We Walk by Faith
Faith is the foundational responsibility of God’s people. By faith we receive sovereign grace. By faith we submit to divine truth. By faith we persevere. By faith we enjoy the saving and sanctifying grace of God. By faith we grasp and embrace the living and active Word of God. By faith we engage in genuine and spiritual worship of God. “Faith is the pivot on which everything revolves” (G.C. Berkouwer) and is the primary means by which we participate in our spiritual growth. As it says in Romans 1:17, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” In other words, as believers in Jesus Christ we have been saved to walk by faith.
There are other responsibilities and realities in the Christian life, but none are as crucial as faith. We should concern ourselves with loving, obeying, desiring, finding joy in, and beholding God. These are indispensable obligations and are helpful ways to think about our relationship with the Lord. However, we cannot perform any of these works apart from believing. How can we love Christ if we do not first accept what the Bible says about Him? How can we obey Him if we don’t trust His commands? How can we desire Him if we are not fully persuaded of His eternal beauty? How can we find joy in Him without entrusting ourselves to His sovereign care? How can we behold Him apart from the eyes of faith? Without faith we cannot fulfill a single duty—let alone enjoy the many blessings—of spiritual growth.
Perhaps it is helpful to reaffirm on the one hand that conquering sin will not happen apart from the Spirit’s power working in us (Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6; 2:13). He must illumine our minds, convict us of sin, increase our discernment, grant us power, produce gratitude, bring comfort, nurture faith, and lead us to maturity. We should equally affirm, on the other hand, that conquering sin will not happen apart from our faith-empowered effort. We must pour biblical truth into our minds, entrust ourselves to that truth, be alert, flee from sin, persevere, be prayerful and grateful in everything, and make God’s glory our highest aim. Through the Spirit, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). When we entrust ourselves to the truth (i.e., to exercise faith) and take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5), then sinful perspectives give way to righteous ones.
The result is the spiritual renewal of our affections, motives, emotions, and will. We discern truth from lies (Heb 4:12; 5:14); we experience power over the flesh (Rom 8:4–13; Gal 5:16); we grow strong in faith (Rom 4:18–21; 2 Pet 3:18); we know a deeper love and intimacy with the Lord (Eph 3:16–19); our pride is subdued (1 Pet 5:6–10); and we are drawn upward in richer worship (Rom 12:1–2). Every fruit and every failure in the Christian life is a barometer of our trust in God. Indeed, we will not see a harvest of mature fruit in our lives without hearts made fertile through faith. There are no methods or motifs that can replace the necessity of faith in our walk with the Lord. In short, when it comes to how we think about our task in the Christian life, we must prioritize faith.
This article was adapted from the book, Free to Be Holy: Conference Edition, by Jerry Wragg and Paul Shirley. Jerry Wragg serves as the president of The Expositors Seminary and the pastor of Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, FL. Paul Shirley is a graduate of TES and has served as the pastor of Grace Community Church in Wilmington, Delaware since 2011.