Saturday, February 21, 2009
Common Men who had Uncommon Faith
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible; by faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:1-7). With the sensationalism normally connected with teachings on faith, it is easy to think that faith is limited to an elite corps of God’s choicest saints. Easily overlooked are the masses of simple, plain, ordinary folks who, away from the limelight, modeled the “faith-life.” These are people with whom we have little trouble identifying. The passage we will be studying mentions three such men: a shepherd, a preacher, and a builder. Through their lives we learn about three aspects of faith. First, let look at a brief, simple analysis of faith (v.1). “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” What it is and isn’t. Faith is confidence in God, the firm conviction that He is at work and will come through on our behalf. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark, nor is it wishful positive thinking or presumption. Let's learn how faith works and why. A look at verse 6 gives us the thought that perhaps faith was originally easy for man to exercise, but we’ve made it difficult. Verse 6 gives three easy steps to follow. 1. We come to God, in humble absolute dependence. 2. We believe He’s there, this gives us assurance rather than doubt. 3. We count on Him to keep His word. His character is at stake. He makes things happen. Second, note three plain, common examples of faith. It is easy to trust God in theory, but when a situation is upon us, doubt competes for first place. A shepherd named Abel (v.4). A preacher named Enoch (v. 5). Jude 14-15 tells us that in his public life, Enoch proclaimed a message of judgment which his generation both resented and resisted. Genesis 5:21-14 we learn of his private life. For example take Noah, the builder (v.7). Noah lives 500 miles from the sea. Imagine the mockery Noah endured in his day. Third, let's examine three relevant applications of faith. By faith Abel came God’s way. By faith Enoch proclaimed God’s Word. By faith Noah revered God’s will. Each of these men was common and simple, but each lived by faith. The message is not complicated. Relative question, How about you? If faith were the topic of conversation in your neighborhood, would your name be included? What would happen if Hebrews 11 were to be updated in heaven? Would your name be on the list? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.