Thursday, August 18, 2016

By Faith

Hebrews 11 is widely known as the "faith" chapter of the New Testament.  We know as Christians, faith plays an important role in our relationship with God, with others, and as an old hymn suggests in one of its verses, faith is our victory.

The faith chapter is known by that name mainly because it has one of the clearest examples of what faith really is.  Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  That's an easy verse for us to remember and even memorize.  If you are like most Christians, you enjoy reading verses about confidence and hope, and especially assurance.

Another verse from Hebrews 11 tells us more about faith.  Look at verse 6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  That verse contains a few more words or phrases which we like to consider.  A phrase in this verse lets us know we can't please God if we are without faith. Before we can come to God, we have to believe he exists.  And God himself rewards those who seek him.

Now look, starting in verse 5, the number of times the Hebrew writer starts a sentence with, "By faith..." followed by the name of a biblical character and the success that character experienced because of his faith.  Reading this list of the faithful is something every Christian should do often. In fact, the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is a marvelous source of strengthening our own faith now that we can see the outcome of faith in these Bible characters.

When we come to the next chapter, Hebrews 12, pay special attention to the first three verses. The writer of this Bible verse calls those examples of faith in chapter 11, a great cloud of witnesses.  Their example of demonstrating a faithful lifestyle is good spiritual medicine to us and everyone who has had a chance to read and study their examples.  Now read the first part of Hebrews 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Read and be encouraged.  Read and be strengthened.  Read and fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  God bless!

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