Faith is Trusting in God’s Word

“Faith is Trusting in God’s Word”

Hebrews 11:8-22

Trust is revealed in faithfulness that defies circumstances.

Focus on God’s Ability

Proclaim God’s Kingdom

Live by Faith

Focus on God’s Ability

Hebrews 11:8-12, NKJV

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.      

            Can people really trust God’s Word? When people respond with faith to the things God has spoken they proclaim God’s Word is trustworthy. The challenge of trusting the Bible as God’s inspired Word is no different than the challenge those who are recorded in the Old Testament had to deal with in their time. Hearing God’s voice personally still needed to be accepted by faith and acted upon by each person.

            “By faith Abraham obeyed…” is a significant testimony about Abraham. There are two things the writer of Hebrews points out about Abraham to give evidence of his extreme trust that he demonstrated in what God said to him.

            Abraham left a guaranteed inheritance with his physical family for an inheritance that was unseen, impossible to comprehend, and with no immediate documented assurance of its reality beyond the promise of God. Genesis 12:1-3 records God’s calling of Abram to trust Him and leave his family and all that was familiar.

1 Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,

From your family

And from your father’s house,

To a land that I will show you.

2 I will make you a great nation;

I will bless you

And make your name great;

And you shall be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,

And I will curse him who curses you;

And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NKJV)         

            In this calling of God Abram is receiving no specific address, country of destination, or even distance that will have to be traveled. There is a possibility Abram knew where God was going to be leading him. Genesis 11:31-32 records this often overlooked detail about Abram’s father,

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (NKJV)

            Terah was headed to Canaan when he left Ur. There are no such things as coincidences since God is sovereign over all things, so it was no accident that God was directing Abram’s father to where He wanted Abram to eventually end up living. Stephen’s testimony before the high priests supports that Terah was led by God to go the Canaan with his son Abram which God had laid upon their heart. “2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you’” (Acts 7:2-3, NKJV).

            Moses says nothing about where the call of God to Abram happened in Genesis 12:4, “4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (NKJV). It simply says that Abram was seventy-five when he departed Haran, not that the call of God took place there. There is no discrepancy between Stephen’s witness before the high priest and what is recorded by Moses in Genesis. Abram was called by God to go to the land of Canaan, but stalled in the journey in Haran.

            There are times in walking with God that distractions divert and cause the people of God to get side tracked. Terah is credited for taking his son Abram and his family along with his grandson Lot and his family to travel to Canaan. There was no specific place given to Abram, so he certainly did not know where he was going other than a general area. This is something that all of those who have answered the call of God can relate to personally. God gives as much information as necessary as His people need to know at the appropriate time; not before it is needed and never later than it ought to be known.

            Abram was moved by faith to answer the call of God in obedience to Him on the little information that he was given because he trusted that God was faithful to His word. This faith moved Abram, but also caused him to live knowing that he would not personally see the promise of God come about. Abram trusted God beyond what he could see, know, and imagine.

            “By faith Sarah herself received strength…” is speaking of more than the physical ability to conceive and bear a child in her old age. Sarah judged God faithful to fulfill the promise He made to her,

10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

 (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:10-12, NKJV)

            The things God promises and says will nearly always be beyond the capacity of those who hear and receive to fully comprehend and see how it could possibly be true if they do not listen and see in faith and trust in God. This is why Abraham and Sarah only did what they had done because of faith.

            God has not changed how He deals with people. People’s ability to understand the things of God has not been lost in the twenty-first century. The only reason why the people of God are not doing the same things we read about in the Scriptures is due to the fact that those who claim to worship God have lost their faith in His Word and have become dependent upon mankind’s logic and understanding. Believers today must learn how to trust God’s ability to do all He has promised and proclaimed in spite of their inability to fathom how it could possibly be true.

Proclaim God’s Kingdom

Hebrews 11:13-16, NKJV

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

            Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah all died in faith never seeing for themselves the fulfillment of the promises of God which He had told them in their fullness. These elders and many others who have gone nameless throughout history “…embraced [God’s promises] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”. The promises of God have never been grounded in fulfillment in the temporal things of this world which has been corrupted by sin.

            Those who claim that God desires to bless people with health and being void of sickness and harm here upon this earth now are cheapening the reward of God, and draining the promises of God of their ability to strengthen God’s people in the midst of hardship. Worldly wealth is limited; it is easily lost and stolen. Health will always be fleeting since the curse of death is upon mankind physically due to the consequences of sin. Pleasure and comfort in this world is fleeting at best and can be destroyed with the change in weather, someone’s choice to sin against another person, or the careless words spoken by someone.

            Scriptures about God’s promises are often limited to the immediate circumstances of people rather than accepting that they are looking forward to something that presently we cannot even imagine. A perfect example of this is Jeremiah 29:11, “11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV). God spoke this to those in Jerusalem who were about to be carried into captivity for seventy years. Today, many take this same passage and claim that God is speaking it to them about their immediate situation of how God desires to turn things around for their physical comfort. Another is Romans 8:28, “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). The ultimate fulfillment is not in the lifetime of the individual who claims these promises of God, but can be held in expectation in eternity in God’s presence to be greater than the physical “good” that is often imagined by people in the present.

            It is God’s kingdom that they hoped for which cannot be merged with this world that has been tainted by sin as it is presently. Therefore, there must be a new heaven and new earth to bring about in the fullness of God’s plans for “…a future and a hope…” for “…those who are the called according to His purpose”. Those who are proclaiming what has come to be known as the “Health and Wealth Gospel” have stripped the power of the eternal promises of God and reduced the hope He gives to people to knowing more than brief periods of comfort and moments of happiness. God has something greater in store for those who love Him than what can be seen and experienced in this lifetime.

