E35: Living faith, the birth of a song, a spirit you cannot do without
PODCAST: This week we invited guest Sverre L. Riksfjord to tell us more about a song he wrote.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Living faith is absolutely necessary if we want to be overcomers. What is the spirit of faith and how can we fill ourselves with it? This week, Milenko and Eunice invite a guest Sverre L. Riksfjord to share a song he had written and why living faith is a spirit you cannot do without. Listen to this episode and fill yourself with a powerful spirit of living faith!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 35: Living faith, the birth of a song, a spirit you cannot do without
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.
Milenko: Welcome to a new episode of the “Living the Gospel” podcast. I’m Milenko, and with me in the studio today we’ve got Eunice …
Milenko: … and a good old friend of mine, Sverre Riksfjord from Norway.
Sverre: Hello, hello!
Milenko: Very nice to have you, and welcome to the studio.
Sverre: Thank you!
Milenko: Eunice, what are we going to talk about today?
Eunice: Sverre, today we are going to talk about one of the songs you’ve written; it’s called “Living Faith.” It’s actually one of my personal favorites. My parents sang it when we were growing up at home and I love singing it to myself because it’s got such a powerful spirit of faith in it. We wanted to bring Sverre to our studio today so that we can hear more about the song, how it came about, and more about faith, or living faith. So, Sverre, the first thing: I’ve heard a little bit of the background of this song and it was some years ago right, that you were out in the mission field and …
Sverre: Yes, it has a special background, I have to say, because brother Aksel J. Smith – he’s one of the pillars in the church in Norway; he passed away in 1998 – but he was a very good shepherd and I loved him very much, and he was also a missionary from his youth. So, he asked Kaare Smith and myself to join him for a trip in Europe, and on that trip, he was speaking about Psalm 118, almost the whole trip. Psalm 118, that was, “This is the day that the Lord has made; and let us rejoice in it.” Let us draw a circle around today. And he was speaking “living faith” for almost three weeks. And I guess it was in almost every place we came – we went to Denmark, we went to Germany, we went to France, we went to Holland and Belgium and many countries in Europe, and almost everywhere he spoke about living faith, living faith, living faith. So, it came into my bones, so to speak. So, when we came home from that trip, Kaare Smith wanted to have a feast for some young brothers in his home, and he asked me, “Sverre, can you write a song for tonight?” And I said, “Why not?” So, I went down into the basement in his parents’ home and wrote that song. There was such a good spirit and words in that song, so it has been used ever since.
Eunice: So, that song kind of just came about; it wasn’t hard to write, or anything …
Sverre: I just opened up my heart for what I’d heard from brother Aksel J. Smith all these weeks, you see, and the words just came out. And I took an old, Finnish melody, put the words into it, and it just came about.
Milenko: This song, it’s been really special for me, personally. I got to know Sverre, Eunice, when I was eight years old, in 1976. So now you can calculate my age. But I remember then, for me, that song was really new. I remember Sverre singing it for us. This was a new song he had written just recently, and for me, that was very special, that I knew the author of a song, as a child. Later, when I became a youth, that song has been used a lot in our youth meetings and other meetings as well. For me that was a song that I often carried with me during the day as well, about living faith and as you said, to put a ring around “today,” that “today” is important, and what it meant for our daily life. So, I’ve been really, really thankful for that song. Even though I wasn’t on that trip with Aksel J. Smith, I feel that I’ve got that spirit that’s carried me through many times, and I think thousands of young people who know this song, they can say the same.
Eunice: So, we thought we’ll play the song for you guys now, and that’s “Living Faith” translated from Norwegian to English. And after the song, we would like to chat with you, Sverre, a little bit more about living faith and how that can change our daily lives.
“Living faith” Music Video
Milenko: Sverre, that was really special to listen to. What has this song meant for you personally throughout the years?
Sverre: When I think about every time I hear the song, the memories come up in my mind from that trip with brother Aksel J. Smith and Kaare Smith. It was a very special trip and a special experience. So, it comes up and when we sing it, and you sing, “Living faith, living faith, breaks the bands of unbelief!” They are tremendous words of hope; it is a prophecy about the future! And it is the only thing that can really help us in daily life, to have living faith in the word of God, and that breaks the bands of unbelief. So, to me, it means every time we sing that song, I remember that happening with the brothers and also that I really have to stand in that battle. So, it is a battle song, also for me.
