Living by Faith

IT IS COMFORTING to know that in my life I have tried to walk with God. Along with the prophet Jeremiah, there is a fundamental fact of life that has guided me. It is this:

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing (Jeremiah 10:23–24).

God corrects those who become His children by faith—but always in His gracious love, as my life testifies. God Himself says this:

Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practises steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23–24).

All who are His by faith will not hesitate to proclaim this. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, He is the life-long companion of the way. He will never fail, He will always be there, especially in the most difficult times.

Where does Faith Come From?

It is by faith that those who belong to Jesus Christ have to learn to live out their lives, trusting that the Lord is with them in all the situations that have to be faced. It means that each experience is committed to Him in prayer, each journey undertaken looking for God’s hand at work in their lives, whether actual or spiritual.

There are some key principles:

  •  ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (Romans 10:17). The Bible should be our guide throughout our life. Often the basic principles laid down in the Bible undergird the journey of life, and enable faith’s decisions to be made.
  • There is comfort available there in the words themselves. For example: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). At this point I would simply remind you that the Greek word that is here translated ‘to comfort’ means ‘to come alongside with strength’.
  • There is wonderful assurance: ‘The angel of the Lord encamps round those who fear him, and delivers them’ (Psalm 34:7).
  • ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’ (Matthew 4:7). The Lord cares for his people. It is so easy to take this fact for granted, that sometimes we may just put ourselves in a situation where he will not! For example—if we habitually break the speed limit when we’re driving, then it should not surprise us if we have an accident.
  • ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). Surely it is vital that daily we keep in touch with the Bible, which contains every word which God has spoken to us. These are the things which the Father most wants His children to know.
  • Finally, the hope of the Kingdom of God is always there shining brightly ahead: ‘Truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord’ (Numbers 14:21).
Lives of Faith

I think of people whose lives I have been privileged to have touched, and whose memories I hold. With many of them I shared a common faith and a common journey.

As a youngster I stood with my parents singing hymns during the service. At the time it was a welcome relief from the boredom of having to sit still. Now in older age, I can still hear the singing, see in my mind’s eye various friends, ‘uncles and aunts’ in their places amid the congregation. These have become precious living memories. Most, of course, have completed their pilgrimage and now sleep in Christ, ranked amongst the living saints of old. As I sing those same hymns today, the memories flood back:

O render thanks to God above, The Fountain of eternal love,

Whose mercy firm through ages past

Has stood, and shall for ever last

(Hymn 114, Christadelphian Hymn book).

There was one uncle whose false teeth rattled in his head as he sang with great gusto. He was once asked whether he sang the tune, tenor, bass, or alto. He replied that he sang horribly. But certainly his heartfelt praise would be acceptable to the Father.

This man had worked as a ‘ganger’ on the railways. Before his conversion he had been through the trenches in the First World War. He and his wife were poor, but there was no doubting their appreciation of the riches they had in Jesus Christ, the hope of everlasting life and the love they had received from their heavenly Father.

And his sense of humour never wavered. On one occasion he greeted me with a slip of paper about 15 centimetres long. He said, “You put your toe on one end and I’ll put mine on the other, and you won’t be able to touch me”. Of course he was right: if the paper was slipped under a closed door with him on one side and me on the other.

There is an important message here. There is no closed door, no barrier which can prevent us reaching out to God, by faith; and no barrier which can prevent Him reaching us—unless it is that we have closed the door of our hearts and minds.

Then my uncle’s hand would slip into his pocket and he’d give me a mint and hiss, “Don’t tell your Mam!”

Saints and Faithful Brothers

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Colosse he addressed them in this way:

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father (Colossians 1:2).

‘Saints’ are not of the plaster statue variety, nor are they remote figures in heaven, but ordinary everyday living believers in their day and generation. ‘Faithful brothers’ (and of course sisters) are the same people, but the stress is on those who remain faithful in life to their calling.

Incidentally, that is the way Christadelphians refer to themselves—it’s a Greek word that means ‘brothers in Christ’.

Saints and faithful brothers never have been especially numerous. But if we have been baptised into Christ and joined their pilgrimage in the hope of life, we can acknowledge those Colossians and others in the First Century as brothers and sisters. They were and are our companions of the way.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39–40).

So it is, that down the ages the people of faith have come and gone, and now having died they rest in hope, awaiting the resurrection from the dead at the coming of the Lord Jesus to set up God’s Kingdom upon the earth. We too in our day have the opportunity of sharing their resurrection hope, and in God’s good time sharing in that glorious age to come. Then I look forward by God’s grace to seeing again some of those I have known and loved, as well as meeting those I have only known in the pages of the Bible. I believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

David Nightingale

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