Pastors Report - 15 Jan 2021
Our Walk Of Faith

Our Walk of Faith

"For we walk by faith, not by sight:" (II Corinthians 5:7)

Context:

It is interesting to note that such a profound scripture as that above is given by the apostle Paul almost as an aside, and yet when you look at the context in which it is found, it's in the framework of what this physical life is all about. Paul ends the preceding chapter with an equally profound observation in that what we can currently see is merely temporary, whereas what is eternal cannot – at this present time – be seen. He then goes on to expand on this point; how individually we have at the very least the blueprints of our new spirit body currently being prepared – on high – ready for the resurrection. And it is in this context that we daily must walk in faith – not merely by what we witness or experience at the present time.

  • While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
  • For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
  • For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
  • If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
  • For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
  • Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the [downpayment] of the Spirit.
  • Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
  • (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (II Corinthians 4:18 to 5:1-7)
God Still Creating:

How many times did we hear Mr. Armstrong declare of God the Father and the Logos " they were creators"? And in the same vein, how many times did we hear him describe mankind as " His supreme masterpiece" of creation? For the fact is that God the Father and Jesus Christ are at this precise moment STILL creating! They haven't changed their basic nature ... creating is what they do, creators are what they are – and it is what we as human beings are destined to become.

For us to fulfil this role we must quite literally be born again – born of the spirit, with a spirit body as described in I Corinthians 15 – the same kind of spirit body Jesus Christ Himself has, following His resurrection, and described in Philippians.

  • So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
  • It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
  • And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (I Corinthians 15:42,44,49)
  • Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:21)

Needless to say, what God must also create as the true complement to this new power-filled 'tabernacle from above', is a spirit-born MIND, having the same calibre, of the same quality as Christ's. So our walk of faith is not just how we conduct ourselves daily in the light of the body we are destined to be given, but also in the creative power of God and Christ to literally create within us the same kind of mind as they possess. Fortunately we have been given an astounding example to reinforce our perception of the creative genius of the One with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13). That example is the way in which a baby grows within the womb, from two microscopic half-cells into the myriad of complex systems the human body contains. I recently read the following amazing recognition of this process. How many babies are born each minute of every day – each one is a miracle in itself, but something we rarely give adequate recognition to is the complexity of the preceding gestation process. As the following two paragraphs attempt to convey:

"The development of the embryo with its staggering panoply of continuously morphing cells – each finding its unique way through the seething and dynamic yet highly ordered embryonic web of cellular matter, touching and feeling its neighbours in search of spatial and temporal clues and obediently changing its own chemical, genetic, and physical state in response – is by far the most complex phenomenon on Earth, far more complex by many orders of magnitude than the assembly of the most complex human artefact ever built.

"Indeed, the developing embryo is a phenomenon far beyond anything in the realm of our ordinary, or extraordinary, experience. The unimaginable immensity of spatial and molecular clues and molecular and genetic responses exploited by this innumerable host of nanobots navigating the embryonic ocean is far greater than all the maps, charts, and devices used by all the mariners who ever navigated the oceans of Earth. No human machine built to date nor any on the drawing board of the most ambitious and farsighted gurus of nanotechnology is remotely as complex as a developing embryo." (The Miracle of the Cell, by Michael Denton, chapter 7, The Matrix, p115)

Faith by Hearing:

It is within this breathtaking context that we currently must conduct our present walk of faith – firmly trusting that a Creator God who could design and bring into reality such a system – and tailored as a unique individual through the DNA – can also be clearly trusted to do the same with us spiritually. We are thus given this confidence ... "that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 1:6)

When we were an embryo within our mother's womb all those years ago, we didn't question this incredible creative process, but accepted all the changes and various stages of growth as laid down by the Master Designer. And shouldn't we have the same approach and trust today – as He conducts His supreme masterpiece of creation with each one of us? That is the faith by which we must walk day in and day out. God doesn't have to explain to us everything that is going on ... the whys and wherefores of our daily trials, for instance. He is in overall control, just as much as He was when we were being "curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth" (Psalm 139:15)

And how does that all-encompassing faith develop? The bottom line is that it is based not on something that we see but rather on something we have heard or read, that originally proceeded from the mouth of God Himself. This is why Paul declares in Romans: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17).

When Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment in the Law, He quoted a section of scripture which is known as the "Shama" ... called such as it begins with "Shama" or "Hear", O Israel;

  • Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
  • And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
  • And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

However, the word "shama" implies much more than passively hearing the words uttered, but additionally it implies to both listen carefully to and to obey. "To hear with attention or interest" might be a better translation. In a similar way, faith doesn't come merely by passively listening to the word of God, it comes when we make it our own. It takes more than just having God's words physically registering on our brain – but as also brought out in chapter 10 of Romans – obedience to the word of God is vital if we are to understand His mind, His way, and develop in faith , and it takes a spirit-led mind to comprehend it, as this kind of faith is very much a spiritual quality – part of the fruit of the spirit itself.

  • But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
  • So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  • But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world ...
  • ... But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and [obstinate] people. (Romans 10:16-18,21)

This is why the example given in the Old Testament for kings back then – and, by extension, for future kings now in training for the world tomorrow – involves not only reading daily in the Law of God, but as is pointed out in verse 19 of Deuteronomy 17 ... "to do them" ... ie. to faithfully WALK in them.