Eunice: It’s actually amazing how singing songs of faith to yourself brings faith.
Sverre: It’s amazing! When you think about the songs in the church like brother Johan Oscar Smith, how he wrote the song, “Sing, sing of my Savior.” He used the songs to break through the unbelief especially. He wrote songs, war songs to young people, and he wrote songs so the young people could have something to sing, and singing is a tremendous power. So that song is also a help in the battlefield.
Milenko: Right, and it’s what you were telling us earlier, that this song was actually born from that spirit that was in Aksel J. Smith that you also took to heart on that trip, and I think that’s what makes it powerful, that it contains this spirit. It is about the spirit of faith.
Eunice: So, the spirit of faith, it’s a spirit that we can fill ourselves with, right? How can we fill ourselves with the spirit of faith?
Sverre: Like what we have now, we have heard that the Spirit of God is in the word. So, when you read the word, it comes into your heart, it creates a spirit. Therefore, it is important to be close to the word of God. And when we think about that song, it is concerning Psalm 118. If you read Psalm 118 and see the word of God, how clear it is. You sing that, you also feel that you are filled with the spirit and it was the promise Jesus gave the disciples – they who believe in Me, I will fill them with the Spirit, so out from his life shall flow rivers of living water. So, that is the same spirit in a way. So, to sing songs in your heart … It says also in Ephesians, we sing melody to the Lord, you know. Not only for ourselves but to the Lord, singing, and you should not give in before you have come to the place where you can sing songs and melody, making melody in your heart for the Lord. Then you have really come to faith and victory.
Milenko: A line in that song is, “Living faith gives power over the world to conquer.” What does that mean, to conquer the world?
Sverre: That means, the spirit in the world. “This is the victory which has overcome the world, even our faith.” It’s nothing else. We can try many, many ways to overcome the world … That doesn’t mean we should overcome something outside us but the world within us. There are many worldly thoughts and many worldly things …
Milenko: Right, and it’s all about egotism and selfishness and so on.
Sverre: Yeah! So, to overcome that, then you need that spirit of faith, to overcome the world. And if you can fight yourself through to come to living faith, you will feel that the world has left you. You haven’t left the world; you are in the world, but the world has left you.
Milenko: And then, we’ve become citizens of heaven with our vision upwards and forwards. So, that’s really … If we get hold of that spirit, then it becomes really a driving force in us, doesn’t it?
Sverre: Yes, but we see clearly in the Bible that the fire from the Lord did not come before the sacrifice was there. When Elijah put the sacrifice on the altar, then the fire from the Lord came. So, we have to be a sacrifice in order to receive that fire and that spirit, and it doesn’t come if you’re holding something for yourself. You have to give up everything.
Eunice: So, the spirit of faith actually helps us to conquer the world, which is actually helping us to conquer sin in our flesh.
Sverre: Yes, because if the world is still in us, it is not easy to come to faith, because you know … Let me take an example: You are putting a potato into the ground and you’re expecting in the fall that you can dig up and find many potatoes. But then, when you dug down the potatoes in the ground, and you go the next morning and take it back up again, dig it up again, and eat it, and then you have tremendous prayer meetings that God should bless the potato, and you know there’s nothing in the ground, nothing even there. So, it is not easy to keep the living faith that that potato will grow when you’ve eaten it up. So, you have to give something and let it be in the ground so that you can also understand that in due time, it will come back and up again.
Milenko: Right, because that faith follows God’s laws as well. It’s part of God’s laws, right?
Eunice: When you were talking about that, I just thought, for my own life, that that’s what faith means to me actually. I believe what it says in 1 John, that “we shall see Him as He is,” and that is my hope and I believe that. So, I work towards that goal and it doesn’t mean that tomorrow I’m a perfect person. But it’s like one battle, I believe that I’ll hold out in temptation and I’m patient and then I go through one battle and I go through the next one and the next one and I get to the goal. I can’t expect a next-day result, but I can expect to focus on “right now” and what I’m fighting right now.
