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Bible verses about Living by Faith
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 26:1-2

Isaac was about to do the same thing that Abraham had done. When there was a famine in the land, he decided to go down to Egypt. However, in his case, God intervened, saying, "Do not go there." In a sense, He was saying, "Stay here. Live by faith. I will take care of you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Exodus 3:18

This is the original request Moses made to Pharaoh for Israel to be set free. The reason was that they might be free to sacrifice to their God. The same principle applies to us; this is why God has freed us. Recall that Romans 12:1 charges us with the responsibility, once we are free of our slavery to Satan and sin, to be living sacrifices.

The blessing of our God-given calling makes available to us the opportunity to dedicate our lives in service to Him. Its magnificent potential opens the door to positive motivation to counterbalance the somewhat negative sense that obligation to Christ seems to impose. Because He first gives us evidence of His love for us, it enables us to believe Him, to live by faith, and to live a life of self-sacrifice to glorify Him. It has provided entrance to the Kingdom of God.

The just shall live by faith because they know Him in His loving character. This causes any lingering negative sense that human nature has toward being required to keep God's commands to fade gradually into the background, freeing us to obey from the heart in sincere gratitude and joy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

Psalm 10:4

This would never happen to a godly person. He is seeking God and thinking about Him almost constantly because he wants to honor and glorify Him with every word and deed. Thus he constantly relates the events of his personal life to God because he is living by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?


 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

A beautiful flower blooms, but it is only beautiful for a little while, not always. Even though things are beautiful—and in an overall sense, he means life is beautiful—it is perplexing because we cannot figure out what God is doing. We have a deep desire to understand the beginning from the end. Everyone likes to know how things are going to work out! Everybody would like to know a little bit about what lies ahead in the future for him. But we cannot know, so life perplexes us.

Maybe we want insight into or a sense of something that transcends our immediate situation. But we are left without really knowing all we would wish to know about the future as it relates to the present and what we are experiencing. This has a beautiful purpose in it; God designed it so. He has not told us everything. Why?

It forces His children to live by faith: "The just shall live by faith." Those who trust God will be cognizant of the fact that they cannot control everything and that they must rely, not in their wisdom, abilities, intelligence, power, or money, but in Somebody who is really in control of these things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Ecclesiastes 2:26 says that God gives gifts. We need to consider another wonderful gift He has given, not to His children only, but to all mankind, named in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has put eternity in their hearts.” This wonderful gift contains an aspect that can work against us if we are not careful.

Unlike animals, we have thoughts of immortality. We normally do not want to die; we want to live forever. Yet, we also know that we are caught between time as it is for us right now and eternity. As God reveals Himself to us, to live eternally with Him and to be like Him become major desires for us.

The filmmaker Woody Allen, an atheist and without revelation from God, nonetheless makes an insightful observation about mankind, which he learned at least partly from his occupation as a writer and movie-maker:

The universe is indifferent, so we create a fake world for ourselves, and we exist within that fake world, a world that, in fact means nothing at all, when you step back. It is meaningless. But it's important that we create some sense of meaning, because no perceptible meaning exists for anybody.

Why is it "important that we create some sense of meaning”? Our thinking is what creates a sense of purpose for our existence and therefore gives direction for our use of life. Will our conclusions be true or false? Our minds can only work with what they already have, which accrues as we move through life's events.

Allen observes that the universe tells us nothing about the purpose for life. While not entirely correct, it is close enough for the unconverted. How much spiritual truth does the unconverted mind really have to work with? Therefore, humanly, we attempt to create our own meaning and purpose, fitting ourselves into what we have imagined. What are the odds that a person will come up with exactly the same purpose and meaning that the Creator has planned for us?

In addition—and this is essential—what are the chances that a person will fit himself into that divine plan on his own? The correct answer is zilch, nada, nothing. Therefore, since the universe tells us nothing, the true purpose of life must be revealed through God's calling.

Of supreme importance to us, then, is whether our thinking creates a sense of meaning and purpose for our lives from what God has revealed in His Word. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reveals that God has given mankind thoughts of eternity, that is, of time both backward and forward endlessly. However, He has not yet given mankind His truth about eternity. Consequently, most of mankind believes that they already have immortality within them! In this way, their false thinking becomes their enemy!

Understanding and fully accepting what He has given to us are not always easy because our former, carnal experiences make us susceptible to the pulls of the world. We become sluggish in living by faith because we allow our former education from the world to lure us into self-centeredness. Our challenge is to focus on the purpose of life that God has revealed to us, not on what we have imagined for ourselves.

When we add other truths gleaned from other passages of God's Word, we realize that verse 11 implies that we are being created for another world, an entirely different one within the realm of eternity. God's gift of His Holy Spirit has given us an ability to transcend mankind's fixation on the present and the material. We are being created for the spirit world of the Father and the Son and of the angels (which were made to be ministering spirits for our benefit). We are being created for the Kingdom of God.

To find satisfaction and fulfillment, Solomon attempted many different avenues and thought deeply about life as he saw it. However, we must come to understand that God has ordained that we must live by faith while awaiting our change. That time must be spent within a relationship with Him so that we come to know Him and His way ever more fully. Now is the testing time, the time for trials to prepare us. We must learn that our satisfaction in life must come from an “over the sun” spiritual relationship lived by faith.

Those who pursue this relationship with God will be given eternal life because they know Him and He knows them. This is the task to which Ecclesiastes 3:10 alludes. God has given us this task to accomplish to be prepared for living in His Kingdom. To fulfill it, we must live by faith, trusting His sovereignty in every situation. That means being at peace, content, comforting ourselves with the truth that God is fully aware of what is happening in our lives and is in control of the big picture.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time


 

Ecclesiastes 3:14

What God is doing will add to our awe of Him, and the fear of God is a great gift. There can be nothing negative about adding to our respect of God. Recall that Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” However, the fear of God is the also the beginning of wisdom, understanding, joy, peace, and much more because these all flow from God as gifts to us because of our contact with Him after being called.

God set the times for many significant events, for example, when Jesus was born, when the gospel began to be preached, when He would be crucified, how long He was in the grave, and when the Kingdom will be restored. Thus we must learn that the operations and times that God sets are thoroughly reasoned, permanent, and unchangeable. Whatever God does endures forever. He schedules and performs everything at exactly the right time. Thus we must grow in trusting God's timing on everything in our lives. It is that important to our spiritual well-being.

Despite what events working out in our lives might seem like to us from our position as very limited and impatient mortals, God is running a tight ship. We can expand this concept of running a tight ship to envelop the entire period of the past—to all His sovereign operations beginning with Adam and Eve, the calling of Abraham, Jacob having twelve sons, the formation of Israel, and so forth. Everything was done at the right time, and in a way, doing so emphasizes His sovereignty and well-organized purpose.

