Thursday, August 30, 2007

Faith (part 5) - evidence of things not seen

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Things not seen, are realities that are here and now. It may also refer to past realities, in v.3 the Bible says: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." The Creation account happened and we know this is true because God told us so, and very plainly in His Word (Gen. 1). Faith completely believes God even in the face of fickle science. There are spiritual realities that are present with us even though we may not physically see them. We cannot see how God forgives sins, but we know, through faith that if we confess and forsake our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. We may not see how Jesus Christ intercedes for us, but we know that He does because the Bible says so. We may not necessarily see it, but we know that every spiritual blessing comes from God and that He daily loadeth us with benefits, why because the Bible said so. Jesus proclaims a blessing to those who believe on Him despite not having seen Him (John 20:29). The Bible is full of things not seen. And faith relates to those things, by forming within, or that faith itself becomes to us a certain conviction of matters not seen. We need not see it to believe it, rather we read it and believe it. That is we read it in God's Word, and we know we can believe it to be true.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Faith (part 4) - faith is the substance

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

The word 'substance' in this passage has four main connotations - the last one is my favorite.

A. Faith is the foundation upon which we can build our hopes.

B. Faith is the ‘title-deed’ or the guarantee of all our future hopes. (this only belongs to believers – not unbelievers)

C. Faith is the assurance that God will always come through for us. (Phil. 1:6) – there are no disappointments with God.

D. Faith allows things hoped for to subsist. Through faith, we can live as though we have those things now. Since we are future citizens of Heaven, we can through faith, live as though we have a little bit of Heaven on Earth. We can and should live for God because we have all eternity to worship and serve Him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Faith (part 3) - "things hoped for"

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Herews 11:1)

In Hebrews 11 we are given the only attempt in all of the Scriptures to describe faith. The author also illustrates how faith operated in the lives of the Old Testament believers. He was writing to a body of believers who were struggling with such strong persecutions and some were in fact turning away from their profession of faith. Today many Christians do not know or even forget the importance of the role of faith in everyday life to the point where they too are abandoning what they once believed. I trust that as we look at this passage your faith would be strengthened, and that as we serve the Lord, we may not forget that it takes faith to please God.

When the Bible speaks of 'hope' as in this case, it is not referring to something that has possibilities, or chances of either happening or not happening. The point is Bible hope is a confident or assured or guaranteed expectation. Because God said it, you can guarantee it is going to happen. Faith therefore relates to future realities which we can fully or confidently expect to happen. Here are some examples in the Bible:

1. In Acts 23:6 Paul speaks of the 'hope and resurrection of the dead.' Every believer can look forward to enjoying life after death.

2. Galatians 5:5 tells us of the 'hope of righteousness.' One day, we will be made completely right with God. One day, we don't have to deal with our sinful flesh.

3. Titus 2:13 we have the 'blessed hope and glorious appearing of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.' We will meet Him in the air, He will gather us at the rapture of the saints, and we will forever be with the Lord.

What a wonderful prospect of the future! Faith sure takes away all of my fears. We know that these things are going to happen simply because God said it, He is not a liar, therefore it will come to pass.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Faith (part 2) - Faith relates to 'things.'

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1)

Faith deals with 'things.' This means that faith deals with 'matters' both hoped for, and unseen. We can say then that faith also deals with realities. Faith is far more practical than our flesh would have us to believe. Some say, rather foolishly, that faith is blind, sorta like taking a step in the dark (I think its a 'stab' in the dark - but anyway, the point (punny) is that it is dark). God's Word, which both forms and informs faith, provides the light so that no one has to take a step in the dark. God wants us to deal with reality, and so He gives us faith and wants us to exercise faith by trusting Him and His Word. God's Word is the true guide. Psalm 119:105 declares: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:130a "The entrance of thy words giveth light;" Praise God He did not leave us in the dark.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Faith - What it is and what it does (part 1)

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Four introductory considerations in regards to faith.

1. Faith is formed by God's Word - Romans 10:17
2. Faith is informed by God's Word - Although faith is personal, it is not subjective.
3. Faith believes God completely or entirely - All of the Bible is to believed. All of it.
4. Faith exercises trust in God. Faith simply put is trusting God and His Word.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Philippians Study (part 6) - 'with' (Salutation concluded)

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" (Phil. 1:1)

There is a work for all Christians to do particularly members of the church along with their pastors and deacons. Some think that ministry is exclusively the work of the pastor. The Bible teaches us that we should come along side God's man and labor together with him. This takes both unity and humility (which I believe is the central theme of Philippians). I am sure there are men who creep into the ministry who have no business being in it. They aren't qualified to begin with, or they have been disqualified according to the Scriptures. But there are also men of God, who are laborers in the Word, who lead and feed the flock of God, who basically can make more money had they been in the 'secular field' but because they put God's call first, their very ambition is happily laid aside. Godly pastors are capable men, they aren't loosers. We have a responsibility to work 'with' our pastors and deacons.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Philippians Study (part 5) "bishops and deacons"

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" (Phil. 1:1)

The word 'bishop' (ἐπίσκοπος) means 'superintendent' or 'overseer,' it is refering to the office of leadership within the church known to us today as the pastor. In this case the Philippian church had a multiplicity of pastors, hence 'bishops.' Deacon (διάκονος) means 'attendant' or 'servant.' Deacons are special to the church in that they relieve the pastor(s) from many of the temporal duties that demand attention so that the pastor(s) can focus on 'prayer and to the ministry of the Word' (cf. Acts 6:4). Each office has its respective qualifications (indeed almost similar) except that the pastor has the responsibility of being 'apt to teach' (1 Tim 3:2) and that the pastor(s) is directly responsible to God for the church (Heb. 13:17). Paul recognizes these two offices. A church therefore is constituted with members and Biblically qualified officers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Philippians Study (part 4) - At Philippi

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" (Phil. 1:1)

Paul was addressing a specific crowd of believers in a particular location. Here, it is all the saints in the city of Philippi which is in Macedonia. The epistle expresses much of Paul's sentiments towards the Philippian church as he writes from a prison cell in Rome (perhaps under house-arrest). Acts 16 would be a good passage to read in conjunction to studying Philippians. The point is that God is interested in the church (a local assembly of baptized believers) and so should we. Furthermore, it is interesting to note, that God's special revelation (His Word) which was given through inspiration (here in this case, through Paul) had a particular audience (the church). I believe that God wants every Christian to be in a Bible believing church, where like the Philippian believers, they hear God's Word preached faithfully.