Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Sort Of Faith Do You Have?



Where is your faith?
“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-- of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”  (Heb. 11:32-40)

Today we come to the end of this great chapter on faith. It is from here that we see the heroes of faith listed and the author draws to a close because there is no time and space to enumerate all the multitude of men and women of faith. He gives their names as well as their deeds of faith. The sample of names shows the stalwarts of faith without listing them chronologically because it does not matter, what matters is their faith. Some were judges, prophets , others kings and yet others were unknown. The common denominator was through faith, not in themselves but in the God of the Bible.
1.      Faith is militant
Saving faith is evidenced in the willingness of a believer to give his best effort, skill and everything in order to achieve the end of his faith – the salvation of  his soul. It is not a dead faith described by James. It is a quick and active faith produced by the Holy Spirit through the inspired Word of God. The aggressiveness here is not to build one’s own reputation but the kingdom of God. So what did this faith accomplish?
·         conquered kingdoms,
·         enforced justice,
·         obtained promises,
·         stopped the mouths of lions,
·         quenched the power of fire,
·         escaped the edge of the sword,
·         were made strong out of weakness,
·         became mighty in war,
·         put foreign armies to flight
This was the result of trusting in God; believing His Word, trusting His promises and depending on His power.
2.      Faith is persevering
This faith is also persevering – not giving up easily. And why not persevere when you are trusting in the one who is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to Him by faith? Why not wait for the Anchor of our salvation to accomplish and secure us in the power of His might? Why not depend on the one who does not lie? Whose testimony is true? Why not wait when those who waited were not disappointed? Look at their experiences:
·         Some were tortured,
·          Refusing to accept release,
·         Others suffered mocking and flogging,
·         Others suffered even chains and imprisonment
·         Yet others were stoned,
·         They were sawn in two,
·          They were killed with the sword.
·         They went about in skins of sheep and goats,
·         They were destitute,
·          They were afflicted,
·          They were mistreated
·         Others wandered about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
It is not always that we experience victory in this life – sometimes we are blessed in eternal victories which are not visible and that are not realized in this life. We are to take it all from the hands of the Lord because then that would be the genuine faith – tried by fire and found to be to the praise of His glory.
3.      Faith is ever commendable
Faith pleases God (11:6). However, it is not all faith that is pleasing to the Lord – it is the saving faith. Faith that connects a person to his God. It is the faith that acknowledges God to be God and Saviour. God who is holy and who will not overlook iniquity. It is the faith takes God’s word at its face-value without reservations. The faith that is dead has no place before the Lord. It is for this reason that these believers in the hall of faith were commended by God even though they did not enjoy the full blessings and privileges of the promises of God’s Word.
The Bible records that none of those with faith escapes the blessings of God – ‘all these…commended’ God commended them. However, they were not as blessed as were are because they did not receive what was promise’.  It is us who have enjoyed the full benefits of God’s promises. We have enjoyed the blessings brought to us by the atoning death of the Lord on the cross when they looked forward to it. We have also enjoyed the fruits of their labour – the Word for example that although they wrote, they had not seen it entirety. Therefore, cleared God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect
It is our joy to know that the blessings we have accrued from Christ are too great. If we have been blessed more than Abraham, what sort of people ought we to be? More godly than Abraham, more gracious than Isaac, better leaders and meeker than Moses. We are to live the life of faith only and not waver even under suffering – then we are to prove that our faith is a persevering faith. If there are obstacles ahead of us then let us work to overcome them because then we would show that we have a militant faith. In addition, where it to be  like so then let us be sure of receiving not only the commendation from God but the fruit of His promises.

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