Living by Faith in a Frightening World

 “but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
(Habakkuk 2:4 (ESV)

It is very troubling that on a day of such sorrow when we remember those lost on September 11, 2001 that protests and violence should erupt in Libya resulting in the burning of the U.S. Embassy and the death of our Ambassador, Chris Stevens.  For this week’s article, I wanted to share a portion of Martin Lloyd-Jones’ study from Habakkuk 2.  May this be a blessing and encouragement to you.

If we desire to be at peace within, in spite of what is happening in the world round and about us, the only way to do so is to understand this biblical philosophy of history which explains what is happening in the secular world and its bearing on the Church of God.  The essential principle is that history can be understood only in terms of God’s kingdom – that is, the rule of God in the world as a whole and including the Church.  All history is being directed by God in order to bring His own purpose with respect to the kingdom to pass.

This is No New Experience

We, in this twentieth century, have been foolish enough to imagine that our problems are exceptional and peculiar.  They are not.  We are experiencing only what God’s people have experienced many a time before.  It is well to remember that history repeats itself, and so get rid of that foolish, inflated opinion that we moderns have of ourselves.  Our perplexities are by no means new.

The Way of Reason and the Way of Faith

There are two possibilities before each of us as we look out upon the world today and ponder the future course of history.  I can observe and meditate upon what I see and then, after read what military and political experts, statesmen and others write, I can finally turn to my history books.  As a result I can make an attempt to draw my own conclusions and form my own opinions.  Surely that is why most of us read newspaper articles!  We say, ‘this man is an expert; what does he think about it?’  There were experts who said there would not be a war in 1939.  They claimed to have worked it out, and their considered opinion was that Hitler was unlikely to go to war.  Many people accepted this opinion and made their business or other plans accordingly.  They were governed by their own observations, and deductions, the application of common sense and a kind of worldly wisdom.

There is, however, another way of looking at things clearly taught in the Bible.  It is not based upon conclusions drawn from the number of military divisions a country has or has not, or whether the time has yet come for some country to strike or not.  The Bible simply states that a certain thing will happen!  It gives no reason.  It just says that it will happen because God says so.

The Necessity of Choosing

The lives of all of us are based on one or other of these two attitudes.  Either I take the bare Word of God and live by it, or else I do not.  If you protest against the idea that prophets can foretell the future, or that miracles and belief in the supernatural are unthinkable in a scientific, sophisticated age like this, you are just withdrawing from the godly way of life.  The biblical way is living by faith.  Faith means taking the bare Word of God and acting upon it because it is the word of God.  It means believing simply and solely because He has said it.  It means basing our whole life upon faith in God.

The choice is being forced upon us more and more.  What is the controlling principle in our lives? Is it calculation?  Is it worldly wisdom?  Or is it the Word of God, warning us that this life and this world are only transient, and that both are merely a preparation for the world to come?

The Absolute Certainty of the Destruction of Evil and the Triumph of God.

Everything that is evil is under the judgment of God.  The wicked may triumph for a while, but it is not going to last.  Their doom is sealed.  God is over all.

Nation after nation has risen only to fall.  We have lived through an era in which we have seen this very principle in operation.  And whatever may be happening in the world today, the principle is still operative.  Woe is declared upon the ways of all opposed to God.  They are doomed.  They may have great temporary success, and we must be prepared for that; but as certainly as their star arose it will go down.  The woe, the judgment, the doom of God upon the unrighteous is certain.

It is not for anyone to predict what is going to happen in detail, but we can be certain of one great fact, namely the ultimate triumph of God.  A day is certainly coming when ‘at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’  Certainly the earth shall be filled with the glory of God  The Evil One will be routed and cast into the lake of fire; everything opposed to God will be destroyed, and there will be a ‘new heaven and a new earth.’

What, then, is our final conclusion?  God forbid that we should trust, or commit ourselves to, any power other than God himself, to any idols man may set up, even though they be the British Commonwealth of Nations or the United Nations (and may I add, the United States)!  Put your trust in nothing of man, but in God alone!  Let us realize that He is there in the temple of the universe, God over all.  Let us silently humble ourselves and bow down before Him and worship Him.  Let us magnify His grace, His might, His power, His goodness, and in quiet peace of heart and mind and soul wait for Him.

From, From Fear to Faith; Studies in the Book of Habakkuk – and the problem of history. By D. Martin Lloyd-Jones (London, The Inter-Varsity Fellowship; 1967).

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