Making Progress in the Life of Faith (1)
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land…” Deuteronomy 8.7
A matter of progress and growth
Following Jesus Christ is a matter of progress and growth. Coming to faith and waiting for the consummation of faith in eternal glory are the bookends of the life of faith. The life of faith entails making steady progress along a clearly demarcated path. Various New Testament metaphors for the life of faith make this clear.
For example, believers are called to walk as Jesus did (1 Jn. 2.1-6), to run our race (Heb. 12.1, 2) and compete like an athlete striving for a prize (1 Cor. 9.24). Beyond metaphors, we are commanded to grow in the Lord (2 Pet. 3.18) and chided when we don’t (1 Cor. 3.1-3; Heb. 5.12). We’re even commanded to take every thought captive for obedience to Jesus (2 Cor. 10.3-5).
There’s just no getting around the implication that, as followers of Jesus Christ, there’s no room for merely standing still.
This is true not only of our individual lives but of all the endeavors in which we engage as Christians. With Jesus we are building His Church, so that it grows steadily in unity and maturity (Matt.16.18; Eph. 4.11-16). We are seeking His Kingdom and praying daily that it will come on earth as in heaven, increasingly over time (Matt. 6.33, 10). In all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities we are engaged in supplanting the darkness of sin with the light of grace and truth, bringing the reconciled newness of Jesus Christ to replace the stale and worn-out best thinking and efforts of men, in every area of life (2 Cor. 5.17-21; 1 Jn. 2.8, 15-17).
Being a Christian means making progress – personally, spiritually, socially, communally, vocationally, and in all aspects of our lives.
History shows that, where Christians have taken this resolute, focused, and obedient approach to following Jesus, real progress has been achieved in revivingthe saints, renewingchurches, and bringing awakening and restorationto the world.
But how do we do this? What’s involved in consistently making progress in the life of faith?
Look to the promises
In many ways the challenge facing Israel as they waited on the plains of Moab to take up the battle for the promised land is a symbol of and template for the life of faith. In the book of Deuteronomy, written at this time, God spoke through Moses to direct His people in this difficult undertaking, and to assure them that, in due course, they would realize all His promises and blessings if they did not grow weary or stray from His path.
In the same way, God holds out to us precious and very great promises for full and abundant life in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1.4; Jn. 10.10). But we will only realize these, increasingly, day by day, by working to lay hold on these promises as God has instructed us in His Word.
Making progress in the life of faith begins with a clear vision of the outcomes you seek. We need to know not only what our objective is in following Jesus, but why that objective is so desirable and worthy of unremitting effort on our parts.
And that means understanding and embracing the precious and very great promises of God.
In the book of Deuteronomy, God reminded the people of Israel of the good land He was preparing for them, “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones areiron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.” (Deut. 8.7-9). How precious this promised land must have seemed to the people of Israel. Here was a vision worth fighting for!
If we are to desire and make progress in the life of faith, we need to know where we’re going, and we must believe that where we are going – the objectives we seek, both in this life and the next – are eminently worth pursuing with all our souls and strength.
A revived people
Every day in the Christian life is a day of revival and restoration, of being clothed anew in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and of knowing the power of His Spirit transforming us daily into the Lord’s own image (Eph. 4.17-24; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). Progress in the life of faith, therefore, begins with a clear understanding of what it means to be revived, day by day, in the Spirit and Word of our exalted King.
A revived people can bring renewalof worship, discipleship, and mission to their churches, and to all the churches in their community. And renewed churches will call the world to joyful submission to King Jesus, and thus serve as a means to awakeningand restoration among peoples, nations, and cultures all over the earth.
Revival, renewal, awakening, restoration: These are objectives worth attaining. God promises that we can realize these objectives in Jesus as we follow Him faithfully day by day.
Daily personal revival, ongoing renewal in our churches, and an awakening of spiritual life in our communities and the world: These are what God promises and what He calls us to pursue. And in these, the life of faith, we may expect to make regular progress as we follow Jesus.
1. In what ways have you experienced progress in the life of faith in recent years? In what ways would you like to know more progress?
2. As you understand it, what are the keys to making steady progress in the life of faith? What are the great obstacles to overcome?
3. How would you describe the state of revival, renewal, and awakening in yourself, your church, and your community at this time?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with some Christian friends about the state of revival, renewal, and awakening in your church and community. Spend some time in prayer together.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.