THE OLD PATHS

(Trumpet Ministries,Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

 

THE OLD PATHS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

When one reads the Bible, particularly the New Testament, he gains the feeling that what we call the Christian life or the Christian salvation is different from what the Scriptures describe. After thinking about this difference for some years I have come to the conclusion that we have created a plan of salvation that is not scriptural. I think the root of the problem is a misunderstanding of what the Apostle Paul meant by "grace." I think also that the philosophy of Dispensationalism, with its emphasis on a special "dispensation of grace" uniquely different from what is found in the Old Testament, has made a major contribution to the unscriptural beliefs and practices we see today.

THE OLD PATHS

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’" (Jeremiah 6:16—NIV)

When one reads the Bible, particularly the New Testament, he gains the feeling that what we call the Christian life, or the Christian salvation, is different from what the Scriptures describe. After thinking about this difference for some years I have come to the conclusion that we have created a plan of salvation that is not scriptural. I think the root of the problem is a misunderstanding of what the Apostle Paul meant by "grace." I think also that the philosophy of Dispensationalism, with its emphasis on a special "dispensation of grace" uniquely different from what is found in the Old Testament, has made a major contribution to the unscriptural beliefs and practices we see today.

I guess one of the main passages that started me thinking this way is found in the Book of Hebrews.

If you will turn to Hebrews 10:38,39 you will find the following:

But my righteous one  will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (NIV)

Martin Luther is reported to have been impressed with the expression "The just shall live by faith." This saying has become associated with the Protestant Reformation.

However, the just shall live by faith actually is an Old Testament statement.

See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith— (Habakkuk 2:4—NIV)

The unrighteous individual lives by his pride. The righteous individual lives by faith in God, the opposite of living by pride.

Today it seems to me the just shall live by faith has come to mean that the righteous person states his or her belief in Christ and then makes no effort to improve on imputed righteousness by attempting to live righteously. Thus the opposite of living by faith has become, not "accepting Christ"; or after having accepted Christ, ignorantly attempting to live a righteous and holy life as though such human striving were somehow part of salvation.

The idea is that if we believe the facts about the atonement we are living by faith. We need make no effort to live righteously because it is our faith (belief about Christ and His work) that saves us; and while we ought to live a godly life we must avoid the appearance of being "legalistic," meaning, one who views the keeping of God’s commandments as a necessary part of the new covenant. We are saved only by believing what we have been taught about Christ.

This wrenching of Paul’s doctrine of grace is not what Habakkuk meant. He meant the righteous live by bringing every decision to God rather than trusting in one’s own ability.

There is a deadly difference between interpreting the just shall live by faith to mean our behavior is not a critical part of our redemption, and interpreting the just to live by faith to mean we ought to be looking to the Lord for every aspect of our life rather than trusting in our own wisdom and strength.

This Old Testament expression is repeated three times in the New Testament. The third time is as we wrote above: "But my righteous one  will live by faith."

Then the author proceeds to define "God’s righteous one will live by faith." The definition is found in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.

When we study the eleventh chapter of Hebrews in order to gain an understanding of what the Bible means by "faith" we notice that the current understanding of "faith," which is belief in theology, is not mentioned. Also, the contemporary "go out and do great things for God and God will meet you" is not emphasized. The faith is that of love for God, the fear of God, obedience to God’s commands, and trust. It is an attitude toward God and His Character that is at issue. Faith is a personal relationship between man and God.

The remarkable thing about the definition is that all of the examples are from the Old Testament.

We see therefore that justification by faith is not a unique characteristic of the new covenant. No person under any covenant has pleased God other than by faith—even under the Law of Moses. In fact, according to the eleventh chapter, Moses himself and those who are listed after him pleased God by their faith.

But did not Paul argue that those under the Law sought righteousness by observing the works of the Law? Yes, he did. And the Old Testament teaches clearly that God viewed the person who kept the Law as righteous.

