Faith Which Can’t Be Tested Can’t Be Trusted: Sometimes the Greatest Demonstration of Faith Is Through Suffering

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s selected passage is found chapters eleven through thirteen of this New Testament book. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were famed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1-3). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16). “And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the propehts: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raise to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11;32-40).

            DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH IS? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH IS FOR? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH ACCOMPLISHES? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH MIGHT REQUIRE OF YOU? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH ASKS OF YOU? It would be very easy to read the words which are found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews and allow yourself to get caught up in the wonderful stories of faith that are mentioned within and throughout its verses. There are countless ministers and leaders among us within our churches who have preached countless sermons and messages regarding individuals such as Enoch, and Abel, and Noah, and Abraham, and Sarah, and Moses, and Jacob, and others who are mentioned within this particular passage of Scripture. Over the years there have been countless men and women who have taken to this passage of Scripture and have chosen to focus on the wonderful and powerful declaration of what faith is, and they will site how faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Men and women within many of our Christian circles will quote and reference this emphatic declaration concerning faith and will use it to present a dialogue and conversation around what faith is in an attempt to explain and describe it. Countless men and women have spent a considerable amount of time focusing on that which faith is that they might quantify, reason and otherwise explain exactly what faith is within the heart and life of a saint of God and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in my own lifetime I have heard numerous sermons, teachings and messages concerning and regarding faith, and have found countless individuals who have given a considerable amount of time, effort and energy into seeking to understand and explain what faith truly is.

            As I am sitting here today thinking about and considering this particular truth and reality there is not a doubt in my mind that there are men and women who might very well have an understanding of what faith is, and who might even be able to explain what faith is, and yet there is an absence of the actual demonstration and manifestation of faith within their lives. Oh I can’t help but think about how many countless men and women among us within our Christian circles seem to be more content being able to explain faith, and being able to have conversations and dialogues regarding faith, and have absolutely no room, space, or context for its demonstration and manifestation within their lives. Even as these individuals read the words which are found in this chapter they understand what faith is, they understand how faith appropriates our knowledge of and belief in God, and even how without faith it is impossible to please God. There is within this particular chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews a profound history of men and women who moved and operated in faith within and throughout their generation, and how that faith was demonstrated and manifested. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading this particular chapter it’s that what is critically important is not our ability to understand faith and being able to define and explain it, but rather our demonstration of it within and throughout lives. There are countless men and women who are able to define faith using biblical terminology and who are able to frame theological arguments around what faith actually is, however, when it comes to an actual demonstration of faith they are severely deficient. Permit me to ask you dear reader whether or not your being able to define faith is of greater value, or whether your ability to demonstrate faith within your life is of greater value. Oh you might be able to define, debate, explain and rationalize that which faith is within your life, and you might be able to form a theological context around faith, and yet when it actually comes to that which matters most about faith—there is a serious deficiency. In all reality I would dare say that what is needed among us more than the ability to define and explain faith is the ability to actively demonstrate how it works within our lives.

            DEFINING WHAT FAITH IS VERSUS DEMONSTRATING HOW FAITH OPERATES! EXPLAINING WHAT FAITH IS VERSUS DEMONSTRATING WHAT FAITH ACCOMPLISHES! I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a great and tremendous need within many of our Christian circles to transition from expository and theological definitions and explanations of what faith is to an active demonstration and manifestation of how faith actually operates within the earth. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote and declared that without faith it is impossible to please God, and yet what we must needs recognize and understand is that the author did not state without an understanding of faith it is impossible to please God. When the author of this epistle wrote and exclaimed that without faith it is impossible to please God there is not a doubt in my mind that what they were referencing was not the ability to define faith according to what Scripture says, but rather the demonstration of faith in action and activity within our hearts and lives. As we think about the words the author of this epistle wrote concerning our inability to please God without and apart from faith we must needs recognize and understand that what they were truly and ultimately saying was that without the demonstration and manifestation of faith within our hearts and lives we cannot please God. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider how God is neither impressed, nor does He delight in your understanding of faith, nor even your ability to explain faith with your natural mind and reasoning? Would it surprise you to think about and consider that the LORD is not at all concerned, nor impressed with how well you are able to articulate that which faith is—whether in Christian circles, or even to those outside of your sphere of faith. The Scripture never declared that without an understanding of faith, nor without the ability to explain and define faith it is impossible to please God, and we must needs recognize and understand this.