            The people who are recorded in Scripture that took amazing steps of faith to do the unthinkable, go through incredible suffering without losing joy or peace, and constantly were unfulfilled in their endeavors and striving in this world, had their eyes on something other than this world. They were able to see through eyes of faith and with a heart that trusted in what God had told them.

            Those who claim faith in Christ like those who trusted in God before His coming must not lose heart and look back. The temptation to return in order to be comforted in the moment is great. The Israelites coming out of Egypt thought the hardships in the past were much more bearable than their present situation and longed to return to slavery. Jesus made it clear about those who choose to place their faith in Him that, “…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, NKJV).

            These are strong words from Jesus and the writer of Hebrews. Is there an attitude and knowledge among those who call themselves disciples of Christ that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world? If God’s people see themselves in this manner then all the things of this world such as wealth, possessions, heartaches, trials, and circumstances are seen as tools to reveal the truth of God to a world that is spiritually dead in their sins rather than things to be hoarded or experiences to be avoided.

            There is no doubt time is short whether speaking in terms of a person’s lifespan or the return of Christ. God’s people ought to be rejoicing over their pending arrival in the kingdom of God and the coming of Christ, whichever is to come first. God’s people ought to be exhausting their resources, time, and energy on kingdom matters more than immediate comfort. Those of the past never accomplished this flawlessly and neither shall we. The question still needs to be asked, is anything more important or pressing in all earthly existence than revealing salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ Jesus?

            Hebrews 11:16 should be one of the verses that believers should place in areas where it can be seen everywhere. “16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (NKJV). If the enemy of God can distract the attention of God’s people to desire this life and sinful world more than His heavenly courts, he has succeeded in minimizing the power of God through His people. The witness of a life that is unsatisfied with the temporary pleasures of this life is eroded, reducing faith to nothing more than empty words and actions.

            God must never be put to shame in this way and be ashamed of His people, but lifted up to reflect His honor and glory by their resolute testimony of what God has prepared for those who love Him which is beyond their comprehension.

Live by Faith

Hebrews 11:17-22, NKJV

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

            Those who trust and live upon the Word of God were and still are challenged daily. Fears, doubts, and unbelief will continue to plague all who seek to submit to the Word of God in defiance of the desires of their sinful hearts. The failures and stumbles during the journey of faith with the Lord on this earth do not define the child of God; it is what a person does in response to their failures that will define them. Failures will either proclaim God as sovereign Master of life or reduce God to nothing more than just another idol worshiped by people that are powerless to save.

            Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to the Lord having faith that God could and would raise the dead. Isaac trusted that God’s will would be done even though he was fooled by Jacob to bless him rather than his brother Esau. Jacob never gave up hope and continued to bless even though his life was quickly passing away and would not see the fulfillment of God’s promises in his lifetime. Joseph in faith made the people promise that when they left Egypt as God had promised after a long period of slavery to take his bones with them.

            Each of these men acted on the things God had said as if they would come about in the span of their lives, when in reality many generations would pass before the things God had promised would be realized. These are the things that have been recorded for all who would read and hear about the great things God has done and said so that we would believe and live out the truth of God before all people.

            The references made about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph here in these verses may sound like these men never struggled or wrestled with the turmoil of hearing what God says, but seeing everything around them as just the opposite of how things were in their lives. The difference about these men listed here and everyone else is their refusal to accept that God was anything else but trustworthy.

            Abraham when he was journeying to go and sacrifice his only son simply because God said to do it said some amazing things:

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. (Genesis 22:4-8, NKJV)

            Abraham’s faith allowed him to know that he and Isaac would be returning to the men even though his plan was to sacrifice his son as a blood sacrifice to God. He also comforted Isaac’s questioning mind about the sacrifice because Abraham trusted that God had plans he was not aware of at the time. Isaac, Abraham’s son was spared, but the Son of God was cruelly sacrificed before God to atone for the sins of all people. God did indeed “provide a sacrifice for Himself” in the Lamb of God, His own Son.

            Isaac still trusted God to bring about His will in spite of being fooled by Jacob to receive the blessing of his brother Esau which Isaac intended for him because Esau was his favorite.

32 And his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?”

So he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.” (Genesis 27:32-33, NKJV)

            Isaac had chosen Esau, but the Lord had chosen Jacob. The blessing was certainly stolen from Esau. Rebekah manipulated her husband and did what was wrong by instructing Jacob to lie. Does this make what they did right? Certainly not! God brought His will about in spite of the failures and sins of His people. Isaac could not take back what he had blessed Jacob with even though he was tricked. Jacob trusted the Lord to work things out regardless of the actions of others.

            Jacob was reminded about the infinite power of God when he and his beloved son Joseph were reunited, “9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”

            And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!” (Genesis 48:9-11, NKJV). Jacob was coming to the end of his days and blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh as his own children proclaiming the blessing of God overcame physical limitations.

            Joseph also lived with the assurance that all God had told Abraham was as good as present reality even though none of it looked probable in his day prophesied, “24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Genesis 50:24-25, NKJV). Joseph was still trusting in the Lord to fulfill all that was promised to Abraham generations before. This is the perfect example of what it means to live by faith and not by sight.

            It is not blind faith that God’s people have; it is faith in the trustworthiness of God and that His Word is true no matter how the current circumstances defy their reality. Living by faith is trusting in God’s Word. The glorious miracles and majesty of God that was displayed in the past can and is still seen presently in the twenty-first century when the people of God refuse to place their trust and hope in anything but the God who created and is sovereign over all things seen and unseen.

            Does this describe how life is being lived by the people of God today? If not, it is time that the children of God live by faith in God and forsake all faith in themselves and all other things.

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