However, the behavior that brought righteousness under the Law of Moses was not the actual performance of the statute but the faith that prompted the performance of the statute. The faith of the believer motivated him or her to obey God.

Now God has changed the rules of the game. Instead of performing the rituals of Moses we are to repent of our former way of behavior, receive by faith the forgiveness of our sins, and then follow the Holy Spirit each day by faith as He transforms our personality.

The unique aspect of the new covenant is not that we are justified by faith, for no person ever pleased God apart from faith. The unique aspect of the new covenant is that the Son of God has made an atonement for us by shedding His blood on the cross. The operation of redemption has changed from obeying the Law of Moses by the determination of the natural man, to following the Spirit of God each day as the eternal law of God is written in our mind and heart.

I say all this because today we are perceiving the new covenant as something entirely different from the remainder of the Scriptures, different from all past covenants of God with man. This is a tragic error. We have lost the concept of what it means to be a man or woman of God. We have a light, frothy, Hollywood version of what it means to be born again, what it means to be a saint of God.

We have confused mental assent to the facts of the Gospel with true redeeming faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, when we add the super-grace and "rapture" notions we are not mentally assenting even to the correct facts. It is a deplorable, destructive condition that in some instances is producing people who do not know the Lord.

We need to ask God for the ancient paths that we may walk therein. Numerous believers are standing at the crossroads today. They are in the valley of decision because the Day of the Lord is near. They must pray carefully in order to perceive the path that leads to the Lord. The correct fork to take is not always apparent.

When we read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews we discover what it truly means to live by faith. It is a way of patient obedience to the Lord, often accompanied by suffering. We need to accept the discipline of patient suffering because America may well be heading toward severe problems.

The Christians are not being taught to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. In many cases they are not presenting their body to God as a living sacrifice that they may prove His will. Thus the "salt" of America is losing its flavor.

The American believer is not always given to understand that the Christian salvation, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, is a hope for the future. It is not pointed toward having a successful, pleasant life in the present world. If in the days to come we of America face great suffering, we may need to have a firm grasp on our hope of the coming of the Kingdom, rather than being completely occupied with how Jesus Christ is going to make us happy today.

We have lost the strength of the patriarchs and apostles and we need to regain it so we can stand and give a true testimony of Christ during the dark days ahead.

Why don’t we take a look at the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews and see what God says about how the just live by faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1—NIV)

Here we observe the futuristic aspect of true faith. It is a hope for the future. It is a certainty that the things God has shown us in His Word, and personally, will be given to us if we keep looking to Him and doing His will. This is how the righteous always have lived and always shall live.

Sometimes there is a long period of time between what we are hoping for in God and the fulfillment of our desire. It is during this waiting that the saints are formed. The individual who must have what he desires right now, and tries to use "faith" to get it, does not understand what faith is and will not make a success of the Christian life.

This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:2—NIV)

From the above verse we see that the saints of old were commended for their faith. This means God judged them to be righteous on the basis of faith. So the idea of being justified by faith is not restricted to the new covenant.

By faith we understand the universe was formed at God’s command, so what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3—NIV)

We live in a materialistic age. The increase of scientific and technological information magnifies the material world as being the only true world. It seems archaeologists and anthropologists are constantly coming up with fossil remains older than those already known.

The hypothesis of evolution is accepted by the majority as though it were a proven fact. It appears people do not want to believe there is a God. This bias probably is due to the concern that we will be held accountable for our behavior after we die. Such a concern is repugnant and frightening to those who wish to live in immorality. How could we otherwise account for the fact that intelligent people can observe the order of the created universe and then believe there is no God?

Yet we know mass is a form of energy and its appearance of size and weight is only the characteristic of molecules. In other words, the physical world is an illusion. It has no genuine reality. We do not actually "see" or "hear" anything. Seeing and hearing are phenomena associated with the nervous system. But, as every experienced saint knows, there are such things as actually seeing and hearing in the spirit realm.

