My righteous one will live by faith

Funeral Service of Nelly Khumalo

Aunt Nelly Khumalo has come a long way with our family. She worked for the Mthiyane family when my father, Heino Stegen, began holding services in a garage at their home. Aunt Nelly gave her heart to Jesus and then felt a calling to go into full time service for God. She was faithful in her work when she went to Durban and cared for a widowed missionary, as her companion and nurse, until she too entered eternal rest. Nelly would do more than she was asked, keeping an eye on the house and property that had become like her home, ever watchful that nothing should go wrong there. She had eyes to see things and a caring heart.

As her older sister related, they suffered severe poverty during their childhood and during the last few years of Nelly’s life, she suffered with ill health.

A person should be grateful for good health in their youth because one never knows the future – one may be led by someone else in old age and infirmity and be taken where one does not want to go. Once a person has suffered, he does not speak as he used to, he counts his words. In the prime of life one says much but with little thought to the consequences. Live in such a way that you will not regret how you have lived or spoken. Learn to appreciate those who suffer because of ill health or age. Appreciate their efforts and their perseverance to be faithful to their Master’s call. God’s word says that He has chosen those who are weak and of little significance – the despised of the world – to reveal His glory.

36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:36-39

Why do we believe? What is the reason for faith? Isn’t it this that our Redeemer and Saviour should be pleased with us and experience pleasure because of our lives? Is it not Him whom we are serving? We are not serving ourselves or people.

But my righteous one shall live by faith. This word sounds like it comes from the book of Habakkuk 2:4 that speaks about the Righteous One – the Christ but it seems to be directed at us who ought to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus and made righteous in God’s sight. Are you numbered amongst those? Can you say, “Lord, may I be numbered amongst those who are the righteous ones? Lord, cleanse me fully, totally, that my life can be transformed and I will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.” If you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness the Father will have pleasure in you.

“Faith is not a onetime experience, but an ongoing trust and confidence in Christ.” Phil Newton.

This text quotes words from Habakkuk 2:4,5 where it describes the proud who do not live by faith, the proud who are self-sufficient and who fail to realize the necessity of patient endurance and trust in God.

Are you self-sufficient and in need of nothing? “I have achieved,” you say. Don’t you have a cry to God, “Oh God, you need to address me as Your righteous one”.

A righteous person sees that he must needs be declared righteous and be justified by faith.

John Owen observes that “What is principally meant here is that characteristic of a righteous person that is the opposite of pride and unbelief, which makes people shrink back from God. The righteous one is humble, meek, sincere, submissive to God’s will, waiting to do his wishes. Sincere faith will carry people through all difficulties, hazards, and troubles, to the certain enjoyment of eternal blessedness.

Are you prepared to pay the cost? Is your heart ready? Have you humbled your heart?

“Many people are sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong.” Charles Swindoll.

Here the danger is …and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. Is there an area in your life in which you are shrinking back? In the past you were all out for your Lord. You gave your strength, your abilities and your love for the eternal blessedness. Check yourself to see if there is a shrinking back? Cry out and ask, “God are you pleased with this shrinking?”

This morning I made some sermon notes using my pen. I began writing but soon the ink faded out. I took a second pen but the ink also ran out. My trust was in the pens that they would write so that I could remember. So I started on another page with a third pen but I couldn’t finish the sentence either. Are you a pen in God’s hand? Jesus wants to write His story on your life but you are shrinking from it and He is unable to complete His story in you.

Paul said, 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Hebrews 10:32

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:23-31

Do you understand why Paul has this passion and yearning? 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. Hebrews 10:35

In Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy could say: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus… They had the assurance that they were about Christ’s business.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Philippians 2:12 There is no place for pride but only fear and trembling lest one shrinks back, lest one is disqualified. 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:14 – 18.

Isn’t this righteousness put into practice what we read here? Paul was ready to be sacrificed for those he had won over through his preaching, through the power of the Gospel of Christ. But if you shrink back, ‘My soul will not have pleasure in Him’.

What blessedness it is to pass from this world not having shrunk back. As we stand next to a grave, we can rejoice because Aunty Nelly has died in the faith, she was faithful and did not shrink back. We can believe with all our hearts, she brought pleasure to our Redeemer and God.

Let us encourage one another as we walk and labour for our Lord – eternity is at stake.


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