            The more you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the fact that what is present before us within this passage of Scripture is not a means of explaining what faith is, but rather an exposition of how faith operates within the hearts and lives of the saints and servants of God. You cannot read the words which are found within this particular chapter and not be brought face to face with the absolutely remarkable and powerful truth that what is presented before and unto us in this passage of Scripture is indeed a description of a demonstration of faith in operation. The truth of the matter is when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought to terms—not so much with a definition of faith, but with an expose of how faith is demonstrated and manifested within the lives of the saints of God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly necessary this truly is, for it allows us to truly understand that what is absolutely critical and necessary within the hearts and lives of the saints of God is indeed and in fact a demonstration of faith. In fact, this is precisely what James wrote about in the second chapter of the epistle he wrote concerning faith and works. There would be those who would seek to say that James was seeking to declare how we are justified by works rather than and apart from faith, however, what James was arguing and contending was the demonstration of faith that actually proves we understand it. Oh dear reader, tell me—what demonstrates and proves you understand faith more? Does your ability to explain and define faith show that you truly understand it, or does your ability to demonstrate faith in action within your life truly show that you understand it? We would like to think that our ability to from Scripture explain what faith truly is—and even explain that without faith it is impossible to please God—however, the underlying truth of the matter is that faith must needs a demonstration and manifestation within our hearts and lives. The apostle Paul argued and contended that we are justified by faith—and this indeed true and accurate—however, that which we find within the epistle written by James is a powerful declaration that faith must needs an outlet and a direct manifestation and demonstration within our hearts and lives.

            When we think about the Dead Sea that is found at the base of the Jordan River we know and understand that it is considered dead because no life can grow within it. For centuries no life has been able to live and grow within the Dead Sea, and we know and understand that the main and underlying reason for this is because there is no outlet. The Dead Sea continues to receive water from the Jordan River, and it continues to receive that which flows into it, however, there is absolutely no outlet. The Dead Sea is dead because it always receives and never disburses and never releases. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that there is a great and underlying danger within our lives when we are always and only ever to receive and never released. This is what is so absolutely incredible and necessary about the words found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, as well as the words which are found in the epistle written by James. It is within the second chapter of the epistle written unto James, as well as the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews that we realize and come face to face with the incredible truth that faith can and will die and will become null and void within our lives if it always receives and never releases. We do ourselves a great disservice when we think that we can continue to receive and there is never an outlet and a means of releasing within our generation. The words which are before us in the epistle written unto the Hebrews, as well as the words which are before us in the epistle written by James are a powerful expose and treatise concerning the release, the demonstration and manifestation of faith within our hearts and lives. The words found in these two chapters bring us face to face with the absolutely powerful and critical truth within our hearts and lives that faith has never been and will never be that which must needs be explained, rationalized and described within our hearts and lives.

            I cannot help but read the words which are found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews and not come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that while we are indeed given a single verse that tells us what faith is—we are given a plethora of verses that tells us what faith is like. I am absolutely and completely convinced that this same principle is true when it comes to describing God, for there are countless men and women among who can tell us who God is—and can do so according to the truth that is laid out in Scripture—however there are very few of us who can actually describe what God is like. There are men and women who have a mental knowledge concerning and regarding the truth of the living God, and yet when it comes to actually being able to describe what God is like they have absolutely no room, nor any place to be able to describe what He is like. What we must needs understand and recognize is that describing what faith is like comes from experience, demonstration and manifestation just as describing what God is like comes from experience and relationship with Him. Oh would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the awesome and incredible truth that you can describe who God is and tell other people about God—and even do so according to Scripture—and yet you have absolutely no experience with the living God. The words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews gives us one verse that describes what faith is, and yet it gives us thirty-nine verses that describes what faith is like—and not only what faith is like, but how it is demonstrated and manifested within the hearts and lives of men and women upon the earth. The opening verse of this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that while we might very well be able to describe what faith is according to Scripture—there are very few among us who can actually describe what faith is like and how it operates within our hearts and lives. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that there are men and women who read the Scripture and who are able to define and describe faith, and yet when it comes to actually demonstrating and manifesting faith within their hearts and lives they are sorely deficient.

            I sit here today and I am finding myself thinking about and considering just how incredibly challenging it is to read the words found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews to focus all our attention on being able to form a theology around what faith is, and we are able to describe and explain it unto others—even preaching it from behind the pulpit—and yet there are very few of us who are actually able to describe how faith operates, how faith is demonstrated and is manifested within our hearts and lives. There are very few among us who have an active demonstration and manifestation of faith within our hearts and lives, and we are content with merely being able to define and describe faith rather than actually allowing it to be demonstrated and manifested among us. I firmly believe that one of the greatest challenges we face within our hearts and lives is that of transitioning beyond merely describing and defining faith and actually demonstrating faith and its working within our hearts and lives. There are countless men and women among us who are able to intellectualize, theorize and even rationalize who God is as we attempt to explain Him to others, and yet there are very few among us who are able to truly demonstrate the awesome manifestation of what God is actually like. This is what makes the narrative of Jesus so incredibly captivating and powerful when you take the time to think about, for Jesus didn’t merely come to tell men who God is, but rather He came to describe what God was like and present Him to the world. Jesus didn’t come speaking of God as someone who could be explained away, but Jesus came describing what God was like and how we as his disciples and followers can not only know Him, but also experience Him firsthand within our hearts and lives.

