Faith Under Fire

Hebrews 11:8-40

Jerry A Collins



® How is the quality of our faith described?

What difference is faith to make in our lives?

Who is the object of our faith in this life?

The young lady brot her fiancee to meet her parents. After dinner he father asked the young man into his study for a chat. So, what are your plans? he began. Iím a theology scholar the young man replied. Admirable the father said But what will you do to provide a nice home for my daughter? I will study and God will provide he explained. And how will you afford to raise children? God will provide. He left the study and the wife asked her husband, How did it go? He has no money or employment the father said. But on the other hand he thinks Iím God! Who you place your confidence in makes all of the difference in the world. Faith is commitment before knowledge and when the God of the Bible makes promises to us, we can count on them as fulfilled even tho we have not yet actually seen it come true. We know this is true because we have several witnesses who actually can testify about this. Their testimony reveals to us five distinguishing marks of genuine faith.


Faith always anticipates. It moves toward a clearly expected event in the future. The future is an enigma to those without faith. Anything can happen and there is always a sense of anxiety when trying to look ahead. But faith believes God has revealed something about the future and seizes upon that with anticipation. (1) By faith Abe sojourned in the land of promise vs 9. He looked forward to the city with foundations whose builder and maker is God vs 10. Abe looked across 40 centuries of time and beyond to the day when God would bring to pass on earth a city with eternal foundations. Abe saw what John sees in the book of Revelation, a city coming down out of heaven onto earth. (2) Joseph in vs 22 knew that God would someday take his people back to Canaan and he wanted them to carry his bones with them, not for the sake of his bones, but to identify with the hope of his people (Gen 50:25).


Faith always acts. Faith does not just sit around and wait for things to happen. That is fatalism. The life of faith is that it is steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). It weighs options and makes choices consistent with the will of God. For instance, in vs 23-26 we learn 2 things about Moses. (1) He was a man of conviction. His parents made a decision to hide Moses in violation of the kings edict. When Moses came of age he made his own decisions. He refused to ID with Egypt choosing rather a life of banishment. He believed the same things his parents believed but for his own reasons. He developed his own convictions and acted upon them. (2) He also had an eternal perspective. The ultimate rather than the immediate reward. The eternal motivated him to abandon any hope of short-term wealth. comfort and power his position would bring to him in Egypt. He chose this because he saw the unseen. God has no grandchildren! Each follower of Christ must develop his own convictions about Godís Word and will and act on them in faith. Paint the word faith on one oar of your boat and works on the other. If you just dip the oar of faith in the water you will only go in a tight circle. If you just dip the oar of works in you will also only go in a tight circle in the opposite direction. If both faith and action in Godís Word of promise are dipped into your life you will move forward and make progress in the will of God for your life wherever that may lead.


When God has spoken faith ignores the contrary evidence even though it seems impossible or irrational. For instance, God commanded Abe to do something that defied the conscience in vs 17-19. Reason may never be able to figure this out but Abe was not walking by reason but by faith. We learn here that Abes confidence rested in Gods promise In Isaac your descendents shall be called vs 18. He believed then that God had a solution to all of this. He believed God would raise the boy from the dead to fulfill his promise. So Abe took a gamble that he would win in the end based on the support he had from Godís Word. We do the same when we apply the Bible, trust Christ for heaven, love our enemies and so on. All the heroes of the Bible gambled that they God was right, righteousness was right, Christ was right, Gods Word of promise was right. That includes Rahab as well in 11:31. She is in this hall of fame because as a prostitute she received the spies with peace. On the basis of a rumor over 40 yrs old she was willing to gamble all she had on this God of the Hebrews. She knew very little and took great risks. You please God not by what you know but by the size of the gamble you are willing to take as you act on what you know from His Word. Blind faith decisions are the worst kind of gamble because they are decisions to disobey God based on faulty reasoning like Adam & Eve did. Like Satan did. Like Saul did. Like Ananias and Sapphira did.

4 FAITH PERSIST & PERSEVERE IN GODS PROMISES This may be the least spectacular aspect of faith. Twice in this chapter we read that they did not receive what was promised vs 13 & 39. They were longing to see Godís promises fulfilled. They were looking to God to bring to pass his will among men but they died without seeing it come to pass. But they never gave up looking or longing. Think over the names in this chapter and what the world owes to these. They made tangible differences in the world. Yet they never saw what it was they were looking for. We are called to run that same race and persist to the end.


These OT saints are witnesses to us of the life of faith vs 1. They are saying something to us, that is, doubt and unbelief must never hinder us (James 1). Instead we are to look away from that kind of distraction & look away unto Jesus vs 2. Look at these man & women of faith who can inspire us to persist, to gamble, to do and to anticipate but then look away to Jesus because he is the author & finisher of our faith. He is the pioneer whose gone ahead. He himself ran this race, laid aside every weight, every hand he brushed aside and walked with patient perseverance, trusting His Father all along the way. He not only inspires us, He empowers us to live by faith. We need His help & must rely upon it daily because it is easy to get distracted by unbelief.