We all love true stories of bold faith.
The man who calmly quit his job because his boss put him in a position to either quit or compromise his beliefs.
The woman who shared the gospel overseas at the potential cost of her life.
The college student who took a stand for Christ among classmates and a professor eager to ridicule her.
We often marvel at these examples and respond with phrases like, “I wish I had faith like that”, “that takes some kind of faith”, or other similar reactions. It’s almost like we’re saying that kind of faith is an exception to what we expect to see in ourselves and fellow believers. But what if these are not supposed to be the exceptions?
The Bible makes it clear that faith in Christ is a continual calling out of our comfort zone. We are told to rejoice in trials (James 1:2), expect persecution as part of a godly life (2 Tim 3:12), and especially as we follow Jesus (John 15:20). Compare these (and many more passages like them) with the one verse that tells us bear up with those of weaker faith (Romans 14:1), and we can see that bold faith is the expectation not the exception. So, how do we go about making that a reality in our lives?
I can think of no better place to go than Hebrews 11.
What Faith Is
At the very onset of this chapter, the author makes sure his readers/listeners understand what faith is:
“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith, he is stating, is living with a hope that is so guaranteed, it gives absolute assurance. Faith is also a conviction, and when we are convinced something is true – in this case, the guarantee of our unseen reward – our lives fall in line with that conviction. So faith is both inward assurance of our unseen reward and an outward expression that shows we’re convinced it’s true.
How to Live by Faith
The author then moves through several examples of men and women who lived “by faith” – often called the faith hall of fame. However, these are not meant to be viewed as only inspirational. That wouldn’t make sense with what author has written thus far in his letter. No, these are meant to spur us on toward the same kind of faith. Let’s look at three examples.
Abraham’s forward-looking faith
“By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise” (11:9).
Abraham was an alien in the land of promise. It wasn’t his land, and he would never see the day when it would be given to his descendants – but he faithfully followed God. Why? The author tells us in the next verse.
“… for he was looking for the city … whose architect and builder is God.”
Abraham exemplified faith in an unseen guarantee by fixing his eyes on the eternal City to come in heaven. A land that Ezekiel simply and beautifully calls
“the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
This confident, forward-looking faith is an example we are to follow, as we too are aliens in this world (John 17:14), and we too are called to follow God above all other things – even the things we hold dearest. Do you have a forward-looking faith that emboldens you to faithfully live for and share Christ in a fallen world that He has overcome (John 16:33)? Be spurred on by the example of Abraham.
Moses’ at-all-costs faith
“By faith” Moses when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of pharaoh’s daughter. Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25).
Just think of what it would mean to be the “son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Immeasurable riches, total comfort, unstoppable power, immediate access to every desire, and much more. Moses abandoned it all – by faith. His focus on God allowed him to see right through the “passing pleasures of sin.” The next verse brings this point out even clearer.
“Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking forward to the reward” (v26).
Moses weighed what Egypt had to offer with what God had to offer, and there was no comparison. Following God was worth any and all cost. (You’ll also notice that he, like Abraham, was “forward looking” as well).
Do you have a faith that puts everything as secondary to following God’s direction? In 80 years or less, everyone reading this who has trusted in Christ will be in the presence of God for all eternity. That’s the guarantee of our hope. We have to ask ourselves constantly, what are we clasping onto here that has no significance to us in eternity? As we struggle through this question, we can be emboldened by the example of Moses.
Israel’s only-God-can-do-this faith
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30).
We need to have an appropriate understanding of Jericho’s walls. These were massive and specially designed to prevent enemy attack. Many walls at this time were wide enough for two chariots to fit on side-by-side. Massive.
Instead of assembling a massive army, God called Israel to march around the walls of Jericho with instruments. Against all wisdom from the world, they chose, by faith, to believe God in the face of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. And God revealed His might and power not only to them (again), but to the people of Canaan as well. He showed that the only thing needed for victory is Him.
Whether it’s a fear of sharing the gospel, talking about God in general, or any consequence for faithfully following God, the walls of Jericho are a powerful reminder that the Lord is all we need. God is still very much in the habit of knocking down seemingly impenetrable walls.
Copyright © October 2020 Brock Anderson, used with permission.