Living By Faith!
"I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
Then the Lord answered me and said, 'Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. ' ""
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk who went on a pilgrimage to Rome,
and as he crossed the Alps he fell deathly ill.
As he lay sick he felt a great turmoil, both physical and spiritual,
and a verse that had previously touched him came to mind:
"The just will live by his faith," from Habakkuk 2:4.
When Luther recovered, he went on to Rome, and did what all the pilgrims did.
One day he came to the church of Saint John's Lateran, where there is a staircase
which was thought to be from Pilate's judgment hall.
It was the custom of pilgrims to climb this staircase, but never on their feet.
They would painfully climb one step at a time on their knees, saying prayers
and kissing the steps where it was thought to be where the blood of Jesus fell.
Luther came to this place and starting climbing the steps because the pope
promised an indulgence to all who climbed the steps on their knees
and said the prayers.
As he did this, Luther remembered the words from Habakkuk: "The just will live by his faith".
When he remembered those words, he stopped, stood up, walked down the steps,
and went straight home to Germany.
Many have said the Reformation began on those stairs
Martin Luther said: "Before those words broke upon my mind, I hated God
and was angry with him because, not content with frightening us sinners by the law
and by the miseries of life, he still further increased our torture by the gospel.
But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words: 'The just shall live by faith!'
I felt born again like a new man;
I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God."
Verse 4 was the rallying cry of Martin Luther and the Reformers against a Church
that was involved in corruption, legalism, false human traditions, religious works
placed on those who had been taught that what they did rather than what
God had done in Christ, was the means to righteousness with God.
The book of Habakkuk describes and defines this faith by which the righteous live.
This major message of this book is of utmost importance to those seeking to be saved,
and also to those who are growing in their relationship with the Lord.
Verses 2 and 3 serve as an introduction to God's response, saying to us::
"Listen! This revelation is important!"
Verse 2: "Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run"
Habakkuk is told to "Write this clearly on a tablet, in big letters so that the herald sent
to proclaim the message can read it and announce it even while he runs."
And it could also mean: "Write this in big letters on a tablet and post it by the main road,
so that all those passing by even those who are running can read the message."
The message is saying : "This is so important, everyone needs to know it!"
Verse 4 reads: " the just shall live by his faith."
There are only two possible attitudes to life in this world: that of faith and that of unbelief.
This verse, without exaggeration, contains one of the most vital truths of the entire Bible.
Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted in the New Testament 3 times.
(Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 11:38)
One of those is found in Romans 1:17 where Paul says that this is the gospel revealed as,
"the righteous shall live by faith".
We are made right with God by grace through faith!
And this is what God is revealing to Habakkuk.
The word "faith"; is so important.
Faith is believing -- it is trusting.
We live by faith everyday.
We turn on the faucet, and fill the glass with water, and then we drink it.
We don't know all that could be in the water.
We have no idea what is inside the pipes that is delivering the water to us.
Reader's Digest had an article about a city in Kansas that had a large water tank
from which they received their water..
Their water was pumped up from a well and filled the tank, and then, it came out of the tank into the town.
And later they converted a piped-in system so they drained the tank and they found all kinds
of strange creatures in the bottom of the tank.
They all got retroactive dysentery.
They had been living by faith, but they their faith was in the wrong thing.
Some years ago, I was a passenger on a plane flying into Seoul, South Korea.
I had flown into that airport before and was familiar with the airport.
The plane started its descent and was on it's landing pattern, and it looked like
we were about to land.
Then, instead of landing, it ascended again and went back up into the night sky.
I knew something was wrong, and the pilot quickly came on the intercom,
and announced that the landing gear did not come down into place.
He said that they were going to try lowering it manually.
He announced that they would make one more pass over the airport
so the traffic controllers in the tower could tell visually if the landing gears were down.
The older lady beside me took out her prayer beads and everyone was concerned
Fortunately, the landing gears were down, and we landed safely.
My faith was in a pilot who I didn't know, and everyone on that plane was trusting their
lives to a pilot that they didn't know.
Faith is trust.
You go to a restaurant, and you eat what they feed you.
We live by faith.
That's the only way we can survive.
God has put it in our heart for us to understand we have to live by faith.
The importance of the message from verse four to the end of chapter 2 is that the Chaldeans,
who were going to be used as an instrument to chastise Israel, were also going to be
chastised and finally defeated.
God was using them temporarily, but their final end was certain.