God wants to impress on those living by faith that He truly wants us to know what He has done and what He is now doing to the degree we can understand. For our good, though, He does not want us second-guessing Him because doing so is not beneficial to living by faith. When we do that, we tend to do foolish things.

Regarding timing within God's purposes as He works with us, we cannot add to or take anything away from the past. The past cannot be changed; it is over. By the same token, we cannot add to or take anything from the future either, as it has not yet occurred and because God has His purposes to work out. What God wants to do when He wants to do it will invariably be done.

No human by his sheer effort can hope to alter the course of things. To seek to do that is evidence of pride. This is a major reason God sets the times even of our trials. He desires to remove every aspect of any argument we might have that might lead us to choose some other way of doing things than His. Resisting Him produces no good fruit.

This leads to the most helpful conclusion: With God in control of time, we, through our experiences, gradually become aware of our sheer helplessness; we cannot manipulate time nor manage the times we live and operate in. This intense understanding of our helplessness helps us grasp more deeply how totally dependent we are on Him to work out His purposes in our lives. The humility produced by this awareness is of tremendous value.

We are involved in the ongoing spiritual creation, and the Creator God is the Potter, fashioning us into His desire. Humility before Him is an absolute necessity. Recall what Jesus says to His disciples in John 15:5, “For without Me you can do nothing.” That is, we can do nothing toward His purpose. Our responsibility is to yield to His purpose. The sovereign God can exercise control of all things in the lives of His children, not just time.

Notice how Jesus illustrates an aspect of this in Matthew 10:29-31:

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

His two illustrations show how penetrating and complete is God's awareness of what is happening in His creation. Here is the practical point for us: If He is aware of a sparrow falling, and we are exceedingly more important than a mere bird, how can He not be aware of all that is occurring in our lives?

With this understanding, we can appreciate that we can move forward toward God's Kingdom only at the speed He deems is correct for us. This gives us far more reason to learn to be content because the speed that He moves us is perfectly good for us. God does nothing that is not in our best interests.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Four): Other Gifts


 

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

Solomon certainly does not mean that men are beasts in terms of potential. He limits this expression to the fact that sinners will die in their sins, and without being called at this time, it appears that they have gained nothing truly valuable. Therefore, at least on the surface, they live and die on the same level as animals.

However, he also says that God tests men that they may see that they are like animals. The most likely time that they will grasp this is after they are resurrected, when their minds will be open to God and His truth. Only then will they be able to see that, morally and ethically, they had lived no better than animals. Therefore, he is suggesting that what is truly valuable in the lives of many people lies beyond the grave. In addition, if a person is not living a life that is glorifying to God or preparing himself for living in God's Kingdom, then he has gained nothing despite all the wealth and power he might possess.

Thus, his conclusion is that our image of life must be more penetrating and broader than that. The life of a wealthy and powerful sinner, though it may seem attractive on the surface, may be as vain, meaningless, and profitless as a beast's life.

Ecclesiastes 3:22 is penetrating advice because we all tend to let our minds wander from God's purpose into envy of those of this world who do not seem to have the difficulties we face: “So I perceived that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?”

We must learn to live each day by faith, contentedly accepting it as it comes. This is possible because a foundation of faith and understanding enables us to know that we have been greatly blessed with knowledge far more valuable than money. God has revealed Himself to us; He knows us personally. He is overseeing our lives, and we are growing in knowledge of Him and His purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Four): Other Gifts


 

Ecclesiastes 4:6

He summarizes how to avoid the influence of the corruption. The answer lies in rightly facing sinful drives that urge us to follow the world in its evil quests. Those living by faith will face the pulls of the corruption and endeavor to resist them as they strive to live above-the-sun lives by faith. They will value contentment over grasping for more.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Four): Other Gifts


 

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

These verses build on the preceding ones on wisdom being a defense. Yet as good a shelter as God's wisdom is, it cannot shield us from every possible event we might consider a calamity. Everybody faces such situations. Wisdom will aid us to resign ourselves to the circumstances of those times. “Resignation” is too often understood to have the sense of throwing up our hands and giving up, thus quitting under fire. It indeed can have that connotation, but not always, and such is not the implication here. The wisdom in this case is that we are to submit to the fact that there are times that nothing can be done to avoid certain situations.

This verse marks the third time such counsel is dealt with, and this is just the seventh chapter. It is important because we are dealing with the Sovereign of this entire creation. There are things He is doing that He absolutely will not change for us. Similar instruction appears in chapter 3.

Therefore, we have to discern those times, resign ourselves to them, and gracefully and humbly accept them, allowing Him to work out His purpose without constant complaining from us. Job 12:13-16 makes this point clearly:

With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding. If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt; if He imprisons a man, there can be no release. If He withholds the waters, they dry up; if He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth. With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His.

If one tries to fight God, there is no possibility of winning. To do so is stupid beyond the bounds of reason, but mankind constantly attempts it. This concerns us on a daily basis because we live in this world too. What is going on in the world is not pleasant to experience or even to contemplate, so our becoming angry, depressed, and weary with the entire matter is a likely possibility. Nevertheless, the situation will not go away because God has willed it for the present.

Wisdom, in this case, is to be resigned to it. We must think this reality through and accept what is impossible for us to change. All too often, though, we allow it to depress us and dominate our lives to such an extent that we do virtually nothing positive about the things we can change. That is when Satan wins because, having put ourselves into a weakened attitude, we more readily cave to his devices.

Verse 14 contains further wisdom to defend against those difficult times when it seems that nothing can be changed. Solomon essentially counsels us to learn to “roll with the punches.” We must make careful efforts to make the best of the situation, understanding that God has seemingly withdrawn Himself for our good. God is love; He is neither forgetful nor a harsh taskmaster. We have a hard time seeing that the level of difficulty we are experiencing is good for our growth. He is not doing it to smother us but to benefit us in the end.

The last phrase of verse 14 tells us that God, from His sovereign height, has determined to keep man somewhat off-balance for His purposes. God has commanded that we must live by faith. So trying to figure out the precise reasons for a situation is not only often impossible, but also a huge waste of time and energy. This counsel may not satisfy some people because of its simplicity, but it is right: Trust Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Nine): Wisdom as a Defense


 

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

The sense of this passage clarifies when we fit it into a sub-theme present throughout the book: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” As chapter 7 opens, Solomon presents several unusual and mystifying statements about some of life's experiences. He writes that the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth and that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.

These unusual statements are true within Solomon's theme, but reasons are not immediately available. Verse 15 and his ensuing explanation contain a parallel situation for which no easy answer exists. It, too, may be simply so much vanity. Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon is explaining matters that we vaguely grasp but need support to understand more completely.