  • And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
  • And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: (Deuteronomy 17:18,19)

Faithfully walking in the ways of God is also what Christ instructed Abraham, at the time his name was changed: "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect" (Genesis 17:1)

Patience is Needed:

Along with Abraham, Moses was able to speak to Christ – the Word of God – face to face, but we don't have that privilege – yet. But what we can do, and are very much encouraged to do, is to delve into the word of God and learn from the experiences of those that have gone before, who God was dealing with: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."(Romans 15:4)

That patience, as part of our walk with God, is illustrated over and over again in the examples of faith and patience recorded within scripture. Take Abraham, as a supreme example: Christ made the comment "... Shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I do; ..." (Genesis 18:17) when He decided to do something about the degradation within Sodom, but that approach did not manifest itself in every aspect of Abraham's personal life, as he waited for the heir that God had promised. Over and over again the promise was repeated and amplified – but with the crucial ingredient of 'when' deliberately missing. He simply had to continue patiently walking in faith – believing the promises that had been given – regardless of the physical circumstances of advancing age for him and his wife.

Similarly, Christ could have easily stepped in to halt the mistaken perception that led to Ishmael's birth, but He didn't. Instead, He chose to have Abraham patiently continue his walk of faith for another fourteen years (Genesis 17) In like manner, Jacob was deliberately kept in the dark by Christ when he was led to believe Joseph had died – as reported by his other sons. (Genesis 37) Years earlier, Christ could have intervened – but chose not to – when He allowed Jacob to suffer the loss of his beloved wife Rachel – dying in childbirth with Benjamin (Genesis 35:18). And of course, with Joseph himself – to whom God could have revealed something of the timing of his dreams – but didn't. Instead he simply had to patiently keep on keeping on, based on what God had previously revealed to him, leaving the rest in God's hands entirely – trusting Him in spite of the exceedingly negative circumstances in which he found himself. (Genesis 39-41)

Through Paul, Jesus Christ emphasised this patient walk of faith that would remain necessary for all of us, and that He is cognisant of the day-in and day-out struggles we have:

  • For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
  • And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
  • That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:10-12)

And Christ not only is fully aware of the challenges we face, but desires to help us cope with them, as He mentions in Matthew 11:28-31.

Walking the Walk:

As we see within the example of Abraham – the father of the faithful – even though Christ made the comment "... Shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I do; ..." (Genesis 18:17) only certain things were revealed, and other aspects – particularly the timings – were withheld, deliberately, encouraging him to simply walk the walk of faith, regardless. Should we therefore wonder if something similar happens at this time also? We quote passages such as; "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7) and yet fail to recognise how so often in the past the mere outline of events was revealed, God expecting His servants to trust Him implicitly in regard to the details, the prophet Daniel being one example:

  • And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
  • And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. (Daniel 12, 8,9)

And so often we too have to "go our way" ... and keep putting one foot in front of the other – in faith – trusting God to guide and direct our paths, in the same way as did our forefathers. We are currently witnessing unprecedented chaos in the world in all sorts of areas, but this is simply not our world. Deep involvement in worldly politics/pandemics has no place in our present walk with God, as the apostle Paul brings out:

  • These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
  • For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
  • And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
  • But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

In all cases the walk of faith involves focusing on the spiritual future that we cannot see as yet, placing greater emphasis on that future Zion – promised by God – than on the physical circumstances we happen to be facing at the time, or witnessing around us. It is where we focus our mind that is all important. The way we think – be that future spiritual or present carnal – will very much govern the way we'll subsequently walk.

  • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ...
  • ... That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
  • For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1,4,5)

It is interesting to note that the above passage comes straight after what we read in Romans 7, of the personal battles that Paul himself had. How much more should we apply the same principle to the problems and difficulties we face? It's very easy to get disheartened at times, wondering if God even realises what battles we're facing, but the antidote is to focus on the rock-solid promise God has given to never leave us or forsake us ... and take the next step forward – one foot in front of the other – trusting Him with the timing of our rescue.

God Does the Impossible:

And back to Abraham once more ... becoming a father at one hundred years old, because ; " Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." (Genesis 18:14). Amazing 'impossibilities' are recorded in Genesis and Exodus for us to read and ponder ... The crossing of the Red Sea, the daily provision of manna, quail, water from a rock etc. But sometimes these stunning miracles lose their impact as we have heard them so often. What can help us keep going when the going gets tough, is to remember God's previous intervention in OUR lives, the times when He seemed to do the impossible for US, individually, personally. These personal stories may not be on the scale of the Red Sea but the chances are we saw God's hand in certain situations that brought about the best result and in a way we would never have thought, or could have manipulated ourselves. And also, that although God does want to see us develop patience and perseverance, once He acts everything quickly falls into place.

Israel forgot these incredible interventions by God on their behalf (Psalm 78:10,11). They lost sight of the fact that God does indeed do the impossible – as they had personally witnessed repeatedly. For it requires faith through the action and focus of God's spirit to truly appreciate His hand in our lives ... something that is so vitally important for us today, as Christ brings out in the book of Hebrews:

  • And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
  • So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
  • Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
  • For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 3:18- 4:2)
Conclusion:

Like Abraham, Daniel and the prophets, we have an outline of future events that is sure – that we 'can take to the bank'. But the timing and the details are not crystal clear as we do indeed see through a glass darkly. During the dark days just ahead of us, it would be helpful to keep in mind the lesson of the apostle Peter, recorded for us in Matthew 14:

  • And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
  • But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
  • And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:29-31)

If we focus on the present physical circumstances ... "the wind boisterous" ... we may well sink. We need to keep our eyes firmly focused on the goal ahead, remembering Who is working with us, and Who has already created each one of us once – individually – from those two minute half-cells:

  • But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
  • When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
  • For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
  • Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
  • Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
  • I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
  • Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:1-7)