The Witness & Testimony of Faith: Righteousness Before God & Pleasing Him

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passage is found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle. “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 framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1-3).

 

            “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:4-5).

 

            “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).

 

            “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to gout into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable” (Hebrews 11:7-12).

 

            “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).

 

            “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:17-31).

 

            “And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephtae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 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 raised 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).

 

            When you come to the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find what is perhaps one of the most well-known and beloved passages in all of Scripture. There are very few students and scholars of the Word of God who aren’t familiar with the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. Even if many are not familiar with the totality of what is contained therein many are familiar with the words presented in the first and opening verse and even the words which are found in the sixth chapter. In all reality I would dare say that there are countless men and women who are familiar with and can even quote the words written in the first and sixth verses of this chapter while being entirely unable to provide certain names which are contained therein. There are certainly men and women who might be able to mention some of the names found in this passage of Scripture simply because of their knowledge of the Old Testament. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the words contained in this chapter it’s how the author sought to present a picture of faith beginning almost from the garden of Eden itself. Of course we know and understand the author of this epistle did not begin with Adam or Eve, however, they began as close to them as possible for they chose to write about Abel who was born to Adam and Eve. It’s actually quite unique when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture and not only get an idea of what faith is but also how long faith has been present within and upon the earth.

 

            I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped—not merely with what the author described faith as but also the lineage and heritage of faith. The author clearly sought to display and convey a powerful picture of faith within the earth—this despite the fact that in order to speak to what faith is the author didn’t rely solely on theological discussions and debates. If you take the time to read the words found in this passage of Scripture you must needs recognize and understand that the author was more concerned with what faith looks like and how it operates in the earth than seeking to explain it away. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when considering faith for there are men and women who may be able to teach about it and even preach concerning it and yet when it comes to actually demonstrating and showing what it looks like and how it operates in the earth they are entirely and altogether incapable. There is something absolutely incredible about the words and language found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the wonderful demonstration and manifestation of faith within the earth. In fact I would dare say the author of this epistle spent more time seeking to show how faith worked within the hearts and lives of those mentioned in this chapter than actually seeking to explain what it is. Moreover if you read the words presented in this chapter you will find the author dedicated a total of four verses to providing some type of explanation concerning what faith is. Verses one through three and six of this chapter are entirely dedicated to providing some type of definition of what faith is—this despite the fact that the rest of the chapter seeks to bring the reader face to face with the actual manifestation of faith.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture. The words which we find in the opening three verses of this chapter as well as the words presented in the sixth verse are absolutely and entirely powerful when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw our attention to some type of definition and understanding of what faith is. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there are more people among us today who feel compelled to know how to explain what faith is rather than demonstrate how it moves, works and operates within their lives. How incredibly tragic it is for many students and scholars of the Scripture to be able to teach and preach great sermons concerning what faith is while being entirely and altogether unable and incapable of actually demonstrating what it is. What makes this all the more intriguing and compelling is when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. Not only this but I am also reminded of the words which James the half brother of Jesus wrote in the second chapter of the epistle he wrote. It is within the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome we find a powerful declaration concerning how faith is developed and cultivated within the heart and life of a saint of God and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ while in in the second chapter of the epistle written by James we find a necessary declaration concerning faith being without works as being dead. Oh if you read the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James unto the suffering and scattered saints you will find him beautifully describing and declaring how faith without works is dead and abides alone.

 

            With these truths before you who read these words I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome as well as the words written by James unto the saints which were scattered and suffering. There is not a doubt in my mind the words found within each of these passages of Scripture brings us face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the demonstration and manifestation of faith within the heart and life of a saint of God and one who professes to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that when considering the words presented in the second chapter of the epistle written by James it is also necessary to consider the words written by Solomon king of Israel and son of David in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The words which Solomon wrote in this particular chapter are essentially the words of James in the New Testament on the pages of Old Testament scripture. Oh that we would recognize and understand that it is not as important being able to define and explain faith as it is to being able to demonstrate and manifest its presence within our hearts and lives. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what good is being able to explain, teach, rationalize, describe and define faith if there is absolutely no demonstration and manifestation of faith within your heart and life? It is having asked this question and writing these words I find it necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to the words of the apostle Paul, the words of James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus and the words of Solomon king of Israel and son of David:

 

            “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) OR, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things> But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:1-17).