Ultimately, God is the Author of Ecclesiastes, and He intends it should be understood this way. Supported by our faith in God, we must deal with our lack of complete knowledge and accept it. Some truths that God intends us to grasp we must dig out, requiring hard intellectual labor. He allows this sub-theme of not fully knowing what is going on in our lives to exist because it helps to create tests to fulfill His purpose, that we live by faith, trusting Him (Hebrews 10:38).

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 confirms this sub-theme:

I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Solomon repeats a form of it in Ecclesiastes 7:23-25, 29:

All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise.” But it was far from me. As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out? I applied my heart to know, to search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness. Truly, this only I have found; that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

He is still searching for reasons for these confounding circumstances, but he admits a dissatisfying failure. In Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, he still has no personally satisfying answer to his search:

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, he concludes the book:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.

Solomon admits to finding no fully satisfying answer to every paradox, conundrum, or irregularity in the life of even the faithful person in his relationship with God. The conclusion? By faith and without disrupting our obedience to God, we must accept and live with some events of life. The wise know that God will work things out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Ten): Paradox


 

Ecclesiastes 11:1

Here is a call to faith. Solomon advises us that the use of faith will always contain an element of risk of loss because we do not know the end from the beginning. We can only vaguely conceive the future. We have a desire for eternity within us. We wish to have insight into how our present situations will be resolved, but we do not know the complete answer.

Therefore, Solomon says it will never work out right unless we decisively commit ourselves to live by faith: "Cast your bread upon the water." Cast your lot with God; take the risk.

If we do this, it will demand commitment in the same way a businessman must commit to his investment if he wants to make a profit. What if a businessman commits his capital to some investment and fails to ensure the business makes a profit by devoting his time and energies to it's success? The endeavor will fail.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Jeremiah 17:5-6

The subject in which Jeremiah 17:9 appears is faith. God is pointing out why we allow our deceitful heart to get away with evading truth. It is a matter of faith—trust. Verse 6 shows that the person who does not live by faith will not grow. He will be like a shrub in the desert that only receives water every so often, not near often enough to grow.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Micah 6:6-8

Notice carefully the comparisons Micah uses to illustrate the value of humility in God's eyes, especially the ascending value of each illustration. Calves for sacrifices are in the plural, indicating more than one sacrifice at a time when even one calf would have been an offering of considerable monetary value. A thousand rams might be what a king would offer. Obviously, so many rams are a very valuable gift, but we should already be asking ourselves, "Is this the right way to impress God?" Ten thousand rivers of olive oil would equal the value of the offerings of many kings of many nations. Does that meet the standard God sets? One's own firstborn is without doubt the most precious gift of all. Yet, again, the implication is that this is not what God wants.

What follows is one of the truly great statements in the entire Bible. Micah names three great acts of love for God and fellow man that pave the way for a good relationship with Him: 1) To be righteous and absolutely fair to all regardless of their status in life. 2) To show kindness freely and willingly to others. 3) To live humbly in conscious fellowship of the greatness and sovereignty of God. These three actions will work to glorify God so that He enables those acting thus to neutralize their pride.

Our service to God should not be given to Him with the primary purpose to "get" things selfishly from Him. Our purpose should always be to honor and glorify Him through what He is doing in our lives. Nevertheless, God is most certainly not against providing us with wonderful gifts as we humbly submit to Him with pure motives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

Habakkuk 2:3-4

Terrible times, God says, are coming, and the proud will be caught in that time. If we want to be spared, if we want to be saved, if we want to witness these things and live eternally beyond it, then we must live by faith and wait for it. It will require perseverance and endurance.

The word translated as "faith" is not the normal Hebrew word for faith. It has a meaning more akin to "fairness": The just shall live by his fairness. By extension, we could say, he shall live by his stability, certainty, reliability, personal character, or integrity.

A person is faithful to God only because he trusts Him, and therefore, to help us to understand, the translators decided to insert the word "faith" here. Human faithfulness ultimately rests on his trust in God. If a person is going to be faithful, it is because he believes what God says, and he is motivated to have a genuine commitment to righteousness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 2)


 

Habakkuk 2:4

God, in this verse, sets out the two universal sides. The proud are on one side. Their deeds are not upright. On the other side are the just, those who live by faith. In a way, He is asking Habakkuk—and us, "Which side are you on? Can I count you among the proud, who will be destroyed, or the just, the faithful, who will be rewarded? Choose your side."

This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament, all by the apostle Paul. In Romans 1:16-17, he shows that the gospel Christ brought reveals God's righteousness, the way we are to live, which is by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, he writes, "The just shall live by faith." It is a common misconception that the gospel is merely the announcement of the Kingdom of God. But it is much more than that: It is the instruction of God on how we are to live. It is the faith we must live. We are to live the gospel, the way Christ revealed in His life and teaching. We can live confidently according to God's Word because we trust God—we have faith in Him and His revelation.

A second quotation of this verse is Galatians 3:11, a usage slightly different: as a proof that God does not justify us by the law but by faith. To paraphrase, he says that God has granted us eternal life because of our faith in Christ not by our adherence to the law. The apostle makes this verse say, "The just shall have eternal life by faith, or because of faith"—our faith in Christ, and so we will live.

Finally, Paul quotes this verse in Hebrews 10:38-39: "Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [or to destruction], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Paul uses the quotation from Habakkuk much like Habakkuk himself does, showing the two sides of the issue: the just on the one hand, who go forward to reward, and on the other side the proud, those who draw back and are destroyed. If we desire to enter into His Kingdom and live eternally, we must believe God and live our lives accordingly. The proud draw back from God, and they receive destruction. If we live by faith, we go forward to perfection (Hebrews 6:1-2) and thus to salvation, not to destruction. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:7, "We walk by faith, not by sight." The lesson is, whatever the circumstances, we must obey God and let the chips fall where they may. We must always be faithful to be counted among the just.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Habakkuk 2:4-5

If we look at this in reverse, is it not saying that the proud are going to die? But the just will live by faith. Indeed, the just are humble. The contrast goes unstated, but it is nonetheless there, between the just person and the proud person. The just person submits to God by faith.

This is written in a way that indicates that the proud cannot live by faith. A proud person will live by his desires rather than in faith, humbly submitting to God. His desire is not to submit to God. Why? Because the spiritual qualities that the spirit in man can generate are essentially confined to the things of men: sight, sound, touch, hearing, and smelling—and being "tuned in" to demonic influences (Ephesians 2:2). Man's spirit is earthly; it has fleshly conceptions that never quite grasp the right, that is, godly concept. With all of his intelligence, man never quite puts the Word of God together correctly. He always misses it, and the miss may be as good as a mile. His relationship with God never quite has the proper footing. The proud meet with God more or less as equals, which is not a right basis.

