing upon His life within you by faith), and you will be an overcomer and move forward in your Christian walk and witness.
Faith is the key to both personal and public victories.
In other words, in your own Christian life and in our nation right now, unwavering, absolute faith in Jesus is the answer. God has given numerous promises in His Word about doing great things for His people, things that would even make the unsaved take notice (2 Chron.7:14, Ps.86:17, Is.44:3, Is.64:1-2, Jer.33:3, Matt.5:16, Jn.14:12). If these things are not happening on a grand scale, the fault lies with no group but us. Do we really believe what God has said? Are we consistently pleading His promises? Are we living in complete dependence upon and obedience to Him? Or are we hindering what God wants to do because of our humanistic unbelief (Matt.13:58)?
So much more could be said concerning faith, and perhaps we'll explore more in later articles. Allow me to give a final Scriptural example of people moving forward by faith in humanly impossible circumstances. We find it in Exodus chapter 14, as the Israelites are encamped by the Red Sea while the mighty and angry Egyptian army is pursuing behind them. God's people find themselves in quite a predicament, especially after the Lord tells them through Moses to “go forward” (Ex.14:15). Simply put, they were not going forward apart from Divine intervention! Now, although many Israelites probably did not initially believe God that day, they all had to depend on Him to cross the Red Sea. Moses certainly took God at His Word when He stretched out his rod over the sea at God's command, and God delighted in his faith and performed a mighty miracle. God was glorified that day and the people experienced a grand victory over their problem. These are the results of faith: we move forward in victory and God's glory is manifested. What wonderful results that we can still see when the condition of faith is met in our day!
Forward by faith does not just have a nice ring to it; it is absolutely essential for believers in today's 21st century. I am not a prophet of doom and gloom, but I believe that the road ahead for God's people in this country will be a bumpy one. Some Christian teachers are saying we're in an impossible situation (as far as really having a Christian impact and seeing a great awakening). Well, then I say we're in a pretty good spot, because God's power and glory shine the brightest when things are impossible! We have a choice as God's children. We either maintain an intellectual belief that God can do anything but just hold to the status quo and not really live that way, or we daily practice our faith and depend on Him to work through us in greater ways that will touch all the lives around us. God is still able to do marvelous wonders in our own individual lives, in our churches, and in our nation. He is waiting for us to “go forward.” May we not limit Him with an unbelieving, fatalistic mentality. “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt.9:29).