How to Grow in Faith

We are talking about developing A FAITH THAT WORKS, and how we can learn to GROW in that faith so that faith supplies us with comfort and confidence through the difficulities of life.

We know that Hebrews 11:6 says:

Without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please GOD, and we said:

FAITH is the basis on which God CHOOSES to interact with People.

and:

The BIBLE stress 4 essentials in which we must have FAITH:

1)  I must place my FAITH in God

2)  I must place my FAITH in Christ

3)  I place faith in Jesus’ crucifixion

4)  I place faith in the resurrection of Jesus

Now……. in several places in the Scriptures we have these words:

‘THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

I want to go to the context of these statements this morning to learn what it means that “the righteous man shall live by faith.

First, I want us to examine this statement in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk.

Hab. 1:1-4

1:1 ¶ The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.

2 How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.

3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises.

4 Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.

This book was written before the Israelite kingdom called Judah was conquered by the Babylonian army.

Habakkuk was God’s prophet, and, as God’s prophet, God opened his eyes and his mind so that he can see and understand what was happening in Judah.

Habakkuk talked about this in 1:1-4: it was not a pleasant experience, here is what he is saying:

“God, why haven’t you done anything?” 

“I see what is happening, and I try to get everyone else to see what is happening, but nobody is listening to me.”

“I have pleaded with You to help me, but You are not listening to me.”

“I see all the evil and wickedness, all the destruction and violence, all the strife and contention.”

1. “No one pays any attention to Your laws– Your laws are totally ineffective.”

2. “Justice is nonexistent–the wicked are always successful in perverting justice.”

God answers Habakkuk in 1:5-11. 

Habakkuk in 1:5-11

5 ¶ “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days– You would not believe if you were told.

6 “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs.

7 “They are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves.

8 “Their horses are swifter than leopards And keener than wolves in the evening. Their horsemen come galloping, Their horsemen come from afar; They fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.

9 “All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They collect captives like sand.

10 “They mock at kings And rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress And heap up rubble to capture it.

11 “Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.”

Here is what God is saying to Habakkuk:

1)  “I am in the process of taking action right now.” 

2)  “Just keep watching, and what you see will blow your mind.”

3)  “I am going to take action against all this evil and wickedness–I am sending the unstoppable Babylonian army to capture Judah.”

4) “You know the power and the earned reputation of this army.”

a. “No one can stop them.”

b. “Everyone fears them.”

c. “They are violent; they take too many  captives to count; and they destroy  everything that stands in their way.”

Now Habakkuk has an even bigger problem: “God, how can You possibly use these idolatrous Babylonians to punish Your own people–even if Judah is wicked?” 

You see his frustration in the next few verses:

Hab. 1:12,13

12 ¶ Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.

13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?

At first, Habakkuk complained because God was not doing anything.  

Then when God revealed what He was going to do, Habakkuk complained because God was

planning to do something unacceptable. 

Habakkuk was confused, and he knew that he was confused–he just did not understand.

“How can the holy, eternal God do this?” 

“You are too pure to give Your approval to those evil Babylonians.”

“How can you look with favor on such vicious people?”

“Judah is wicked, but it is not as wicked as these Babylonians who do not even acknowledge that You exist.”

“Will You stand by in silence and allow a horribly wicked people to swallow a people who are more righteous than they?”

“If You do, the Babylonians will be like idolatrous men netting fish.” “They net a big catch of fish and are elated.” “Then they declare their fishing net is their god and worship it.”  Judah is not that wicked.

Habakkuk knew that he had not correctly understood the situation, and he knew that he needed God’s explanation. 

And so. . . . In 2:1 he went up in his watch tower to wait for God to send him an explanation.

He was not comfortable asking God those questions, but God’s plan confused him.

God began His answer in 2:2-4:

Hab. 2:2-4 

2 Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.

3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

God says to Habakkuk:

“Write down what I am telling you; it will happen soon; it cannot be stopped.”

“Regarding the question of my using a more wicked people to punish a less wicked people, you need to understand this basic truth:”

“The pride of the Babylonians will become the source of their own destruction”.

“The righteous will survive because they are faithful.”

Here is the point we need to see, and see clearly:

The righteous in Judah would survive.

They would not survive because: 

They are the descendants of Abraham; those who did not survive were also descendants of Abraham.

They were given the promised land of Canaan; those who did not survive were also given the land of Canaan.

They have the holy city and have God’s temple; those who did not survive also had the holy city and God’s temple. They have a history of worshipping God; those who did not survive also had a history of “technically” worshipping God. Or all the many other things you could say about the past things that had been done in the name of God.

The righteous would survive because they would not forsake God; they placed their confidence in God. 

a. It was their faithfulness that made them righteous.

b. They were faithful because they placed their confidence in God, not in their lineage, not in their heritage, not in their deeds, not in their holy city, not in their temple, not in their acts of sacrificial worship.

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