I have the awesome opportunity this Sunday to preach at our local church, to fill the pulpit for our Pastor, Matthew Kirkland. It is always a high honor to be asked to minister the Word of God, especially at our own home church. Ever since I retired from full time Pastoral ministry four years ago, the preaching opportunities have been few and far between. So this Sunday will be a blessing for me, just to be used by God. (Whether it will be a blessing to the people remains to be seen!) The sermon series Pastor Kirkland has been preaching is from Hebrews 11, which is the great "FAITH" chapter of the Bible. He asked me to continue along in this same series of studies on FAITH, and I gladly consented.
Hebrews 11 begins with a simple definition of faith: "Faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen." The operative words here are not seen. Do you realize everything that we believe is based on things we have not seen? We believe in God, but have not ever seen Him. We believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, but did not actually see it. We believe Jesus is coming back again to this earth, but have not seen or experienced it yet. We believe in heaven, but haven't seen it.
The writer of Hebrews uses several examples of faith as the "conviction of things not seen". First, he uses creation as an example. We have not seen God, but we have seen the evidence of His existence in Creation. Here in Virginia, you might take a drive up to the top of Skyline Drive and pull over at one of those "scenic overlooks". As you stand there gazing at the majesty and splendor of nature, you could ask yourself: Do you really think this is the result of some freak accident, some kind of random gaseous explosion? Or does it make more sense to believe in a higher power, a Creator, a master designer? The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1, tells us how creation is a testimony to the existence of God. "For the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhood." How can invisible things be clearly seen? By properly understanding those things around us that we do see. The songwriter expressed it this way:
"O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed."
The second illustration of this "not seen" definition of faith is Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen (that is, rainfull), moved with godly fear and prepared an ark for the saving of his household". Sometimes faith demands that we place our trust in God even when we don't understand what He is doing. There are times in life when you might well say: "God, I just don't know why this is happening in my life!" True faith is trusting Him whether we fully understand or not. Noah didn't understand what a "flood" was, yet he obeyed God and built an ark to save his family from it. Amazing!
The third illustration of someone believing in God's promise concerning things as yet not seen is Abraham. The Scripture says, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going". As yet, he hadn't seen the land of promise, but he believed God anyway and started walking.
Are you dealing with something in your life right now that you don't understand, or that seems humanly impossible? Remember the definition of faith, and just trust in the Lord. One day soon our faith will become sight. Until then, cling to His promises, and rest upon His Word.
A PERSONAL NOTE: You won't be seeing another post for several weeks now as Nancy and I will be on a cruise ship celebrating the 50th anniversary of the fall when we met (1968) on the campus of Clarks Summit University. You should get your next blog notification on Friday, Nov. 16th. Bon Voyage!