There are several words and concepts that we completely understand in our modern language. We read a word like “mystery” and we fully understand what it means in everyday use. When it is applied to the scriptures all of a sudden it takes on this meaning that has led some to believe that the bible cannot be understood. The concept of authority is much the same. We get the need for rules, regulations and guidelines. We know how bad things can get in a situation of anarchy. And yet Christians all across the world struggle with the idea of biblical authority. But, perhaps the most often misunderstood word in our bibles is faith.
Some believe that faith is nothing more than a hot fuzzy feeling in our hearts. Others believe it is merely believing that God exists, accepting that not only is Jesus the son of God, but that he also died for our sins. While I don’t deny that faith needs to create an emotional reaction in us, and that faith does begin at accepting God as our creator and that Rom. 10 is quite clear on teaching us that we need to believe (and confess) that Jesus is the son of God, faith is so much more than that.
All weekend he have heard lessons on the concept of faith. Each of our persons discussed today were people that were mentioned (in some capacity) as being a legend, a hero of faith. But this means nothing if we do not understand what faith really is.
Heb. 11:1 gives a definition of faith that is often quoted but rarely understood, but it a good of place as any to begin. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The word which we translate assurance, signifies subsistence, that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on. In this case, it is the foundation of hope. When the storms of life come it is our faith that keeps our hopes standing strong. When darkness comes and we see no light at the end of the tunnel, it is faith that helps us to believe that there is light there, even if we cannot see it. What are we hoping for? Remission of sins, heaven, eternal life. Faith is what keeps our eyes on these gifts. And then, faith is described as the evidence of things not seen. Consider what Barnes wrote, “When a proposition is demonstrated; when a man is arraigned and evidence is furnished of his guilt, or when he establishes his innocence; or when one by argument refutes his adversaries, the idea of “convincing argument” enters into the use of the word in each case.” That convincing argument is what we are looking at here. The convincing argument for our case that the invisible does exist is faith. Now, I recognize that sounds like a weak argument, God exists because I know he does. By that same argument the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists because someone says he does. If we stop reading at verse one we make faith mean whatever I think or whatever I believe. However, the rest of the chapter, what we have been discussing in our sermons during this special series of lessons on Superheroes of Faith, is that faith is much more than believing something. It moved men and women to do the impossible, the improbable and the unthinkable.
Enoch was able to escape death. This is one of my favorite examples of faith in the bible. It is not just that he believed in God. He was a prophet (Jude 14). His work was in a world that was growing increasingly evil. He was the 7th from Adam. The other “7th from Adam” was Lamech. Lamach was the first to have multiple wives and bragged about murdering others (Gen. 4:19-24). He was walking with God when everyone else was walking away from God. He escaped death, he did the impossible during an improbable time. Noah, by faith, built an ark. He built an ark because God told him too. I cannot imagine the ridicule he must have faced because of his faith. Not only did people not believe in God (this would have been a good thought, something that world did not, could not have). They would have mocked Noah for trying to save animals rather than killing them for kicks and giggles. They would have mocked Noah for building and ark for an oncoming flood. I would not be the least bit surprised if that mocking when much further than an occasional harsh word. I have often wondered if physical violence was threatened (or even realized) as a result of his work. But he didn’t quit. As Chapter 11 comes to a conclusion, the Hebrew author references those sawn in two, put to death with the sword, etc. Why would someone due that? In a word… faith. People don’t die for what they don’t really believe.
Here is the point of his week’s lessons, by faith you can be a superhero. You don’t need to be exposed to gamma radiation. You don’t need a superhero serum. You don’t need to be bit by a radioactive spider or by a billionaire genius. All you need is faith. By faith you can and will do great things. One day, will God be able to say of you, by Faith…. You were able to escape death or save your family, or suffer persecution, or live in this world as a stranger?
Grinnell church of Christ
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What Is Faith?
Volume 8 Issue 28