Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Faith (part 6) - What it does

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

Faith is radical not stagnant. The rest of the chapter illustrates the various operation of faith in the lives of the Old Testament saints. The author had a goal of encouraging his audience to keep on keeping on, despite severe religious persecutions. The Hebrew Christians needed to be reminded of the insurmountable attacks their predecessors faced, and yet by faith, they were able to ‘please God.’ And so it is true for us today. We are faced with a varying degrees of attacks to abandon our faith, or even to slightly change the faith once delivered to the saints.

In chapter 11 we see:
By faith Abel offered…
By faith Enoch…pleased God.
By faith Noah moved with fear…
By faith Abraham… went
By faith Sarah conceived when she was past age
By faith Abraham…offered up Isaac…
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob
By faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph…
By faith Joseph gave a commandment regarding his bones
By faith Moses was hid
By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
By faith Moses forsook Egypt
By faith Moses kept the Passover
By faith the Israelites passed through the Red Sea by dry land
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down…
By faith Rehab did not perish with the unbelievers
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, David, Samuel, and the prophets...

The rest of the chapter states: Hebrews 11:33-39 "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:"

By human standards it would appear that they have failed, suffered severe loss, even losing their very lives. Yet the Bible, commends them for their faith. Sometimes doing God's will doesn't 'look good,' but faith allows us to please God despite our worse trials.

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