What does faith mean to us? Take a few minutes to define it for yourself.
For me, faith means that when I have no clue what’s going on, I can trust that because God created it all, and because he is sovereign, that he does know. It means that although I screw up, God is faithful. I can trust him in any situation because he loves me, and because he is perfectly holy.
Faith, according to God’s word, is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are not leaping into the dark. We are not simply taking a gamble. We are telling the Creator of the universe that we love him, and that we believe and trust that Jesus is able to save us from sin. We know, because of the Scriptures, that Jesus is who he says he is, and that we can trust him. God didn’t ask us to repay him on our own, he didn’t tell us to come up the mountain. He is faithful when we are not…he provided the way back to him. And our faith in him is strong, and we can believe it, because we can see him all throughout creation and in our lives. Faith is not just jumping and hoping you won’t fall on your face. It’s believing in the power of God Almighty.
Look at the examples of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and others. What do they all have in common? Obviously, they all had great faith, but there’s something else there too. Look at verse 13: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Verse 16: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
These Old Testament men and women of faith were not focused on this world. At all. They were looking forward to a future hope, and a future home, with God. They had been told promises from God, but their focus remained on the life after this one. Abraham never really saw the nations blessed by him, or his amazing number of children. Moses never entered the Promised Land, he simply saw it from afar.
I believe these people were content. Why? Because they knew that it wasn’t that God had been unfaithful…in fact, I think they realized that God’s promises to them were meant for the generations, and they were willing to be his vessel to accomplish those goals. Another reason I believe they were content is that they knew where their home was, and they knew it wasn’t here on Earth.
They had that conviction of things not seen. For Abraham, it didn’t matter that he had no clue where he was going, because in verse 10, it says, “He was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” He was okay not knowing where he was going on Earth because Earth was not his home.
They must have known that God had a better plan than they did. Verse 40 states that “God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” God used these Old Testament prophets and characters to bring about that better plan. They didn’t all directly see those promises, but they had faith that God had used them nonetheless, and that future generations would be blessed by those promises. And indeed we are. How incredible it would be to see the expression on Abraham and Moses’ face when they’re told that because of their faithfulness, because they didn’t see all the results of that old covenant promise, because they trusted that God had a greater plan, God brought about a new covenant. They looked forward to a greater hope, beyond the promises of the old covenant, and how awesome it would be to see them react to that new covenant. That new covenant, that greater plan, is Jesus. Because of God’s sovereign choosing of their lives, and their faithfulness to God, our Lord brought about the most important event, person, and message in the history of man.
Because of faith in the sovereignty of God, and because of God’s love and mercy towards us, we now have a greater hope, an unchanging hope, an eternal hope…and his name is Jesus.
That hope wasn’t brought about without suffering. Verse 37, talking about God’s chosen messengers, “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.” Jeremiah and Isaiah suffered brutal deaths because of their faith. Verses 24-26: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” How was it possible for these men to do these things? Because they were focused not on this life, but on the next.
Like Moses, they were looking to the reward of heaven. They realized that although this life may be taken from them, nothing and no one could take away the hope they had in God. And today, nothing, no one, no circumstance, NOTHING, can take away what we have in Jesus. Our savior is good, is he not?
So now we know that our home is not here. It’s in heaven, and if this world beats us down for our faith, we have hope in God, and in his faithfulness to us. Jesus alone gives us that hope, and he alone gives us eternal life. The Old Testament characters mentioned in Hebrews 11 realized that nothing else mattered but God, and that if they didn’t fully and directly see and receive the promises of this life, that 1) God is faithful to the promises, regardless of whether they’re still breathing or not, and 2) God has something even better. What is that something better? The first 10 chapters of Hebrews gives us a great picture of what it means:
Jesus is Supreme. By Jesus, God created the world. Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Jesus has made purification for sin. We are all sinful, and deserving of death. But, he suffered death for all that would believe on him. God, who set Jesus as the founder of our salvation, who sent that cornerstone, made him perfect (perfectly able to take away sin) through suffering.
When we come to Christ, we become joint heirs with him. We become dearly loved children of God! Jesus is able to give us right relationship with God.
Jesus is our great high priest. Because he was tempted and never faltered, he is able to help those who are being tempted. He is constantly interceding on our behalf. God appointed him as the great high priest, one who would never fail. God preserves us through Christ. We persevere because of this.
Hebrews 6:18 says that “it is impossible for God to lie.” We can rest assured that God is faithful, even if we are not.
Christ died once for all, and so we cannot lose our salvation once we truly come to him.
We are no longer under the law, but under grace! We strive for holiness, and pursue Christ, but obedience comes naturally. We no longer have to worry about upholding every single law, for Christ has done it. This should compel us to follow him in all ways.
God works to accomplish sanctification in us through the Holy Spirit given by Christ. Christ’s work saves us, God’s will is to sanctify us. God is faithful to finish what he starts in us.
We can live by faith and walk in the Spirit, having full assurance of our faith because of who God is. Not because of us, but because of Jesus’ amazing work and love for us. Because of God’s incredible mercy towards us, and his divine character. It is so incredible.
We can rest, and have peace, and hope, knowing, that one day, we will spend eternity with Jesus. We will forever be in the presence of God, no more separated by sin or pain or death.
Wow. That is an awesome hope. That is true faith, to know God and to live, not for this world, but for the next. To do things and make decisions in this life that impact eternity. And no matter what, trusting Christ in everything, and always making the commitment to follow God. We know where we’re going, and there is no reason to fear. Jesus has paid it all, he has done it all, he has saved us. May we worship him, and live a life that exalts and glorifies him through our unshakeable faith in God alone.