Posts Tagged 'Healing'

Panic Podcast: The Son of God in John’s Gospel, Part 3

Good day, mates!  Let me ask you a question:  Do you know an ungrateful person?  You probably do, and today we will be looking at one.  He was a pathetic man Jesus healed and he remained a pathetic man even after his  healing.  The ultimate victim is our focus on the Panic Podcast today.  God bless you as we study God’s Word today.

 

Just Say Yes! Part 1

In his book “Yes Man,” Danny Wallace wrote this:

Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.

That could be a true statement, depending on what you said “yes” to in the first place. For me, saying “yes” to a spicy Italian foot long sub at 11 pm is most definitely not a good thing, the consequences being dire, indeed. But for the Christian, faith could be defined as saying “yes” to the Lord. Or put another way, obedience is the “yes” of faith to God’s Word. When we say “yes” in fulfilling the conditions of the Lord’s promises, He in turn says “yes” to our prayer requests.

Of course, saying “yes” the Lord often involves some kind of risk; the risk of embarrassment, for example. Or the risk of being let down. Back to Danny Wallace, he did get one thing right:

maybe sometimes it’s riskier not to take a risk. Sometimes all you’re guaranteeing is that things will stay the same.

In the New Testament, there are several people who said “yes” to the Lord and they got exactly what they needed and wanted. In saying “yes” to Jesus, the lives of these individuals forever changed.

And maybe that’s your problem; maybe you haven’t said “yes” enough to the Lord and your Christian experience has grown stale. God never intended the life of a believer to be boring, and yet so many of us find it so. If that describes you, then maybe it’s time for you to say “yes” to the Lord and allow Him to make your life into something meaningful and, yes, even exciting. One more quote from “Yes Man” to set the table as we turn to the Word:

The fact is saying yes hadn’t been a pointless exercise at all. It had been pointful. It had the power to change lives and set people free… It had the power of adventure. Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.

Jesus wants all believers to be “yes men and women” when it comes to serving Him. The blind man in Matthew’s Gospel never regretted saying “yes” to Jesus, and you won’t either.

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. (Matthew 9:28 | TNIV)

Matthew and his Gospel

Nobody knows for sure when Matthew wrote his Gospel, but most scholars agree that it was written very soon after the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Like the epistles in the New Testament, Matthew wrote this Gospel to somebody, or a bunch of some bodies, probably Greek-speaking, Jewish-Christians. Anybody who went to Sunday School knows that Matthew presents Jesus Christ as “the King of the Jews,” the legitimate heir to David’s throne. And yet, when we read Matthew, Jesus comes across, not as royalty but more of a teacher. No wonder Matthew’s Gospel became the most popular of the Gospels once all four of them went into circulation, and when the New Testament began to take form, the Gospel of Matthew found its place at the head of all the other Gospels and epistles.

Matthew himself was a tax collector, chosen specifically by Jesus to follow Him. Oddly enough, “Matthew” means “the gift of God,” an interesting name for one whose career was taking money from others. Here was a disciplined disciple if ever there was one. And, because he was a tax collector, he was also despised by his fellows. Yet Jesus saw something in Matthew that He needed for the Kingdom:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9 | TNIV)

As far as we know, Matthew had never met Jesus, although it’s hard to believe he wasn’t at least vaguely aware of this radical rabbi. What’s really interesting is that Jesus went to where this despised tax collector was. Nobody wanted to go near Matthew, sitting there in his toll-collecting office for fear that the few dollars they may have had in their wallets would be confiscated by this representative of Rome.

But Jesus walked right up to him and said two words: “Follow me.” Incredibly, without any hesitation at all, Matthew got up and simply followed Jesus. He did what Jesus wanted him to do. Bonhoeffer wrote about how big a step this was for this one-time tax collector:

The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus).

And in case you think Matthew leaped before he thought, the very next thing he did was throw a dinner party in honor of his new life:

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”. (Matthew 9:10, 11 | TNIV)

Matthew wasn’t afraid to invite his shady friends to a party and introducing them to his new-found friend, Jesus Christ. Of course, the Pharisees weren’t impressed. Jesus’ fraternizing with “sinners” – people with reputation problems, may have caused the Pharisees to be critical, but for Jesus, this was an opportunity to teach His disciples something very important: Followers of Jesus need to go where they are needed most. People in the dark need the light and followers of Jesus are the light-bearers. People who are sick need healing and followers of Jesus are agents of healing. People who are lost need to be lead and followers of Jesus are those who find the lost and lead them to Jesus.

