Living by Grace through Faith in the Kingdom of God in the World — What the world needs now!

August 15, 2019

Christians are called and commanded to live by faith. The Apostle Paul and the author of Hebrews confirm the word of the prophet Habbakuk, “The righteous person shall live by faith.” (Hab 2:4) So it is imperative for us as believers who have received righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ to understand what it means to live by faith.

The New Testament shows us that nobody achieves righteousness (or a right relationship with the one and only God) by works – not one (Romans 3:10). Paul makes it clear Romans 3:23-25 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”  And in Ephesians 2:9-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We receive Jesus and his righteousness by faith. The evidence of this transformation of being born again will be an ongoing life lived by faith in Christ, God’s promises and his kingdom. To receive Jesus by faith is described as asking him to forgive our sins and come into our lives. At this time of being born again, we begin running a race. The race has an end, but we don’t know when that is exactly. What we know is that to finish the race and win it against the forces of evil in the world, against sin & death, we have to run each step to win from start to finish. We run each step by faith, even as we took the first step by faith. At the last step of the race we will enter into the fulfilment of all of our faith in God’s kingdom with Jesus – whether we go to him or he comes to us.

The author of Hebrews defines faith for us. Living by faith means living in the assurance of things hoped for and with the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1) The “things” hoped for and not seen are the fulfillment of the promises of God and the presence of the kingdom of heaven.

So think about these question: Are you living with the assurance of having what you hope for? Are you living with the conviction of what is not conspicuously apparent? How do you answer these for yourself? How would an observer of your life answer them? We could also ask whether our hopes are based on the promises and purposes of God or on selfish and worldly desires. Are we hoping for the right things?

The author of Hebrews in chapter 11 (vv 4-19 for this writing) comments on some folks who lived by faith, demonstrating assurance of hope and a deep conviction in God’s kingdom. This also shows the benefit of reading the Old Testament. It shows us how to live by faith.

We learn from Abel’s life that faith commends a person to God and that faith speaks…loudly and boldly. Does your faith grab God’s attention? Does it speak to the world?
Enoch’s life shows us that by faith we draw near to God, please God and walk with God and that by faith we go to be with God and experience rewards in heaven.
Noah shows us that faith builds a life in obedience to God that bears witness to the world. He shows us that by faith we receive an inheritance that lasts forever — beyond life in this world.

Abraham’s and Sarah’s lives show us that by faith we pursue a kingdom that is not of this world and that God will move in our lives according to his promises and power that have no restrictions except our willingness to believe him. Abraham received righteousness by believing God. He lived in faith by obeying God. His life proved his faith. His faith was tested and proven when he was willing to offer Isaac, the child of promise, to God as a sacrifice. When God saw this, he stopped him. Genesis 22:12 “He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.'”

Seeing your life, does God know that you believe him?
God has prepared for us a kingdom to be received by faith in him. This kingdom is the everlasting homeland of those who live by faith looking to Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews calls him “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (12:2) The more we spend devoted time to him, practice awareness of him, communicate with him and look to him, the more our faith grows and is exercised.

Jesus assures us that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) We should not fear that God will withhold any good thing from us. In fact, the Psalmist writes,

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Psalm 84:10–12)

Paul in confirmation of God’s goodness and generosity writes, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

All that is God’s kingdom, God has been pleased to give us in Jesus Christ. If you want to know what the kingdom of God is you can look to Revelation chapters 7 and 21-22. It is a kingdom where Jesus reigns and where nothing opposed or contrary to the good and loving will of Jesus exists.

Jesus instructs us in Luke 12 how to live in the world by faith according to his kingdom. He has promised us (also in Matthew 6) that God will provide for us, that he knows us and cares for us. He will answer our prayers according to his love and abundance. We can therefore seek his kingdom and not worry about our lives.

Jesus commands us to live dressed and ready for action with our lights on, to be like people actively preparing for the coming king, listening for his knock, watching for his sign, eager to move on his behalf in the midst of our lives in the world. This is a life of constant faith readiness.

I suggest that a sign of this life of faith and “ready for action” posture is the ongoing immediacy of prayer on all occasions, some planned and intentional and some unplanned and spontaneous. And this, among some other kingdom of heaven “things,” is what the world needs.

This past weekend, after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I wondered what God was hoping for from his people. We saw the impotent idiocy of politicians and the media – all with their agendas and biases. But what does God urge for his people to do by faith in Jesus and the kingdom of heaven. And I wondered is this what will occur on Sunday in our churches and during the week in believers’ lives together.

What do you think God requires at such a time of his people called by his name? What action to perform and what work to accomplish? Be careful. It is dangerous to answer such a question. It requires courage and a willingness to serve Jesus in faithful obedience to his answer.

Abraham’s intercession for Lot as example:

In Genesis 14, Abraham’s (at this time still Abram) nephew Lot and his family are taken captive along with many from Sodom and Gomorrah (before their destruction) by four kings who defeated five other kings in battle. Abraham heard of this and immediately gathered 318 men from his household and went to rescue Lot. They defeated the four kings in battle and rescued and took back all that was taken plus more. Abraham declared afterwards “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of Heaven and Earth.” This was an act of courageous faith in intercession of others and to assert God’s authority in the earth over evil.

In Genesis 18, Abraham again intercedes for his nephew Lot. This time it is through intercessory prayer to the Lord who has determined to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah due to the severity of their wickedness. Abraham pleads with the Lord to spare the city for ten righteous people. God answers the prayer by delivering Lot and his family from destruction to the extent they are willing to escape. Destruction still comes in the world, as it did in Sodom, but prayer facilitates the rescue and intervention for those for whom we pray.

Both of these actions of intercession and rescue by Abraham demonstrate the life of faith that does not abide the destructive forces of sin to go unchecked and unchallenged. This is what I believe God is calling for by us as we live our lives of faith, dressed for action for the kingdom of heaven. Our action is to rescue people from the destructive powers of darkness and to expand the kingdom of light by our actions and our prayers. God will inspire us and empower us as we offer ourselves to him. Be ready. Be courageous. The knocking of the Lord on the door is for you.

When you respond in faithful obedience, the Lord will come and serve you with the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. He will give you the victory and your intercession will find good effect as both occurred for Abraham. It pleases the Father to give you the kingdom. You must decide if you want it…today and every day.

One Response to “Living by Grace through Faith in the Kingdom of God in the World — What the world needs now!”

  1. Jeanie Says:

    I think we can understand ourselves better, and the things that are important, by asking questions. You ask powerful questions that, if we’re willing to answer them faithfully and honestly, will bring our lives into closer alignment with what Jesus desires for us, and even foster a closer relationship with him. All followers of Jesus who want to put their faith into action should be answering them. “Seeing your life, does God know that you believe him?” really got to me. Thanks for the encouragement and the wake-up call.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: