2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Were you born with faith? I believe we all are, until someone or something (sin) destroys our faith. Our first expression of faith is that if we cry, someone will feed and clothe us and if you are reading this, someone did. So we begin our journey by faith, but where will it end?
John 11:26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
In the world I was born into, we had little, but enough. My parents carried me to church when they actually had to walk to get there. They were faithful to attend. Mother sewed the clothes that I wore as I grew and we sat in services every Sunday. I was much like other children. I heard the songs and some scripture and I began to wonder. I heard that “Jesus saves” but really had very little comprehension as to how or why Jesus did this. As I grew to be a teenager, the questions increased in my heart and mind, but I did not dare ask. I truly thought I should know the answers, but I didn’t actually know. I was in my own wilderness. I did hear frequently that if we would believe in Jesus we would not die and John 11:26 stated this truth. John 3:16 was memorized at an early age, but death was occurring all around me. My grandfather died. People in our church died. I wanted to believe, but I had trouble making sense of this and I would not ask. I did believe in God and I believed that somehow the Bible was right, but I was wandering and wondering.
I needed the light that is promised in John 8:12
Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.“
My parents encouraged me to join the church and be baptized which I did at age seven, however, this changed nothing in my life. I did it because it was expected by them.
As I grew older, the world began to creep in and I thought less and less about the questions I had harbored as a child. School activities and guys began to interest me more and the Bible interested me less. I did have faith, although it was very shallow. I did believe that somehow, God is good, Jesus saves, and things would work out in the end. That was about it. Philip Yancey had never written a book at this time and I did not realize, as I do now two truths that he later wrote in two of his books:
Somehow, …faith was what God valued… – Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
“Because of Jesus we need never question God’s desire for intimacy. Does God really want close contact with us? Jesus gave up Heaven for it.” ― Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim
Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Luke 7:50 And he (Jesus) said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I was busy reading “Gone With the Wind” and it actually ended up playing a part in God’s reaching down for me. If you’ve read the book, you know it is not a thin book. When I completed it, a thought occurred to me. Suppose I died and stood before the judgement seat of Christ. How would I explain that I had time in my life to read “Gone With the Wind“, yet I had never read the Bible. My mother had given me a new Bible as a gift and I decided, for that reason alone, to read it from Genesis to Revelation. It was during this reading that I met the risen Lord.
Luke 19:10 ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
As I read, my mind often wandered. I didn’t stop, however, and one Saturday morning I reached John, chapter 3. This was the chapter I should have known better than any other chapter in the Bible, but that morning, it was as if I read it for the first time. Also, the Lord spoke to me as clearly as He spoke to Nicodemus. Here is what I read:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
As I read, I knew that I had not been born again. All I did about it at the time was be honest. I said something like, “Lord, I do not understand all about this, but I do believe what is written.”
JUST AS HE PROMISED
Matthew 11:28 All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
I felt a new peace in my heart. Peace that the world doesn’t offer. Something happened after that. I realized that I was a sinner and that only Christ could save me. I rededicated my life to the Lord publicly and eventually was baptized again. I began to read and understand the Bible more and more. I found myself with a new outlook and a new understanding of the crucifixion, atonement, and salvation by grace through faith. It was as if the Lord became my teacher by His Holy Spirit that continued to show me truth from the written word as my faith in the truth of the Living Word continued to grow.
Fairly early on in my journey, this verse was given to me.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Truly the Lord values our faith and it is faith that pleases Him. Faith allows us to experience grace and salvation.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God…
Paul and Peter wrote of the importance of living by faith and the importance of faith in the life of a Christian.
Acts 15:8-9And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
Romans 1:16-17 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.”
2 Corinthians 4:13-14Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
GOD IS FAITHFUL
Another thing that the Lord has made clear to me on my journey is that God is faithful. If we have a little faith, and we exercise that faith in repentance of sin and trust in the atoning blood of Christ, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 Corinthians 1:8-He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.