 

            It is in the tenth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome we discover that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous need of hearing—and not only hearing but hearing the word of God. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning faith it’s that at the very heart and core of it is the word of God. What’s more is that not only is the word of God at the very heart and core of faith but the word of God can only produce faith within us when and as we hear it. Not only this but if you turn and direct your attention to the final words of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount you will find Him speaking of the words which He had just taught unto His disciples and followers. When speaking unto His disciples and followers the Lord Jesus emphatically declared that those who heard His words—and not only those who heard His words but those who actually obeyed and did them—would be likened unto a wise man who built his house upon the sure foundation of a rock. When the storm came, when the winds blew, when the rains came down from the heavens, and when the waves crashed against the house the house would be able to withstand the storm and would not collapse. Conversely the Lord Jesus also declares that those who heard His words and did not do them nor put them to practice in their lives would be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the storm came—perhaps the same storm experienced by the wise man—and when the rains fell, the winds blew and the waves crashed against the house the house itself would collapse with a great fall.

 

            The apostle Paul boldly and emphatically declared that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, thus he intrinsically links and connects both the Word of God as well as hearing the word of God to the cultivation of faith within the heart and life of that one who seeks to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for while faith does indeed and does in fact come by hearing and hearing by the word of God there needs to be an expression, a manifestation and demonstration of it within our hearts and lives. It is of absolutely no worth or value to us or even to others if faith is cultivated within our heart and yet we seemingly hoard it unto and for ourselves. There are those who would like to think of faith as the means of receiving from the Lord His promises, His provisions and His blessings. While it is indeed true that faith is most certainly needed to lay hold of that which the living God has promised us it’s important to note that when reading the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews the author wrote of those who moved and operated in faith within their generation and yet died without having received that which was promised unto them. Pause for a moment and consider just how incredible that thought truly is—that faith was present within the hearts and lives of these men and women and yet not only did they die in faith but they also died having not received the promises which they expected and earnestly desired. Before we delve into the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James and the words of Solomon I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words presented in the eleventh chapter of this epistle written unto the Hebrews beginning with the thirteenth verse:

            “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).

 

            THESE ALL DIED! THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH! THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH NOT HAVING RECEIVED! THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for if the sole purpose of faith is laying hold of and receiving that which the living and eternal God had promised then the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would not have written concerning those mentioned in this passage of Scripture that they died in faith having not received the promises but saw them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embrace them and confessed they were pilgrims on the earth. It’s important to note and recognize that although Abraham and Sarah would indeed witness and behold the birth of their son Isaac according to the promise of the living God the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews emphatically declared unto their audience that these mentioned within this chapter—Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, etc—all died in faith. This is something we must needs acknowledge within our hearts for the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote and declared that it was appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment. Death is something that for many has been unavoidable and something which they have had to face and experience at some point within their earthly lives. With this being said, however, we find the author of this epistle emphatically declaring that these who were mentioned in this passage not only died but died in faith. With this being said I would dare declare that not only did they die in faith but they also died with faith having held on to it firm unto the end.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding those whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in this passage. The author described how faith worked and was demonstrated and manifested within the hearts and lives of those whom they wrote about and mentioned and yet they would also declare that despite the operation and demonstration of faith within their hearts and lives they died in faith having not received received the promises. Despite the fact they died not having received the promises the author goes on to describe how they saw the promises afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them confessing they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Moreover the author of this epistle would go on to declare that those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. Not only this but if they had been mindful of that country from which they came out they might have had opportunity to have returned. With this being said, however, they desired a better country—that is a heavenly country. What’s more is that God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared for them a city. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for in a chapter where the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews sought to paint a picture of the demonstration and manifestation of faith within the hearts and lives of those they wrote about they also declared that these in the days of the Old Covenant died not having received the promises but saw them afar of and were persuaded of them and embraced them confessing they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am convinced there is a great need to recognize and understand the words which James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus wrote in his epistle. In the second chapter of his epistle he not only addressed favoritism and partiality within the body of Christ but he also addressed what is perhaps one of the greatest truths regarding faith. Within this epistle James eloquently describes and declares that faith must needs be more than simply words we speak from our mouths and must needs be action which we devote ourselves to. There are countless men and women who think and feel they can simply defend and define faith away without actually having any type of demonstration within their lives. It was James—when writing unto the saints which were scattered and suffering—who emphatically declared unto them that faith without works is dead and thus demanded action, demonstration and manifestation within their lives. Building directly on the heels of addressing partiality and judgment within and among the brethren James then goes on to describe and declare how faith must needs demonstration and manifestation within their hearts and lives. Faith cannot simply be something we describe, defend or define but needs an outlet in order for it to survive. What’s more is I would dare say that faith must needs an outlet and some form of release and demonstration or it will shrivel up and die within the heart and spirit of the one who professes to have it. Much like the fig tree which bore no fruit and Jesus cursed so also faith which does not produce fruit can and will shrivel up and die within the heart and soul of one who does not give themselves to demonstration and manifestation. With this being said I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus:

