Hebrews expounded: “By faith” (chapter 11).
Having defined for us what “faith” is, Paul now goes on an extensive list of what men and women were able to achieve in what we call “redeemed history”—BY FAITH— using their faith.
That expression “by faith” (or through faith) is used over and over again in chapter 11, using examples. We call this the “Hall of Fame of Faith”.
Living a ‘life of faith’ is not about ‘living a religious life’, it is not about being ‘faithful’ to the things of God. You have to attend yourself to first understanding what faith is—is not. There is nothing more frustrating for a Christian than living a life in which you do not understand what faith is, and go about pursuing religious activity as faith, or even being faithful through well meaning activities, and yet expecting to be credited for having faith, when in fact you don’t have it!
Having faith has nothing to do with the position you hold in the church here on earth. In my life I have known of Popes, Archbishops, Pastors, and other famous religious people, whom I knew did not have an ounce of operative faith. This did not stop people following them, and adoring them. And indeed they did great things to show forth that they are believers in Christ, such as feeding the poor, speaking out against evil, and many other things that we are called upon to do; but it should not be interpreted for FAITH.
Again I have known people who on the surface of it were very ‘ordinary’ Christians, who could exercise the most extraordinary faith. [I remember going to see an old African woman in a township in Zimbabwe, who was well known amongst believers for her remarkable knowledge of the bible. She could recite any verse, and tell you where it was in the bible—she had never been to school, and could not read anything like a newspaper, but put a bible in front of her, and she could read it!]
Obtaining faith, growing and strengthening your faith, and above all using your faith is the most important mission for each one of us, on a daily basis. You must be constantly conscious of the importance of faith.
Never lose sight of how we get faith; how we grow faith; how we use faith.
As I have said before don’t allow yourself to get into a situation in which you carry out works of ‘faithfulness’ towards God, and expect to be credited for them as ‘faith’. [I remember a woman who was in a church I used to attend. She was the busiest, most dedicated member of the church. She was always in church, and spending every spare moment of her life, running around on behalf of our church. One day something happened to a member of her family. She became quite bitter and even accusatory towards God, for “not doing anything” (as she put it); “I have been so faithful”, she would mourn. The problem was in her “faithfulness”, she had lost touch with what is “faith”; she was just too busy to attend to the issues by which we obtain, grow, and use faith. Don’t fall into that trap: “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”].
Another trap is believing that because your father or mother, or even grandparent were great people of faith, it means you somehow “inherited” the same faith. It does not work that way; each one of us is responsible for building up their own operative faith. I have known children of pastors even who completely strayed away, and eventually left church ministry altogether, because they did not care for studying, and meditating on the Word of God.
—Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God—that is all!
The Lord Jesus said: (spiritual) “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God”.
I have added that word “spiritual” because Jesus was referring to your SPIRIT. To illustrate this, the great Christian Evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth, had a habit in which before he ate a meal, he would first bring out his bible and read for a few minutes, declaring afterwards, “now that I have fed the spirit, let me feed the body.”
I’m writing this message whilst on a flight, from Johannesburg to London. I made sure that I was the first person to go to sleep, so that I could wake up early to study, and meditate on the word. This is my way of life; there is no day that has gone bye in these last 22 years that I have not attended to the Word of God—first, before doing anything else. For me going out into the world, without first studying and meditating on the word, and then spending time in prayer, is like forgetting to put on my trousers!
This is why I have such operative faith; there is nothing that will happen in this and any day, that I cannot cope with, because of this substance called faith, that bubbles up from my spirit. I want to enter the “Hall of Fame of Faith” for this generation. I want to receive a “good report” before God, when I appear before Him in Heaven.
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