God was going to humble the pride of the Chaldeans and inflict a terrible punishment upon them.
The important thing for us is to see is what this means for us.
We will also learn that this case in question is an illustration of a universal principle
in God's dealings with mankind.
In the present world situation it is urgent that we have a proper understanding of this principle
in the world today.
There is so much turmoil in the world today and we must understand the Biblical principle
of history if we would have peace within.
This will explain what is happening in the secular world and its effect on Christians today.
The essential principle is that history can be understood only in terms of God's kingdom
and understanding that God rules the in the world and everything in it, including the Church.
All history is being directed by God in order to bring about His own purpose in bringing
His kingdom to pass.
The problems we face today are not new.
Many in our day are foolish enough to imagine that their problems are different from those
of the past, and they are not.
We are experiencing what God's people have experienced many times before us.
History does repeat itself.
Our problems and perplexities are not new.
There are many people today who feel that they cannot be Christians because
of the intellectual difficulties raised by the apparent frustration of history.
But this problem is as old as man himself, and has been perplexing people right from the beginning.
Modern knowledge and modern events have really very little to do with it.
The problem is the same as of that psalmist who wrote the 73rd psalm, (Psalm 73: 11, 12, 13ff)
and the same as Habakkuk and Israel in general.
The Book of Hebrews was written specifically to address this problem.
The Hebrew Christians were saying, " We believed your gospel, we left Judaism and joined
the Christian Church because of what you told us about Christ and His salvation,
and about His coming to establish His kingdom and to reign on the earth.
But He has not come: we are being persecuted, and robbed of our goods,
and we are going through desperate days.
So, what is the answer?"
The Christians also asked Peter: " Where is the promise of His coming?"
They were being taunted by coffers who said: " Ah, you believed this gospel
and trusted yourself to this Lord Jesus Christ.
You have been told that He is coming back to reign; but where is the promise of His coming?
Yet, nothing has changed and everything is the same.!"
Peter reminds them that has always been a problem.
He said: " It is all right, don't listen to them.
It is exactly what people said before the Flood; it is what they said before
the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; it is what they have always said."
His answer was: " One day it is with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as a one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness."
Now that is exactly what Habakkuk said: " The vision is yet for an appointed time,
but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it;
because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
In verse 4 we read: "Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith."
The response proud person is to say, "Wait on God! No way!
I'm going to run my own life, and make my own wealth, and I will be my own security."
The proud person would say that he is going to accomplish something important,
and make something of himself, and he will be prominent and important.
This person is really saying that he or she will be their own God.
This person is walking by sight, not by faith.
He does what seems reasonable, and what seems to make sense to him.
In the passage, "the proud one" refers first, to the Babylonians, but then,
God uses them as an example of all who do not live by faith.
The proud people of our day have the same outlook on life and that outlook is that they are going
to be in charge of their lives.
They believe that no matter what confronts them, they will have enough knowledge,
and energy and courage to move on and deal with all obstacles and obstructions.
This proud attitude is instilled in us early.
It is the premise upon which we are taught to succeed.
This notion that we can always take charge of our lives.
Many people like this love to quote William Ernest Henley's,"Invictus",
"It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul."
This sounds good and courageous, but the common understanding of it is not true,
and it denies the need for the providence of God.
Long ago the psalmist had the right perspective when he said,
"Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people,
and the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm. 100:3).
Many have a tendency to think that they can always take charge of our lives,
especially when they are young and healthy, and reasonably prosperous,
and when they are still in charge of our mental faculties.
It is possible to believe life will always respond to our strong-willed wishes and desires,
especially when rank and privilege are their constant companions and they are enjoying
their present success.
There are those who believe that this take-charge approach works in any and all situations.
So verse 4 is extremely important as to which approach of life we take.
This important statement "the just shall live by his faith." is quoted several times
in the New Testament.
There are only two possible attitudes to life in this world: that of faith and that of unbelief.
Either we view our lives in terms of our belief in God, and the conclusions
which we are entitled to draw from that; or our outlook is based upon a rejection of God
We may either reject the way of faith in God, or else we may live by faith in God.
As a man believes, so is he.
A man's belief determines his conduct.
The just, the righteous, shall live by faith; or, in other words, the man who lives by faith
On the other hand, the man who rejects the way of faith in God is unrighteousness
and he is not living by faith.
This is the great principle of life, and all of us are on one side the other of it.
Whatever our views of life and of the world may be, they will have these common denominators:
either our life is based on faith or it is not.