            The more you explore the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews the more you will be brought face to face with the absolutely tremendous fact that although the chapter begins with a description of what faith is—the remaining portion of the chapter is centered upon the reality of what faith does and how it operates. It would be incredibly easy to get hung up on trying to understand and be able to describe that which faith is, and as a direct result of this completely miss out on actually understanding how faith operates and what it looks like within the hearts and lives of men and women. If you want to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you must needs understand that faith is not as much about explanation as it is about action. A number of men and women in many Christian circles can and will attempt to provide an explanation regarding what faith is, and they will use Scripture to support their doctrinal and theological explanations concerning and regarding what faith truly is. What makes this so incredibly intriguing is when you consider the fact that in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews the author emphatically declares that faith is the substance of things hope for and the evidence of things not seen. Also included in this chapter is a wonderful and powerful declaration that without faith it is impossible to please God, thus indicating that faith is necessary if we wish to please God. In the second chapter of the epistle written by James we find and discover that faith without works is dead, thus indicating that faith must needs demonstration and manifestation within our hearts and lives for it to truly be alive—and not only alive, but also active. Oh I absolutely love and appreciate the words which James wrote unto his audience, for the words he wrote emphatically declare and reveal the powerful truth that if faith without works is dead then faith with works is very much alive. There would be those who would think that faith can survive—and not only survive, but also be alive—without and apart from works, and yet Scripture clearly states that faith is actually dead without and apart from works. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ:

            “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according ot the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Not if thou commit not adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).

            “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those ethings which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-25).

            THOUGH A MAN SAY HE HATH FAITH, AND HAVE NOT WORKS! FAITH, IF IT HATH NOT WORKS, IS DEAD, BEING ALONE! SHEW ME THY FAITH WITHOUT THY WORKS, AND WILL SHEW THEE MY FAITH BY MY WORKS! FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD! FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD! It is as you come to this particular chapter within the second chapter of the epistle written by James that you will encounter three times this leader within the church boldly declaring—and not only declaring, but declaring three times—that faith without works is dead. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within this passage you will be brought face to face with the truth that not only is faith without works dead, but so also faith without and apart from works abides and dwells alone. A DEAD AND LONELY FAITH! Pause for a moment and think about that which James wrote within this passage of Scripture, for not only did James write and declare that faith without works is dead, but James also writes and declare that faith without and apart from works is dead—and not only dead, but is also alone. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women profess and speak of faith within their hearts and lives as though faith is something that is vibrant and active, and yet according to James their faith is not only dead, but it is also abiding alone. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for it is of great importance to recognize and understand that faith must needs works—faith must needs a demonstration and manifestation within the earth, or it abides alone and is completely and utterly dead. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that not only can faith be dead if it has no works and no manifestation within our hearts and lives, but so also can faith be completely and utterly alone. It is truly something worth considering and thinking about concerning faith without and apart from a demonstration and manifestation, for faith must needs a means of expressing, demonstrating and manifesting itself. Faith has never been, nor will it ever be able to abide alone without and apart from works, for it is works that actually gives weight and meaning to the faith that is present within our hearts and lives.