A series of miracles

That’s the first half of Matthew 9. The second half of Matthew 9 concerns a group of miracles, all designed to drive home the point our Lord was trying to make. Here we see Jesus going to where He was needed the most.  The first two miracles are connected even though they don’t seem to be.

While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. (Matthew 9:18, 19 | TNIV)

Mark tells us the synagogue leader’s name was Jairus and that his daughter was almost dead – she was about to take her last breath. Mark and Luke, filling in the blanks, tell us that while the group was on its way to the house, it got the bad report that the girl had passed.

So now it’s up to Jesus, not to heal the girl, but to raise her from the dead. No pressure there! But, wait! On His way, this happened:

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”. (Matthew 9:20, 21 | TNIV)

On His way to perform one miracle, an opportunity presented itself to perform another. What she wanted from Jesus is barely expressed in the word “healed.” The verb used here is sozo, and the KJV gets closer to its meaning when it translated it, “be whole.” It is used frequently in the Gospels and Acts of “physical healing.” But in the epistles, it is used almost exclusively for salvation. Here’s the interesting bit: The Greek words for “Savior” and “salvation” are from the same the root as sozo, emphasizing “spiritual health” or “wholeness.” So just what was this wanting of Jesus? Maybe both; to be saved spiritually and, if He would do so, healed physically.

What would Jesus do? How determined was He to get to Jairus’ home? Here’s the teachable moment:

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. (Matthew 9:22 | TNIV)

Our Lord took the time to respond to her faith – He gave her exactly what she asked for: sozo. But it wasn’t the touching of Jesus’ robe that healed her, it was her faith. But it wasn’t her belief that resulted in her healing, it was her faith (her belief) expressed in action. She did two things that demonstrated her faith: she sought Jesus out and she reached out and touched Him. Her actions manifested her faith. Put another way, she did something to show our Lord that she had an inner belief in His abilities to give her what she needed.

Meanwhile, when He finally reached the home of Jairus, Jesus was faced with quite a display:

When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes…. (Matthew 9:23 | TNIV)

It must have been quite a contrast: Calm, cool, and collected Jesus walking among a gaggle of hired mourners. They were sure it was all over except for the mourning, but Jesus viewed death as a temporary thing, and taking the girl’s hand, He lifted her up and restored her life.

News of this miracle spread like wildfire. And while most people view the miracle of a restored life as the main point of this story, the disciples are learning not only what Jesus can do, but how He viewed the human condition. Not only did Jesus go to those who needed Him, but the disciples also learned that He is greater than a long-term illness and that there is life after death – a life brought about by an act of the Lord. They are also learning something of this mysterious thing called faith. The bleeding lady had it. Jairus had it. And even Matthew had it. And now we’ll meet two blind men who followed Jesus. They had faith even though they, for the moment, had no sight.

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. (Matthew 9:27, 28 | TNIV)

Right away I am struck by the faith these blind men had. Their faith, first of all, was in Jesus “the Son of David,” not Jesus the miracle-working rabbi. Somehow these two blind men saw something in Jesus that nobody else did at this time. The knew, somehow, His royal pedigree. And that is a very big deal, especially in this Gospel which presents our Lord as the King.

The other thing that strikes me is that they didn’t really ask for healing, they asked for mercy. Filsom commented,

They accept him as the expected Messiah leader who will do wonderful deeds of mercy mentioned in Isaiah 35:5.

In case you forgot what Isaiah 35:5 says, here it is:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5 | TNIV)

In crying out to Jesus for mercy, these unfortunate men were really asserting their faith, and in response, Jesus said this:

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. (Matthew 9:29 – 31 | TNIV)

“According to your faith, let it be done to you.” If Jesus were to come up and say that to you, what do you think would happen to you? Anything? Would anything at all happen to you? This simple statement made to these men stands as a challenge for all Christians today. Since we can have what we believe for as we learn to say “yes” to Jesus, what would happen if Jesus said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you?” Sadly, many Christians would receive exactly nothing because they don’t have faith that says “yes” to Jesus. They’re content with knowing, however vaguely, that they are going to Heaven after they die, but beyond that bit of faith, they have nothing for Jesus. How unfortunate for them; they are missing out on so much. Consider what we’ve learned about the people that said “yes,” implicitly or explicitly to Jesus in this chapter:

Matthew. He said “yes” to Jesus by getting up and following Him. He became one of the 12 apostles, lived a life of serving the Lord and wroteaa a piece of literature that has endured two millennia.

Jairus. He said “yes” by seeking out Jesus to heal and restore his daughter to health. Jesus raised her from the dead because of her father’s faith.

The bleeding woman. She said “yes” to Jesus by reaching out to touch His clothing. He restored her health.

