What does it mean to live from faith to faith?

woman praising

There have been many things that have transpired in my life I could not control and would not have chosen for myself. Likewise, there are many things I have hopes for concerning my and my family’s future. With that, I’m sure I could draw on a lot of new age spiritism (which is actually old-age) and ideals of attracting goodwill towards my life by “being good” and by speaking my desires into existence. Actually, a lot of people I have heard use this language profess to know Christ. There’s this ideal that if I speak it enough, if I think happy thoughts, if I can just conjure up enough good energy, then I can produce the things that I desire in life. There’s this notion that I am so powerful that I can alter my future by just changing my thoughts to be happy and positive. Some call it the law of attraction, but some Christians equate this kind of thinking to having “faith.” In other words, this perception of faith has become the basic requirement for producing the kind of life we want – free of struggle, free of pain, free of consequences. If I just believe, I can have it. 

Growing up in Alabama, in the deep heart of the South, we heard these words a lot in church: “just have faith.” So much so, that when something bad happened in my life, I attributed it to my lack of faith. My faith wasn’t strong enough; that’s why my Dad kept leaving. My faith wasn’t strong enough; that’s why I didn’t get the job that I wanted. My faith just wasn’t strong enough. That’s why when God told me to pray over my daughter in the womb prior to me knowing her diagnosis, she was born with Down Syndrome. Everything that happened in my life that was not a part of my plan was due to my lack of faith. How detrimental is this? It is extremely detrimental to the heart, to the mind and to the emotions for me to believe that things so far out of my control could be attributed to this notion of my not having enough faith. 

Because of this misconception of faith, I went to one of the lowest points in my walk with God. I questioned His existence and I refused to move forward with Him until I had answers. I had elevated my mind to this place of power that was never my place to steward to begin with. And when everything seemed to fall apart, I took on a shame that was never mine to keep. 

I’m reminded of when one of my closest friends and I met at a local restaurant to discuss this idea of “faith.” Of course we went to the book of Hebrews to look for some answers. After all, it is known as the “book of Faith.” I was actually shocked to find out that so many times in the Bible, this word has more to do with “steadfastness” than with desirable outcomes. What I learned on this trek for understanding was that faith is actually a gift from the Lord. It is something that is given to me through Him and not something that I have the power to conjure up for Him. In other words, it is not my job to produce faith in my life, it is my job to live in a way that would increase the opportunities for the Lord to grant me with a greater measure of faith or “faithfulness” to live for Him. 

This brings me to Romans 1:17:

“For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written. ‘The just shall live by faith.’”

Lo and behold, again this faith word jolts me and causes me to ponder on what Paul means with this phrase “the just shall live by faith.” What does it mean to live from faith to faith? As I looked this up, I came to learn that this idea of living from faith to faith is deeply connected to our foundational understanding of the gospel. In the previous verse, Romans 1:16, Paul talks about the gospel as being the “power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” and that, in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. 

Faith to faith. This phrase here means living from faith in a way that produces more faith. See, it takes a steadfastness to believe the Gospel in the midst of suffering and unfavorable circumstances. To think that believing the gospel should produce the absence of suffering is to miss the whole beauty of the gospel. Faith is not the eight ball of Christianity; rather, faith is a by-product of presence. We only need to position ourselves to behold Him more. The more we reflect on the finished work of Christ and receive His goodness, His faithfulness, His strength, and His love, the more compelled we are to give our best effort to reflect that same steadfastness. In other words, the more I behold the history of His faithfulness to me, the more that informs my choices for how I live my life and, in turn, the more steadfast (or faithful) I become. This is what it means to live from faith to faith. 

I want to end with this encouragement. Whatever yoke of performance that has held you in a state of condemnation because you felt like you had to be a “good Christian” and maintain this image of what walking in faith looks like….release it. Let it go. Let’s take our eyes off of our own deficiencies and put them on the one who is the Perfecter of our faith. We can trust that He will finish the work that He has started in us. 

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