Faith Begins With A Promise (Faith Series, Part 1)

As I often prepare and plan ahead for upcoming blogs, I was in prayer one day considering what God might lay on my heart to write. I especially wanted to move into something after Easter that would keep the momentum going after the climax of Holy Week. As I prayed, I sensed the Lord simply saying the word “faith” and I immediately dismissed it. It seemed either something too basic to really discuss or on the flip side, something too grand and beyond the scope of a simple weekly blog. But as so often happens, my initial gut reaction wasn’t where I needed to be. God kept this idea in front of me and I had no choice but to investigate it further and follow His lead.
I said “Ok God, what does faith mean and what do You want me to discuss in terms of such a lofty topic?” I was suddenly reminded of a passage from Hebrews which to me encapsulates what faith is: "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." Hebrews 11:1. If you asked for a simple definition of faith, this is probably where I would go. Being something hard to wrap our minds around without really experiencing, faith can be one of those nebulous topics if we allow it to be.  I think that’s why God has led me to start a series that will take us through this entire month. It’s putting feet on much of what I’ve been talking about, especially in the weeks leading up to and including Easter. For the context and “ground zero” of all of this month’s columns, I’ll often refer back to Hebrews 11, not only verse 1 but the entire chapter which is commonly known as “The Heroes of Faith” chapter. It seems an appropriate place to land.
If you read Hebrews 11 (and I encourage you to do so), you see account after account of God-followers acting upon a certain promise yet not knowing the where, when, how or even why of the action they were taking. They simply moved out “by faith”…a phrase which by my count, occurs at least 19 times within the chapter. Many giants of the Old Testament make an appearance as the writer of Hebrews reminds us of their fascinating stories:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8
“By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:21
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since his attention was on the reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26
As I look at each of these accounts and the entirety of Hebrews 11, I see one recurring element: faith begins with a promise. Abraham was called out to go to an unknown land to receive an inheritance. Joseph knew Israel would one day walk out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Moses went to be with his own people in order to fulfill the promise God gave to deliver them and he also knew the promise of Messiah would one day come. All promises given with absolute certainty. All promises given within their own life-times but not necessarily fulfilled entirely within their day.
If we examine our own lives, we see the promise of God and accept it by faith as well. There are elements to our profession of Christ which we must take without seeing, hearing or touching. Think about some of the great mysteries of the Gospel: the virgin birth, Christ’s resurrection, His Second Coming. There is not a person alive today who has experienced those events first-hand because they either happened long ago or will happen at some point in the future. Therefore we all take the truths of the Bible “by faith” just as these heroes themselves did. There is a promise in each element that we cling to. If Christ was truly born, died, and raised back to life, then we are offered the same resurrection from death; we are released from death’s cling upon our souls. If Christ is coming once again, we have a promise to be with Him at the end of our days.
Perhaps nothing in all of this is shocking or new news for you if you have followed Jesus for many years. I am not attempting to over-simplify a topic which is near and dear to all of us. But what I’d have you consider in response to today’s blog and in preparation for the weeks ahead, is to once again reestablish the faith claim you have. Is Christ Lord of your life and can you, by faith, accept ALL the teachings of the Bible and hold them as a promise to be revealed in due time? If I can be so bold, I think we often accept these ideas but then do not really put them into practice or live as if they actually are our guiding principles. Abraham, Joseph, and Moses lived as if the promise was all that really mattered. It was their compass, their true north and everything they did flowed from it. Were they perfect human beings? Far from it and neither are we. But the revelation God gave them, a promise they did not even fully see in their life time, was the vision that kept them going.

Faith begins with a promise. If nothing else, please take that into your week and let it guide you into both affirming what you already accept about God and Scripture and let it propel you into deeper levels of trust and obedience. Over these next weeks, the topic won’t always be the easiest to digest but I can assure you, if God is pruning away and removing what’s dead, it is for our good and His glory.

I love you all! Let’s keep the discussion going online and beyond!

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