Epistle to the Hebrews (11:1-3)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsFaith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” Hebrews 11:1-3

We have completed the breathtaking doctrinal section of our epistle and we are now putting a foot in the practical christian living section. Our author will go through many figures of the old testament to illustrate the presence and necessity of faith. The last verse of Hebrews 10 ended with:  “And my righteous ones will live by faith.But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” Hebrews 10:38-39

Faith is the substance righteous people live on. It is their subsistence. We will continue to trust in Christ for our salvation. We will not turn away as several Christians do but we will hold fast to our faith. Faith is an essential element in salvation for it is through faith in Christ that the unrighteous are made righteous.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…”Romans 3:23-25

It is by relying and putting our trust in the work of Christ that we are made righteous. The author in this chapter will not talk about saving faith but about living by faith. Living by faith is an evidence of one’s acknowledgement of God’s Sovereignty. The contrary of faith is unbelief as we have seen is Hebrews 3. Unbelief is a sin because we do not want to trust God but do things by ourselves. God takes no pleasure in an unbelieving heart.

So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.” Hebrews 3

How would you feel if your spouse did not trust you? Would not you feel rejected? When you’re hungry, you don’t eat your wife’s food but order pizzas. How would she feel? Or when the tap is broken your wife calls the neighbor when you’re yourself a plumber? Would not you be anguished that your wife does not trust you? Faith is an important element in our relationship with God. When someone does not love you, you know it. You feel it even if that person does not say anything. Your actions demonstrate if you really consider and love that person. It is the same with our relationship with God, faith is our love language. You trust God for your food, clothes and future.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’” Mat 6:30,31

People who have a great faith are those people who love God a lot. They would not have put at stake their own existence and future if God was not the One they loved most. Our author defines faith as believing firmly in things we cannot see.  You see not Canaan, you’ve not yet tasted its fruits, you breathe not its air and hear not the sounds of the livestock but yet you know it’s your possession. Faith is the eye of the spiritual world.

When king Aram sent an army to attack the lone Elisha, Elisha saw the armies of God around him but not his servant. :

““Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” 2 Kings 6:17

May God open the eyes of our heart(Eph 1:18) and so that we see through faith God’s presence surrounding us!  We have such an unbelieving heart that we see only the physical realm. Jesus many times made the reproach that his followers do not trust Him enough:

You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Mat 14:31

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” Mat 8:26

You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Mat 17:20

We see well through these verses that Jesus is not rebuking people who do not have faith at all. These people believed in Him but they had such little faith. They doubted Him. The father of the demon possessed child came to Jesus with the belief Jesus could perhaps do something for him. Jesus rebuked this father because he limited the power of Jesus. Jesus said:

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.””The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”” Mark 9:22,23

How many times we who call ourselves believers have so little faith. Is not it an oxymoron or contradictory to have such believers? Should not we cry out like this desperate father “help me overcome my unbelief

In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus said: “I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Luke 18:8

We have such little faith in our Lord because we do not know Him enough. We wonder, can He do that? If we knew Him more we would not have asked this question. It is lack of knowledge that causes lack of faith. When we know who Jesus is, we understand that everything is possible to those who believe in Him.

One man Jesus admired and commended, was the centurion. He knew Jesus could.

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” Mat 8:8-10

This centurion understood well that Jesus did not have to physically come to his place for his servant to be healed. This centurion knows what it means to be in authority. He just commands and people execute his orders. This officer understood that Jesus was someone in authority and that Jesus only had to say the word and his servant will be healed. Notice well that the words Jesus spoke was not words in the air but commands. Jesus just spoke and things came to be. Like the centurion, the patriarch earned a good reputation because of their faith. The faith we’re talking about is not an intellectual faith where we believe only with our minds but it also involves our hearts and being. This is not a dead faith where we intend to obey God’s laws without a personal relationship with Him. It is not the kind of faith that the devil has in God. The devil believes there is only one God (James 2:19) but has not a repentant heart. This kind of faith is evil since it acknowledges God’s sovereignty. It knows the truth but rebels against it.

Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation

He ordered Lazarus to come out and he did(John 11). He ordered the wind and the waves to calm down and they obeyed (Mat 8:26). He said to the the leper “Be healed” and the man was healed (Mat 8:3).

He said to the fig tree: “May you never bear fruit again. Immediately the tree withered.” (Mat. 21:19)

Jesus is this God who just spoke and light came to be. He is the very Word of God made flesh. He is God’s utterance manifested.

The Lord merely spoke,and the heavens were created.He breathed the word,and all the stars were born.He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him.For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.” Ps 33:6-9

When the centurion said “Just say the word”, I don’t think he realised the whole truth. This Jesus has always been creating things by just commanding. He just speaks and things come to existence. The world was not created from physical matter but from God’s Word alone. The author tells us “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen

Let us once again contemplate our Lord. Let us remove “If you can” in our prayers. This is Jesus-Christ, the Creator, He is the One who just speaks and miracles happen. Faith is this firm assurance that God will do something in the invisible realm. Of course, we should have faith in things God has planned for us and not put God as a puppet to execute our plans.

There’re things I know God called me to do. No matter what people think or say, I know that I should do them. I do fall in this category of people whom Jesus rebuked for having so little faith. But how my soul cries out “help me overcome my unbelief”!

James said “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:6-7

If in your prayers you pray with skepticism, it’s better you stop because you can be sure that you’ll not receive anything. You must be sure that if you’re praying according to God’s will you will receive it. If you’re not sure God will do it, do not expect that He will do it. James says that such a person is double-minded and unstable in all he does.

Jesus said : ““Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24

I do not doubt that God will finish what He started to do in me. He will provide the help I need to finish this work He entrusted me to do. I am so sure He is in control and will provide though I see it not right now with my eyes. If you know it will happen, then it is already yours. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen“. The difference between doubt and faith is this: Faith is the belief that it will happen but doubt is the belief that it can happen. Faith is 100% confidence that it will happen, doubt is just less.

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Posted April 20, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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