 

            “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 law according to 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. Now if thou commit no 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 have 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 things 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 2:14-26).

 

            Please do not miss the incredible significance of what is found within this passage of Scripture for within it James not only address partiality, favoritism and judgment within the house of God but he also addresses dead, dormant and stagnant faith. In all reality I would dare say that what is found in the first thirteen verses of this chapter is intrinsically linked and connected to this concept of faith without works being dead for it speaks to a tremendous neglect that can be found among the saints and brethren. What we must needs recognize when reading the words in the first half of this chapter is that neglect within the house of God—regardless of whether it’s neglect of widows and orphans, or even neglect of the poor and destitute among us—is nothing more than a demonstration and manifestation of a faith without works that is dead. That which James sought to convey to his readers through this section is that faith must needs demonstration and manifestation. James emphatically declared that faith without works is indeed dead and abides alone and that he would show his faith by and through his works. This is in all reality something we must needs recognize and understand for when we consider the words which James wrote we encounter the awesome reality that our faith is and can be demonstrated simply by our fulfilling the royal law found in Scripture—namely, loving our neighbor as ourselves. There is perhaps no greater demonstration and manifestation of faith within the heart and life of a saint of God than in their fulfilling the royal law and loving their neighbor as themselves. Perhaps the greatest manifestation of faith—and not just faith but faith with works—is through loving our neighbor as ourselves and even loving our enemies as Jesus would have and as He did.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we think about and speak of faith there is a great need to recognize and understand that faith must needs have expression within our lives. Please note that by expression I do not mean a public proclamation or announcement of faith unto others. If you have to announce your faith and/or if you feel you have to announce that you have faith rather than demonstrating and showing you have faith there is something drastically wrong—both with your perception of faith and even the faith you profess to have. What a truly awesome and powerful truth it is to consider faith and how faith must needs be present within our lives and working in unity and fellowship with love. James emphatically declares that faith without works is dead abiding alone and yet I am absolutely convinced that faith and love work hand in hand. Even the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of works of faith and labors of love thus intrinsically linking and connecting these two realities together. Oh that we would be those who recognize and understand that merely professing ourselves to have faith—or some measure or degree of faith—is not enough if it is without demonstration and manifestation. In fact this is why the words which Solomon the son of David and king of Israel wrote in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs is so incredibly valuable for us:

 

