Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   Walking With God
by Rayola Kelley

     As Christians, we must understand faith. There are many false presentations of faith. Last month I talked about the type of faith that simply believes what God has promised and the witness that it leaves, even if it must be declared from the grave. In fact, we are told that there is a great cloud of witness when it comes to faith (Hebrews 12:1). By following the examples of faith in other saints’ lives we can see how it works.

      Genuine faith is not just a matter of believing something. Granted, such belief possesses expectation. Expectation declares that since it believes a matter to be true, it expects what has been promised to come true. The challenge with faith is even though it expects a promise to be fulfilled a person may never see it occur in his or her lifetime. For example, both Abraham and King David never witnessed the fulfillment of the promise God gave them, but they continued to live in expectation that it would happen (Hebrews 11:13). They rested in complete assurance that it was already done because the Lord said so.

      The expectation in faith brings us to the next aspect of true faith, and that is that it is active. Sadly, faith has been demoted to an intellectual acknowledgement, a method or a practice. However, faith is active regardless of what it sees or does not see. It ensures advancement, not a stalemate when it comes to our Christian life. In a sense, it is living as it discerns, interrelates, interacts, and responds with what is going on around an individual.

      The Bible tells us that God counts or reckons acts originating from faith as being righteous. Keep in mind that Abraham’s faith was active. He was ready to offer up his son, Isaac, out of obedience to God. We are told that due to God’s promise to Abraham regarding his son that he had the assurance that God would raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). The Lord counted Abraham’s act as righteousness. The problem with some believers is that they perceive that faith will in some miraculous or supernatural way carry them through challenging situations. This is a wrong perception of faith. Faith actually enables a person to walk through challenges with confidence that God is in the circumstances. We can see this in Abraham. He is the one who walked to the mount to offer his son.

      Faith enables us to take steps of obedience towards what we know is true and right before the Lord. For this reason faith is active. It is always advancing a person in a matter. It does not sit back while clinging to wishful thinking that all will turn out well. It does not live in denial of what is going on; rather, it faces the reality of a matter in order to walk through it in the strength and power of God.

      The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Sight in this case not only points to walking according to what we see, but what we also understand about a matter. Genuine faith does not walk according to events taking place in the physical world. Rather, it walks according to the character and righteous ways of an unseen God. It does not walk according to a worldly perception, but an inner knowing and witness of the Spirit of God that God is who He says He is. Because of who He is, God will never lie and He will always keep His promises. Regardless of what the world presents or declares that is contrary to God, He will ultimately prove to be faithful and powerful enough to bring about all that He has declared and promised.

        Faith on our part is a matter of showing good faith by believing that God will do as He says. Based on our assurance of His faithfulness, we walk according to what has been established and verified as being true. Such a response usually translates into obedience towards God and His Word. For this reason we are told that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

      As believers, we are to walk according to the Word of God. This means obeying and applying the instructions, commandments, examples, and exhortations to our way of living. Each time we apply the Word of God by faith, we will grow spiritually. Through the years I have been aware of the different stages of the faith walk. In the initial stage of my faith walk, it was as though the Lord took my hand until I learned to somewhat walk on my own as my spiritual legs gained the necessary strength to take steps of obedience to what I knew was right.

      Due to my spiritual immaturity in those initial years, I did find myself taking various detours. Granted, I was running what I thought was the race, only to find out I was not even in the race. I had veered off course due to disobedience and unbelief, and ended up spent out and exhausted in what seemed to be one dead end after another.

      Thanks to the faithfulness of the Lord, He got me back on track. The detours of my life taught me some valuable lessons about running the race. First, I had to be prepared. I had spent a lot of unnecessary energy on activities that proved to be vain and empty. After learning valuable lessons in relationship to my faith, I waited for instructions from my Master. I allowed Him to equip me to properly run the race before me, restrain me along the path when discipline was required, compel me with inspiration when the terrain became challenging, and lead the way when darkness and uncertainty was upon me.

      By considering my past walk, I can see how I could have avoided many detours if I had walked in belief towards what the Word of God stated about certain subjects or matters. The problem is I wanted life on my terms. Each time I insisted on my right to have it my way, it would end in disaster. It was not until I chose to believe the Bible that I found the means to make strides in my spiritual walk.

      This brings each of us as believers to what it means to walk by faith. There are two men that give us incredible insight into the faith walk. They are Enoch and Noah. These two men understood how faith was to operate. Their faith walk actually put them in step with their God. We know this is true because it is recorded that they actually walked with God. Let us now consider their examples in order to understand what active faith entails and will ultimately produce.

