We are investigating principles from Paul's epistle to the Romans
in this series of articles. The first three principles are: 1) Seek
God; 2) Renew your understanding of self as falling short of the
glory of God; 3) Renew your understanding of your personal relationship
with God (Deity).
Paul says: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by
the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). So to walk by faith is to walk
according to the word of God. One who walks according to the word
of God has faith in God and one who does not walk according to the
word of God does not have faith in God.
"Faith" is a noun denoting a state of trust and confidence
which one has arrived at through persuasion. "Believe"
is the verb form of faith meaning to be persuaded of and hence to
place trust in that which is believed. The definitions here are
easy enough to understand, but the difficulty for some men comes
in reconciling different Scriptures concerning faith. For example,
Paul says: "But to him who does not work but believes on Him
who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness"
(Rom. 4:5). And, James says: "But do you want to know, O foolish
man, that faith without works is dead" (Jas. 2:20).
Paul and James seem diametrically opposed to some men who suggest
that the epistle of James should be removed from the Bible. But
a close examination of the texts reveals that Paul and James are
teaching the exact same thing in different ways. In Romans Paul
uses the word "works" to represent works of law (Rom.
2; 3:19-20, 27-31; 4:13-16) whereas, James uses the word "works"
to represent the obedient works of faith (2:1, 14 ff).
Although men have wrangled over the relationship of faith and works,
Paul concisely states their relationship. To the Ephesians he says:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not
of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone
should boast. For we are His workmanship, crated in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk
in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). And to the Colossians Paul says: "In
Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without
hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the
circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you
also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who
raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:11- 12).
Jesus also teaches us the relationship between believing (faith)
and works. He was asked: "'What shall we do, that we may work
the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the
work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'"
Those who believe on God obey God and hence do the works of God.
Those who do not believe on God do not obey and hence do not do
the works of God. And yet this does not dismiss the fact that we
are saved by faith through grace. In Romans, Paul expressly deals
with the fact that salvation by grace through faith does not give
one the license to be disobedient (sin) to God (Rom. 6:1 ff, 15
ff; 8:1 ff; 12:1 ff).
Therefore, Paul concludes: "So then faith comes by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God." Those who have the faith of
Abraham that is accounted for righteousness hear the word of God
and obey. Abraham's faith is exemplified in offering his son. Paul
says: "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten
son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,'
accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead
. . . " (Heb. 11:17-19).
Abraham did not understand how God could keep his promise if he
were to kill his son, but He believed God was able to do whatever
He said - even if it meant that God had to raise Isaac from the
dead. Therefore, Abraham obeyed God and offered his son.
Walking by faith is being fully convinced that God is able to do
whatever He promised - not wavering at the promises of God (Rom.
4:20-21). Therefore, those walking by faith obey God.