Paul writes in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells." How can godly faith be generated from something in which is nothing good? How can godly righteousness come from something that has no good in it? How can anything that is godly—that leads to salvation and can be taken through the resurrection into the Kingdom of God—come from a spirit that is not holy?

What do we have that we have not received (I Corinthians 4:7)? What, then, do we have to be proud about? In the humble person is a proper recognition and acceptance of the fact that he is totally dependent on God for everything that can be taken through the resurrection. Does not Jesus say in John 15:5, "For without Me you can do nothing"?

The things of the Spirit of God are concerned with unseen things—things the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands cannot sense. They are heavenly things, spiritual things. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). Our faith is in promises that have not yet materialized. Faith in these promises can make great demands on us, ones that we would never submit to or ever meet but for the gifts of God's Spirit. God's Spirit gives direction to our lives, motivating us to live by standards that we would never otherwise live by.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

Luke 18:8

The churches of this world generally teach that all a person has to do is to believe on Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, intellectual and even emotional beliefs on their own produce the static, idle faith that James speaks about—dead faith. However, in one who is truly called by God—an individual who has living faith—his belief galvanizes into a conviction that will produce righteous works. These works ultimately produce the "much fruit" that will glorify God the Father (John 15:8).

Just what is the faith that Jesus Christ is looking for? It is a faith far greater than we might imagine. It is faith, not just in individual truths or doctrines, but in an entire way of life—the righteous, holy way that God Himself lives. God wants us to accept and follow the whole package of Christian living that He reveals in His Word.

Granted, it is very hard to do. We live in one of the most sinful, evil, corrupt, self-centered societies of all times, and our patience and conversion are being severely tested. The world wants us to come out of the narrow way that protects us, teaches us, and prepares us for our future. It is pushing and enticing us to accept the broad way that will pull us down to failure and destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

But the life that God has called us to is truly awesome! In John 17:3, Jesus declares the kind of life we have been chosen to live by faith: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Living this eternal life gives us the ability to know God: how He thinks, makes decisions, shows His love, feels for others, extends mercy and forgives, etc. In other words, living God's way now allows us—as much as is humanly possible—to know the mind and ways of God. It is in God and His incredible way that we must have faith.

Because our calling and potential are so tremendous, God gives us a warning to consider in II Peter 2:20-21:

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Once we start down this road, we have committed ourselves to following it to the very end.

For this reason, Paul challenges us in II Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith. He tells us to test ourselves to prove that Christ lives in us. We will not fail the test if we draw close to Him and truly work to make the changes we need to make as individuals to take on the very nature and life of God.

Then, when the question arises, "When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" the answer will be a resounding, "Yes!"

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Will Christ Find Faith?


 

John 6:29

God works to create in His children faith in Jesus Christ because He has decreed salvation is by grace through faith. Faith is absolutely essential, and so He works to create in us a strong trust His Son. This is done through "feeding the flock." Only a small portion of it is done in the initial conversion. We have to live by faith, not merely profess Jesus Christ. It is necessary that faith be built in us because our choices should be made on the basis of faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

John 15:5

Does it not follow that, if Christ is really living in us, we will produce fruit? Sanctification is something that can be seen. It is not difficult to figure out whether a person has been sanctified or not—whether they are becoming holy. One can see the fruit being produced.

A tree does not hide its peaches, apples, or pears. They are clearly visible to those who look for them. Christ used this metaphor to teach us that we ought to be able to see the effects of Him living in us, of God's Holy Spirit in us. We should be able to recognize the results of using the Word of God and living by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 

John 15:5

He speaks directly to us, stating a principle we must learn to live with. The power to do spiritual works, to overcome, to produce the fruit of God's Spirit, to be used by God in any righteous manner comes from above. Israel's journey through the wilderness illustrates this. Every step of the way was physically empowered by the manna and water God provided.

Understanding God's hand in our preparation for the Kingdom of God is also advanced by remembering that we are the clay sculpture our Creator is molding and shaping (Isaiah 64:8). Does any work of art—any painting, carving, drawing, tapestry, work of literature, or fine meal for that matter—have inherent power to shape itself?

The natural man, even apart from God's purpose, is a magnificent work of art. David writes in Psalm 139:14, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Yet, when we have put on incorruption and immortality, and have inherited the Kingdom of God, we will be the most magnificent masterpieces there are, far superior to what we are now. To mold and shape us into God's image requires love, wisdom, and multiple other powers far beyond anything any person—even Jesus as a human being—has.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

John 20:28-29

Thomas, not yet having seen Christ after His resurrection, doubted the resurrection's reality. But upon encountering the risen Christ, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" Christ's reply to Thomas' statement is very telling.

The second appearance of the verb "seen" here is the same Greek word that is often translated as "know," as it is in verse 14. Mary is outside the sepulcher, and she saw Jesus and did not know that it was He. It could just as easily read that she "did not see that it was Jesus." In English, we often connect the idea of sight with knowledge or with knowing. We do it all the time. We can be staring at a formula or a concept straight in the face, as it were, and not understanding it or not agreeing, and we simply say, "I don't see it." And when the light finally dawns, we say, "Oh, yes! Now I see it. Now I understand."

Yet Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen"—those who lack full understanding and knowledge—"and yet have believed." "Believe" here is the verb form of the Greek noun that is often translated as "the faith." Christ promises the blessing to those who do not see, who do not have full understanding, but who nevertheless believe. We often expect to know and understand so much, yet we are to live by faith.

Believing the prophetic word and putting into practice the commands to repent, to keep, and to watch that appear so often in God's prophetic word are walking by faith rather than by sight or by knowledge. Paul mentions this in II Corinthians 5:7.

Charles Whitaker
To Watch and Keep


 

Romans 9:9-16

Our calling and election by God preceded even the slightest fragment of saving knowledge of God and thus our having faith in Him. Therefore, we could not possibly earn any grace of God, even as Jacob could not. As a vivid illustration for us, God deliberately chose to do this before Jacob could possibly do any works pertaining to salvation.

An almost overwhelming nugget of truth may be gleaned from these verses. If God is revealing here His general pattern which He follows to call all of those He is choosing to save at this time, then it shows that our personal calling and election into His spiritual creation is in no way random but very specific, even as Jacob's was.

Perhaps we, like Jacob was, are called from the womb so that, like him, there will never be any doubt that even the tiniest of our works had a part in saving us. There is precedent for this in Jeremiah 1:5 about Jeremiah's birth and calling; in Luke 1:11-17 about John the Baptist; and in Psalm 139:14-16 about David.

