Faith to Sight


By Dr. Ken Matto


(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  2 Corinthians 5:7


When I was a young Christian I asked a person why they needed tongues and he responded to me “That’s evidence of the Holy Spirit.”  Basically, what this man was telling me was that he needed to hear the tongues as visible and audible evidence that the Holy Spirit was indeed dwelling a person.  If a Christian is to walk by faith, then they are to possess the evidence which is unseen.  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)  Real faith in the Christian walk is having faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, both of whom we have never seen but the fact that we place our faith in them is the evidence that we are truly saved.  True faith does not walk by sight as the Scripture verse above states.


There seems to be a transition happening in Christianity where we are going from faith to sight rather than remaining in faith.  Back in the book of Habakkuk we read a similar verse as we found in 2 Corinthians 5:7.  Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.  (Habakkuk 2:4)  The just are those who have become saved and we are to live by the faith of Christ which is imputed to the believer upon salvation.  When a person becomes saved, they are then indwelled by the Holy Spirit and at the moment of salvation, he implants into them the fruit of faith.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  (Galatians 5:22) 


I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?  (Luke 18:8)  The Lord Jesus Christ asked the question that when he returns to earth will he find faith?  It seems that faith is starting to wane within Christianity and the Christian now demands visible evidence instead of living on faith.  During the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic Church was at the height of its power, illiteracy ran very high so to fill that gap the RC Church had created all kinds of visible religious artifacts such as the crucifix, relics, scapulars, religious robes, clerical regalia and others which were supposed to increase the faith of the parishioners.  Then when Martin Luther was doing his studies in the book of Romans he read Romans 1:17 and claimed that is was like all Heaven opened up to him.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  (Romans 1:17)  Romans 1:17 is on the same theme as 2 Corinthians 5:7 and Habakkuk 2:4.  The just shall live by faith.  It was then that Martin Luther realized that the life of the Christian is to be lived in faith without any visible artefacts which instead of building faith, neutralizes it.


For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  (Romans 8:24)  The principle in Romans 8:24 is also carried over into the realm of faith.  If a person hopes for something and sees visibly what he is hoping for, then how is that hope?  It is the same thing with faith.  If I have faith in God but then I have visibility to something I am having faith for, then how is that faith?  As Hebrews 11:1 puts it, for the Christian, faith is the evidence of things unseen.  I don’t need to see a dead image on a cross to know that Christ died for me because I have the inward witness to that via the Holy Spirit who is invisible yet he motivates me to Christian service.  I don’t need to see a vision or hear someone speak in tongues, which is nothing but gibberish, or hear someone prophesy because the Holy Spirit indwelling me gives me the understanding of Scripture and through that my life can be guided to obedience thus furthering my faith in Christ.


The Christian’s sight is supposed to be our faith.  We see things through the eyes of faith without requiring physical evidence.  Whenever we require visible or audible evidence then basically it is Christianity according to the senses in which the Bible will normally take second place.  As Christians become more educated, education is now beginning to supplant faith and that exchange is very dangerous because we are to live by faith and not by sight.  Here is a good example of that.  In 1666 the great London fire occurred and one of the casualties of that fire was that all the notes of the translators of the King James Bible were destroyed.  So now no one really knows all the inside stories of the King James translators and their methods of translating the Bible.  Yet, we know the King James Bible or Authorized Version is the most accurate and accepted translation of the Bible and we have accepted it on faith that it is the preserved word of God.  Now enter the modern versions where the creators of the 300+ versions all have to have the manuscripts visible and whenever the archaeologist’s spade turns up another set of manuscripts, they are included such as P127, which was found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, in the United Bible Societies 5th edition which claims it has an effect upon Acts 10-12, 15-17.  The place the manuscript was found makes it Alexandrian in origin, more gnostic corruptions.  When you use a modern version you are walking by sight but when you use the King James Bible you are walking by faith and fulfilling the requirement of the true believer. 