            I read the words which are found within the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, and I am brought face to face with the incredible and powerful truth that faith is more than simply word, but it is also in deed and action. Faith has never been able to rest simply and solely in the realm and arena of explanation without and apart from demonstration and manifestation, and the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews brings us face to face with the awesome truth concerning faith, and how faith must needs be something that needs to be demonstrated and manifested within our lives. Faith has never been, nor will it ever be that which can merely be something we intellectualize and rationalize within our hearts and minds without and apart from demonstration and manifestation. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews does indeed and does in fact speak of faith as being the substance of tings hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, and yet if that was the main and underlying premise that is found within this chapter the author would have attempted to spend the entire chapter forming a theological and doctrinal treatise concerning that which faith truly is. If the author which wrote the epistle written unto the Hebrews thought and felt that a definition, description and explanation of faith was in and of itself enough and alone then they would have spent a considerable amount of time within the chapter seeking to explain what faith is rather than presenting us with wonderful descriptions concerning faith within the lives of this great hall of faith. The author which wrote the epistle unto the Hebrews did not spend the time in this chapter seeking to bring us to a head knowledge and assent to that which faith is, for the author undoubtedly realized and recognized that a theological and doctrinal understanding of faith without and apart from understanding and recognizing how it works is completely and utterly shallow. The author which wrote the epistle unto the Hebrews spent a considerable amount of time showing us what faith looks like rather than spending time explaining what faith is, for the author realized and understood that our seeing faith in action is of greater worth and value within our hearts and lives.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, and I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible and wonderful truth that when we think about and consider faith we must needs understand and recognize that faith not only needs an outlet, but faith also needs demonstration and manifestation. It’s almost as if the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, and James the half brother of Jesus realized and recognized that faith cannot abide within our hearts and lives without and apart from demonstration and manifestation. I would dare say that both of these authors fully recognized and understood that faith without and apart from any demonstration and manifestation is completely and utterly useless and has no real worth and value within the heart and life of one who professes themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will be brought face to face with the fact that not only does faith need and require demonstration and manifestation, but faith also demands and requires action and responsibility on our part. What’s more, is that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews clearly indicates that faith isn’t always easy, and that faith can in fact require of us to patiently endure in the midst of suffering, affliction, opposition, trial, trouble, tribulation, and the like. This reality is aptly demonstrated and explained within the first epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, for within that epistle the apostle Paul boldly declared unto his spiritual son in the faith that he must needs fight the good fight of faith. Oh we would like to think that faith is something that comes easy when we make the decision to believe on and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that there are times—even times more often than not—when faith is not only a struggle, but faith is also a conflict and battle within our hearts and lives. There are times within our hearts and lives when faith is actually fight—and not only is faith a fight, but faith involves us giving ourselves to a willingness to engage in the struggle, the conflict, the battle and warfare that surrounds it.

            If there is one thing I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with when reading the words found in this particular passage of Scripture it’s the tremendous demonstration and manifestation of faith that is more often than not considered. There are countless men and women who will read the words found within this passage of Scripture and will choose to focus on the demonstration and manifestation of faith within the lives of all those who are mentioned and completely miss and lose sight of the awesome truth surrounding the expression of faith that is found at the very heart of all manifestations and demonstrations of faith. Within this chapter we find faith offering unto God a more excellent sacrifice, we find Enoch being translated that he should not see death, we find Noah being moved with fear and preparing a ark to the saving of his house, and we find Abraham obeying and going out when he was called not knowing where he went or where he was going. Moreover, we find within this passage of Scripture that it was by and through faith that Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, and chose to dwell in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob which were the heirs with him of the same promise. What makes this truly astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that when the author of this epistle continues to write and speak of faith they would go on to write how Abraham would look for a city which had foundations and whose builder and maker is God. Beginning with the thirteenth verse of this chapter we find the author of this epistle writing and declaring that all of those who were mentioned and spoken of died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, embrace them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found within this particular portion of the eleventh chapter of this epistle, for the words which we find here speak of this earth not being our home, and this earth merely being that which we pass through and sojourn within until we reach out ultimate destination.

            The more I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding faith, and how faith is the demonstration, the manifestation and expression that we are strangers and pilgrims in the earth, and that we are seeking a country that is entirely and altogether different from that which we are presently in and experiencing. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that which is written and found within this passage of Scripture for perhaps the ultimate expression and demonstration of faith within our hearts and lives is that understanding that this earth is not our home and that we weren’t destined to remain within and upon the earth. The words which are found within this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the truest expression of faith is living our lives knowing that this earth is not our home and that there is a better country for us. In all reality, I would dare say that there is perhaps no truer demonstration and manifestation of faith than the heart and soul which lives their lives as though this earth has absolutely nothing to offer. We have need to realize and understand that faith realizes and recognizes that this earth has absolutely nothing to offer us, and that we must needs live our lives for that country which has its foundations in heaven and not within and upon this earth. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that the single greatest demonstration and expression of faith is the recognition and understanding that not only is this earth not our home, but this earth has absolutely nothing for us. We know and understand that faith must needs have a demonstration and manifestation within and upon the earth, however, we must also realize and recognize that at the very heart of our faith is the knowledge and understanding that this earth has absolutely nothing for us, and has absolutely nothing it can offer us. It is incredibly important that we realize and understand this, for faith can never and will never rise higher than the understanding that this earth is not our home, and that this earth has absolutely nothing that can offer us compared to eternity.