We might think that these were really great personages, people important to God's purpose. They were indeed, but are we not part of the same spiritual Body and part of the same Family as they are? Does not God say that there is no partiality with Him in Romans 2:11? Every part of the Body of Jesus Christ is important. Enough is revealed in Scripture for us to give this serious consideration.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Grace


 

Romans 10:1-3

What we observe in the world around us confirms that end-time Israel is following the same spiritual pattern that our ancestors established anciently. Human nature does not change. These verses verify that some knowledge of God remains within the Israelitish nations.

However, theirs is not an enlightened, discerning, and intelligent zeal for God. Rather, God says in Hosea 4:6 that His people—in this case meaning ancient Israel—are destroyed for a lack of true knowledge. God then lays the greater blame on the teachers for their failure to teach truth. The Interpreter's Commentary says that "ignorant" in Romans 10:3 can correctly be translated as "ignoring," revealing a deliberate disregarding of God's righteousness.

The broader history of Old Testament Israel shows that God's Word was available, but the people did not access it to seek God. Thus, their ignorance was not completely the teacher's fault; the people should have studied the Bible on their own. Paul explains in Romans 1:18-21 that man is without excuse before Him because knowledge of God is available. The contrast Paul provides in Romans 10:1-3 indicates that the teaching the Israelites received produced at best a vague, superficial base of knowledge about God. This is not a foundation of true knowledge that will work to produce a good relationship between God and man.

We can see an example of this kind of teaching in our time. Most of us have seen what is happening in so many churches these days, most especially in the mega-churches. Their services come across as superficial entertainment that gives people an upbeat social experience that contains some religious instruction. They come up short in teaching high-quality biblical truths to enhance people's relationships with God. It has produced a people who believe that they are saved and going to heaven immediately after death, and who think God's laws are done away. They keep Christmas and Easter, which are obviously pagan holidays, and at the same time fail to keep the Sabbaths, which both Jesus and Paul clearly kept.

How can they be following Christ when they do not do what He did and in fact do what pagans do? Where is God in the minds of those who conduct their lives like this? In truth, what they think about Him is nowhere near the truth because neither they nor their teachers make the effort to know Him (John 17:3).

They know some things about Him, but they do not know Him. If they did, they would be seeking Him, and He would be revealing truth. Where should they be seeking Him? They must begin in the Scriptures. In them, two things are beyond dispute: first, that God is the Supreme Sovereign over His creation, His purpose for creating it, and His plan for fulfilling it; and second, that man is responsible to this awesome Creator.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Sovereignty


 

1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul penned these immortal words, which one commentator called "the eternal trinity": faith, hope, and love. We continuously need these three factors, which is what "abide" implies. Our need for them never ends; we need them throughout life, every day without end. We live by faith, and the other two are directly connected to faith. They are, in fact, the three building blocks of a successful, abundant life. They are inextricably bound, tied to our relationship with God, and they are the qualities that make us run or work correctly.

Think of it this way. We are God's invention. He built us, and as our manufacturer, He designed us to function and produce. Automobiles run on gasoline. They do what they do because of the way they were designed and built, and they move only when fueled by gasoline. Movement is a key here: We run—move—on faith, hope, and love. These qualities nourish us, giving us strength to function as God intends. Every living human being, or who has ever lived, was intended to function by these qualities, but only the faith, hope, and love that comes from God will work to produce true success.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope


 

2 Corinthians 5:9-10

These verses state a reality we all face: We are accountable to the Creator for our conduct. We know that standing between us and God is an internally generated pride that, if allowed, will greatly hinder our desire to please Him by submitting.

We must understand that God's calling of us, His granting of repentance to us, and His providing us with His Spirit have given us a valuable power, an "edge." He has not given us an impossible challenge. Receiving the Holy Spirit has given us the wherewithal, the powers, to meet our responsibility to submit voluntarily to Him. What is the solution? In short, it is to exercise humility before the Holy One of Israel. Humility can defuse pride's power.

There is a major difference between pride and humility. Because of exposure to Satan and the world, pride is within us almost from birth. Humility, though, is not part of us from birth. Spiritual humility is most definitely a developed characteristic, derived because of contact with God and our choosing to be humble before Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

This verse applies at all times, not just during the spring festival season. Here, "faith" is used in the sense of the truth. Those who are in the truth live by faith. They live according to their beliefs in God. The truth is the center of their lives, and by it they direct and choose the course of their lives. The Feast of Tabernacles involves seeing if we are living by faith or sight. It shows whether we are led by God's Spirit or carnality. It reveals whether we can separate temporal vanity from spiritual reality.

God is very concerned, not only with what we do, but also why we do it. This makes fearing God vitally important. Doing everything in relation to Him and His purpose converts ordinary, mundane acts to ones of spiritual significance. If we have a deep and abiding respect for Him and His Word—arising from an awareness that He personally is a part of our lives and has great, awe-inspiring plans for us—we have a powerful motivation to make choices based on faith in Him.

We can easily make the acceptance of Christian faith a substitute for living it. Jesus says, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Each person must do his own examination. One may hear a sermon that affects him and be shown where he is wrong, but true conviction of wrong is not reached until one sees his sin and condemns himself. The fear of God works this in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing for the Feast


 

Galatians 3:11

It is clear from the scriptures that at no time has a man been justified by his own works. Neither the Old Covenant nor the New Covenant provides a way for a man to be in alignment with God because of his own acts. It simply is not possible for a man's own righteousness to bring him into alignment with God and His law, character, etc., because every man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The phrase "the just shall live by faith" is both a statement of fact as well as a command. Those who are justified will have eternal life—that is, they will "live"—because of their faith in God's redemptive plan. But it is also a command: If God has justified a man, it is then his responsibility to respond to that justification by living his life in faith. As James illustrates clearly, the way one lives his life is the only true indicator of what one has faith in. Again, we are neither justified nor saved by our own deeds or righteousness, but the things that we do and the rules that we live by are a beacon of what we believe in.

(See the notes at Galatians 2:16.)

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:12

If we were able to "do" the entire law—in the letter and the spirit—we could then "live" by that means. Paul shows that it does not require faith to keep the law in the letter—anybody can compare an action against a list of dos and don'ts and see if the action is allowed. It requires much more to keep the law in the spirit perfectly. It requires a full measure of God's Spirit working within the person. But simply to abide by a law does not require any faith in a Savior, so if this life were just about strictly adhering to a list of requirements in their letter, Christ would have died in vain.

Romans 8:7 says that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God—that is, it will not submit itself to God's law. But there is ample evidence that unconverted man can live according to regulations in a Pharisaic manner. Romans 7:14 adds more to the equation by showing that God's law is a spiritual law—there is an intent behind it, as well as the most direct application. This was what Christ was endeavoring to show in Matthew 5:20-48. So for us to be justified before God, we would have to completely fulfill the law—live according to the letter and the spirit. But that is a logical impossibility without means of the Holy Spirit.