Sverre: Then you speak about divine nature. But a disciple, he expects victory today. We have only today. We speak much about “today,” and the Holy Spirit speaks about “today.” It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 50 or 85; you speak about “today.” And if you can take faith, believe that today I have been doing my own will for the last time, today! That is the spirit of faith; you don’t reckon with what it has been in the past and you are counting up how many defeats you’ve had, but you believe in God, that He from now on … I have today and today I will use, and today I will have victory. Today I will never do my own will again – that is a complete sacrifice.
Milenko: And that’s the thing, because we are living now, we’re not living in the future, we’re … The past is gone. Right now, we have an opportunity, and to act now I need that faith, right? Living faith, as it says in the song, makes the battle of today our one concern, because it’s today. Tomorrow will also be “today” when that time comes, and then I have to also be in that faith, but right now, this is where I am.
Sverre: And if you think about the past, the accuser comes so easily into the picture and he tells you, “Oh yes but you have been falling so many times and you’re such and such,” and you can sense that you are coming into a spirit of unbelief, but that is not from God! That spirit is not from God! He speaks about the future, and if you have a heart for Him and come to Him with your need, He is always there to help you, today. And the accuser, you can ask him to go somewhere where he fits, because he has absolutely nothing to do with us. The debt is paid with His blood, He has forgiven us our sins and when we have confessed them and brought them into the light for God, then also, He is there to help us, today. So, it is so important not to think so much about the past. Don’t let Satan accuse you about your past.
Milenko: And another line of that song that I’ve really always loved, is one about Joshua and Caleb, and it says that “Joshua’s, Caleb’s spirit lives in us today. All the giants in the land we’ll quickly slay.” And that picture for me – and I think this is exactly why it’s also so living for young people – it’s one that you can really see before you. You see the giants, and that can be compared to the sin that we see in ourselves. I remember we had a podcast, I think our very first one, we talked about living faith, Joshua and Caleb, and how all the people, what they saw were these giants and fortified cities that were impossible to take. And Joshua and Caleb weren’t blind; they saw that as well, but they had faith in the living God and that made all the difference. Because when they saw those giants, they also saw God. And “God has given them to us as bread,” they said. It wasn’t like, “He will one day give us …” But He has given it. That was a fact, because of faith. And then it was just a matter of going and doing it. And this is what we were just talking about, about the battle of today; that’s the same thing. We have to believe that, that God has given us the victory but now I have to go and do it, and I can do that because I have that faith.
Sverre: And the thing is that, in a way, we have to be broken down, our confidence in ourselves. And when Israel, the Israelites looked at the giants, they compared themselves with the giants and they looked upon themselves as grasshoppers, and they were! But God didn’t care about what they were; He just wanted to bring them into the land. He had given a promise and that should be enough. But they despised God time and time again. How can you come into unbelief when you’ve seen the sea, the Red Sea, just parting and you could walk on dry land? How can you come into unbelief? It didn’t last more than a few days and they start to murmur again! So, they had an unbelieving heart and they did not want to believe! That was the reason why they couldn’t enter in.
Milenko: And that is what unbelief is, isn’t it? It’s pride, despising God. If you put it that way, it sounds terrible, but that’s exactly what it is. You despise God and His strength. Seeing the giants in the land and comparing myself to them as a grasshopper can sound humble, but it’s the opposite. Then I’m counting on my own strength and in my own strength I can’t defeat them, so I might as well give up, and I despise God. When I no longer count on my strength – that’s nothing to do with it, I’ve got God on my side – that’s what faith is, and then God can come in. “When I’m weak then I’m strong.” That’s what Paul means. When I come to that point where I’m no longer anything, that’s real humility. Then I believe in God and He gives me strength. So, faith, that gives power to act. That’s the whole point.
