The Triumph of Faith
Success is the aim of all sincere endeavors. At times we might be resigned to failure, but only a fool would work for failure. In spiritual matters, the eternal victory in Jesus means everything. Without the victory, all our labors are in vain.
We can triumph. 1 John 5:1; “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.”
In this lesson we discuss (1) the nature and the objective of faith, (2) the power by which faith conquers and from where it comes, (3) the trials of life over which our own faith must conquer, and (4) the ultimate victory of faith over the trials of life.
First, we examine the nature of faith. Faith is the assurance of the very hope we have of victory in Jesus, and it is the trust we have in a place we have never seen –Heaven (Heb 11:1). Along with this, we are taught that a triumphant faith does not stand apart from the words God has given us (James 2:18, 22, 24).
The ultimate purpose of that obedient faith is to accomplish the objective of faith; i.e., redemption and the final victory (1 Peter 1:3-5, 9). Our text also continues with the witness that God has given us eternal life in His son (1 John 5:11). SO, if we are going to have a faith that triumphs in trying times, it must be a faith that looks beyond all those trying times--even into heaven itself with conviction and trust.
Secondly, from where does a victorious faith come? It is not just from the “fact of believing”. If it was, then faith exercised in one thing would be as powerful as faith exercised in anything else. The religious world has a general misconception that “one faith is as good as another.” If that were true, no faith would be just as good as any faith, since no faith is a faith. If not believing the truth revealed was permitted of God, then one would not be judged for believing a lie (2 Thess 2:11-12).
(1) What we must do is to “faith” (believe!) the truth. If it is acceptable to accept error on any subject, then error would change the truth (2 Thess 2:1-2). All human deeds are done because the doers believe in them. But real faith is about accepting the revealed will of God, believing it, and properly applying it. All of God’s word, properly applied, must be believed. There is no place for a cafeteria style (pick and choose for yourself) faith for those whose faith will lead to the ultimate victory in Jesus. That being true, we are still aware of certain things in scripture, which the scripture emphasizes, must be “faithed”. For examples:
(1) We must believe that He is! (Heb 11:6).
(2) We must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 8:24).
(3) We must believe that the gospel (the faith revealed) is the word of God to be obeyed (Mark 16:15-16).
Again, the power of faith does not come solely from the fact of believing; but rather from what we believe.
(2) We need to see that the provisions of God’s grace are appropriated by faith. Some today have separated the grace of God from faith (what is believed) and from the word of God. They have missed his grace (Rom 5:2)! We cannot receive God’s grace without that working faith of James. It is the grace of God that teaches us what to do (Titus 2:11-13)! Acts 14:3 refers to the Lord “who was bearing witness to the word of His grace.” The Word, then, is the revealing component of God’s grace! In Antioch, a large number believed and turned to the Lord (Acts 11:20-21). Their actions constituted the witnessed grace of God (Acts 11:2). Be warned! When religious men today put God’s grace beyond hearing, believing and turning to the Lord, they are putting the grace of God where it does not exist!
(3) Let us also consider the relationship between my faith and the faith. In the New Testament, the faith is used often synonymously with the gospel. Gospel preaching is designed to bring about “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1:4-5). “The obedience of faith” tells us that what is obeyed is the faith (Acts 6:7). The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 16:16). In it, the righteousness of God is revealed (Rom 16:17). So men today, like Noah of old, become heirs of righteousness by faith (Heb 11:7). “By faith” means (1) God said it, and (2) the man did it. The thing he did was what God prescribed for him to do. It was done like God said for it to be done. It was done for the reasons which God assigned.
Thirdly, consider a short list of those trials that our faith must conquer, can conquer, and will conquer.
(1) By faith, we overcome ourselves (Phil 3:7; 2:21).
(2) By faith, we conquer our own wills (Col 3:1-3).
(3) By faith, we triumph over our carnal minds. Our faith subjects us to His will until He lives in us (Gal 2:20).
(4) By faith, we overcome our own selfish ambitions (1 Peter 5:3-5).
(5) By faith, we conquer over greed (1 Tim 6:10, 17-19).
(6) By faith, we are victorious over the worldly pleasures (Col 3:5-9)!
And (7) By faith, I overcome my own vanity; i.e., how I feel about my own wisdom (2 Peter 2:17-19; 2 Cor 1:12). And there are many other difficulties, disappointments, and discouragements which we could discuss.
Let us then, intensely agonize for the faith which God has revealed (Jude 3) as we agonize to enter in at the strait gate (Luke 13:24). If we do, all other things alone cannot take away our faith (Rom 8:35-39).
Finally, think briefly about the ultimate triumph of our faith.
(1) By faith, our hope, is to obtain an “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-9). The goal of our faith is to “obtain as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
(2) The goal of keeping one’s faith is, in the future, the crown of righteousness which is for all who have loved his appearing (2 Tim 4:7-8).