Commendable Faith x

hall-of-fame.jpgHebrews 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…

1) When maturing generations realize their responsibility to teach and model faith. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Proverbs 31:26; and Hebrews 13:7).

2) When emerging generations are willing to humble themselves, respecting their leaders and imitating their faith. (Proverbs 1:8; 1 Corinthians 11:1; and Hebrews 13:7).

3) When reliance on God is the driving force in our daily lives. (Hebrews 11:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:7; and 3 John 2-4).

4) When the decision to live faithfully is honored above $UCCE$$. (Luke 9:24-25; 1 Corinthians 4:2).

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).

6) When the evidence of faith is undeniably present in every aspect of our lives. (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; and James 2:14-26).

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

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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10 Responses to Commendable Faith x

  1. Rachel says:

    Bill,
    During and after this sermon, I was right with you (saying the AMENS inside) 🙂 You spoke God’s truth as it is and as it needs to be stated! As far as impacting our youth for Christ, I think the first point that you made about our responsibility to TEACH is the key. We have to be examples in our words and in our deeds. We need to show the love of Christ with compassion in our hearts, be consistent with our discipline as well as our forgiving. It is not easy, and we definitely can not do it in our own strength. When we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, God works through us to impact others for Christ!

  2. Kathy says:

    Does anyone decide to follow another about whom they know nothing? How can we expect our kids or anyone else to fall in love with Jesus if they don’t know Jesus? How do they get to know Him? Through His word and through His other children. It doesn’t happen by osmosis.

    If we only teach but do not mirror those teachings, we make a mockery of the Word/Jesus.

    If we live as we know Jesus would have us to live, but are silent about who we are wanting to emulate, about who we love, how can anyone know about Jesus?

    We must be both passive and active – lovingly teaching about Him and just as lovingly, living like Him.

    Great thoughts, Bill. Thanks for the nudge. 🙂

  3. Greg England says:

    I have seen wonderful people of faith in my lifetime, my maternal grandmother and my mother being two that immediately come to mind. My wife is a person of deep faith. But for the most part, I don’t see this deep faith in present generations. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part I think our comfort zones are more valued than the development of faith. Your writing today is very timely.

  4. Bonnie Anderson says:

    I was blessed to be reared by wonderful Christian parents who had their own Hall of Fame from their life experiences in addition to the one in Hebrews that they shared with me often while I was growing up.
    They told me of the 33 year old deacon who was dying from kidney disease back in 1960 before transplants were a medical reality, sitting in front of them at church and singing with a clear strong voice “I know the promise cannot fail – the hour is drawing nigh; Tho’ cruel death my flesh assail, My soul shall never die.” – right before he went back into the hospital for the last time.
    They told me of a well-to-do Christian lady whose husband was not a member and was prejudiced against the church. He wouldn’t allow his wife to put any money in the contribution and so she had to save some of her grocery money to contribute each week. This lady would bring a sack of groceries to the preahcer’s home when visiting preachers were staying there for a gospel meeting. This sweet lady had no children and outlived her husband and left her money to the church she had been faithful to for so many years.
    They told me of a black sister in the 1950’s who worshipped with them in a small town in Arkansas. Her black friends tried to talk her into going into their black denominational churches so she could be with her own people. This wise sister said “these are my people”. When her house burned down years later it was these same people who rebuilt her house – long before the days of integrated churches were acceptable in some southern towns.
    Hearing examples like this while growing up actually put a modern face on the great heroes of faith that we read about in the Bible and helped me to bridge the gap between Bible heroes and me. If the Christians my parents had worshipped with through the years could be role models of Christian faith – then I could too. My life could be a testimony to the faith of Christians, too. I always kept this thought in mind when unfortunate circumstances happened in my life. I would think – “this is when people will be watching me to see if my faith is real”. When we are down and yet let Christ still lead us – our faith grows stronger and we later look back and say “how did I ever get through that” and we realize that “I” didn’t my faith in the Lord did.

  5. cwinwc says:

    I would say that I have great hope for this generation of Christians, many who are involved in fighting the War on Terror in defense of “Western / Christian Civilization” as we know it.

    Moreover, I need only go back to my early Bible Camp experiences as a coordinator back in the 80’s to remember how we had to pull teeth to get most of the teens of that era to long for God’s Word and to worship Him.

    The teens of this generation seem to be more spiritually minded and almost have to be told to stop with their corporate worship.

  6. Good post Bill. I’m blessed to know many teens who put God and Christ first. I think there are many more out there.

  7. Kathy says:

    The teens of this generation seem to be more spiritually minded and almost have to be told to stop with their corporate worship.

    I agree wholeheartedly. Also, because they have to truncate their worshiping spirits in the brick and mortar settings may be one reason they are so drawn to the smaller, house churches. Could be??

  8. Charlie says:

    Thanks for this lesson —
    God Bless
    Charlie

  9. preacherman says:

    Bill,
    Excellent post brother.
    Thanks for sharing this lesson with us.
    I believe this one of the best post that you have ever done.
    God bless you and your ministry brother.

  10. Nan says:

    Thanks for another reminder that the examples we set are so very important. Our world is so full of hate and misery that it’s easy to get lost. Young people look to the adults to show them the way, but many adults, both poor and rich seem to prefer to worship the false idols (drugs, alcohol, money, status, etc.) that are so prevalent in our society today. It is a battle that we have to fight with faith, love and dignity, to try and save the souls of our young. But, it’s worth it.

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