            The words which are found within the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is not so much an expose and description of what faith is as much as what faith is like and how faith operates within the earth among those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is not something that warrants any type of definition, description, explanation and doctrine concerning what it is, for faith must needs demonstration and manifestation within the earth. I absolutely love what Is found within this chapter, for what we find within it is a powerful description concerning how faith operates in the hearts and lives of men—almost as if the demonstration of faith is the testimony of faith rather than an explanation of faith. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words which James writes in the second chapter of the epistle he wrote unto the church must needs be considered and recognized when reading the words found in this chapter, for that which James writes and declares is how faith does indeed and how faith does in fact operate within the hearts and lives of men and women in the earth. I sit here today thinking about and considering the incredible and tremendous words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James and its direct link and connection to what is found within the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, and I am brought face to face with the truth that the greatest explanation of faith is not in the words spoken concerning it but the actions performed by it. Pause for a moment and truly take the time to think about those words, for there are countless men and women who would like to think that the greatest testimony of faith is the words and doctrine which can indeed be spoken concerning it, and yet the truth of the matter is that the greatest testimony concerning faith is not that which can be spoken concerning it, but rather that which can be observed by it. It is an incredible thing to think about and consider the fact that faith is not something which must needs be talked about, but something that must needs be observed and something which must needs be visible to those who would wish to understand it.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find in this chapter bring us face to face—not with what we can use to help explain what faith is to others, but rather how faith operates and how faith is demonstrated and manifested unto others. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that faith—much like love—is not something that needs to be explained, but something that must be demonstrated. Oh we can say we love others all we want, however, if we are unwilling to actually demonstrate and manifest that love within our hearts and lives toward others we might indeed and might in fact be those whose lives are completely and utterly absent love. The apostle Paul—when writing unto the Corinthian saints in the first epistle—boldly and emphatically stated that if we moved and operated in the gifts of the Spirit, and if we prophesied and spoke with the tongue of angels and yet had not love we are nothing more than clanging cymbals and tinkling brass. We dare not and must not miss the awesome significance and importance of this, for when speaking of love as being nothing more than mere words without and apart from actions, so also is faith without and apart from demonstration and manifestation within our lives absolutely and utterly worthless and meaningless. We must not lose sight of this incredibly powerful truth, for faith is that which requires action without and apart from words. James writes that without works faith ceases to live and abides alone, and I would dare say that faith with mere words alone without and apart from action, demonstration and manifestation abides alone and has not substance. What’s more is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that we have entirely and altogether missed the significance and importance of the words “substance” and “evidence” when even seeking to understand what faith is and how faith truly operates within our hearts and lives.

            If you read the words which are found in the opening verse of the eleventh chapter of this epistle you find the author emphatically declaring that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs recognize and pay close attention to these words “substance” and “evidence,” for if we truly wish to demonstrate and manifest faith within the earth we need to recognize and understand that there must be substance to it, and there must be evidence of it. At the very heart of faith is the knowledge and acknowledgment that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Moreover at the very heart of faith is the realization that at the very heart of faith is the knowledge and understanding that this world is not our home and that this world has absolutely nothing to offer us, and as such we live our lives for what is before us in eternity in heaven with the eternal Father, with the eternal Son, with the Holy Spirit, with the great cloud of witnesses which is mentioned and spoken of in the twelfth chapter. With this being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that we understand that faith is that which must needs—not only substance, but also evidence. Concerning substance—faith must needs that which is found at the very heart and center of it, and must indeed have at the very heart of it a full and complete trust and confidence in the living and eternal God. Moreover, when we think about faith as needing substance and faith needing evidence we have great need to realize and come face to face with the fact that when thinking about faith we must realize that there must be both substance and evidence. We cannot truly understand faith without and apart from recognizing and understanding that there must indeed be evidence and proof to our faith. It is truly something worth recognizing and acknowledging when reading these words and how when speaking about faith it is absolutely necessary to recognize that it must needs substance—that which makes it up and serves as its foundation—and evidence—that which is the demonstration and manifestation of it.