This is why justification by faith is a necessity: We need God's Spirit to fulfill this spiritual law, but God will not give His Spirit to someone who does not willingly submit to Him and obey Him. This is why God would not allow Adam and Eve access to the Tree of Life after they had sinned, because He knew that their natures had become corrupt, and He was not willing that a corrupt being be given His Spirit—His power. A paradox results, and the only way out of the deadlock is for God to bring a person into alignment with Him by substituting the perfect life of His Son for ours in a legal action. Once that justification has taken place, then a measure of His Spirit can be given, and the person can begin to keep His law in both the letter and the intent.

David C. Grabbe


 

Ephesians 5:14-17

Notice the encouraging reason Paul gives to wake up and carefully mind how we live: "Christ will give you light." This is an outright promise that He will give us the help to do what we must do. Backed by this promise, we are to redeem the time "because the days are evil." If his days were evil, what would Paul think of ours?

This passage reveals how the early church regarded time as it applies to a Christian. For us, all days - every period in which God's people have had to live their lives by their God-given understanding, thus by faith - are evil. God's truth has always run counter to the course of this world. Thus, the truth adds a peculiar, stressful difficulty to life regardless of when it is lived. Moreover, since each called-out individual has only one opportunity to lay hold on eternal life, and must overcome, grow, and prove his loyalty to God during that time, he must make use of every experience.

Galatians 1:3-4 confirms this perspective: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." In terms of growing and overcoming, living in a particular period in history gives a Christian no advantage. Every era, every age, is against him, and within it, he must make the most of his calling. The times have always been evil.

To the church, then, because it must operate responsibly toward God within a highly specialized understanding of life and its purpose, every age is full of the cyclical, frustrating, repetitious events that Solomon called futile vanities. Such events lead nowhere and produce a discouraging fatalism.

However, a Christian also knows that God is directing time and events to His desired end. Thus, the church's view of time is an elegant combination of both realities, realizing that it has a work to accomplish as an organization and that each individual Christian must grow and overcome within it. So, as Christians, we must face the evil of repetitious vanity produced by sin, which history clearly records, with faith in the hope of a glorious victory for God's called-out ones, which God's Word prophesies.

Thus, Paul advises in Ephesians 5:17, "Therefore . . . understand what the will of the Lord is." As we live our lives each day, we should never let what God says slip from our minds. His point is that we need to make the most of every opportunity because time is inexorably moving toward God's desired end, and it will not stop and wait for us. We do not want to be left behind! No occasion is too insignificant to do the right thing. Time is precious! We, like God, must take it very seriously.

We must not make the mistake of relegating Christian living to a mere couple of hours on the Sabbath. Christianity involves every aspect of life. Personal study and prayer are times of clarifying God's will. But we must not neglect the doing of His will as occasions arise - and they will arise every day. Woe to us if we disregard them, for they comprise the very circumstances that challenge us to overcome and grow in our seeking of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part Two): A Foundation


 

Philippians 4:10-12

Frustration and bitterness were not Paul's companions. He did not make what he considered to be his needs absolutes in order to determine his sense of well-being. By faith, he believed that God was watching over his life and would provide.

Paul followed the example of Jesus Christ, and this is the example that we too are to follow. We are to learn to be angry and not sin. We are to learn not to make frustration, bitterness, and hostility regular parts of our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Colossians 3:12

How does the New Testament present humility? According to commentator William Barclay, the classical Greek language did not even have a word for humility that included no sense of shame. The root of the word the apostles used literally means "to depress," a very expressive word. To the Greeks, humility indicated servility and slavishness. This may have been because Greeks looked down upon anyone who acted in humility as not being an upstanding person of good character. Culturally, it was evil, shameful behavior, as to them it exhibited someone untrustworthy. At best, they would consider the person to be a wimp because they admired people who aggressively took charge, commanding others about.

The Christian approach is entirely different. We will consider a few scriptures that give a description of the way humility enhances one's character.

Psalm 113:4-7: "For He is high above the nations; His glory is far greater than the heavens. Who can be compared with God enthroned on high? Far below Him are heavens and the earth; He stoops to look, and lifts the poor from the dirt" (The Living Bible).

Psalm 138:6: "Yet though He is so great, He respects the humble, but proud men must keep their distance" (The Living Bible).

Both of these psalms picture God as being of awesome power, but He holds His power in check to achieve a greater good. Rather than destroy through imperious self-centeredness, He pities and builds with gentle, understanding kindness.

Matthew 20:25-28 shows New Covenant leadership: "But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'"

Matthew 11:29 makes Jesus' insistence on humility exceedingly clear: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11:29 is a direct command from the same God described in Psalms, though here He is acting as a Man. His example and commands regarding this continues to be the way Christians are to follow.

Humility is not a weak, cringing approach to life. It is not a denial of power but the deliberate controlling of power to accomplish a greater good. It comes into proper use when a converted person deliberately utilizes a servant approach rather than a natural, proud, and carnal human-ruler approach. It is the attitude that best promotes good relationships because it neutralizes pride and the damage it can wreak. At the very least, it indicates modesty that grows from a genuine self-evaluation that concludes in the person deeming himself worthless in relation to God and His truth.

It is important that we understand self-evaluation better. In the Christian sense of humility, the person is not deeming himself worthless because he sees himself as a vile creature full of sin—though to some degree this is true in comparison to God—but because he is merely a creature, absolutely dependent upon God even for every breath of air. Further, he views himself as possessing nothing intrinsically good, having to receive all good, spiritual things from God as well. Even Jesus had this attitude, and He is our model.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

2 Timothy 3:1

Sufficient pressure comes from the world, so that, if we are lackadaisical in carrying out our Christian responsibilities, we can easily allow ourselves to follow Satan's arrangement of things, as shown in the world. There is much out there that is attractive to human nature and to true Christians, and we can see, despite two thousand years of preaching by the church, the overwhelming majority is still following the broad way.

The world makes it seem as though Christianity is an abject failure—an altruistic experience that has gone awry. The world gives every impression that God has either gone far off, and that His whole creation is nothing more than a kind of cosmic joke. Some believe God never really did care, and the creation is a mere plaything of His with no positive, beneficial purpose in mind.

Thus, with that kind of approach, if we are lackadaisical, the world can be very persuasive. When viewing the expanse of Christian history, it is not difficult for a carnal person to reach the conclusion that God has good intentions, but that He is frequently disappointed because Satan outwits Him or man thwarts Him. God, then, is frustrated in everything that He tries to do. It is as if He says that He wants to bless men, but they will not let Him.

Who with that perspective could take God seriously? It makes it easy to think—and thus to live—as though God really is not sovereign in His creation. We must take these thoughts and questions seriously, yet considering them directly, as we are doing now, we are likely to say that we do not think that way.