The heavens declare the Glory of God for He brought them forth by His Word. God is real and the spirit world is real, and these are the source of the material world. Faith informs us of this.

To look at the starry heavens and say there is no God; to see the order of nature and the physical world and say there is no God; to study the history and present personalities and behavior of human beings and animals and say there is no God: such intellectual positions cause us to wonder at the individual’s sincerity!

The true world is the invisible spirit world. It is noteworthy that in numerous instances educated people are turning to metaphysical principles and spirit guides to help them through life. Thus they are not even true to their own profession of agnosticism. They are willing to live with such inconsistency. They choose to live in their pride rather than by humble faith in God.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4—NIV)

When God wishes to teach us concerning the meaning of "the just shall live by faith" He begins with the second man born on the earth. God spoke well of Abel’s offerings because Abel had faith. Any offering we make to God must be given in faith or it does not please God. Abel still speaks to us. Every true witness of God speaks eternally.

God did not honor Cain’s offering for the reason that Cain’s heart was not in his religious service. He did not have faith in God, he just went through the motions.

Bitterness, envy, slander, and strife abound in the Christian churches. The believers must be taught that God is not accepting their worship. They may be accurate in their doctrine concerning Jesus Christ, but, as in the case of Cain, God is not pleased with them. They do not have the kind of faith that brings justification, although they may have been told they do.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5—NIV)

We are not told how Enoch manifested his justifying faith. My guess would be that his mind was on God continually. Really, the core of faith is love for God and trust in Him.

So often today we hear of formulas by which people hope to get something from God. If we do this, that, or the next thing, God will hear our prayers. God will give us power, money, success, peace, or whatever.

There is a better way. It is to love God without thought of how we will benefit. God is our Father. We love our Father because He is our Father, not because we get something from Him for loving Him. This is ridiculous!

All creatures were made for God’s pleasure. Our life is significant only if we give God pleasure.

God is leading us to perfect joy. But sometimes this necessitates prolonged periods of denial or even suffering. It does not matter when or where we receive joy. We know we shall from the unchanging Word. But it does not matter too much. What really is important is that God is pleased with us.

If God is pleased with our life, whether or not we have had much joy, then our life has been significant.

But if God has not been pleased with us, our life has not been significant even though it has consisted of one joyful incident after another.

The thoughtful believer does not want to come to the end of his sojourn and discover his time on earth has been without significance.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6—NIV)

As I said previously, a contemplation of the physical world speaks loudly and clearly of the existence of God. It is not difficult to choose to believe there is a God, in light of what we know of the world. If we do have difficulty believing in God, we can pray for faith that there is a God. More than that, we can do what Jesus said in the Gospels; for the Lord stated if we did what He said we would know of His doctrine, whether He spoke as a man or from God.

In fact, this is how I started my Christian life—praying for faith and then doing what Jesus said in the Gospels. That was over fifty years ago, and now I am convinced. There is no way in which the events of my life could have occurred randomly. The probability of this is too remote to be worth considering.

As for God being a rewarder or those who earnestly seek Him, this is a crucial understanding, especially for young people. With all the allurements of the present American culture, it is difficult for a young person to turn away from the seductions of the world and take the time to seek the Lord. He or she must be absolutely convinced that joy will be found in prayer.

I talked to the young people of our church last night. I told them that if they seek the Lord until they strike fire they will be hooked on prayer for life. Walking with the Lord is not a religious duty that only the most dedicated can endure. It is a joy that far, far outstrips drugs, alcohol, sex, material wealth, success in business, marriage, or anything else available to the American young person.

It is not a case of suppressing all of our desires and performing our religious duty. It actually is more joyful to seek the Lord than to live in the tumultuous, chaotic, destructive passions of the flesh and soul.

And during the times it is not joyful to walk in the discipline of Christ, we have the certain knowledge that our life is significant and that is it going toward a worthwhile objective. Also the fear of death is removed. It really is the only life worth living in spite of Satan’s attractions.