In the hymn “It is Well with my Soul” the sixth stanza begins “Oh Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight.”  That day is coming and our faith will become sight on the last day or it becomes sight the second of our physical death.  Modern Christianity with all its requirements of sight is taking us back to the Middle Ages when there is no faith just visible signs that do not increase faith instead nullifies it.  Faith and sight are incompatible as one displaces the other.  Either you walk by faith or you walk by sight. There is no middle ground.  The word “faith” is found in only two places in the Old Testament and 245 times in 229 verses in the New Testament:


And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.  (Deuteronomy 32:20)


Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.  (Habakkuk 2:4)


Notice in Deuteronomy 32:20 that those who have no faith are considered to be froward which means “perverse or disobedient.”  So those without faith are considered to be unbelievers.  When a Christian demands sight and not faith, they are acting just like an unbeliever who must have evidence or they will not believe. 


In Habakkuk 2:4 God makes two contrasting statements in this verse.  The first part refers to the Babylonians whose arrogance has elevated their own pride which goes against living a godly life.  The word “upright” carries with it the meaning of “straight or right.”  The second part of that verse is directed at Habakkuk and to the rest of us.  Habakkuk was to have faith in God that at the appointed time the invasion would occur.  He was to have faith that the whole situation was under God’s control.


Going back to the man who told me that tongues was evidence of the Holy Spirit we find that he was wrong because the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is a changed life not some outward manifestation of tongues or signs.  The New Testament uses the word “faith” 245 times in 229 verses which means the normal Christian life is a life of faith.  In the Old Testament faith was not required because God was very visible to them so they had to live a life of obedience according to the law.  God was visible by means of the ten plagues of Egypt, the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night, the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, the visible ten commandments, Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Temple, the many military victories, Lot’s wife who became a pillar of salt, the destruction of the empires of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, etc.  So in the Old Testament the Israelites saw the protecting and judging hand of God very visibly.  This does not mean that there was no one in the Old Testament that did not have faith but it was a very few as written in Hebrews 11 but every true believer has been given faith through the Holy Spirit. 


After the cross many things changed.  No longer was the keeping of the law required for the true believer, the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. denoting the end of the Mosaic system since grace was the only way a person could become saved because Christ fulfilled the law and now there was no need for anyone to follow the law in obedience when Christ did that for them.  After the cross, the true believer now lives by faith and not by sight.  Here is a great example of living by faith:


{1} And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.  {2} And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.  {3} And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.  {4} And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.  {5} When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.  (Mark 2:1-5)


This narrative has to be one of the greatest examples of faith.  Four friends of a paralytic wanted to see their friend healed and they all believed that Jesus had the ability to heal him.  Since the crowds were so great they were unable to get through so instead of giving up, they took the roof apart and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus.  Then the Bible states that Jesus saw their faith and saved him and also healed him.  The key here was that the faith of the friends was so strong that it became visible to the Lord.  He saw the outgrowth of their inward faith believing the Jesus could heal him.  They got more than they expected because a life of faith yields great rewards.  He not only got healed from his paralysis but he became saved because his sins were forgiven and without any ceremony or sacrifice according to the law.  The Christian life is a life of faith.  Back to our Reformation Verse.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  (Romans 1:17)  Notice it states that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith which means that the Christian life is a life of going from faith to faith without fail.  Every part of the Christian walk is ordered by faith and sight does not play a part in it.  After the cross all visible elements were removed and the true Christian lives from faith to faith.


{6} But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,  {7} Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?  (Mark 2:6-7)


Notice who opposed this great lesson of the visible faith of the four friends?  It was those who were still walking by sight according to the law.  This is because faith negates sight and sight negates faith.  The Scribes were still tied to the law and were unbelievers and therefore the enemies of grace and faith.  Any Christian who demands visible evidence of any kind is, at that moment, an enemy of faith.  World religions go from sight to sight which means work to work and since there is no work anyone can do to gain salvation, they are, in essence still trying to keep the law which has been abolished in Christ.  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;  (Ephesians 2:15)



There is definitely a transition going on in Christianity and that instead of living by faith we are transitioning to live by sight.  It seems that we will not believe unless we see it right in front of us.  The Christian life is to be lived in faith but not reckless faith where a person tempts God such as standing in the middle of a busy highway and claiming they have enough faith that no car would hit them.  That is not faith but foolishness.  The faith we have is the day to day faith living the Christian life properly without any foolish elements.  The Holy Spirit gives us the faith to believe God and that is how we progress each and every day in our Christian lives by increasing our faith as we live by faith.  Faith is increased by exercising the faith we have and as we exercise it, it grows.  So as a Christian do not demand sight but conduct your life in faith and eventually you will see the results of your faith but in God’s timing and method.