The Scriptures make it clear that we are justified by faith. (Romans 3:28; 5:1.) Why does God set such a premium on faith? Why does He reckon us righteous on account of our faith? Why does He justify by faith rather than by one of the other graces? Why not by virtue, patience, meekness, gentleness, humility; above all, why not by love? What is there in faith that gives it such value in God’s sight?
First of all, let me say that faith is the root of all the other graces, and it is in faith that they have their origin.
If, in our hearts, we have true faith, the manifestation of all the other graces will naturally take place in our conduct. Our lives will be, or will become, characterized by virtue, patience, meekness, gentleness, humility, and love. If we have in our hearts a living faith, we have in us the beginning of all the other graces; we have in us that which is already working with them and which, in due time, under the guidance and by the power of the Holy Spirit, will produce them all. But, if it were possible for our experience as a Christian to begin with any one of them, even love, or with all of them put together, without their root of faith being in us, they would be without hope of reaching maturity. They would inevitably wither, when tried by some fiery trial or test.
The apostle Peter brings this to our attention in 11 Peter 1:5–8. Here he shows the well-balanced condition in which a true Christian character matures. The Greek word epichoregeo means “to furnish besides, i.e. fully supply, (figuratively) aid or contribute.” In other words, “With your faith supply virtue; and with [your] virtue knowledge; and with [your] knowledge self-control; and with [your] self-control patience; and with [your] patience godliness; and with [your] godliness brotherly kindness; and with [your] brotherly kindness love.” (11 Peter 1:5–7.)
We are not to first mature faith and then to our matured faith add virtue (or fortitude) and then to our matured fortitude add knowledge, and so forth. The word, epichoregeo, is much more vital than add. The faith that we bring to the Christian life is to contain in itself the seeds that will produce all these graces. As faith grows, they will grow.
When a great trial comes into our lives, when we are taxed with some unusual circumstance or called upon to share in the burdens and sufferings of Christ, we can be as certain as were the disciples that the surest way for us to be ready for the task and for the strain for which an experience brings us is to have our faith strengthened. We must believe more, if we would do more. Our rest in Him must be more dependent. We must experience a calmer and surer trust, so we can be more effectively used in the Saviour’s service.
Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: email@example.com, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.