The Just Shall Live By Faith
God is the Just One. He does not want any to perish. He wants to justify. This is why he sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be justified. His love is our incentive for believing, obeying, being justified and being able to live in this life and in eternity.
Woodrow Wilson said, "Business underlies everything in our national life including our spiritual life." This statement is nothing less than Idolatry! It reflects the beliefs of many in America today. The national life is merely the reflection of a collection of individual lives. Is our spiritual life ruled by or based on our business life? Heb.11:1 says, "Faith is the substance...". Here the word "substance" is the same meaning as Mr. Wilson's idea of "underlies." The Bible says faith underlies life, not business.
Even ideas have consequences. President Wilson's idea had severe consequences! When our fathers bowed their knees to the material god we became a materialistic people. America can not live on bread (materialism) alone. We need to turn to the Word of God for the faith it gives if we will live. In a world of insecurities, ignorance and indifference we are questioning if even the just or the righteous will survive.
This was Habakkuk's question to God when certain judgment was facing his nation. How can even the righteous live when such wickedness is coming upon us? How can a just and righteous God allow evil?
Gods answer in Hab. 2:4 is, "I am working my work in my own time and in my own way but know that the just shall live by faith." They shall survive.
Physically and more importantly spiritually and everlastingly they shall survive. For one who was questioning God this answer is comforting and gives blessed assurance. This in turn leads us higher on the mountain of faith knowing that judgments come so that God's righteous will be delivered from the same wickedness which surrounds them.
Faith in a living and true God, and not business, is the foundation which underlies every aspect of our national and individual life. A few years ago the United States Chamber of Commerce began to accept that people must have faith. Their perception of faith, as many churches today, was not the faith which comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom.10:17). They sent out golden calves and golden angels (guardian angels they called them) which men could use as tie pins or ladies could use as decorative pins on their blouses. The instructions stated that because of the economic uncertainties America was facing that people are looking for faith in something. They offered to sell these pins to churches and other civic organizations. The prices for which churches could resell these pins could be more than four times as much. These little pins were to give faith to insecure lives.
Business cannot be the foundation of our spiritual life. Business cannot make gods to go before us and comfort us. The nation of Israel turned to its merchants to lead them and to provide for them and the consequence was turning from God.
As the ideas of social leaders have had severe consequences on life, so have those expressed in the creeds, standards, manuals and any writings of men used to determine fellowship. These writings of men substitute for the faith which makes one just. Hiscox Standard Manual For Baptist Churches was a classic case by quoting Eph. 4:5 that there is One Lord, one faith, one baptism, and then substituting his manual for Gods word by claiming these things are no longer true.
What was the substance or faith of the Jews in Habakkuk's day? What is the faith of many religious people in our own day? If it is not the material gods it is the writings of men. In his book, the Gospel Plan of Salvation T.W. Brents stated, "We think it likely that more has been said and written on the subject of faith than on any other subject connected with theology; and if every trace of every thing that uninspired men have spoken and written could be blotted out of human memory, we are not sure that the world would be greatly injured by the sacrifice." Many writings of men ask us to have faith in God and in them, too. The religious world is filled with men trying to be loyal to God and man or riches. No man can serve two masters:... (Matt. 6:24).
In Acts 8:30-31 a man reading from his Bible asked another to come and help him to understand what he was reading. Philip used the scripture to preach to this man about Jesus (8:35). Any writing we confess to believing for the purpose of fellowship must be ripped up and burned up. Any writing, teaching or preaching that does not sit beside us as Philip did with the Ethiopian and lead us through the scriptures to Jesus and the faith he gives is not worth much.
Turn to the book of Habakkuk and learn the life and death realities the prophet faced. Turn to the inspired writings of Paul and other men in the N.T. to learn the life and death realities that these early Christians faced. Read Rom. 1:17-18; Gal. 2:16; 3:11 and Heb. 10:37-39 and learn what these Christians were facing. With each judgment we find God's wrath and God's deliverance. Gods wrath is on the wicked. Gods deliverance is on the righteous. Those who live by faith will increase their faith. Live your life dependent on God's word and during the Babylonian captivity or the destruction of Jerusalem and the great tribulations of Revelation or any other judgments of such fierce wrath and you shall live and be delivered triumphantly. The life that we live we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. By faith we will be able to endure the severest of trials. We have a hope and a confidence and a blessed assurance and the promise of an abundant entrance into the the everlasting kingdom.
The just shall not live by the ideas of great social leaders or great religious leaders. The just shall not live by material things or the teachings of good men. The just shall not live by faith alone or anything that is short of a believing, obeying, trusting and dependent faith in God and his Word.
How many read what others say about Christ? How many never search the Scriptures daily to read Christ and to read what Christ says himself? How many will read what God has to say about faith and about the just (righteous) and about the life that they are promised? Will you?
The gospel of Christ is God's plan of salvation. Can we read it and learn? Can we trust and obey it? How shall the just secure their hearts and live? Either way one looks at it the answer is always by faith.
Read God's Word. Search it daily to see if these things are true. Prove your own selves whether you are in the faith. Will you live and live abundantly?
By Mark Alan Turner
From Expository Files 1.8; August, 1994