            I absolutely love how the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews uses the words “substance” and “evidence” when seeking to speak concerning faith, for this is in direct alignment with that which is found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James the half brother of Jesus. You cannot read the words found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that when we speak about faith we must needs recognize and understand that there must not only be substance to our faith—that which actually comprises, makes up and serves as the foundation of our faith—but there must also be evidence of our faith. What’s more, is that when speaking about the substance of our faith we must needs realize and recognize that it is a substance of things hoped for, while when speaking of the evidence of faith we must realize that it is the evidence of things not seen. At the very heart of the substance of our faith is hope, and at the very heart of the evidence of our faith is those things which are not seen. Essentially, faith takes and lays hold of that which cannot be seen, and the evidence of faith is the actual manifestation and demonstration of what was previously unseen. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely critical this truly is when speaking of faith, for the evidence of faith is rooted and has its foundation in that which is not seen that what is unseen might be made manifest, and might be made visible in the physical and natural realm. The substance of faith is that which we hope for, while the evidence of faith is that which is not seen—thus when we speak about faith we must needs realize that the greatest demonstration and manifestation of it is not that which is spoken concerning it, but that which is made visible because of it. Oh permit me to ask you concerning the faith which you profess within your heart and life whether or not there is, and whether or not there has been any substance to it. Permit me to ask you who are willing to take a good, long and hard look at the faith you profess in this life and ask if there is any evidence, any proof, any demonstration, any manifestation, and any activity surrounding it. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this question, for at the very heart of it is the acknowledgement within our hearts and spirits whether or not the faith which we profess within this life does indeed and does in fact have any substance to it and any evidence of it.

            FAITH AND AFFLICTION! FAITH AND SUFFERING! FAITH AND OPPOSITION! FAITH AND TRIALS! FAITH AND TROUBLES! FAITH AND TRIBULATION! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, ye believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9). “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this that the trying of your faith, worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:2-12).

            As you read the words which are found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will indeed read a powerful declaration concerning faith being the substance of things hoped for, as well as the evidence of things not seen, and you will also read an emphatic declaration that without faith it is impossible to please God. Within and throughout this chapter you will be brought face to faith—not with an expose and treatise concerning that which faith is, but rather a powerful demonstration and manifestation of what faith is like. The more you read the words found within this passage the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth that faith is not something that is understood best by and through explanation, definition and description, but rather through demonstration and manifestation. This was precisely what James sought to convey in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle which bears his name, for when speaking of faith he boldly and without reservation declared how faith without works is dead. What’s more, is James also wrote and spoke about those who would attempt to show him their faith without and apart from works, and James would indeed show and demonstrate unto them his faith by his works. James would even be so bold as to state that without works—without demonstration and without the expression and without the manifestation of faith—not only is faith dead, but faith also abides alone. Oh we dare not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for I cannot help but wonder how many men and women have a faith that is completely and utterly alone within their hearts and lives simply and solely because there are no accompanying works. I have previously written concerning the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ not only needs the demonstration of the Holy Spirit in power, but it also needs the demonstration of Christ in suffering. There would be those who would think that they can have the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit alone, and that might in fact be enough. The truth of the matter is that the gospel without and apart from the demonstration of Christ by, with and through suffering is indeed a shallow gospel that might actually do more damage and harm than good.

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, and while I see, witness and behold example after example of how faith operated and functioned within the lives of Old Testament saints—there is something else that is expressed within this passage. There is something found within this passage of Scripture that is not readily seen, nor readily discerned—something which must needs be strongly considered, recognized and understood, for we dare not, we cannot and must not have a conversation about faith without and apart from speaking concerning its testing and its trial. In all reality, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that a faith which cannot be tested is perhaps a faith that is nothing more than a farce, and is perhaps nothing more than smoke and mirrors. What’s more, is that I can’t help but think about and consider that when speaking of faith there are essentially two sides to it, as on the one hand there is the demonstration, manifestation and expression of faith, while on the other hand there is the testing and the trial of faith. Oh would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that not only must there needs be a demonstration and manifestation of faith within our hearts and lives, but there must also be the testing and trial of faith? Scripture is absolutely clear—and I firmly believe—that the Lord Jesus Christ can and does in fact allow our faith to be tested and tried that, yes it might be purified, refined and come forth as pure gold. With that being said, however, I am also convinced that there are times within our hearts and lives when the Lord can and will allow our faith to be tested that He might know and understand the substance of it. There is a tremendous part in me that cannot help but think and consider the demonstration and manifestation of faith does indeed and does in fact prove and reveal the substance of our faith, and is indeed a wonderful and powerful evidence of it before the Lord, however, I am also convinced that there is something else which proves and reveals the substance of faith within our hearts and lives—namely, that of its being tested and put on trial. Oh we would like to think that this simply is not the case, and yet the truth of the matter is that there are times within our hearts and lives when the truest way to prove what is the substance of our faith is through its testing and its being put on trial.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and powerful truth, for to miss out on this particular truth is to completely neglect and ignore the words which are found in the final portion of this eleventh chapter. If you begin reading with and from the thirty-second verse of this eleventh chapter you will find the author of this epistle Paul expressing their not having enough time to write and speak of various other saints mentioned in the Old Testament who demonstrated and manifested faith within their generation. The author briefly mentioned individuals such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, and then immediately transitioned to an entirely different manifestation and demonstration of faith—one that many would rather ignore and pay absolutely no attention to. It is as you come to the words which are found in the final verses of the eleventh chapter that you are brought face to face with a demonstration and manifestation of faith—one which is seen and witnessed in its ability to be tested and its ability to be put on trial. What’s more, is that there are those among us who would like to think that faith can simply and solely be demonstrated and manifested through actions which cause barren wombs to conceive, and which bring about the miraculous within ones life, and yet the truth of the matter is that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews seems to suggest that the demonstration and manifestation of faith doesn’t entirely, nor does it altogether speak to and touch on the realm of the miraculous. Oh when we think about and when we speak about the demonstration and manifestation of faith within our hearts and lives we tend to think of it as being demonstrated through the miraculous being brought into existence within our lives, and we even use the first and opening verse to support and substantiate such a claim and declaration.