We think that God is in complete and total control, ruling His creation. We hope and believe that is true. Even so, experience shows that, though we confess this, we sometimes—perhaps often—live and talk as the world does. Who will not think or live that way? Those who really live by faith.

What does "walk by faith" mean? It means that we are allowing our thoughts to be formed, and therefore our conduct guided, by God's Word, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by means of the word of God (Romans 10:17). The most frequently repeated command, charge, or exhortation of Jesus Christ during His ministry can be reduced to one word: "listen"! It appears 18 times! What did He mean? "Listen to the message!"—because this is the very thing that mankind has not done. Faith comes by hearing.

Faith comes by means of listening to the Word of God. How much faith is being displayed on earth today? Not very much! There is so little, that Jesus wondered, "When the Son of man comes, will He find any faith on earth?" He will not find much because not very many people think God is the Sovereign Ruler of His creation. It's that simple! They may think they believe it, but their lives do not show it. If their lives showed it, it would prove that they really were listening to the Word of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God (Part 1)


 

Titus 1:12-16

The Apostle Paul mentions the Cretans, but then quickly shifts his focus to “Jewish fables.” Of what is he accusing these people? Of a practice that follows the Israelites throughout their history: believing that God indeed exists but showing by their conduct that they do not truly believe Him. He charges them with exposing in their behavior that they do not believe that they are truly, personally answerable to the sovereign God. In other words, they do not fear Him. The reality of what God truly is and requires has not affected them enough to make a difference in how they live their lives in actual day-to-day practice.

Since we live within this environment, it brings up a question for us to resolve: How can we live by faith if we do not have sufficient knowledge of the greatness, the closeness, and the awesome grace of God shown in the mercy He has already given? It is this mercy that allows us to begin even the barest of a relationship with Him, build on it, and come to know Him and fear Him.

A recent Barna poll revealed that over 80% of Americans believe God exists, but that belief has little influence on their conduct. Just about anything goes in this nation anymore. The great immorality of the American people reveals that they are not very concerned about being answerable to Him. Considering what has happened in Israel's history, should we not be concerned about what this might lead to in the near future?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)


 

Hebrews 10:37-38

"The just shall live by faith" is both a statement of fact about the basis of a Christian's life and a command. It is so important that it appears once in the Old Testament and three times in the New (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). In each case, the context is somewhat different, but its importance to a Christian's salvation is not lost.

The concept is not difficult to understand. Paul further clarifies it in II Corinthians 5:7: "For we walk by faith, and not by sight." A simple definition of faith in Webster's New World Dictionary is "complete trust, confidence, or reliance." At the end of the definitions, "belief" is listed as a synonym. Belief means "faith, esp. religious faith; trust or confidence." The dictionary definitions show that the two words are virtually synonymous. However, in the Bible and in practical application a very wide difference separates merely believing and living by faith.

The practical application of faith is more than simply acknowledging the reality of God. Living by faith involves qualities that are better expressed by the word "trust." This kind of faith produces loyalty or faithfulness expressed in the Christian's life by works of obedience.

Do you think for a moment that the Israelites in the wilderness disbelieved that God existed? Some few may have argued that the miracles they had experienced from the arrival of Moses in Egypt until they died in the wilderness were nothing more than natural phenomena. There are always some doubters and scoffers of that sort (II Peter 3:3-7).

But the vast majority of Israelites could not deny to themselves God's mighty acts on their behalf. They had heard the voice of God at Mount Sinai, had seen a wind from God part the Red Sea, and had escaped death on Passover while the Egyptian firstborn had died. But when God required a higher level of obedience to follow His cloud across the wilderness and depend on Him to supply their every need, the record shows they did not trust Him. Their loyalty dissolved, and they rebelled! They did not have it within them to live, or walk, by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wandering the Wilderness in Faith


 

Hebrews 11:6

We are responsible for maintaining our fellowship with Him by doing the works that He has appointed for us to do. For instance, there must be continuous exercise of prayer, study into His Word, and seeking to be like Him. We seek Him because we grow to admire—indeed respect—His love and character, appreciate the purpose He has brought into our lives, desire His merciful forgiveness, and realize He is our Benefactor in every aspect of life. However, we must do all of these things in faith.

Notice Paul's counsel in II Corinthians 5:7: "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Like life, walking is a continuous process. Thus, when Hebrews 11:6 says, "He who comes to Him must believe that He is," it means far more than just assenting to a vague idea of a "First Cause." Under the New Covenant, we are dealing with a living Personality working within His creation.

To walk by faith is a practical responsibility. It results from believing in His character and His works as revealed in His Word to the extent that we trust Him and submit to His commands in every area of life. His character is a major reason why we must continue to seek Him: so that our knowledge of Him is continually sharpened and refined to inform our imitation of Him in our lives. Otherwise, we will be pursuing a phantom designed by our own imaginations. We need to grasp as much of His transcendent holiness, supreme sovereignty, almighty power, and perfect justice, as well as His abundant mercy and wonderful grace.

Hebrews 11:6 emphasizes that He is a Rewarder, a Benefactor to those who come to Him and consistently walk with Him by faith. He rewards those who, as a way of life, seek Him in anticipation of His treating them with patient, respectful kindness, even abundance, as He works to create us in the image of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:5-7 balances reward with duty. Together, these verses show that, to be rewarded, we must walk with Him and seek Him. Walking and seeking are where "works" come into play, troubling those who believe in the incomplete Eternal Security doctrine.

In summary, walking with God and seeking Him by faith require keeping God in mind combined with making the efforts of obedience and any sacrifices of time, energy, and rejection by worldly family, friends, and business associates. Nevertheless, these result in being rewarded by God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Five)


 

Hebrews 11:8

We are involved in an awesome adventure, but we are blind to many particulars that will affect us. What is emphasized from Abraham's life is his trust in God. Trust is the most powerful fruit, the strongest, clearest evidence, of belief. Trust is faith in action, setting a truly converted person apart from one who believes only intellectually. The Christian must live his life by faith.

Lack of trust is a major reason why young people "go bad" in their teen years. They do not really trust their parents. Rather, they trust other teens; they trust what they see in movies extolling the popular culture; they trust what they hear songs saying to their emotions. They trust their own thoughts and their own experiences, but Mom and Dad are low on the influence scale.

Notice, however, what Jesus says of Abraham regarding this principle: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Abraham saw Christ as the Savior and Author of eternal salvation in his mind's eye and demonstrated his trust in this fact through his conduct. Abraham's proceeding on despite not knowing where he was going demonstrates that he put himself unreservedly in God's hands. He actually performed what he said he believed despite its potential cost. His feet, as it were, gave proof of what was in his heart by where and how he walked.

