As we dig into this question let’s first consider that we must do so on both an intellectual level, for lack of a better term, and then on a Biblical or Spiritual level.
As we proceed, attempt to lay aside any preconceived notions of faith, or the clique answers to what it means to walk by faith. Yes, it’s true, as Christians we walk by faith in Jesus, but to some extent to answer someone who asks, what does it mean to walk by faith and answer this way would be like being asked, “how did you get to work?” and answering, “I got to work”.
A person that asks, “how did you get to work?” is looking for an answer like, “I rode my bike to the bus stop, attached it to the front of the MTC bus, took the bus downtown, and then road my bike the rest of the way.”
To tackle the question, “What does it mean to walk by faith?”; we must first define faith.
1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something
My wife and I have been watching the show Bear Grylls Running Wild. Bear Grylls is a former British special forces solder who now has a survival show, in which, he brings a celebrity out in various mountain and desert places and they survive for 2 days. Bear has these people doing many scary, dangerous things they have never done before. You can see throughout the show the complete dependence the celebrity has on Bear, they are extremely focused on what he says, they trust completely in Bear’s ability to keep them safe for 2-days. You can say, they have faith in Bear Grylls.
What does it mean that they have faith in Bear Grylls? They trust that he brought strong ropes, they trust the knots he makes in the ropes, they trust that Bear put their repelling harnesses on right, etc. Although there are obviously camera crews around, it is clear that the celebrities are put in dangerous situations, although they are almost 100% safe, they are only safe because they listen to Bear and do exactly as he instructs. The fear of the consequences of not listening keeps them safe, they do not debate how Bear is doing something. They may not want to do what he asks, but when they concede to it, they do it his way because they know that he knows what he is doing, and they do not.
This example and a Google search on defining faith will return these words:
Conversely, the following words would define a lack of faith, or the opposite of faith:
We “walk” by faith every day. When we drive, we have faith; we trust, we believe, we have confidence our car is going respond exactly as it should. We have the same faith in other drivers, we trust they will do exactly as they are supposed to. But this is not blind faith. We have plenty of eye witness examples everyday that give us confidence in cars and other drivers; therefore, this faith is not like Christian faith, Christian faith is a blind faith, we are trusting in One we cannot see we are told that in 2 Corinthians:
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
The celebrities with Bear Grylls have heard stories of Bear’s ability, they have seen shows of his escapades, but until they are hanging over the edge of a mountain face, using ropes Bear brought, trusting in knots Bear tied, in a harness Bear put on them…until that happens, they cannot say they have put their faith completely in Bear Grylls.
Intellectually, as Christians, we are trusting in a Book, a promise, and the accuracy of historical events as passed down.
In the Book, the Bible, we have faith that it is God’s Word, it is accurate and has not been corrupted.
Although the celebrities took a big leap of faith in trusting Bear Grylls, they also had some logical reasons for their confidence. As Christians we have the same thing, logical conclusion. One of my favorite is the logic presented to a room full of Pharisees (religious leaders) that were deciding what to do with Peter and John in Acts 5.
Acts 5:26-42 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
This sound logic was presented to the council 2000 years ago and Christianity has not “failed”. All the apostles we killed for the faith. Countless people throughout history and in our present age have been killed for their faith in Jesus. The hostility in this world against the Gospel is unlike any hostility the world has known, yet Christians will not recant their faith in the face of torture and death.
Just as Hebrews talks about being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” to first century believers; we have an even bigger cloud of witnesses today.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
However, although evidence and logic of the Gospel’s Truth are there for all to see, the reality is, until a person has been given eyes to see, they will not see it. To continue with our Bear Grylls analogy, until those people came face to face with the dangers, faith was not required. Track with me; they all went out to do this adventure because, as many put it, “looks like fun”, “wanted to step outside my comfort zone”, or any other reasons they went on the show. They all start out with a smile on their face, nervousness for sure, but smiling. However, when this “adventure” gets real, that’s when the smile quickly disappears, and the look of fear appears. The same is true with the Christian faith. A person may start by doing what they think is going to “give them their best life now” as many false teachers present, or they might want to see what this “God thing” is all about; but when they come face to face with the danger, whatever “look on their face” they started with is gone and the look of fear appears. It is when a person understands that they’ve have done nothing but sin against their Creator their entire life and will be facing a “mountain face” that descends in to the judgment of Almighty God leading to hell, where they will suffer under the Wrath of God’s Judgment for eternity, it is then they will see their need of the only One that can save them. Jesus is the only one with “the rope” strong enough, and “the knots” tight enough to save you from falling to your eternal death.
So, what does it mean to “Walk by faith”? It means, I know I am a wicked sinner deserving to suffer under the judgment of God’s Wrath for eternity, but I am trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I believe He is the Son of God, who was manifested in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who lived a perfect life, died a brutal death on the Cross where the sin of the world was placed on Him and He suffered under the Wrath of God. He rose on the third day defeating sin and death. He has ascended back to Heaven where He is seated at the Right hand of God the Father, and I am trusting that His Blood has satisfied the Wrath of God that should rightly be placed on me, His blood has redeemed me, saved me, from the consequences of my sin. My trust is in Him alone, not in my own goodness, and not in a religion.
My next post I will discuss, “How do I know I am walking by faith?”