December 27, 2019
Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
Most Bible readers are familiar with the celebrated eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. Often called the “Hall of Faith,” it offers something a highlight reel of the great stories from across the scriptures. It feels like an exuberant end zone celebration with endless victory dancing.
It is nothing of the sort.
Far fewer are familiar with the last words of the preceding chapter.
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:38-39)
Far from a victory lap of champions Hebrews 11, is something of a half time speech to a losing team. These are the words of a battle worn leader to a group of beleaguered believers who are tired, worn out and on the brink of quitting. They believe yet they don’t see a bright future. They know a past filled with losses. They know a present screaming with pain. They cannot comprehend a future filled with hope. Victory feels like a charade. Back up a few more verses and lean into the speech.
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. (Hebrews 10:32-35)
Notice how he doesn’t remind them of the good times but the hard ones. He doesn’t remind them of the wins but of yet more losses. He reminds them of those times when the chips were down and they didn’t give up. He reminds them of the one thing that saw them through and that will see them through again: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
We live in an age of domesticated religion, where religious service providers readily peddle the opiates of promising prosperity and sentimental pain relief rather than help us navigate the soul-making suffering required by the holiness of love. In this age of domesticated religion we need a great awakening of faith. It will happen one person at a time or not at all. Methodist preacher and celebrated awakening leader, E.M. Bounds, once famously said, “The Church is in search of better methods. God is in search of better men.” We must have better men and women. We must become great souls. Jesus stands ready to help us with Word and Spirit and all the resources of Heaven. He only asks for one thing: Faith. It is the one thing we must have. This is what the ancients were commended for. May it be so with us.
Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be a great soul. Awaken my longing for more of God than I presently know. Awaken my love to a passion that shreds sentiment. Awaken my faith to a fire that burns without consuming. Come Holy Spirit and lead us into a great awakening of faith. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Are you ready for an awakening of faith? What holds you back?
For the Awakening,