If it is not based on faith, it does not much matter what our views may be,
or whether we are controlled by political, social, economic, or any other considerations.
What matters is whether we are accepting the rule of God in our life or not.
So, there are these two possibilities before each of us as we live our lives
and contemplate our future.
Many people form their own opinion, and make their own plans for their lives.
So, they are governed by their own observations, and deductions, and having common sense
and some worldly wisdom, and also by the political wisdom of people in the know
and certain so-called prognosticators.
Those people observe and meditate upon what they see, and then, in their own knowledge
attempt to draw our own conclusions and form their own opinions.
Habakkuk was going to take the way of faith regarding the Chaldeans.
He doesn't weigh the different arguments for and against, and he doesn't try to evaluate
the strength of the Chaldean army.
All Habakkuk considers is the clear statement that God has given him.
And he believes in it, and acts upon it.
There is only One who knows all things and can do all things and who controls all history
and events, and that person is God.
All of our lives us are based on whether we believe the Word of God and live by it,
or we do not.
The godly way of life is the Biblical way of living by faith.
" The just shall live by his faith."
Living by faith means basing our life entirely upon faith in God.
The secret of all those Old Testament characters was that they lived
" as seeing him who is invisible".
Like Moses, they preferred to " suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season."
Moses acted upon the certain Word of God, and so he forsook the court of Pharoah,
and turned his back upon many wonderful possibilities and the wealth that could be his,
and went out like Abraham forsaking his own country.
He went out "and as seeing him who is invisible".
" The just shall live by faith."
These men of God staked all on God's Word.
They were prepared to suffer for it, and if necessary, endure the loss of all things.
The same prospect faced many of the early Christians.
They were placed in a horrible predicament.
They were asked to say " Caesar is Lord".
But they said, " We cannot say that because we know that Caesar is not lord;
there is only one Lord, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ!"
The authorities said: " If you do not say Caesar is Lord, you will be thrown
to the lions in the arena!"
Still, they refused to say it.
They had a real faith in God!
They believed that Jesus was born into this world in great poverty in Bethlehem,
and worked as a carpenter, and eventually died upon a cross.
They also believed He was the Lord of glory and that He had risen from the dead.
And, believing those true events, they declared that they would never say that Caesar was Lord.
They risked it all.
They lived all by faith, and died by faith.
This is our position as Christians today.
The choice is being forced upon us more and more.
Is there anyone still foolish enough to bank on this world and what it has to offer?
We must determine what is the controlling principle in our lives.
Is it human reasoning or is it it worldly wisdom?
Or is it the Word of God which warns us that this life and this world are only transient,
and that both are merely a preparation for the world to come?
We must ask ourselves, as in the presence of God, the simple questions:
"Is my life based upon the faith principle?"
"Am I submitting myself to the fact that what I read in the Bible is the Word of God and it is true?"
"And am I willing to stake everything, my life included, upon this fact -- ' the just shall live by faith' ".
Living by faith means basing our entire life upon faith in God.
Those who live by faith see their need for God.
The Chaldeans trusted in themselves.
Judah trusted in other nations to protect her.
People today trust in their wealth, education, abilities, family, luck, etc.,
and as a result never see their need for God.
Those who live by faith believe that they are dependent upon God for everything.
They are convinced that only God can save.
Those who live by faith surrender themselves to God's will.
After we see our need for God, we must come to Him in humble obedience.
It is impossible to live by faith while we disobey God.
Our faith must be expressed in works of obedience (James 2:14-26).
Habakkuk did not understand what God was doing, but he was willing to accept it.
Understanding God's will is not necessary for obedience.
Those who live by faith commit themselves completely to God's care.
Those who walk by faith are free from worry.
If we seek first the kingdom of God we know that everything we need will be provided for us
(Matt. 6:33). |
Those who walk by sight do not enjoy this freedom from worry.
Those who live in faith will trust in God's promises.
They can do so because they truly believe that God's way is right and best.
Living by faith simply means we trust in God to take care of us and to do what is best,
even if we can't see or understand how He is going to do it.
Living by Faith
1. "I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o'er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I'm living by faith and feel no alarm.
2. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I'm never alarmed at the overcast skies
The Master looks on at the strife.
3. I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.
4. Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day,
Our troubles will then all be o'er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore."
-- By James Wells, 1918; v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Sermon prepared by Dr. Harold L. White from many sources