Satan does not have much to offer the young, only remorse and disease, and who wants these? But Jesus offers life, love, joy, and purpose. Yet the youngster has to make up his or her mind to go the way of the Lord. It is a race, a fight all the way.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7—NIV)

God spoke to Noah. Noah did not set out to "do great things for God." Much of what is called faith today is actually presumption—a challenge to God to do thus and so. There is no trace of presumption in the faith of those listed in Hebrews, Eleven. But there is holy fear. And there is obedience.

Those who have faith in God and obey Him always condemn the world. The sinners of America seek to persuade others to imitate them, attempting to show that their "alternative lifestyle," while it may appear disgusting, is acceptable and desirable.

It also has become fashionable in America to scorn those who practice and preach righteous behavior. This is taking place in the government as I am writing (1998). The idea is that those who advocate righteousness are really hypocrites and if we investigate them thoroughly enough we will find they also are living in sin.

The truth is there have been and yet are genuine Christians in America. They are not perfect. They make mistakes. Sometimes they yield to sin. When they do they repent, make things right, and continue the struggle against sin. These are not hypocrites. They are those whom God considers righteous.

There are a lot more such people than the wicked would have us believe.

Noah was not perfect according to our standards today, but God called him righteous. Righteousness is not an arbitrary standard, it is the Divine decision to be pleased with an individual’s attitude and behavior regardless of what covenant he or she is under.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8—NIV)

Again, Abraham was not trying to do great things for God, as we are exhorted to do today. God called Abraham from one of the more sophisticated cultures of his day—Chaldean Ur. Abraham, because of his faith in God and trust in God, obeyed the Lord. Sometimes—not often—but sometimes we have to do what we feel God is asking of us even though we cannot understand what is going on. This also is the faith by which the righteous live.

Abraham lived as a sojourner in Canaan. In the future Israel will possess the land of Canaan and the resurrected Abraham will be present with his family. But Abraham was a stranger in Canaan during his lifetime on earth, as were Isaac and Jacob also.

Very early in Church history the unscriptural concept came into existence that our destination as Christians is Heaven. Actually our destination is not Heaven, although we may go there after we die and before the Lord returns to earth.

Today we are wandering in our land of promise, that is, in the earth and among earth’s peoples. We are in this world but as yet not of this world. We are pilgrims and strangers in a place we afterward shall receive for an inheritance.

In the Day of Judgment we will find ourselves among people we have known all our life. They either will accuse or else excuse us, depending on how we have behaved.

One day we were traveling with family members across the country. We drove day and night, taking turns at the wheel.

When we were close to our destination we were, of course, dirty, rumpled, unshaven. We stopped at a restaurant to get something to eat. We did not want to appear in public in our disheveled state but there was little we could do about it.

We said, "They will never see us again." So we went in and ate.

We may think what we have done in secret will never be known, but it shall. What has been whispered in the ear shall be proclaimed from the housetops.

Perhaps the people in the restaurant will never see us again, but the people among whom we have lived shall see us again in the Day of Resurrection.

Let us therefore live in such a manner that we will not be raised to "shame and everlasting contempt," as it says in the last chapter of the Book of Daniel, but as one who is respected and loved.

Today we are wandering in a land that one day will be given to us. We can lay hold on this understanding by faith. Those who are part of the Body of Christ have been promised the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for their inheritance.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. (Hebrews 11:9—NIV)

Abraham was an exceedingly wealthy man, having hundreds of servants and much livestock. Also he was acquainted with the architectural forms of the culture of Egypt.

Abraham was well able to build a palace for himself similar to the palace of Pharaoh. But Abraham chose to live in a tent.

The Christian who is living by faith does not consider himself or herself part of the present world. Jesus was not part of the present world and we are not to be part of the present world.

