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Some themes run so commonly through Scripture, that you seem to confront them everywhere. Faith is one of those. We talk about it a lot in these podcasts because it keeps appearing in the text. And our reading in Hebrews 11 today contains one of the most complete discussions of faith in the whole of the Bible.
What it says there is both very often misunderstood, and much needed.
I’m Reid Ferguson. Join me today on Through the Word in 2020 as we look at faith once more – along with Isaiah 20-24 where the disastrous result of abandoning Biblical faith is tragically set out. Proverbs 24 where what faith looks like lived out is put in very practical terms. And Luke 18:35-43 where blind Bartimaeus receives his sight by faith in Jesus.
Out of the more than 400 references to faith and faithfulness in the Bible, you would be hard pressed to find one more iconic and recognizable than Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Now there are 2 parts to this verse. The first, applies to Believers, and the second to unbelievers.
Faith, is the inward assurance of the Spirit of the certainty of the promises, plans and purposes of God. The Believer enjoys this aspect of faith. His or her eyes have been opened to the reality of God, the truth of His Word and puts trust in the free offer of the Gospel – resting there.
As for faith being the conviction or as the CSB puts it the “proof” or the King James has it the “evidence” of things not seen – this is the testimony of faith to the unbeliever. In other words, as they see Believers ordering their lives according to the assurance we have in God’s plans, purposes and promises – we give evidence to them of the invisible work of the Spirit in our hearts. They get concrete evidence of the things not seen.
And so the chapter goes on to give us multiple examples of this dual dynamic in the lives of those who have gone before us.
By faith:1. Abel OFFERED (There is NO acceptable worship apart from faith)
2. Enoch WAS TAKEN
3. Noah was WARNED and CONSTRUCTED the Ark
4. Abraham OBEYED
5. Sarah CONCEIVED
Believing God’s promises, they lived in the implications of those promises.
6. Abraham OFFERED Isaac
7. Isaac BLESSED Jacob and Esau
8. Jacob BLESSED his 12 sons
9. Moses’ parents HID him from Pharoah
10. Moses REFUSED the riches of Egypt, CHOSE to be identified with the Jews and KEPT the Passover
11. Israel CROSSED the Red Sea
12. Jericho FELL
13. Rahab WELCOMED the spies
And others Conquered, Enforced, Obtained, Stopped., Quenched, Escaped, Were strengthened, Became mighty, Put to flight, Received resurrection, Tortured, Refused release, Mocked, Flogged, Chained & Imprisoned, Stoned, Sawn in two, Killed, Destitute, Afflicted, Mistreated, Wandered, Each believed God, and gave evidence to that faith in the way they conducted their lives.
And so the chapter ends that all these, though witnessed to as genuine Believers by how they lived – through faith – “did not receive what was promised.” They died still looking for the fulfillment of all in Christ – even though they lived in the expectation of it. God determining that they could not have that fullness without us – without the Believers of the ages to come to join with them in the inheritance.
That Beloved, is true Biblical faith.
And so true Believers today live that same way. Christ will come. All of His promises will be fulfilled. He rules and reigns today. His Word is true and His Spirit indwells us.
May our lives give assurance to all who watch us live of the invisible work of regeneration in our souls – that birthed such faith in us.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.