This is the final article in a three part Bible study on the subject of faith. See also:
Examples of Faith
Coming back to the core passage we are studying (Hebrews 10:38-11:6), we see that through faith ‘the elders obtained a good report’ (Hebrews 11:2) – by ‘elders’ this means men and women who lived in days gone by. In the rest of the chapter many examples are given, all of which are worthy of study, both the specific examples such as Abraham or Moses, and the general examples later in the chapter. However, we will limit our study to the two characters mentioned in verses 4 and 5, Abel and Enoch.
‘By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous…’ (Hebrews 11:4)
Right back in Genesis, Abel offered a lamb, whilst Cain offered the vegetables he had grown. By this, Abel was showing that he understood that ‘without shedding of blood is no remission [of sin]’ (Hebrews 9:22). From our passage in Hebrews it is clear that not only did he understand this, he was able to look forward in faith and see the Messiah, promised to his parents in the garden of Eden (in Genesis 3), as his own saviour. Abel had true faith and, through it, righteousness before God.
Abel’s faith is a lesson for all of us. He had faith even though the Messiah had yet to come. We are privileged to live in the gospel age, we know the full story of the life, death, resurrection, ascension and intercession of the Lord Jesus. We still need God-given faith to lay hold of him, but for us the full gospel message is wonderfully clear.
‘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 11:5)
In Genesis we read that Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22). Dr Gill interprets this as ‘he walked with God by faith in the ways of his worship and service; and he was acceptable to him in Christ’ and also ‘he walked by faith in the promises of God, and in the view of the Messiah, the promised seed.’ What incredible faith Enoch must have had, that through it he ‘pleased God’ and was blessed by him so as not to experience death! He was ‘translated’ or passed from earth to heaven without experiencing death.
Unless the Lord Jesus returns in our lifetime, we will all experience death. However, what an encouragement Enoch is to us to live by faith, trusting in Christ and seeking to serve and honour him in all things. If we are enabled to do this, we too, one day, will arrive safely in heaven. Although we will have to face death, if we have true saving faith, it will be as the apostle Paul describes it, like falling asleep in Christ.
What about me?
Perhaps after this Bible study, the question in your heart is ‘What about me?’
You are troubled by your sins and long for true faith, but feel not to have it. Perhaps you feel to have the head knowledge, but not the heart knowledge. You are seeking God, but have yet to find him and wonder if you ever will. If this describes you, remember some important things.
Firstly, the devil will not cause you to sincerely hate your sin, to long for forgiveness or to desire Christ. If this is your experience it can only be as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work. We are promised that ‘he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:..’ (Philippians 1:6)
Secondly, keep on praying. Ask God to give you faith and remind him of the promises given in the Bible. These promises are very special,
‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.’ (Matthew 7:7-8)
‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’ (John 6:37)
And who can come to the Lord Jesus? The answer – anyone who feels their need.
‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28)
‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.’ (Isaiah 55:1)
‘And let him that is athirst come’ (Revelation 22:17)
Do you feel your need? Are you thirsty? Do you long for true faith? Then come to Jesus and he has promised that you will not be cast out. Maybe you feel that the word ‘thirsty’ does not include you? The verse in Revelation 22 goes further,
‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’
Are you willing to come? If so, this willingness can only have originated with God himself – by nature we have no willingness, in fact we are the complete opposite – so come, and by faith drink of the water of life found in Jesus Christ our Lord. He has promised that he will not cast you out.
Finally, a warning if having faith in the Lord Jesus means nothing to you.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)
Why is this so solemn? Because Jesus himself said, ‘he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ (Mark 6:16) ‘And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.’ (Matthew 25:46).
Think about it.
We have seen that true, God-given faith enables us both to believe in and lay hold of (trust in) the Lord Jesus Christ and the promises of God’s word.
Going back into Hebrews 10 we read, ‘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: 38-39)
Faith is vital. If we do not have it, we will end up in hell. However, if we are blessed with faith, we are both justified before God and enabled to live day by day – to endure and then to win the final victory.
May each of us come to see our sinfulness before God, the law being ‘our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.’ (Galatians 3:24)
Then, in life, may we heed the exhortation found in the Book of Proverbs. ‘Trust [have faith] in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6)
And finally, when we come to die, may we be found looking unto Jesus, ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2) and say with the Apostle Paul,
‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:..’ (2 Timothy 4:7)
Perhaps all of this can be summed up by a verse in one of John Berridge’s hymns.
[A00040 – 30/06/2017]
Then may the Lord give me faith in his name / A faith that will live in water and flame,
A faith that endureth, and feasts on his blood / A faith that assureth my sonship with God.