Much of today’s Christian literature is slanted toward improving our life in the present world. While some of this literature is helpful, we need to be careful that we do not lose sight of the fact that the present world is temporary and the Gospel of the Kingdom is a hope for relief at the coming of the Lord. If we do not have this viewpoint we will not be able to stand if America suffers problems as severe as is true of other countries of our day.

How many Christians in America could stand if we were to experience the suffering true of our fellow believers in Sudan, in China, in Egypt? We simply must return to the idea that we are only sojourners here and our treasures are in Heaven. If we have this kind of faith we will stand in victory even though our families are tortured or killed. After all, we are not God’s favorites. God loves the Sudanese Christians just as much as He does us.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10—NIV)

I cannot tell you how Abraham knew about the new Jerusalem, but it is obvious he did.

Abraham was not looking forward to going to a city in Heaven. He was waiting for the new Jerusalem to come to the earth.

Notice the following:

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14—NIV)

The writer of Hebrews was not waiting to go to Heaven. He (or she) was waiting for the city that is to come from Heaven to the earth, that is, the new Jerusalem. The idea that Heaven is our eternal home is not found in the Bible. It entered Christian thinking perhaps as early as the first century; at any rate from very early times.

Our faith is not looking to go to Heaven to make our home there. Our faith is waiting for the heavenly city, Mount Zion, to come to the earth.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he  considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11,12—NIV)

There had been great tension in Abraham’s life concerning having an heir.

Then God spoke to Abraham. But twenty-five years elapsed until there was no possibility that the birth of Isaac could take place apart from a Divine miracle.

So part of the faith by which we are justified consists of waiting for God to fulfill His word, in the meanwhile judging God to be faithful. Faith has a lot to do with our opinion of God’s Character!

The prolonged waiting period must have been quite distressing for Abraham and Sarah. But when the promise was fulfilled it was majestic. Not only was Isaac born, but also a number of other children (by Keturah)—and this from a man past the age of having children. Also, Abraham is the father of all who are part of Jesus Christ. Since it is entirely possible that Christ will continue to increase throughout eternity, the promise will be fulfilled literally that Abraham will have descendants as numerous as the stars and the grains of sand.

The same is true of us. The fulfillment of the promises God makes to us in His Word and also personally will be fulfilled to the same astonishing extent, that is, if we wait personally for God and do not settle for an Ishmael of our own making.

I think it happens that Christians dash forth today to try to do something for God before they get their marching orders from the Lord. We must keep in mind that the promises were fulfilled through Isaac, not Ishmael.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13—NIV)

"These people were still living by faith when they died." When it says in Thessalonians that the "dead in Christ shall rise," I do not believe this means all who have taken the "four steps of salvation" shall rise. I think "the dead in Christ" refers to those who were still living by faith when they died.

This may not be true of all the believers of today who die. They may never in their lifetime as a churchgoer have really lived by the faith of the patriarchs and apostles, only as a dutiful churchgoer who never did follow the Spirit of God; who never really did deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. Rather his church membership was similar to that of belonging to any other social club or group. A new creation never truly was brought forth. Following Jesus cost him little or nothing.

The believer who has denied himself for the Gospel’s sake is the one who has died in the faith. His life has been pointed toward the reward that will be his because of setting aside all for the Lord. Those who have been thus disciplined know well what I am talking about.

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:14-16—NIV)

This passage would appear to support the idea that the patriarchs were looking for a country in Heaven. As we pointed out, up to the time of the writing of the Book of Hebrews the people of God were waiting for the heavenly city to come.

The new Jerusalem indeed is a better country. God is ashamed of people who think the present valley of the shadow of death in which we are attempting to survive is the best God can do. The person of faith in God sees the world as it is—a cursed, demon-oppressed lesson to the heavens and the earth of the folly of disobeying the Father. Indeed, our Father has no intention of leaving us in such a cesspool. The world we are looking for will surpass our most extravagant dreams.