Sverre: So, for the young people to come to understanding that I have to be worked with; God has to work with me first … Because when I think about myself, I am somebody and I am able-bodied to do this and that, and God is working with you and He’s not giving you victory because then the predators would be too many, it says in the books of Moses. This pride is so deep within us, so as soon as it succeeds for me, I start to immediately, by nature, look down on the others who do not have victory. So, God has to break me down, so I come to a place where I feel I am absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. And from those ruins, you can start to build something, and God will build you up.
Milenko: That’s when you need living faith.
Sverre: Then you need living faith.
Milenko: Because then there’s nothing in yourself you can count on anymore. Then you have to go in faith, believe in God and be obedient to Him.
Sverre: I heard that when this song was translated to French, they sung it in Cameroon in Africa, and the first time the song was sung was in a funeral.
Milenko: Really? That’s actually very fitting.
Sverre: In a way, because when we die, we shall not see death. When we live and believe in Him, you shall even not see death. So, that is the spirit which is in that song also.
Milenko: Exactly. Like what Eunice was saying that “we shall see Him as He is.” That’s really what we believe.
Eunice: So, it’s amazing, the songs that we have that we can sing to ourselves. Sing when times are hard and sing when we are thankful and sing praise to the Lord, like you said. I’m just really thankful for the songs, and thank you that you wrote that song down in faith and that it’s been such a help to so many people over the years.
Sverre: It is a very … We can say it’s the center of the gospel because by faith, it says in Hebrews 11, by faith we understand. By faith Abraham sacrificed. By faith Noah built. By faith, by faith, by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. You can do many things … You try to keep yourself and do many things for God, but without faith it is impossible to please Him, because they who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder. So, it is so rewarding to seek God with one’s whole heart. So, that is important.
Milenko: If you had one more word to say, especially to young people about faith, what kind of exhortation or encouragement would you give them, Sverre?
Sverre: Faith goes together with patience. With faith and patience, Abraham inherited the promises. So, you have got faith; very well, be patient. And if it doesn’t succeed for you so quickly, be patient. Let God work with you. He is the potter; you are the clay. Don’t jump down but be peaceful there on the wheel, so God can take you and work with you. There was a song I learned earlier from a brother, “Have Thine own way Lord, have Thine own way. You are the potter. I am the clay.” So, to understand that God is working with me, then you have to, we can put it this way, we have to have patience with God as well, because He needs time. He doesn’t want to destroy us. So, He wants to break down all that self-confidence and whatever we have in us so He can really build an everlasting life within us.
Milenko: Faithful endurance and faith in God, and then the future is ours. I think we’ll finish this episode. Thank you very much Sverre for joining us. It’s been a real pleasure and very inspiring, very faith-strengthening.
Sverre: Thank you also and I’m thankful that I can be reminded of this song and the happenings behind that song – the trip with brother Aksel J. Smith and Kaare Smith in 1974.
Milenko: Fantastic. We’ll put in a link to a recording of this song so you can listen to it anytime, and I really encourage you to do it. Maybe learn it off by heart; then you can have it with you and sing it to yourself because it really is a help. I can testify to that.
Milenko: Thank you for joining us today. Remember to tune in next week and have a really good week. Goodbye everybody!
Lyrics to “Living Faith:”
Faith in Jesus fills us with the Spirit’s might—
Living waters from us flow with life and light—
Breaks with human reas’ning, all around us cleansing,
Crushing every hindrance that would bind us here.
Living faith, living faith breaks the bands of unbelief.
Living faith, living faith makes us bold and strong.
Living faith gives power o’er the world to conquer,
Carries us through everything that comes along.
Joshua’s, Caleb’s spirit lives in us today;
All the giants in the land we’ll quickly slay.
Hear the trumpets calling; mighty walls are falling!
Jordan and the seas roll back for living faith!
Living faith speaks only of the present time,
And to God’s good pleasure leaves the past behind.
Faith has for tomorrow, joy and hope, no sorrow—
Makes the battle of today our one concern.
Living faith professes far and wide its hope;
As it’s written, “I believed, and therefore spoke.”
We believe, so speak we, show forth Jesus boldly.
We will honor God with all our deeds on earth.
“Living faith” by Sverre L. Riksfjord, from the BCC songbook Ways of the Lord #412
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