            “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; When thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of this ways. For the frwoard is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall. Inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools” (Proverbs 3:27-35).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for if there is one thing we must needs understand about faith it’s that it demands action. Anyone who seeks or tries to tell you that faith does not demand action, or demonstration, or manifestation is someone who is not only out of touch with themselves but also out of touch with faith itself. We dare not think and/or believe that that merely being able to describe and define faith is in and of itself enough within our hearts and lives to please God. We know that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews declared that without faith it is impossible to please God and what adds even more weight and credibility to this statement is when we think about and consider the awesome truth that faith without works is dead and abides alone. It’s actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in the epistle written by James as well as the epistle written unto the Hebrews for both paint a powerful picture that faith without works is dead and without faith it is impossible to please God. If it is impossible to please God without faith and if faith without works is dead then I would dare say that it is impossible to please God without works and a demonstration of faith. We would like to think that faith can somehow be separated from demonstration and manifestation and yet the truth of the matter is that faith demands demonstration and manifestation within our hearts and lives. It is absolutely impossible to separate the two for doing so can and will severely hinder and limit faith within our hearts and lives.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find in the first and opening verse the author providing a powerful definition of what faith is within the heart and life of a believer. In the opening verse of the chapter the author declares that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the awesome incredible truth that when we speak about faith we must acknowledge that faith not only has substance but it also has evidence. The author of this epistle emphatically declares concerning faith that it is the substance of things hoped for which can also be understood as the grounds or confidence of things hoped for. What’s more is the author of this epistle calls and draws our attention to the reality of faith and how it is the evidence of things not seen. Thus when we speak about faith we must needs recognize that it not only touches the realm of the unseen but it also touches the realm of the unseen. It is through faith alone we are able to apprehend and comprehend those things which we hope for within our hearts and souls as well as those things which are not seen.

 

            The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will find the author continuing this discussion of faith which they began by declaring was the substance and evidence. This is something we must acknowledge within our hearts and lives for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth that when speaking of faith we must recognize that it is that which must needs have substance to it. We know that faith must needs have work and that without those works faith is dead and abides alone. With this being said we must needs recognize that faith is indeed the foundation upon which many other things are apprehended within our lives and which our lives are built upon. The apostle Peter when writing the second epistle unto the saints which were scattered and suffering beautifully calls and draws our attention to this tremendous truth for he acknowledges that when we speak of faith we must needs recognize that faith is the core building block within our hearts and lives. The apostle Peter called and drew our attention to the fact that we must needs add to our faith, thus signifying and suggesting that faith alone is not enough. We know that faith without works is dead, however, we must needs recognize that faith in and of itself is the foundation upon which many other virtues are present and manifested within our lives. Not only this but we also understand from the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians that faith can be a gift of the Spirit as well as a fruit which was written unto the churches which were in Galatia. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia, the first epistle written unto the Corinthians as well as the second epistle written by the apostle Peter:

 

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no. man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

 

            “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such. Like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:19-26).

 

            “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11).

 

            When we read the words found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author speaking concerning faith and how it is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things seen. What we must needs pay attention to when reading these words is that the author goes on to declare how it was by faith the elders obtained a good report. Moreover the author goes on to declare that it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Not only this but when you continue on even further in this passage of Scripture you will of course find the author declaring that it is impossible to please God without faith but they also go on to declare that those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. When we speak about faith we must needs recognize that everything begins with the existence of God. The author was very clear and very certain concerning faith and how those who come to God must believe that He is—that He does indeed and does in fact exist. What’s more is that in the third verse the author of this epistle goes on to write that through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear. In all reality I am convinced that this is what is so significant about how the Old Testament book of Genesis begins as well as how the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John begins for both of these books begin with the acknowledgment of existence—and not merely existence but the existence of both the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the eternal Father. Consider if you will the following words which are found at the outset and beginning of each of these books:

 

            “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

 

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for directly connected to them is not only the existence of the living God and of the Lord Jesus Christ but also their role and involvement in the creation of the heavens and the earth. In the eleventh chapter of this epistle the author emphatically declares that it is by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God as well as that those who come to God must believe that He is. Thus what we find in this passage of Scripture are the same realities which are found in the books of Genesis and John—the belief and understanding that God does indeed exist and the belief that the worlds and everything contained therein were made and framed by the word of God. Not only this but we also learn and understand that it is by the word of His own power the Lord Jesus Christ upholds absolutely everything that exists within creation. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews does in fact declare that without faith it is impossible to please God, however, it is also within this passage of Scripture that we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the demonstration and manifestation of faith. You cannot read the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews and not come face to face with the movement, the operation and the demonstration of faith within the hearts and lives of those whose names were mentioned. This entire chapter clearly presents a wonderful and powerful picture concerning the demonstration and manifestation of faith and its presence which is found in the lives of those whose names were found in this great lineage and heritage of faith.