            The truth of the matter is that more often than not—the demonstration and manifestation of faith is not found in the miraculous and supernatural being brought into existence within our lives, but rather in the seemingly mundane and ordinary. Oh dear reader—would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that faith is more often than not demonstrated and manifested in the ordinary actions of obedience and faithfulness before and unto the living God rather than the supernatural and miraculous? Is it possible that we have been so caught up and consumed in looking for faith in the supernatural and the miraculous, and yet we have missed its demonstration and manifestation in the seemingly ordinary and mundane routines and actions of our lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for while it was indeed true that there were examples of the miraculous and supernatural found within this chapter—i.e. Sarah receiving the ability to conceive at the age of one hundred, quenching the violence of fire, stopping the mouths of lions, etc—however, if and as you read the words which are found in this chapter you will see more examples and more narratives of faith being demonstrated and manifested in that which seemingly shows absolutely nothing concerning the supernatural and the miraculous. Oh I would dare say that there are countless men and women among us who have been looking for, and who have been anticipating and expecting to find faith in the supernatural and the miraculous alone, and yet they have completely, utterly and entirely missed the underlying truth that more often than not faith is most aptly demonstration and manifested within our lives through our obedience to the word and voice of God, and our ability to suffer and endure affliction, trial, trouble, tribulation, etc. In fact, if you read the words which the author of this passage of Scripture wrote concerning Moses you will find them writing how it was by faith that Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, as he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. What’s more, is the author would also go on to write how Moses chose to and did in fact esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. Oh we dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely wonderful and powerful this truly is, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that perhaps the single greatest demonstration of faith is not necessarily in the supernatural, but in suffering—not necessarily in the miraculous, but in affliction.

            The words which are found within this passage of Scripture are such which are absolutely astonishing and worth considering, for the words contained therein bring us face to face with the fact that more often than not the greatest demonstration and manifestation of our faith is not even necessarily in the supernatural and miraculous, but rather in our ability to endure and bear up under and in the midst of suffering and affliction. It is as you read the words which are found in the final verses of this chapter that you find the author writing of how it was by and through faith that men and women stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Even with that being said, however, we must needs realize and recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that the author goes on to write and speak about faith as being demonstrated through being tortured and not accepting delivering, through trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, and even bonds and imprisonment. Still the author which wrote this passage of Scripture would go on to write and speak of faith as being demonstrated by and through being stoned, being sawn asunder, through being tempted, through being slain with the sword, and even by and through wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Even more, the author goes on to write of faith being demonstrated and manifested in wandering in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth, and how the world was not worthy of such individuals. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to that which is found within these verses and within this passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with perhaps one of the greatest truths concerning faith—namely, that faith which cannot be tested cannot be trusted. FAITH WHICH CANNOT BE TESTED CANNOT BE TRUSTED! Oh I would dare say that the living and eternal God might very well in fact allow your faith to be tested—not merely that He might cause it to come forth as pure gold, but also that such faith might and can be trusted in this generation. I am becoming increasingly convinced that faith is not demonstrated and manifested simply and solely in the miraculous and the supernatural, but is also demonstrated in its ability to be tested and put on trial, and its ability to bear up in the midst of affliction, suffering, tribulation, and the like.