Jesus teaches this principle in Matthew 16:24-26:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Abraham did this to a degree few have even come close to matching. To deny ourselves is to set aside our claims on the day-to-day use of our time and energy in favor of another. Often God's commands seem demanding, even severe, but accepting God's calling has placed the burden of this responsibility squarely on our shoulders.

There can be no doubt that Abraham's neighbors thought he was loopy, even as Noah's neighbors undoubtedly thought he was crazy for building an ark. People of the world cannot truly understand the actions of one who walks by faith because their perspectives on the value of things are usually quite different. If confronted with similar knowledge and circumstances without God's gracious calling and gift of faith, the unconverted will adjust through compromise and self-justification. They will rationalize that under their "special" circumstances, God would surely not expect such things of them. The world of the unconverted is governed by its limited, carnal senses and feelings, not by faith in God's character. They walk by sight.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)


 

Hebrews 11:9-10

Abraham left Ur by faith, and it was also by faith that Abraham left Haran. He sojourned in the Promised Land by faith as well. Nowhere does it say how Abraham knew that Canaan was where he was to remain or even that it was indeed the Land of Promise. We will pursue how he knew in a later article.

We are told that despite becoming quite wealthy, and with the exception of a burial place for Sarah and himself, never owning a piece of land, he lived the entire time in tents and that the Canaanites lived in the land with him (Genesis 13:2; 23:1-20). This establishes another general pattern for his faithful children. In every sense of the word, he was a pilgrim. No matter where he lived or what were his economic circumstances, he purchased no land—he never even built a house!

Beyond this, the Bible reveals little social interaction with others outside of his family. Except for a league made with his nearest neighbors, Abraham made no alliances, nor took any part in the politics or the religions of the people of the land. He lived this way for one hundred years. Isaac and Jacob shared the same pattern of life.

God shows us all of this so we might see that virtually Abraham's entire post-calling life was engaged in living by faith, focused on maintaining his relationship with God. He truly was in the world but not of it. He did not cultivate its friendship but used it as necessity required, though in a guarded way, lest he should in some way abuse his privileges with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)


 

Hebrews 11:27

This succinct statement illustrates what made the difference between those who succeeded in living by faith and entered the Promised Land and those who left Egypt but died during the pilgrimage: Those who succeeded "saw" God.

This is perhaps the simplest and clearest explanation of the nature of faith in the entire Bible. Hebrews is written to a group of people undergoing severe trials, and the author encourages and counsels them to persevere through them and remain on track for the Kingdom of God. At this point, Moses is the specific illustration of living by faith. In his relationship with God, he is described as being sustained in perseverance as if he literally saw God with His bodily eyes.

Hebrews 11:1 explains, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The author is saying that faith is the confident conviction that, like the foundation of a building, stands under and supports a life lived by faith in the invisible God. This brings up an important question: How can a person live by faith if he does not have sufficient knowledge of the sovereign greatness, closeness, and awesome grace of God? In the mercy that He has already given, God has shown enough of Himself to allow us to begin a relationship with Him. Of course, we need more to come to know Him and fear Him as He desires.

A recent Barna poll reported that over 80% of Americans believe God exists. Yet, how is their level of knowledge about Him affecting their conduct? Clearly, it is not supporting moral living to any great extent. This fact triggers the thought that the great immorality of the American people reveals that they are not very concerned about being answerable to Him. They have heard of Him but do not know Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Two)


 

1 John 3:16-24

In verse 16, John teaches that we can know love by observing the way Jesus lived His life. He sacrificed His life for us by laying it down each day, as well as in death, setting us an example to follow in our relations with the brethren. In verse 17, he provides a practical illustration of a way we can lay down our life in love. Then, in verse 18, he encourages us not merely to agree with truth but to take action to meet a brother's need.

Verse 19 begins to show the effect of devoted sacrifice to this way of life. The persuasive power of knowing we are doing the right things inspires assurance, confidence, and satisfaction; we feel a positive sense that we are right with God. He then explains that, when these are not produced—but instead we feel guilt and condemnation because we know we are not doing well, and our concern for not being perfect overwhelms us—we need to go to God for forgiveness because He will forgive.

Verse 21 is a subtle encouragement to repent, to turn from our self-centeredness so we can be at peace with God and within ourselves. Verse 22 discloses the positive effect of laying down our lives in sacrifice for our brethren by devotedly keeping the commandments: answered prayers. Living by faith and displaying it through a life of sacrificial love is the theme of verse 23, and finally, in verse 24, he reveals another positive effect: to know absolutely that He lives in us and we in Him. Our lives revolve around faith in this knowledge.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering


 

Jude 1:8-10

Dignitaries (New King James) or dignities (King James) literally means "glorious ones," and it refers to the apostles. However, the indignity does not end there because to disrespect them is to also disrespect the One who sent them, as Jesus reveals in Matthew 10:40.

This evil is covered in Exodus 22:28: "You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people." II Peter 3:3 alerts us "that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts." Today, the disrespect is boldly, openly, and directly aimed at God. These vile people not only disrespect God verbally, but they also do so in their public, influential conduct. Never has there been such a universal irreverence for our Creator since the period before the Flood. The worst offenders in this nation are those who are younger and who have been thoroughly schooled in liberalism's concepts.

On the surface, God's sovereignty appears to have been eclipsed, but we must not think this. God is in absolute and complete control. Though it may appear that Satan and his evil influences are in control, it is not the reality. We can be deceived if we allow this line of thinking to continue.

What does the Bible say to the mind of faith? I Timothy 6:15-16 proclaims who is God and who is in control! "[W]hich He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power." This is He about whom they speak evil and at whom they scoff. His time is coming, and we appear to be on its cusp.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Sovereignty


 

Revelation 4:8-11

The One who receives continuous praise and submission from these awesome angelic beings is our Savior and Creator. Without directly saying it, this passage touches on a major issue in this great purpose He is working out: that, unlike Satan and His demons, will we be loyal, faithful, to our Creator God, as He works out and governs His purpose for each of us personally? Or in our impatience will we resist and rebel?

Verse 11 contains the key statement that is vital to our living by faith: He created all things in the first place and all—including us—is created for His purpose to be fulfilled. The King James Version translates this phrase, "For You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created."

Satan could not accept this. Consider deeply what has resulted! So we need to take this sobering thought down to our level and to our time and examine it in more detail against the issues of our own lives.

Can we live by faith that He is, that He knows what He is doing with our lives, and that by His merciful act He has included us as part of His good pleasure? Can we accept that He knows exactly where His creative efforts are headed and what it will take to form and shape us into what He pleases? At the same time, we know His goal for us only vaguely, yet we must fully accept whatever He brings to bear on us for His purposes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)


 

 




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