The Christian believes in a being he has never seen nor heard speak audibly; believes in a heaven whose whereabouts he does not know because it is not to be found on any map; and orders his life based on words he believes were written by the one he has never seen! What makes such a life possible? What enables the believer to relate with things that are not seen as if they were seen? The apostle Paul confirms that the Christian life is lived by faith from beginning to the end (2 Cor. 5:6–7). Non-believers on the other hand depend on their five senses as they go about their lives. They can only relate with things they can see and handle. They cannot relate with things spiritual. The Christian’s ability to relate with things spiritual as if they were material makes his life totally unique and sets him apart from the non-believer. When the Christian gives in to unbelief, his life becomes no better than that of the non-believer. For this reason, God abhors unbelief as we see from Scriptures like Hebrews 10:38. Let us now go on to see why it is so important for the believer to walk by faith and not by sight.

Definition and necessity

The Bible defines faith in the following manner; “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11.1, ESV).

Faith is essential if we are to relate with God at all (Heb. 11:6). After his resurrection the Lord Jesus rebuked Thomas for his failure to believe the news that he (Christ) had risen from the dead (Jn. 20:24–29, notice especially v.29). All the spiritual benefits that accrue to the believer are to be obtained by faith. Let us sample a few reasons why faith is so significant in the life of the believer.

  1. Salvation and assurance of salvation

The Christian starts his journey to heaven by faith. He is saved by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8, Rom. 1:17, 1 Pet. 1:8). Are you struggling with assurance of salvation? Perhaps you are looking for some tangible sign (a miracle or some material blessing promised by a “man of God”) to prove that you have become a Christian. Here is the starting point. Acquaint yourself with the gospel message and take your stand on it by faith alone.

  1. Facing affliction

Once we are saved the Bible does not promise an easy Christian life. On the contrary the Christian is promised a difficult journey. Consider the words of Paul and his companions in Acts 14:21–22. These difficulties will take a variety of forms—afflictions, trials, persecution and even chastisement. Faith enables the believer to handle the difficulties of life. It enables him to see God at work in the darkest moments in life. It enables him to be at peace even when the whole world is crumbling around him. The hymn writer, William Cowper talking about God’s mysterious ways of working in our lives puts it in this way: “Blind unbelief is sure to err; And scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter; And he will make it plain”.

A man called Job at one time lost all his possessions, all his servants, all his children, as well as his health. His wife who walked by sight thought life was no longer worth living and she encouraged him to curse God and die. But Job lived his life by faith. Read his response in Job 2:10. The apostle Paul, in Cor. 4:16–18, equally shared how faith in God enabled him to face various troubles in life.

  1. Contentment

The worldly person derives their joy and contentment in this world from material possessions and accomplishments. And so, they chase after more money, bigger and fancier houses and cars, designer clothes, the latest smart phones, better paying jobs, entertainment, relationships, alcohol, etc. When these things are lacking in their lives their happiness is gone. They are told that they lack these things because they have no faith. Really? But not so with the child of God who walks by faith. Read the testimony of the Psalmist in Ps. 4:7–8 and see also Phil. 4:11–13.

Walking by faith is not only the path to contentment but also an antidote to worldliness. Moses was able to turn his back on the pleasures of Egypt because, “he saw him who was invisible” (Heb. 11:24–27). The modern church is overflowing with professing Christians who are unlike Moses when it comes to their attitude to the pleasures of this world. They love the world and they are not heavenly minded. Here is the reason: Their lives are based on what they can see and touch. They are strangers to the life of faith. They cannot see and relate with the better but invisible world of God’s kingdom.

  1. Evangelism

Some Christians are reluctant to reach out with the gospel to their non-believing neighbours. One possible reason is that they are convinced their neighbours can and will never change. Although they themselves are a product of the gospel, they fail to believe that God is able to transform ruined lives through the same gospel that saved them.

God has made it clear that the gospel is his appointed instrument of saving human beings (Rom. 1:16). When faced with a hostile environment in Corinth, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Paul and encouraged him to continue proclaiming the gospel message and assured him of converts (Acts 18:9–11). Walking by faith will cause us to believe in the power of the gospel to save that drunkard or immoral neighbour or relative of ours.

  1. Missions

God, as the master of the mission field, will time and again call and send his children on missionary errands. He might call them to go to places they have never been to before. He might call them into situations where they do not know how they are going to survive. We have the classic example of Abraham in Hebrews 11:8–10.

Why is there such a critical shortage of missionaries and pastors in the land? Could it be that Christians are not prepared to walk by faith but would rather walk by sight? Could it be that before answering God’s call to full time ministry many a Christian wants to be assured of where the salary is going to come from, how big and consistent it will be, and if their current comfortable life styles will be maintained? From time immemorial it has been men and women who chose to walk by faith and not by sight that have carried on the work of missions.

  1. God’s work in general

Not only the work of missions but God’s work in general requires that we walk by faith. The Bible teaches us that God has given gifts to all his children by which they should serve him. Your gift might be working with children or young people, or it might be administration, or hospitality, etc. Whatever it is, it requires walking by faith if it is to grow and flourish to its God intended height. God might call us to explore unchartered territory in our respective areas of giftedness. Only the Christian who walks by faith will step out by faith in obedience to God’s bidding. Our various church ministries shrivel and die not primarily for lack of resources, but for lack of God’s servants who are prepared to walk by faith in running them.

  1. Giving to God’s work

Another area that suffers greatly when Christians do not walk by faith is the area of giving towards God’s work. This is because many Christians give with their eyes firmly fixed on the economy, on the depreciating kwacha, on their income, etc. They are convinced that they must first meet all their financial needs and only give to God what is left over. They are convinced they must only give from the monthly income of their formal job. Other incomes from other sources are theirs to keep because they flow out of their own initiative. Such a spirit has produced many Christian robbers!

The Christians who walk by faith are first and foremost convicted that God will take care of their needs. They are convinced that giving to God’s work is not a loss but a gain. This was the spirit exhibited by the Macedonian believers whom Paul commended in 2 Corinthians 8:1–5.

  1. Prayer

Prayer is directly dependent on faith. In prayer we speak to a being that is invisible, we believe he hears us, and that he answers our prayers. This is what we see in the Lord Jesus (Mark 11:22–24).

Our church prayer meetings are by and large deserted. Reason?  Many a believer are faithless and their absence from the prayer meeting betray their doubting God’s ability to answer prayer.

  1. Waiting upon the Lord

Many times the Christian will not have the things that they desire in this life. They will be in need of a job, they will be searching for a life partner, they will be seeking for a solution to a vexing problem, their health will be failing, and they will desire wholeness of body, but nothing will seem to be happening. They will at such times be tempted to question God’s love and goodness. What should they do? The Scriptures give us the answer— wait upon the Lord (Isa. 40:29-31)! Waiting upon the Lord requires that we walk by faith and not by sight.

  1. Preparing for eternity

The Christian lives in the world but is not of the world (John 17:16). The Christian is a pilgrim on the way to the Promised Land. By faith he longs to reach his eternal home. He is persuaded that this world is not his home. This attitude comes out clearly in Hebrews 11:13–16. By faith these men and women were able to prepare for eternity. A Christian’s life that is not preoccupied with preparing for eternity betrays a serious lack of faith.

Conclusion

Think of all the areas of a Christian’s life that we have considered in this article. Which aspect of the Christian’s life does not require walking by faith? None. Absolutely none!  May we then be encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight! The Word of Faith movement in general, will at best do the opposite of that. It will make us live by sight and not by faith. Be watchful and alert.