The Bible is the best-selling book in history with estimated sales over five billion. But, can you name the best-selling book of all time, written by a human author? Neither Hemingway, Clancy, Mark Twain, J. K. Rowling or Stephen King wrote it. It never appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list, because it pre-dated that newspaper by 300 years.
Would it help if you knew it was written by a man who truly walked by faith? Remember: the Prelude to walking by faith is personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Then, following saving faith, the walk of faith begins–the Practice–by trusting the Lord daily and seeking to please Him in your life. As you live your life in faith, by convictions founded on biblical principles, you begin a life-long process that, at times results in suffering, but always ends in glory.
The second best-selling book of all time is “Pilgrim’s Progress.” One hundred thousand copies of this book were in print by 1692 and millions have been printed since. This book is an allegory of the Christian life, written by John Bunyan (1628-1688).
John Bunyan and his wife were destitute and penniless, living in Bedford, England. He was a tinker, a tinsmith who traveled, repairing household utensils. John came to faith in Christ in his early 20’s and afterward became a preacher of the gospel. But because of persecution in those days, he was imprisoned for 12 years, for preaching without a license. If he would have just promised not to preach, he would have been released, but by faith he adamantly refused to disobey God’s command.
Walking by faith is not easy. Neither does it instantly follow saving faith. Walking by faith is just that—“walking”—a process that requires direction, discipline, action and time. But walking by faith through difficult times is rewarding, as Peter wrote, “you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). If John Bunyan had not been imprisoned, he would never have written “Pilgrim’s Progress” – the book that is called “the second-best book in all the world.”
However difficult it is at times, walking by faith is something God desires from His born-again children. Jesus expected such from His disciples on the ship in the storm, because He said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Their fearful actions betrayed a huge lack of faith—a faith Jesus expected from them. And, as you grow in your Christian life, He expects you also to walk in faith.
God’s Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11—the short biographies of many of His faithful servants—reveals how much God values His children who walk by faith. The inspired record shows an amazing pattern as the noun “faith” is followed by various action verbs that reveal how faith became visible in godly activities in the lives of these Bible heroes.
Notice the actions produced by a life of faith:
Faith Sacrifices – Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice” – Abel’s faith was manifested in the sacrifice he gave (Genesis 4:4).
Faith Prepares – Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah…in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” – Noah’s faith was seen in the ark he built (Genesis 6:13-22).
Faith Obeys – Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham…obeyed by going out” – Abraham’s faith became visible when he obeyed God and left his homeland, following God’s command (Genesis 12:1-4).
Faith Blesses – Hebrews 11:20, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau” – Isaac’s faith was seen in his prophetic blessings of his sons (Genesis 27:27-29).
Faith Chooses Rightly – Hebrews 11:24, “By faith Moses…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Exodus 2:10-11). Though the riches of the Egyptian empire were rightly his, by faith Moses chose hardship with the people of God.
Faith Endures – Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Exodus 10:28). Moses endured Pharaoh’s attacks and Israel’s complaints by his faith in the unseen God.
Some who walked by faith won great victories…these “by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…” (Hebrews 11:33-34). But not everyone who walks in faith comes out victorious in this life.
Some who walked by faith experienced great sorrow… these “others were tortured, not accepting their release…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy)…” (Hebrews 11:35-38).
But the summary reads…“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us….” (Hebrews 11:39-40). Note it says, “ALL these” gained approval through their faith. “ALL” means those whose faith was victorious—and—those who seemed to suffer defeat – they all walked by faith – pleased God – and will yet receive their full reward.
We know that, “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The good news is that you can be saved by placing your faith in Christ—and you can please Him by walking in faith. And, then…God has something even better awaiting you in Heaven!