We have faith. The majority of Americans have a faith. There are characters throughout the Bible who demonstrate faith at times, some even for a lifetime. Most are willing to perform a single great deed in the name of faith. Naaman in II Kings 5 was willing to perform great deeds as a requirement of his healing, yet unwilling to do the simple things required of him by God’s prophet. Gideon performed a single great deed as an act of faith. But is a saving faith a one-time act or a lifetime of obedience and love?
As we consider faith, let us look briefly at some Bible characters. We see Noah, who spent more than 100 years building and ark in anticipation of a flood caused by rain that had never been seen. During all that time, he preached, but never converted anyone outside his family. Yet he remained faithful all his life, saving eight souls in the ark.
Moses had all the pleasures and riches of being in the king’s household. He gave it up and hid for many years. Yet when he was sent to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, he began a mission that lasted over 80 years. He remained faithful all those years with only a few indiscretions. His faith was demonstrated over many years.
Joshua served and observed Moses, consistently doing as directed because he considered Moses to be a faithful minister of God. When Moses passed from this life, Joshua became the leader of Israel for over 80 years. We are amazed that he constantly consulted with God through prayer and then performed the task(s) set before him by God. This is a faithful life with huge demands.
Daniel, a faithful prophet during a very difficult time, had a habit of praying in a specific place at a specific time. When the king made a law prohibiting prayer to any god other than himself, Daniel did not struggle to find an answer. He simply continued to be faithful in his prayers. When faced with death, he remained faithful. As his record reflects, he remained faithful to God all his life.
Joseph, as a boy was unashamed to tell others what God had shown him. Sold by his brothers as a slave, landing in Potifer’s house. There he resisted the sinful advances of Potifer’s wife for his faith and was imprisoned. Still he was faithful and helped an innocent servant be freed from prison. Forgotten for another two years, remained in prison, but faithful to God. Joseph rose to prominence by delivering God’s messages to the Egyptians. Faithful his entire life.
And of course we need to consider king David, of whom it was said he was “a man after God’s own heart”. This is the same David that killed the giant that every soldier feared, using only his faith in God to protect him in the battle. He continued to serve God as Saul tried for years to kill him. During his reign as king, David executed all the commands from God. We all remember his great sins; but we also remember his repentance when God’s prophet pointed out the sin. Even though he won great victories, he was not allowed to build the temple he so very much wanted for God. Yet he accepted that God did not want him to build it. Rather he asked for and received permission to make preparations for his son to build it by gathering the materials needed for the construction. Yes, David too was faithful for many years.
Jesus. From youth (Luke 2:49) He was faithfully going about his father’s business. As He began His ministry, He encountered many hardships, not even having a home (Matt. 8:20). Yet He continued to follow His father’s instructions. He faced temptation by Satan himself, yet remained faithful to God; answering every temptation with an “it is written”, demonstrating His knowledge of God’s Law. He had little money, He chose mostly uneducated followers to deliver His message after His death. He instructed His followers and even the erring Jews with such authority that even they could not answer him. When He faced death, he did not falter. He even lovingly healed the severed ear of a priest’s servant’s ear. While He could have called for angels to deliver Him from the cross, he maintained the attitude of “never the less Father, not my will but thine be done”. He rose from the dead and encouraged his followers and then ascended into heaven. Of course, He was God’s son, but he lived as a man on earth and remained faithful all his life that we could have an example to follow.
We see Peter and Paul and Timothy and Stephen and others. All faced terrible persecution and trials. All remained faithful for a lifetime; not just a single act. Their faith did not require a single great act of faith, but a lifetime of service to God, being obedient unto death.
What of us? Is our initial belief, repentance, confession, and immersion sufficient to gain us reward in eternity? Scripture teaches us differently. Rom.1:17, Gal.3:11, Heb.10:38 all say we must LIVE by faith. Live indicates a continuous process conducted daily in patterning our lives after the Law of Christ. Let us look especially at Gal.2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, now who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God. What a powerful statement. Concise too. Faith is NOT a single act, large or small. Faith is having a life hidden in Christ, just as Christ lived. Do we consider life to be one single event? Of course not. Life is the entirety of our existence upon this furtile plain. Life is the duration of our lifestyle of obedience, submission, and dedication to God. It is impossible to be faithful part-time. I fear there are many who have worn flat spots on their bottoms sitting in pews, but fail to LIVE for Christ the rest of the week. Jesus didn’t, nor did all those we reviewed at in this article. They strove DAILY to serve God as did the early Christians. We often quote Hebrews 11 “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. If faith is that convincing, can it possibly be a part-time effort? God forbid. Faith is LIVING in Christ, not visiting Him on Sundays. May we reverence the merciful God and thank Him regularly that he has the mercy to forgive us of all our shortcomings. But I must remember that God expects my full-time living in Christ. We can do no less.