We know in our heart this present world is not our home!

The individual who is in love with the present world may "accept Christ" in order to escape Hell, but when the path becomes difficult he or she will draw back. By looking back the individual will demonstrate that he is unworthy of the Kingdom of God.

The person having true faith fixes his eyes on Jesus at the right hand of God and then presses forward, presses forward, fighting his way toward the glory he believes is ahead of him. He does not shrink back, knowing that such an action displeases God and will lead to his destruction.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, Even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring  will be reckoned."   Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. (Hebrews 11:17-20—NIV)

The test of Abraham’s faith in God remains one of the most remarkable episodes of all history. It was a test that reminds one of the even more severe test of the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Abraham was not born again of the Spirit of God. He did not have access to the Mercy Seat in Heaven as we do. The marvelous gifts of new-covenant grace we enjoy today were not his. Yet he passed a test so severe that many Christians would have found it exceedingly difficult if in fact they did finally pass it.

My personal opinion is that not all Christians are tested with the same degree of severity. Those appointed to the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom will drink the cup of suffering and be baptized with the fire by which God’s kings are baptized.

Abraham’s calling to be the father of those who believe in Christ is one of the highest in the Kingdom. And so his test was one of the most severe in the Kingdom.

Yet the faithful Abraham trudged up Mount Moriah with an unswerving step with the lad beside him.

If we are to have a high calling in the Kingdom we shall be tested. Perhaps God takes a gamble when He puts the hammer to His diamonds. I do not know. God said to Abraham, "Now I know you fear God." Was God sure before?

It is of note that Abraham surrendered Isaac when he knew the promise of God could be fulfilled only through Isaac. So it is with us. We absolutely must surrender to God all He has promised us, all we are having faith for. We are to let it all go, understanding that if the promise is from God He is able to raise the fulfillment from the dead.

Jesus said to Peter, "Satan has desired to sift you as wheat but I have prayed that your faith does not fail."

There do come times when our faith is tested to the limit. If we really love God, we say with Peter, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. You are the Christ."

There is no place else to go, and so we hang on hoping that some day we will see the light again

But if there are flaws in our faith, these kinds of extraordinary trials will bring them out and the individual will vacillate between staying with God and fleeing in order to save his life.

Can you see that living by faith is not referring to the contemporary head belief that passes today for saving faith?

We need to ask God to help us return to the old paths that the godly always have walked. We have a manmade Gospel that makes little demands on the believer. We are not requiring of people that they really come to know the Lord. We tell the seeker to take the "four steps of salvation," and then to go out and get other people to take the four steps of salvation. The end result are churches full of spiritual babies who have heard of the Lord Jesus Christ with their ears but have never met Him personally.

We are due for a reformation of Christian thinking in America. Our nation has rebelled against the Lord, despising the faith of her founders. God is not pleased that we have turned our back on Him. I think we are about to be taken to be chastened severely.

If we are to stand and bear witness of Christ in the days of trouble we must have more than a head knowledge of Christ. We must be living in Him, seeking Him each day, looking to Him for every decision, and doing this not because we are trying to get something from Him but because He is the Master and we are the slave. He has purchased us with His blood. We belong to Him with every thought we think, every breath we take.

We must learn to live in Jesus, looking to Him always, leaning on Him instead of on our own wisdom and strength. This is what it means to live by faith.

We can go through the contemporary Christian motions and not have enough genuine faith to please God.

The ancient paths are narrow, thorny, filled with obstacles. Only a determined individual will walk in them. The saints of old have left bloody footprints in the snow. We will meet them someday and we do not want to be ashamed in that we have sought an easy path of fun and material success in the present world.

As we stated previously, "they will see us again." The way we have served God will be visible for all to examine.

We are righteous and living by faith only when we go through the present life as a pilgrim and stranger, looking for the city to come whose foundations are Jesus Christ. It is only then that we can take our place along with Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and the other heroes of faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1—NIV)