The Just Shall Live By Faith
“The Just Shall Live By Faith” is an important theme in the bible. It is a Principle, a Promise and a Practice with a divine purpose. Prophet Habakkuk made this marvelous statement. The children of Israel have sinned and have rejected the living God. Prophets like Joel, Zephaniah and Amos called for repentance so that destruction could be averted. However, Habakkuk felt the time for repentance was over and the judgment of God was imminent. He predicts doom and destruction for Jews and subsequently for Chaldeans, who would be invading the Children of Israel. In this terrible dangerous time, Habakkuk promises that the righteous individuals would survive and thrive by faith.
The book was written in 7 century BC. As Habakkuk foretold the children of Israel were taken captives to Babylon for 70 years. (Jeremiah 25:12) Habakkuk warns about five major sins: Amassing unrighteous wealth (Hab2:6), evil gains to build his house on posh area (Hab 2:9), Violence (Hab 2:12), terror and bloodshed, (Hab 2:15) and worshipper of false gods (Hab2:19) In spite of all these, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters covers the sea.” (Hab 2:14) The bridge that connects present stark reality to future glorious reality is the Righteous people who live by faith. It is quoted three times in New Testament: Paul emphasis on the word righteousness in Romans (Romans 1:17) and on faith in Galatians (Galatians 3:11). In Hebrews, the emphasis is on Live. (Hebrews 10:38)
The Christian faith denotes personal conviction and is based on faithfulness of God. The word “faith” (from emunah) means “firmness, steadfastness, fidelity; faithfulness.” Bible defines faith as: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith understood and practiced by Christians is neither a superstitious nor a blind faith. It is not irrational or ignorant faith. The Christian faith is based on truth, facts and evidences pointing towards one Person – Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a philosophy or theory or myth or legend. Christian faith is based on the Son of God, who came into the world to die for our sins, rose again, seated on the right hand of God and would come again to Judge the world. Hence, the basis of Christian faith rests on the traits or characteristics of God. There are several characteristics of God of which these three could be most important: Goodness, Greatness and Graciousness. God is good and no evil is found in him and does only good to his people. The greatness of God is that he is the Creator, Sustainer and nothing is impossible for Him. He is Gracious that He made provision for our salvation by sending His Son and offers forgiveness and knows his children by name.
The faith on Lord Jesus Christ is also termed as the Saving faith. When a person accepts that he is a sinner, repents of his/her sinful life, forsakes sin, and accepts Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour; that person is Saved. This salvation deals with the guilt of the past, provides resources to deal with temptations of sin and assures of Heaven in the future eternity, a place without sin.
Moreover, this faith is a transforming faith. It amazingly transforms a person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. This faith is not a selfish faith. Sin is always associated with selfishness. The mark of selfish faith is asking, requesting and demanding from God miracles to live in luxury, comfort and prosperity. The faith of a transformed person is indeed a sacrificing faith. The faith that is willing to lose privileges, blessings and benefits for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Today, however, selfish faith is seen more than sacrificing faith.
This faith is also obedient faith. Submission to the Will of God, sacrifice to fulfill the Plan of God and surrender to the Vision of the Kingdom is the mark of obedient faith. Obedience is difficult for many as it challenges the ego of a person to deny oneself and glorify God.
Faith of man is nothing in comparison with the Faithfulness of God. Human could lose the consistency in exercising faith and be distracted. However, God is faithful as he cannot deny himself. His faithfulness compensates even the faithlessness of humans.
The word “just” (from tsaddiq) means “just, righteous in conduct and character toward God.” There are two aspects of righteousness. First, it is bestowed upon a person who believes in Lord Jesus Christ. It is a gift and reward from God for faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Instead of being condemned for our sins, Lord Jesus Christ death brings forgiveness and justification for those who believe. In the presence of God, we have access by faith and have righteous standing. (Romans 5:2)
Righteous means living by certain standards as revealed in the Holy Bible. The standards include relationship with God, moral values, ethics, social life and family life. David’s prayer was: Lead me in the paths of righteousness for your name sake. (Psalms 23:3) Righteousness is doing the right thing, always. The standards are not according to human perspective, but according to God’s perspective. A righteous person would be approved by God and not necessarily by people.
“Holiness unto the Lord” is the motto of a Christian. The righteous person is blameless in his spiritual life. He is truthful and trustworthy in words. The relationship with others is that s/he does not think or speak or do evil. The righteous have high moral standards and they courageously condemn the wicked or vile. They love, respect and serve other fellow believers. They generously provides for the poor. The righteous does not accept bribe or condemn an innocent. (Psalm 15)
The Righteous person will not just survive but thrive in adverse circumstances. His sustenance does not spring forth from carnal resources but from the Living God. A righteous person would live with hope and die with hope. The world is imperfect, filled with sin and violence, however, a righteous person would live for the Glory of God, fulfilling the purpose of God.
The life of righteous is of different quality and variety. The life is not evaluated with the earthly expectations or perspective. Of course, many times, the righteous would be branded as ‘fools’ by the world.
Righteous people bring joy in the lives of the people. “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2) God’s protection and provision is assured for a righteous person. “The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead.” (Proverbs 11:8) There is personal blessing also in being righteous. “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)
Righteousness is a spiritual resource unlike worldly wealth. “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” (Proverbs 11:4) The future of the righteous is always bright. There is hope as they march towards eternity. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
The life of a righteous person is fruitfulness. They will flourish to be a blessing to others. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalms 92:12-15) Their legacy will be enduring.
Purpose: Glory of God
The ultimate reality is: “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters covers the sea.” (Hab 2:14) The history is moving towards the grand final event: The Coming of Lord Jesus Christ. The time between now and the Second Coming is the opportunity for the Global Church which includes each one of us to work in His Vineyard. The work is to fill the world with the knowledge of the glory of God.
First, that job has to be done Prayerfully. It is impossible to do that great task by human strength. Second, the ministry and mission has to be done, Proactively. We cannot wait for favorable circumstances, convenient times and apt opportunities. Gospel has to be preached in season or without season. (II Timothy 4:2) Third, evangelism and mission should be our Priority. First things first. (Matthew 6:33). Four, the mission has to be done strategically. It cannot be done in a haphazard manner. All resources should be employed as taught in the Parable of Talents. Five, the task is urgent. The harvest is ripe, if the task is delayed, the harvest would perish. (John 4:35)
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” (I Peter 3:12) It is a wonderful privilege to be under the watchful eye of our Lord. His protection and provision is assured. It is amazing to know that He is attentive to the righteous people. He listens to His children to answer them. What kind of prayers a righteous does? The prayers is to fulfill God’s plan, will for His Glory. Let us be part of God’s movement that would fill the earth with the knowledge of our Lord.