Friday, January 1, 2016


For the week beginning Sunday January 3, 2016

(Roll call of the faithful)
(Hebrews 11)

In the New Testament Greek, the word used for faith is “pistis”, and it means “to rely upon with an inward certainty”. Faith is being certain of the things we hope for, and being convinced of things we cannot yet see. It is by faith, that we understand that the world was fashioned by the word of GOD, and that, what is seen, came, from what is not seen. The Christian attitude is that, in terms of eternity, it is better to stake everything on GOD than it is to trust the temporal rewards of this world. It is belief in GOD against the world, the spirit against the senses, and the future against the present.
In Hebrews chapter 11, the author of GOD takes us on a journey back in time with a sort of “roll call”, and or, “revisit” with the “who’s who” of people who personify “faith” in the Scriptures. He begins with Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, and the younger brother of Cain, whose story is depicted in Genesis 4:1-8. This story speaks to how we need to respond to GOD in the “right way”, because, the way we respond to GOD exemplifies the level of faith we have in HIM, and, the amount of reverence we have for HIM.
Here, we see Abel offering up to GOD, a living sacrifice. It was a sacrifice of living blood, one that symbolizes the giving of one’s life to GOD. He responded to GOD in the “right way”. Cain, on the other hand, responded by giving GOD the fruit of the ground, something that had been plucked from life, something that was dead. He responded to GOD in the “wrong way”.
The writer of Hebrews then directs our attention to Enoch, the father of Methuselah, the man who lived longer than any human in the history of the world, (969 years), and how Enoch lived in close fellowship with GOD all of his life, before being “raptured” up by GOD, before his death. He was 365 years old at that time. He had a “right relationship” of “faith” with GOD, and thus, was rewarded for it.
In Hebrews 11:7, we are reminded of the unconquerable faith of Noah, whose story is told by Moses in Genesis chapters 6-9, and how Noah obeyed GOD when HE instructed him to build the Ark on dry land, nowhere near water, a project that took some 100 years to complete, simply because GOD promised him that HE would send a flood to destroy the earth. Noah’s response was one of “total faith” that GOD would do what HE said HE would do. He staked everything on GOD, the future against the presence, and the spirit against the senses.
The author of GOD also recounts the life of the towering figure known as Abraham, the one to whom all Jews trace their origins, and how he was told by GOD to leave his father’s house and go into an unknown land that GOD promised him for an inheritance.
He tells of how Abraham and his beautiful wife Sarah had faith, even in their old age, that GOD would deliver unto them a son who would be, just the beginning, of a whole race of people who would become HIS “chosen” nation (Israel). They relied on GOD with an “inward certainty”, and were convinced of the things GOD promised, that they could not yet see. They were willing to venture into the unknown, because they felt secure with GOD’s promise.
The writer goes on to tell the familiar stories of the faith of Joseph, Jacob, Moses, Rahab and the likes. These were people who never actually got to see the end result of all the things that GOD had promised, however, the blessings of GOD have no ending, and extend well beyond the life expectancy of any man or woman. HIS blessings were extended to their families for generations to come, and through their faith and hope, they could see it all from a distance.
When we come into a “right relationship” with GOD, as these people did, GOD allows us to see, from way on high, our lives, from HIS lofty and majestic point of view. All of these people received GOD’s approval, and were counted righteous, because of their faith. Yet, none of them received all the things that GOD had promised, during their earthly lifetimes, because you can only receive the eternal things, the prize at the end of the race, after the race itself is finished.
Faith is what orients a person to GOD. When stripped down to its most basic form, it is simply the confidence and belief we have that GOD really exists. And those, who possess such a confidence in GOD, also share a conviction in knowing that GOD will reward them because they earnestly seek after HIM with their whole hearts (minds).
The people of faith, who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, when compared to the modern-day believer, had relatively little knowledge of GOD, and, they did not get to hear the wisdom of JESUS’ words the way we have in this day. How much more motivated to have faith in the ONLY WISE GOD we should be! And because we know JESUS, from a Monday morning quarterback’s perspective, we should be able to easily live a life of faith and obedience to GOD, because of HIS faithfulness and goodness to us, throughout the course of time.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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