Faith Considers the Promises of God
November 1, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
When I first began to serve Oak Hills as pastor in August 2011, I preached a sermon from Hebrews 11:13-16 titled “Where are We Going?” Hebrews 11 is called the great chapter of faith in the Bible. It chronicles the stories of Old Testament saints who demonstrate that faith shaped their lives. Most examples highlight significant trials.
I get to preach on this text again this Sunday and I want to ask a different question.
The writer of Hebrews makes a summary statement in the middle of the chapter, stating that these people of faith were “seeking a homeland…a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (v. 14, 16). Essential to biblical, God-pleasing faith is this longing and looking for the “better country” God has for us. Faith “sees” beyond present, physical circumstances and seeks what God has promised.
Perhaps we can call this the “assessment” faith makes. Faith listens to the promises of God. Faith takes in the present circumstances. And then faith reacts to trials, hardships, and the brokenness of this sin-ridden world through the lens of the promises of God.
We see this in the example of Abraham cited in verses 17-19. Abraham was “tested” when God called him to sacrifice his only begotten son, Isaac. Merely taking in the physical, present circumstances would easily lead Abraham into panic. Faith looks beyond this, though. Verse 19 is key for understanding how Abraham responded in faith to this significant trial: “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.” Abraham considered… this is the faith assessment. Abraham heard God’s promises, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named” (v. 18). He faced the greatest trial of his life, but he let the promises of God shape how he responded.
So faith “considers” or reckons or assesses life circumstances in light of who God is and what God has promised.
If I could go back to 2011 and re-preach that sermon, I think I would ask a different question. Where we are going is important, but for the sake of the mission of the church, I’m more interested in how “where we are going” shapes how we live by faith today. The question I have in mind is this: How do the promises of God change how you live today? If they don’t, you are not living by faith. The teaching of Hebrews and the example of Abraham demonstrate that faith uses the promises of God to assess life day by day. This is what it means to walk by faith.