 

            If you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding those who lived, moved and walked in faith. Beginning with Abel the author sets forth to clearly demonstrate how faith operated within the earth among the patriarchs and those who walked upon the earth in their generation. The author described how it was through faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice and obtained a witness that he was righteous. Not only this but the author goes on to declare that God testified concerning his gifts and by it he being dead continues to speak—a reality which was mentioned even by the Lord Jesus when He spoke of the blood of the righteous which has been shed upon the earth from Abel unto Zechariah son of Berachias who was slaughtered between the porch and the altar. Concerning Abel the author writes how he obtained witness that he was righteous while concerning Enoch we find the author writing and speaking of the testimony he had that he pleased God. Pause for a moment and consider these two realities for when we think and speak about faith we must needs recognize that faith is not only the means whereby we obtain the witness that we are righteous but it is also how we obtain the testimony that we please God.

 

Oh there is something truly special and wonderful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we discover that faith is not only linked to our being righteous in the sight of the living God but also how we obtain the testimony that we please God. THE WITNESS AND THE TESTIMONY! THE WITNESS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS! THE TESTIMONY OF PLEASING GOD! It is as we read the words found in this passage we are brought face to face with the truly wonderful truth concerning the saints of the living God and how it is by and through faith that we not only obtain the witness that we are righteous in the sight of the living God but also that we please God. The author declared that before Enoch was translated he had this witness and testimony in the earth—namely, that he pleased God. This would immediately be followed by the author declaring that without faith it is impossible to please the living God. Please do not quickly dismiss or move past this for these are men other than Abraham who were referenced within Scripture. We know that Abraham believed and it was credited unto him as righteousness and we know that Abraham believed and was counted as the Friend of God, however, within this passage we learn that Abel was the first to be considered righteous in the sight of the living God and Enoch was the first to be considered as one who pleased the living God. Generations before the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself as a living sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary there was Abel who was considered righteous in the sight of the living God and Enoch was considered as a man who pleased the living God. What’s more is that the common denominator and link between the two is faith for it is by faith the elders obtained a good report and were considered to having pleased the living God.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to ask you whether or not you have the testimony within your own heart and life that you are righteous in the sight of the living God. Not only this but do you have the testimony that you are one who pleases God through your words and your actions. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews not only declares that it was by faith the elders obtained a good report but also that without faith it is impossible to please the living God. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality concerning faith and how it is by and through faith we please the living God. We know that when Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River the eternal Father declared concerning Him that He pleased Him and now here we find in the epistle written unto the Hebrews that we ourselves can please the living God. What we must understand and come to terms with, however, is that if we truly wish to please the living God in the flesh we must needs be those who not only have faith within our hearts and souls but also commit ourselves to demonstration and manifestation of that faith. The entire eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is centered upon the demonstration of faith. Not only this but we must needs consider how the author of this epistle concludes and closes this chapter—namely how the author declares concerning those whose names were mentioned and those whose names weren’t mentioned that the world was not worthy of them. The author throughout this epistle called and drew our attention to how faith was in operation within the hearts and lives of those men and women whom they mentioned, however, when you come to the final verses of the chapter you will find the author describing how faith is at the very heart and center of our patience and endurance in the midst of trials, troubles, afflictions and tribulations—a reality which is found in the previous chapter of this epistle.

 

In bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here bring us face to face with the awesome truth that faith stands at the very heart and center of our patience and endurance in the midst of afflictions, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of suffering and in the midst of trials, troubles and tribulations. We would like to think that faith is simply about obtaining and laying hold of promises, provisions, blessings and the like,  however, we must needs understand that faith is the means whereby we are able to bear up under the weight and pressure of hardship and troubles within this life. The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to endure hardship as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ and within this passage we discover how faith and patience and how faith and endurance are intrinsically linked and connected to each other. Having said this I leave you with the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle as well as the words which are found in the final verses of the eleventh chapter:

 

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves sthat ye have in heaven a better and enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:32-39).

 

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 prophets: 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 raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trials 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 than for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:32-40).

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