The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives us the biblical definition of faith: bold action in response to the promise of God regarding an unseen future. Any casual stroll through the Faith Ring of Honor in this chapter confirms what a life of faith looks like, precisely the kind of life that pleases God.
By faith, Noah built. That’s action. He built. Noah built when he was warned about things not yet seen. Noah had no physical, tangible evidence that building an ark was a good use of his time and resources. He’d never seen a flood. Most scholars believe he’d never even seen rain. For Noah to build an ark made no sense. But Noah builds. He acts boldly, motivated by what the Word of God told him was going to happen even though nobody had ever seen anything like it before.
By faith, Abraham went. Abraham acted on God’s promise even though he didn’t know where he was going. God had told Abraham he’d be given land in the future and that his descendants would be too many to count. And there was no physical evidence to suggest it might come true. He’s 100 years old! His wife’s 90 and barren! But by faith, Abraham went — bold action. He left the certainties of what he knew to take his family into the unknown, relying only on the Word of God. This is the very essence of faith. This is what faith is: a bold action in response to the promise of god regarding an unseen future.
By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith, Joseph spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. They acted on things that were going to happen in the future. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. The Word of God, the promise, was going to be fulfilled after each of them died. But they each acted by faith anyway.
By faith, Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God. Why? Because he was looking ahead to his reward. It made no sense for God’s people to put blood all over their doors. But they did it because they had faith that God was going to keep his promise. Walking down into the middle of the Red Sea, are you kidding me? But had promised to deliver them, so in they went. Same thing with marching around the walls of Jericho. Their only motivation for doing this thing that made no sense was that God told them to. God was doing something. Otherwise, it’s pointless.
In Mark 2, four men dig a hole through a roof and lower their paralyzed friend on a mat down to Jesus. And the Gospel says Jesus saw their faith. He saw their faith! Faith is not believing that Jesus can heal; faith is digging through the roof! Faith is not believing God can save; faith is walking into the Red Sea, faith is marching around Jericho, faith is getting up and going where God calls you to go and doing what God is calling you to do! Faith is in the verbs: bold action in response to the promise of God regarding an unseen future.
We received more than six inches of snow overnight here at Stanglin Manor, more snow in the past 12 hours than we’ve received total the past two winters combined! It never gets old; I still get excited about the snow up here.
The construction on the west side of our church building at Central is finally going up instead of down. Over the weekend, they framed out the arches for the new main entrance. It’s really starting to take shape. The new ground level ministry space is so much bigger than I could realistically imagine. The new welcome center is going to make a big difference. And the main entrance to our building will be obvious for the first time since the mid ’80s!
Tomorrow is the day Amarillo baseball fans have been anticipating / dreading for several months. The San Diego Padres AA affiliate, scheduled to begin play in April 2019 at our brand new downtown Amarillo baseball stadium, is announcing the name of the local team. The press conference is at 1pm. Please don’t be Sodpoodles! I’d rather it not be Long Haulers, Boot Scooters, Bronc Busters, or Jerky, either. But please don’t let it be Sodpoodles!
You are very correct in emphasizing the equation of faith with doing. To understand faith short of action as some mental state only is to know nothing of faith. Much blood has been shed in the past for the lack of seeing this truth. Consider “The Church’s” steps to salvation. We separated belief, confession and baptism as if they were separate things. They are all the same thing. When the eunuch expressed belief, Phillip wanted to see him be baptized. Instead we separated them into steps and spent a lot of time arguing over where salvation falls in the process. In the mean;time, the Baptists taught (and fought) us over the issue by making the same mistake. They also separated belief from baptism simply sticking salvation into a different slot. But faith is action. If someone claims to believe that God wants them to be baptized yet they are not baptized, they have no faith. Faith is action. It does not exist without it. If we all had joined faith/baptism together as one thing there would never have been a problem. I am not saying that baptism is essential, I am saying that if we believe God wants us to be baptized then the absence of baptism is the absence of faith. If we thought God wanted us to pick up a rattle snake then the failure to pick up a rattle snake is a failure of faith.
Of course, Paul is the one that went down the wrong path on this and has left Christendom confused ever since. If someone thinks God wants them to be circumcised then failure to be circumcised is a lack of faith. It does not result in a falling from grace. Paul might have been right that God did not require circumcision but he was not right about there being something such as faith only. James had it right. Faith only (without action) is no faith. Certainly everything a Christian does in response to his ideal of God’s will is FOR salvation, but that does not means he even thinks he is earning salvation.
Paul should have paid more attention to his example. Abraham was saved by grace through faith. The facts that he was circumcised and that he offered his son Isaac and did many other things by faith did not cause him to fall from grace. Quite the contrary, if he had not acted he would have not had faith. It is no wonder than James and Paul did not get along.