      When I study these men’s lives, I realize that their faith brought them in step with God’s will and purpose. Sadly, most Christians perceive faith as a means to arrive at some spiritual level of enlightenment, greatness, or accomplishment. However, genuine faith simply brings you into step with a great God. Such a walk points to communion. Saints who walk in communion or agreement with God develop an incredible familiarity with Him. Abraham reveals the level of familiarity when the Bible refers to him as a friend of God.

      Jesus pointed to this same familiarity. He stated to His disciples on the night He was betrayed that He no longer wanted to call them servants, but friends. He stated that servants do not know the intimate matters of their Lord. He wanted intimacy with them so that He could make known to them the matters of heaven. However, such a relationship would hinge on them obeying His commands (John 15:13-15).

      What did Enoch and Noah discover in their walk with the Lord? The first characteristic in regards to walking by faith is that it brought a clear distinction in their lives. It caused God to take note of Enoch and caused Noah to stand distinct in the midst of a wicked world. Clearly, the faith walk identifies believers to the One who they must put their trust and confidence in.

      For Enoch, this identification caused him to cease to be. We are told that he “was not” for God took him. His faith actually brought him to a place in God where he was translated to heaven without seeing physical death (Genesis 4:22-24). We are told that before his translation he had a testimony that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5). We know we cannot please God without faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6). Was Enoch’s walk with God so precious that the wicked world was not worthy to witness his life (Hebrews 11:38)? Once again, we are reminded that faith is an active walk that will bring us into step with God.

      The book of Jude gives us some more insight into Enoch: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). Enoch saw into the future. Genuine faith is what gives God’s people the vision to see into the world to come.

      We can see how faith produced the ability to see into the world to come. Abraham’s faith would never allow him to settle for this present world. As a result, he developed a vision that allowed him to see beyond his age. Therefore, he was not caught up with seeing the promises fulfilled in light of the present world, but to see the essence of his real hope in relationship to the next. We are told: “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

      Faith begins where personal understanding ceases. What most people do not understand about faith is that when it expresses itself through obedience, light penetrates the darkness in order to light up the path that His people must walk. The light not only allows His followers to see where they are walking, but sometimes it reveals what will happen in the future.

      Some Christians are groping in the darkness of the world because of unbelief towards the Word of God. I must state at this time that unbelief is expressed through failure to obey God’s Word. Such darkness is not caused because understanding is eluding a person, but because a he or she is failing to do what is right. It is known as the sin of omission.

      This brings us to Noah. Enoch pleased God by how he faithfully walked in regard to Him. However, when it came to Noah, He found grace in the midst of great wickedness. In other words, his life stood out in the darkness of wickedness and God was able to show him favor at a time when He was repenting that He had even created man. God was about to destroy mankind, but He considered Noah’s life, and counted his faith as a point of righteousness.

      The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:21 that grace reigns through righteousness. Because of Noah’s faith, God’s grace was able to flow down to him and through him. We are told that Noah’s response to God’s instruction concerning the impending judgment condemned the world and made him an heir of salvation.

      What can we learn from Noah’s example? We are given insight into the aspects of his faith as recorded by Hebrews 11:7. The first response of Noah’s faith finds its origins in a right attitude. We are told that in fear he moved to do what he was instructed to do even though he did not understand the implications of the judgment coming upon the world. Most people do not respond to God because they want to understand how spiritual matters are going to fare for them. In reality, they do not dread facing Him in judgment. They are not concerned as to whether their attitudes or actions would bring a reproach to their testimony and to the kingdom of God.

      Noah’s next response was that he took action, and built an ark. In other words, he obeyed the voice of the Lord. There was no indication that he argued with the Lord or asked Him to explain His instructions. Noah simply believed what was being said and responded accordingly.

      His actions served as a living witness to those who observed his activities of faith. Because of Noah’s witness, he condemned the whole world. God always has a witness that will bring some type of clarity or warning. Except for Noah’s family, the people did not take heed and perished in their sins.

      The final aspect of faith is that Noah became an heir of righteousness. In essence, he was counted righteous by God. God showed him favor and today he is part of the great cloud of witnesses. We can study the life he had with God and the way he responded to his Lord because he was a man of faith. He believed upon God’s Words, believed Him concerning future judgment, and believed in Him that He would do all things according to His character and will. He moved in respect towards God, and with assurance obeyed Him, and with confidence knew he would receive the fullness of his heavenly inheritance.

      As we face the darkness of this world, we need to be walking in step with God. We need to hear His voice in order to prepare ourselves to enter the ark He has prepared for us. We need to recognize that future judgment is pending. The truth is Christians will not make it through the darkness of this present age without faith. They will never please God, and He will not be able to count any of their religious acts as being righteous.

      What kind of faith do you possess? Check out your walk. Consider if you are making any real spiritual advancements towards the heavenly destination promised to those who are heirs of righteousness.