The Face of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. …And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:1-2,39-40

IMG_20150417_145046Faith Filled Friday

Good morning everyone! There is this new trend that has become quite popular called Faith Filled Friday. I’m not a big fan of hoping on the bandwagon but I like the idea of Faith Filled Friday which a lot of bloggers and vloggers use to post encouraging faith building devotionals. So I’m hoping on the bandwagon!

Hall of Faith

Last night as I was praying before I went to sleep I was thinking about the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. What better place to start a faith filled Friday post than the Hall of Faith!? One of the things I’ve always taken away from Hebrews 11 is how faith in application looked different in the lives of everyone mentioned.

The Various Faces of Faith

In the first 31 verses of Hebrews the writer mentions twelve specific people giving specific examples of what faith looked liked in their lives. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ mother, Moses, the children of Israel and Rahab. In each of these person’s lives you don’t see the same example given twice.

Then in verse 32 the writer gives groups seven more people together. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtah, David, Samuel and the prophets. Following this group he gives another list of 20 more examples  (depending on how you count them) and again with no two examples being the same. What does this tell us? Faith does not change in principle from one person to the next but it may change in application.

What faith in application looked like in Abel’s life is not what faith in application looked liked in Enoch’s life and so on and so forth. Faith in action in Noah’s life resulted in him building a boat. But faith in action in Abraham’s life didn’t require him to build a boat. It required him to leave everything he’d ever known, pack up his entire family, and move to some place he didn’t know. And on on we could go with the variances seen in each example.

The Common Denominator

While each example of faith in action is different they all have on thing in common. They all illustrate the writer’s opening argument that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen; and through our faith we gain God’s approval. I’ve heard and read a lot of different explanations of what Hebrews 11:1 means. It almost sounds like a riddle.

What in the world does it mean by the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen? How do you explain that, break it down, make it plain? We don’t need to! The author does it for us through all the examples given!

Take Abel for example. He had this hope that his sacrifice would be accepted by God. But it was more than just a vague hope. It was a concrete hope. He was certain that his sacrifice would be accepted by God. The assurance of the thing he hoped for was that his sacrifice would be accepted by God. And the conviction of the thing he could not see was that his sacrifice was accepted.

He could not litwrally, physically see with his eyeballs whether or not God had accepted his sacrifice. He couldn’t gaze into heaven and see God nodding in approval, “Yes. That is a good sacrifice. I like this one.” But… he believed. He had a concrete hope and a steadfast conviction of something he couldn’t see – that his sacrifice was accepted by God.

On and on we could go with each example given in Hebrews 11. Noah had a concrete hope and steadfast conviction of something he couldn’t see. That if he heeded God’s warning and built the arch he would be saved. Abraham had a concrete hope and steadfast conviction of something he couldn’t see. That if he left everything and followed God’s instructions he would receive what God had promised.

All of the 16 plus people mentioned in Hebrews 11 had a concrete hope and steadfast conviction of something they couldn’t see. And this concrete hope amd steadfast conviction in each of their lives called each them to certain applications and actions that was unique to their own life.

The Face of Faith in Our Lives

I believe the same is true for us. Faith in action in my life may not look like faith in action in your life. As Christians we all have the same concrete hope and steadfast conviction that Jesus is the Son of God and through Him we have forgiveness of sins. But I believe that faith in action will look a little different in all of our lives. That God calls each of us to a unique application of our faith. Or, to put it another way, that our faith compels each of us to a path unique to our own lives.

For example, my faith compels me to teach and preach and share my life and my walk with all of you. My faith compelled me to help my friend start The Way Ministries here in Rosenberg while his faith compelled him to start The Way Ministries. My faith compels me to be a part of this new ministry,  The Lion’s Remnant, in Dallas. While Darrion’s faith, the founder, compels him to recruit people like me to be a part of this ministry.

Some people’s faith compels them to be a part of homeless ministries, serve as ushers at church or on their church’s media team or simply to pledge their financial support to their church or some other ministry. While other people’s faith compels them to be missionaries in domestic and foreign lands building relationships with those who don’t know Christ and reaching out to them with the gospel.

Whatever the application of faith may look like there is no one application that is greater than the next. Abel was not considered less than Abraham because all he did was offer a sacrifice in faith while Abraham abandoned the comforts of his life to move to some place he didn’t know. But some applications might call for greater sacrifices than others.

I might not be called to lay down my life for the gospel. But the missionary I support who lives in the mountains of Mexico might very well end up with such a fate. One man may get to pastor a 4,000 member congregation and live on a comfortable income from the church. But another man might have to pastor a 30 member congregation and work a full time job to support himself, his family amd his church.

To make a long story short, the question I pose to you today for consideration is simple: What does faith in application look like in your life? Ultimately, that is a question to be answered between you and God. Is it serving in some small way at your church with minimal sacrifices or in some larger capacity somewhere else with maximum sacrifice? Or maybe it’s something as simple as your family. Only you and God know.

Joseph Sterling

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