Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Faith (3) The Life of Faith

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
Last time we saw various objective and Scriptural aspects of faith. Now we wish to focus on the practical aspects of faith. It has to do with the life of faith.

Faith is very practical for it has everything to do with salvation. Will all people be saved? The answer is no. What do we need to be saved? To be ingrafted into Christ by a true saving faith.

How do you know if you have true faith? To answer that question I have to know whether I am ingrafted into Christ. Have I become a partaker of Christ? Am I one with Him?

How you know this? You can compare this to a living plant. If you want to know if a plant is a healthy plant, what do you do? Do you dig a hole around the roots and lift the plant up from the hole to study its roots? No, of course not. You look at the fruits. Does this tree produce good apples or bad apples? The fruits show whether the plant is alive and healthy. That is also how it is with Christ and His benefits.

Planted in Christ
How does a plant grow? First, there is a seed. The seed falls into the soil. That is also how it goes with the plant of faith. The seed that works faith is the Word of God. Romans 10 says that faith comes by the hearing of the Word of God. The dew of the Holy Spirit waters that seed and it germinates. It comes to life and it grows. A plant develops and it brings forth fruits.

In order to be planted in Christ something else must happen first. That is, we must be cut off from Adam. By nature we are one with Adam and we are under the curse of Adam. We must be delivered from this curse and detached from his nature. That can be done only by God Himself. We have to be cut off from Adam. That is a painful matter. The Lord has to pull us away from our self-righteousness. He has to cut us off from our self-willed religion to give salvation. Then it is realized: Lord I have forfeited every right; I am lost, sold under sin, and unable to deliver myself.

You do not have peace anymore. You have no rest. You have to yield your sinful life to God. You resist that, for you want to hold on to yourself. But the Lord draws you by making sin an unbearable burden.

Then, by showing the beauties of Christ, you see His perfect work of salvation. You become aware of His perfect righteousness. You realize that you can have comfort and refuge in Christ alone. The Lord grants faith to embrace the Saviour. You flee to Him and you lay hold of Him. By the seed of God's Word a new plant is formed which is actually ingrafted into Christ.

Faith Feeds on Christ.
By faith you feed on Christ, for you are completely dependent upon the Lord. You can do nothing without Him. You rest on His finished work. You bear fruit worked by Christ .You receive His benefits.

This illustration shows us that faith is a living and experiential matter. Faith is connected in communion with Christ. You were dead and now you are made alive by the Holy Spirit. You become a member of Christ. You become one with Christ. This communion is very tender and real. It is as Galatians 2:20 says, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: 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.

How long does this process to cut a soul off from Adam and being engrafted into Christ take? Objectively, it takes place in a moment by regeneration. You are either in Christ or outside of Christ. But subjectively, in oneÁ?s experience, it may take quite a long time of struggles, being drawn, sighing and prayer. For the one faith can be made very clear under a sermon or while reading Scripture. For another it can take a longer time. Our mental make-up plays a role here.

Usually it takes some time, because we struggle against God's will. We strive against the Lord. We resist His saving and redeeming work. We want to maintain ourselves. That causes struggles, darkness and affliction. The Lord says, "let go," but we hold on to ourselves until the Lord becomes too strong for us and we yield our all to Christ. The Lord reveals Himself through His Word and Spirit so that the sinner learns to rest in Christ. With the empty hand of faith the sinner receives the rich blessings of Christ and has peace with God through Christ Jesus. Resting on the Lord Jesus takes place by faith. Faith experiences resting on Christ and living every day with and for Christ.

By faith we receive all the benefits of Christ. The Lord Jesus is not meagre or skimpy in giving His benefits. The Lord supplies richly. He gives freely and abundantly: everlasting righteousness, remission of sins, salvation, sanctification and full redemption.

The Lord offers these blessings to us in the Gospel. There are three rich pleading grounds for poor sinners to receive grace. They are the promises of the Gospel, the payment Christ made on the cross and the presence of Christ in heaven at the right hand of His Father. These are sure pleading grounds for the sinner as he struggles to receive grace.

The question is, do you have this faith? It may not always be so clear. There are struggles within the soul to determine whether there is faith. There is also counterfeit faith. That should lead us to self-examination. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

True saving faith is indispensable. Such faith receives the whole Word of God as the truth. True sorrow for sin is experienced and salvation is expected only from the Lord Jesus. There is a desire to live for Him alone. There is denial of self and a looking to Jesus alone.

True saving faith can never be lost. It can be battered and assaulted and can seem to be gone. But it will always remain because it is the work of God in the soul; and God's work can never be undone.

Faith is Personally Appropriated
True faith says that the Lord Jesus and all His benefits are also for me. It is characteristic of faith to say, "for me"--God and His grace are also for me. That is what the Holy Spirit teaches. True saving faith personally embraces Christ.

Do you know this convincing power in your life? Did you see your unworthiness and your beggarÁ?s rags? You have come to see that the Lord Jesus and you are so incompatible and you are so unworthy. Yet you could not refrain any longer. Why not? Because He became so desirable! You stretched out your empty hand, the hand of faith. And what did God give you? The benefits of Christ! These benefits are remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and full redemption. Then you praised God and adored and worshipped Him for His goodness. Faith is such a blessing! It is powerful because the Holy Spirit works it.

The Nevertheless of Faith
We must also consider what I call the "nevertheless" or Á¤yetÁ¬ of faith. That is the aspect of faith that does not look on outward circumstances, difficulties or self, but looks to the Lord alone. There are numerous examples of this in Scripture. There was Job, who in his misery exclaimed: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him (Job 13:15). Peter, after fishing all night without catching anything, says in Luke 5:5: Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. We find this "neverthelessÁ¬ or Á¤yetÁ¬ of faith in the Habakkuk 3: 17-18. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, Habakkuk exclaims.

Although the outward circumstances are against you, there is hope in the Lord. Faith does not consider outward events but holds on to God's Word. How blessed that is! When God's people look to themselves they can never be saved. It is impossible from their side, but with the Lord all things are possible.

The Á¤neverthelessÁ¬ of faith is present in spite of the setbacks and sins, for faith in the Lord is still exercised. Another example is found in Psalm 130:4, where the psalmist exclaims, "But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." Blessed are those who look away from self and look unto the Lord alone.

The Struggle of Faith
Faith has conflicts and struggles. Faith has to fight against sin, unbelief, the world and temptations. Paul admonished Timothy: Fight the good fight of faith. Paul says of himself, I have fought the good fight. Faith is never easy and without effort. Faith and struggles belong together. Faith is not like a pillow to relax on.

There are various reasons why these struggles are present:

1.Faith is a struggle because of our carnal flesh, our inclination to sin. Our heart is not wholly cleansed. God's children will not be wholly cleansed in this life.

2.There is a struggle because of afflictions and tribulations. God tests His people, not to harm or hurt them but to purge their faith and to draw them closer to Him.

3.There is also the struggle of faith because of the assaults of the devil, who tries to lead astray and tempts us to accuse God. The devil can tempt to sin and then tell us that we have sinned too much and God will not have anything to do with us anymore.

In the struggle of faith the Lord gives His people the spiritual armour described in Ephesians 6. Basically, that is the truth of God's Word and prayer. The Lord Jesus also used these to do battle with the temptations of the devil.

In the life of faith refuge will be sought with the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be rejoicing in God in spite of the circumstances. True saving faith will manifest itself in a life of bearing fruits and doing good works. The experience is that we become smaller and the Lord becomes greater. This is the life of faith and it leads to everlasting life.

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