Faith - a way of life
Another month is gone. I have been reading the books of the Minor Prophets lately. They were an interesting bunch of people. Yesterday and this morning I have been reading Habakkuk. I often share this joke: Who is the prophet that advertises coke a cola? Everyone looks at me and no one can answer. The answer is “have a coke”, meaning Hab a kuk). My children always force themselves to laugh at my cold jokes.
Anyway, Habakkuk complained to God and God responded. The issues were: Why didn’t God purge His people (the Jews) and restore their righteousness? How could God use the Chaldean's (Babylonians) who were more wicked than the Jews? God’s response was that He would punish them too. This did not fully satisfy Habakkuk. Of course Habakkuk was confused, just like us human beings in the 21st century. But this was resolved. Habakkuk found out that God’s response to evil was only of secondary importance.
The most important is the vindication of God’s character and His covenant with His people (1:13). Thus Habakkuk, through his ‘argumentative experience’ with God, gained a deeper understanding of God’s sovereign character and a firmer faith in Him.
In Hab.2:4, the word “proud” refers to the Chaldean's. Actually, the passage introduces the ‘marks’ which distinguishes between the wicked and the righteous at that time, regardless of ethnic origin. These two contrasting characteristics is so obvious today. The proud trusts in himself while the just lives by faith-“the just shall live by faith.” This was the heart of Habakkuk’s message to trust God (2:4).
Now, Apostle Paul quoted this verse in Rom.1:17 and Gal. 3:11. to emphasise the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In other words, we were declared righteous because of our faith in God, that is, at that moment, when we put our trust in Christ. The writer to the suffering Jewish Christians quoted it as well, (Heb. 10:38) stressing that believers (those who had been justified already) needed to remain strong and faithful in the midst of affliction, trials and challenges of life. There is no conflict in the interpretation of these verses. It simply means that both Habakkuk and the New Testament references goes beyond the act of faith to include the continuity of faith.
Let us be reminded as Christians that faith is not a one-time act, but a way of life. Paul said it, crystal clear, in Colossians 1:22-23, “ But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant” (NIV). What a great explanation! Those justified by faith (in the moment of salvation), must continue in the faith.
Hebrew 3:12-14 says similar thoughts, “12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
We find that Habakkuk realised that God was not to be worshipped merely because of the temporal blessings (some Christians do that) He bestowed, but for His own sake (3:17-19). Let us worship God for who He is, He is no other, He is separate, His glory He gives to no one. This is our God, even the God of Habakkuk. Rom.5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
All by grace and by grace alone through faith alone. It does not matter how big or small your sins, you can be declared righteous (your legal position and pardon) before God, because Christ paid it all on the cross. You are forgiven! You are pardoned! It is a Gift! God bless.