What Faith Looks Like | Part 3: Five Things About Faith
April 23, 2021
April 23, 2021
In our previous posts, we’ve looked at what faith is NOT and what faith IS. Hebrews 10 and 11 show us at least five things about what faith looks like.
First, faith involves confident action. Most of the examples in Hebrews 11 involve a person acting confidently in accordance with what God says. By faith Abel offered to God a superior sacrifice, Noah built an ark, Abraham obeyed by leaving familiar territory and later by offering Isaac, Isaac blessed his sons, and one of those sons blessed Isaac’s great-grandsons, and on the list goes. Depending on who you’re reading about, the people of faith conquered, administered, gained, shut, quenched, escaped, became powerful, and routed. Faith involves confident action.
Second, faith involves God’s working extraordinary miracles in the lives of ordinary people. It’s easy to read the names of people in Hebrews 11 and think they make up the Justice League of Faith (if you’re a DC fan) or The Avengers of Faith (if you’re a Marvel fan). Yet if we stop and reflect for a moment, we realize that there is much about those on the list that was less than admirable. Noah, for example, got drunk and lay naked in his tent; Abraham lied about Sarah; Isaac lied about Rebekah; Jacob was a deceiver; Moses committed murder; the people of Israel were a bunch of ungrateful grumblers, Gideon a doubter, and David an adulterer.
These people are not mentioned for their morality or virtue. They are held up as examples of God working in and through them by grace THROUGH FAITH. True faith is an extraordinary miracle expressed in quite ordinary people. These are “heroes” not because they are perfect, but because they worked with God in his perfect work. Which means we too are eligible for enlistment in the life of faith!
Third, faith works in a variety of surprisingly normal situations. Look at the largely mundane list of faith works. We have an offering, the building of a boat, the moving of a family, the ability to have a child, obedience in offering that child back to God, the blessing of children, defying an authority, the choosing of mistreatment above pleasure, the keeping of a religious ordinance, suffering persecution, and so on.
I don’t know about you, but I catch myself questioning my level of faith on things that are big or important. In getting worked up or insecure about my perceived lack of faith in those moments, I’m forgetting all the other acts of faith that I’ve been doing well. I’ve given an offering this month. I’ve led family members through some challenges. And so on. Faith works in a variety of astonishingly normal situations.
The fourth thing you’ll notice from this list is that faith results in a variety of different outcomes. Sometimes the outcome of faith is immediately positive, like when the Israelites passed through the Red Sea or when the walls of Jericho fell. Other times the reward is delayed, like in the case of Abraham’s son. Still other times, the outcome of faith is negative. What happened to Abel who gave an offering by faith? He was murdered by his brother. And what happened to the recipients of this letter? They started a prison ministry and had their personal possessions confiscated.
So often we equate faith with positive outcomes, and we prefer immediately positive outcomes, but biblical faith may lead to negative or delayed results.
But, however, faith is ultimately positively rewarded. One resounding point of Hebrews 11 is that God’s pilgrims look beyond the immediate to grasp the significance of the ultimate.
Look at v. 2 – “For by this our ancestors were approved.”
Again in v. 39 – “All these were approved through their faith.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.