“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
To many Christians, this passage is very familiar. Often quoted, it is a powerful verse proclaiming a blazing passion for the Good News to be shared with all that salvation may ensue. For years this verse challenged me to tighten my laces and boldly march toward the world with passionate speech. As a player before a big game, it makes me feel like I need to conjure up great passion and emotion to live such a declaration.
I guess I missed verse 17 for so long. I thought it depended on me. The righteousness of God is wrapped in this incredible word called Faith. This apparent lack of shame for the gospel is dependent on this amazing five-letter word. And in that five-letter word I have struggled this morning. Great and powerful words fill Christendom and the mouths of saints the world over. Those words often resound as if spoken in a masterfully designed performance hall. The echo and acoustic brilliance carry such weight. The problem is, the strength of the words are lost on the failure of practical design. What is faith, really? How do I get it? How does it grow? How do I live by it? And after all that, how do I model it to those behind me on life’s path?
Defining faith is the first step. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is not a fuzzy unintelligible feeling or intuition. It is the choice to believe and trust in the absence of sight. Faith is the foundational belief that God is true, right and good. What God says He will accomplish will come to pass. What God promises will be fulfilled. In essence, faith is jumping off the diving board into Daddy’s arms without concern for how deep the water is.
“from faith for faith.” The simple but profound truth that these words explain is the origin of faith. Faith is a gift. No one would choose to follow without God’s interference and conviction. Sin stands in the path of faith forcing doubt and a disillusioned sense of reality. In the modern world, sin pushes us to believe that only what I see is real and my life’s journey depends on me. The gift of faith or trust, leads to more faith. Those who are walking with God live by it. Using the simple illustration of the wind, I recently talked with my daughter about the existence of God. She immediately got it without hesitation. Her faith in that moment felt greater than my own. I want to reason, dissect and seek definitive proof. While those principles work with material, God never intended intellect to erase immaterial. Faith believes for so many reasons. Faith grows exponentially when I come to the end of myself.
So how I am living? Am I demonstrating faith? The power of living by faith is most notable in the generations that watch. Whether it is our children or the community we influence, many are watching to see how authentic our faith really is. While explain faith to my children can be difficult, I demonstrate it every day. It is not only a matter of trusting God, but living by that trust. Faith is assurance and conviction. I hope that my faith teaches assurance and conviction but not because I can do it! Simply because I have faith that He can do it in me. Once again, it comes back to relying on God, even for Faith. It is the difference between doing and being and a relationship with the God of the Universe hangs in the balance.