Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I had an opportunity to read Hebrews 11 today. It’s a well known chapter as most of you know. It’s often called “The Faith Chapter” or sometimes the “Faith Hall of Fame.” As I was reading today, a couple of thoughts came to mind.
First, as I was reading I thought of a story I heard a long time ago about faith. It seems there was a man who ran a rope across Niagara Falls. As a crowd gathered, he asked the crowd if they believed he could tight rope across the falls. The crowd shouted and applauded indicating that yes, they thought he could complete the feat. He then walked across and back again. The crowd went wild! Then the man then asked if any of them believed he could do it it again carrying one of them on his back. Dead silence. No one wanted to put that much trust in the man. I don’t know if this story is true, but it is a pretty good illustration of true faith. Faith means nothing unless there is action behind it.
Hebrews 11:1 gives us a description of how faith works. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). What this says is that faith is not blind optimism or an intellectual acceptance of some doctrine. Nor is it some conjured up feeling of “I hope so.” Warren Wiersbe says that, “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstance or consequences.” Think about this sentence for a moment. Faith has three elements to it. God speaks through His Word and we hear. We than act on that Word without matter to the consequences. Mere assent is not enough. We can say we believe in Jesus all we want, but unless we act on what we say through obedience, we don’t have real faith. James 2:19 says that even Demons believe in God. But verse 20 goes on to say that faith without works is dead. In other words, we need to believe that that the tight rope walker can carry us safely across Niagara Falls and then climb on his back. That is real faith.
Hebrews 11 then gives us the “faith hall of fame.” It names several old testament people and gives examples of how they demonstrated their faith. By faith, they were able to do great things like shut the mouths of lions, escape death and put armies to flight. it’s easy to get excited about reading how God honors faith in this section. But then we come to verses 36-38. Here some nameless people are mentioned who demonstrated true faith, but look what happened. Some were mocked, imprisoned or put to death by various methods. But these unnamed people obtained God’s approval. The world had a low opinion of them but God approved them and said the world was not worthy of them. Why, because true faith believes God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Why were the people mentioned in the hall of fame able to do what they did? Because they looked to the future. True faith allows us to do that. The Bible says that Abraham was able to follow God because “he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” he was looking and believing for what was not seen. He also knew that he was a stranger and exile on the earth.
One more quick story to close. Most of you know who Martin Luther is. He was a Catholic monk who was credited with starting the Protestant Reformation. It is said that it started when he was reading the Old Testament reading in the book of Habakkuk. He read one day in Habakkuk 2:4,”But the righteous will live by his faith.” This is also quoted in Romans 1:17. Just those few words spoke to Luther in such a way that he was able to stand up to the Catholic Papacy totally on his own. At one point he was excommunicated from the church (a really big thing in his day). But his stand brought many people back to Biblical Christianity and to true salvation.
Friends, we must live by faith. Let me close this with another quote from Wiersbe,”the writer of Hebrews made it clear that faith is a very practical thing (Heb. 11:3), in spite of what unbelievers say. Faith enables us to understand what God does. Faith enables us to see what others cannot see (note Heb. 11:7, 13, 27). As a result, faith enables us to do what others cannot do! People laughed at these great men and women when they stepped out by faith, but God was with them and enabled them to succeed to His Glory. Dr. J. Oswald Sanders put it perfectly: “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.” God bless you!