Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Unseen Things (7)
And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15.6
All worldviews operate on the basis of faith. That is, whatever views one holds about the nature of the world and our place in it, faith operates at the most foundational levels.We have said before that this is part of what makes all worldviews – including the secular worldview – religious in nature. Living by faith is inescapable, including for those who deny the need for faith in their worldview.
But what is faith?
Faith is the soul’s response to that which we perceive as ultimately good, true, and desirable – the Christian would say, God. Faith takes the form of agreement, submission, and readiness to obey – that is, of assurance that the thing hoped-for is what is best and true. What God is seeking on the part of those whose worldview is grounded in Him, is that they should believe in Him, trust Him, and follow His Word in all matters.
Faith cannot be seen, since it operates in the inner person, in the soul (Ps. 57.1). The reality of faith, working in the soul, is manifested in actions that move us toward whatever we view as true or good. Those actions are the outward evidence of faith at work in the inner person, shaping and directing their life in the pursuit of the hope-for thing.
The writer of Hebrews defined faith succinctly as the assurance (inward agreement, submission, and readiness) of things hoped for (God and His Word), and the evidence (outward action) of things not seen (God and His Word). The action of faith is visible, but faith itself operates in the realm of unseen things (Heb. 11.1).
Only faith in God and His Word results in a full, true, and good life. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11.6). But with faith, and living by faith, we may realize many important benefits. I will mention four.
Faith connects with God
First, and most importantly, faith allows us to engage with God, to hear His voice, understand His will, draw near to Him in His holiness, and know the joy, peace, and power of His presence. In faith, Abram left his home in Ur and relocated to the land of Canaan, where he built altars to the Lord; and the Lord met with him there (Gen 12.1-7). In faith, Moses drew near to the bush that burned without being consumed, and by faith he remained there to commune with God (Ex. 3). In faith, the priests of Israel submitted to God’s Word, and the people to the priests, that they might maintain communion with Him and overcome the separation caused by their sins.
Whoever would come near to God, to know Him, hear His Word, learn His will, and enjoy His fellowship, must believe that He exists, and that He will bless and reward those who diligently seek Him according to His Word. Faith, operating in the soul, leads us to agree with God and His Word, to submit ourselves to Him with all our mind and heart and conscience, and to make ready our response as God and His Word require – whether to move to a new land, take off our sandals and draw near, offer worship to God – to follow His Word in all our ways. We connect with God, commune with Him, and know the power and joy of His presence, only as we believe in Him and His Word, beginning in our soul and obeying in our lives.
Faith enables obedience
Thus, faith enables obedience to God, the effect of which is to enhance our experience of God and of the blessings He promises to all who seek Him in faith.
We do what God commands because we agree with Him, submit to Him, and prepare ourselves in all our soul to do what He requires – in short, we loveHim. Being assured that He is God and His Word is reliable and true, we set our souls in faith to obey, and our souls move us to whatever words or deeds God is pleased to require. Thus obeying God, we experience the promise of His Word and know His presence with us. And because we obey from the depths of our being, we delight to do the will of God (Ps. 40.8). We do not regard obedience an onerous thing, nor merely a duty; we delight in obedience, because obedience brings us ever more deeply into the life of God and His Word.
Faith lays hold on the promises of God
Accordingly, faith is the key to obtaining the precious and very great promises of God. Noah believed God and obeyed His will, and he realized the salvation God promised through the flood.
Abram, in faith, obeyed God at various stages in their relationship, and God granted more of His promises to the patriarch. He gave him the land of Canaan as Abram in faith moved there. He gave him a son as he in faith obeyed and went in to his wife. He gave him many offspring, and made them a blessing to the world of their day, because Abraham lived in faith before God.
As the people of Israel obeyed God in the first Passover, they received the deliverance God has promised them, and became a people holy unto the Lord. God held out the promise of a land of abundance to His people, and while the first generation failed in believing God, the generation that succeeded them believed, obeyed, entered the land, and gained it as their possession, just as God had promised.
Faith results in righteousness
Finally, obedience in faith conforms us increasingly to the righteousness of God, which He intended for us when He made us in His image.
Only God can declare someone righteous. Righteousness – life that agrees entirely with the being, attributes, and will of God – is not something sinful people can attain on their own. God must declare them to be righteous, which He does as they relate to Him in faith. This does not make them righteous, for only God is righteous; but it accountsthem as righteous in the sight of God; and this, in turn, creates in their soul a desire to increase in the life of righteousness as God enables and guides.
Everyone lives by faith, according to their view of what constitutes the good life. The Christian knows that the good life is only to be found in God, and so, following the example of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and all the faithful people of God’s Word, we strive to increase in faith by drawing near to God and His Word, readying ourselves according to whatever He requires, that we might increase in the life of faith and in God both now and forever.
Questions for reflection
1. Living by faith in something is inescapable. Explain.
2. Faith has both an inward and an outward facet. Why is faith incomplete unless both of these are present?
3. How would you encourage a new believer to seek to increase in faith?
Next steps – Preparation: Paul wrote that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14.23). What can you do to make sure faith is operating in every aspect of your daily life?
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.
The Power of Faith
- T.M. Moore
- May 27, 2019
You can't see it, but when it's working, it's powerful.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Unseen Things (7)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.