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am confronted with and by the truth that faith is not only demonstrated in acts of obedience before and unto that which the Lord had indeed commanded, but it is also demonstrated in endurance in the midst of suffering and affliction. What’s more, is that we must needs recognize and acknowledge of faith that there are times when its demonstration and manifestation within our hearts and lives is found and seen in the midst of affliction, in the midst of suffering, and in the midst of tribulation. We would like to think and believe that faith can indeed and can in fact survive simply and solely in the supernatural and the miraculous, and yet I would dare say that faith which can only survive in the supernatural and the miraculous, and faith which can only be strengthened and supported in such realms and environments is also a faith that is shallow and cannot be trusted. Oh tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what good is it, and of what value is a faith which needs the supernatural and the miraculous to survive within one’s heart and life if it cannot experience and endure suffering, affliction, tribulation, trial and trouble? We dare not, we cannot and must not think and consider—even for a brief moment—that faith can only be seen and witnessed in the supernatural and the miraculous, and that is the only way faith can truly have an evidence within and among us. We do ourselves a great disservice and the Lord a great dishonor when we say with our mouths and believe with our hearts that faith can only survive and can only be manifested in and with the supernatural and the miraculous and which has absolutely no context, nor any framework for suffering, affliction, tribulation, persecution, and the like. There is not a doubt in my mind that faith is truly seen in the seemingly ordinary actions of our lives, as well as being seen and demonstrated through suffering and affliction. It’s actually quite remarkable and astounding to read the words which are found within the final verses of the eleventh chapter, for within these verses the author speaks of experiencing the violence of fire, experiencing the threat of the mouths of lions, and that which we would not think nor expect to be demonstrations and manifestations of faith. What’s more, is the author writes concerning faith that it is seen and experienced in torture and refusing deliverance, as well as in trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment.

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the awesome and incredible truth that faith which cannot be tested cannot be trusted, and faith is not solely seen in the supernatural and the miraculous. Oh despite how much we would like to think that faith is and can only be seen in the supernatural and the miraculous, we do ourselves a great disservice when we think and consider how faith cannot also have evidence, demonstration and manifestation in the midst of affliction, suffering, tribulation, and the like. With that being said I would dare say that there are times within the lives of men and women when their faith is demonstrated—not in the supernatural, nor even in the miraculous, but rather in the midst of and through suffering, affliction and tribulation. There are and there have been individuals who will show, demonstrate and prove their faith in the one true and living God by and through suffering, affliction and tribulation, and not necessarily in the supernatural and the miraculous. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this, and that we truly understand just how incredibly important this is, for there are times when the Lord can and will ask our demonstration and manifestation of faith to be met with and found in suffering and affliction. There would be those who show their works by and through works within this life—and yes, even to some degree the manifestation of the supernatural and the miraculous—however, there are others whom the Lord calls for the demonstration and manifestation of their faith to be found in suffering, in affliction and in tribulation and persecution. There are those who can in fact and do in fact show and demonstrate their faith through their endurance—and not only their endurance, but also their willingness to bear up and walk through suffering and affliction. Oh please make no mistake about it, for faith can in fact, and faith does in fact require and demand of us to walk through suffering, and to walk through affliction, and to walk through persecution and tribulation. We dare not and must not be so naïve to think and consider the fact that faith cannot be seen, that faith cannot be demonstrated, and that faith cannot and will not require us to endure and bear up in the midst of suffering and affliction. It is incredibly misleading and deceiving thinking and believing that we our faith can indeed and can in fact only be seen by and through the supernatural and the miraculous.

Perhaps the best way to conclude this writing is to ask you if you know and are aware of what faith asks and requires of you. As you sit here and read these words—are you truly aware of that which faith has asked of you, and what faith is indeed requiring of you within this life? Have you come to the knowledge and the understanding that faith might indeed and might in fact be best demonstrated and manifested within your heart and life by and through suffering and affliction in this present generation. Oh I would dare say that there are men and women among us whose faith can and will be tested and tried, and whose faith can and will be most readily and aptly seen and demonstrated by, through and in the midst of suffering and affliction. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for there would be those who would like to separate faith from suffering, and there would be those who would like to distance faith from affliction, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. We dare not and must not be those who think that faith can survive simply and solely on the supernatural and cannot also require and ask of one to endure and bear up in the midst of and under the weight and burden of suffering and affliction. We must needs realize and recognize that faith must needs have the ability to be tested and put on trial in order that the substance of it might be revealed, and that it might the evidence of it might be seen and made visible. Oh we have great need to recognize and understand this, for there are times within the lives of men and women when the evidence of their faith is not in the supernatural, nor in the miraculous, but rather in their suffering, in their affliction, and in their persecution and tribulation. Oh we have great need to realize, recognize and understand this, for failure to do so can and will in fact give us a false understanding and a false idea of that which faith truly is. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—you have great need to be a man and/or a woman who truly recognizes and understand that faith must needs be able to be tested, and must needs be put on trial that it might be proven, and that the substance and evidence of it might be manifested before and in the sight of a living and holy God.

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