Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the “Hall of Fame of the Faithful”. Pausing to reflect on the lives of the people listed here is both encouraging and instructive. Through their lives we learn the meaning behind the assertion that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We also learn why lives of faith are pleasing to the Lord: faith leads to obedience from the heart to the Lord’s will for our lives. Thus, the writer of Hebrews summarized this train of thought by stating that “these were all commended for their faith” (Hebrews 11:39). No matter when or where we live, our lives should be characterized by such commendable faith.
God’s unfolding plan
Understanding how this faith is developed is, in my estimation, one of the most important steps we can take towards this end. In addition to the fascinating human drama reported in the Scriptures, the Bible provides an intriguing account of God’s unfolding plan for human salvation. While it is compelling to read the unfolding story, we must realize that the final curtain has not yet fallen. The same God who was at work in the lives of the ancients continues to work in the world today.
The saga continues
As the saga continues to unfold, God’s plan for enfolding new generations becomes apparent. Generation after generation takes its place on the stage. This is not theater, though. It is not make-believe. It is the original, bona fide reality in a world awash with staged reality! As faithful people humbly walk in the will of God, His powerful presence continues to be felt in the lives of emerging generations. The Scriptures continue to confirm these experiences, making the will of God clear and forming a solid foundation for faith.
God is at work
When we reflect on the story, we find that one of God’s chief instruments for influencing history, as well as impacting the lives of individuals, is the family. In fact, the family seems to be God’s chosen entity for nurturing vital faith and developing sacrificial servants.
An excellent example
In 2 Timothy 3:10-16 the Apostle Paul exhorts his ministry apprentice to faithfulness in ministry. At the core of this exhortation Paul writes, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Paul zeroes in on the spiritual formation which took place in Timothy’s infancy as a key driving force in his faith-walk as an adult. A statement earlier in the letter sheds much light on how this came about. In 2 Timothy 1:5, Timothy’s mentor wrote: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” The faith of his mothers shaped his life and the lives of many whom Timothy’s ministry touched all the days of his life.
The likeness of Christ
Since God desires for members of the body of Christ to be transformed into the likeness of His Son as we mature, it should not surprise us that one of God’s chosen designations for the body of Christ is FAMILY. Thus, it seems abundantly clear that whether we are looking at the nuclear family or our spiritual family, when things are running according to God’s design, spiritual formation will be prominently evident in both.
The objective is clear
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, one of his chief concerns was that this young minister “hold on to faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). His spiritual well-being and his ministry required it! Thus, near the end of this letter, Paul exhorted Timothy: “fight the good fight of the faith” (6:12). In addition to preaching the faith-building message of Christ, keeping the faith seems to be one of Paul’s personal priorities. This is completely understandable, since it is impossible to please God without faith. It also makes clear why the faith-building work taking place in families today is so important.
Questions naturally follow
Against the backdrop of these realities, it seems appropriate to ask, “What are we doing to develop such commendable faith?” Perhaps we could ask, “How do we nurture faith which God would commend in the hearts of our children?” Or, some would interject, “When are we going to realize just how important such faith is to the spiritual health of the body of Christ and individual followers of Christ?”
Commendable faith is nurtured when…
5) When faith building activities take precedence over other things in this life. (Psalm 1:1-6; Psalm 119:11; Romans 10:17; and 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
7) When that which we are purposing in Christ’s service reflects a conviction that God can do more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
A final question
Before the curtain closes on this scene, a question must be asked: “Has your faith led you to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?” (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:1-2; and Ephesians 2:4-8) There is a great cloud of witnesses urging you to take a God-pleasing step of faith, trusting God to cleans you of your sins by the power of the blood of Jesus, when you believe the Gospel and are baptized into Christ (Mark 16:15-16)
© Bill Williams
July 13, 2007