The blind men. They said “yes” literally and figuratively and they received their sight.

There’s a pattern here, if you’d take the time notice it. Learn to say “yes” to Jesus and see what He will do for you!

Health and Healing

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Take a drive through any American village, town or city, and you’ll see them all over the place. They’re as easy to spot as churches. Drugstores are everywhere. Even in relatively small towns, you’ll find two or three or more drugstores. They’re all peddling the same goods and services and the prices are all more or less the same.

What’s true of drugstores is also true of hospitals and clinics. They’re all over the place. Even the dreaded ObamaCare hasn’t dampened American’s enthusiasm for their health. We spend billions of dollars a year on prescription medication and check-ups. Even as Americans are heavier than ever, we continue to obsess over taking vitamins and supplements and in eating only free-range chickens.

It might surprise you to know that the Bible has a lot to say about health, healthy living, and healing. Wondering about eating too much? Check it out:

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies,for that food is deceptive. (Proverbs 23:1-3 | NIV84)

That’s a bit over-the-top, and we know it shouldn’t be taken literally, but it’s sound advice nonetheless. God is keenly interested in the state of the health of His people. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about the issues of health and healing.

Exodus 15:22 – 26

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26 | NIV84)

The Hebrews had been delivered from generations of bondage in Egypt. The people had witnessed the power of God as He miraculously led them to freedom. What must it have been like for these people to see the Red Sea parted before their eyes? Surely their faith had been emboldened. Not just the parting of the waters, but all the miracles surrounding their deliverance must have impregnated them with powerful faith – faith that could stand the test of time and move any mountain. Actually, that wasn’t the case at all. The fact is, the people did see the power of God firsthand. But did they have faith enough to help them in their day-by-day lives? What happened to them at a place called Marah would train them to trust God for the simplest of things: drinking water. Water is something most of us never think about until we turn the tap on and nothing comes out.

You can well imagine how frustrated, angry and disappointed the people were when their spiritual high came to an end and they had no drinking water. They had left Egypt only to end up in a desert wilderness with no food, no water, and no prospects.

The people did as people are wont to do: they complained bitterly. Poor Moses felt the brunt of the people’s murmuring, and he did what a believer in God should do: he took his problem to God. Moses was just a man. He knew water was scarce in the desert; he had spent decades in the desert caring for sheep. What could he possibly do for the people? The answer was nothing! This problem was too big for him. But it was nothing for God to deal with, so God gave Moses some instructions.

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. (Exodus 15:25a | NIV84)

It took faith for Moses to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water. It probably made no sense to him. What was that piece of wood going to do? But Moses tossed it in as God wanted him to do. God’s ways don’t always make a lot of sense to us, but it’s better for us and people around us if we’d just do what He wants us to do.

That wood seemed to cure the water. However, as you know if you’re read the history of Israel in the wilderness, it didn’t do much to improve their faith. Here God performed a special healing: He miraculously healed a pool of bitter water. That piece of wood didn’t do anything to the water, it was the power of God the healed the water. The piece of wood was really nothing more than a prop God used to teach the people a lesson by giving them a decree and a law to abide by:

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26 | NIV84)

That lasts phrase, “I am the Lord who heals you,” is frequently used by evangelists and faith healers as they pray for the sick. It’s Biblical to pray for the sick. Christians should be doing that more often; they should be trusting in God’s healing power more than in human physicians and drugs. But what we shouldn’t do is take a Bible verse out of context, because when we do that, we’ll always be disappointed.

In this story, God promised His people that just as He healed the bitter waters at Marah, He would heal Israel by providing material needs (like safe drinking water), and more importantly, He would the people of their own sinful nature. The problem at Marah was not really the water, it was the sinful attitude and faithlessness of the people. In this decree and law given at Marah, God wanted to take away their spirit of complaining and replace it with stronger faith.

If we would put forth the effort to trust God more and obey His Word, He would increase our faith and give us a more “God-centered” attitude about the problems in our lives, including health problems. So instead of being fearful and full of dread when facing a health crisis, if we are living in obedience to God, our first thoughts won’t be ones of fear or anger or complaint, but a quiet faith in God and an acknowledgment that He is in control.

2 Kings 2:18 – 21

Here is another instance where God used water to teach a lesson.

Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ” (2 Kings 2:21 | NIV84)

Once again, God’s people had water trouble. The residents of Jericho wanted the prophet’s help with their need for drinking water. We have to give these thirsty people some credit for doing the right thing. Back in chapter 1, King Ahaziah had a problem and he did exactly the wrong thing:

After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.” (2 Kings 1:1-2 | NIV84)

What a contrast between how the king dealt with his problem and how the people of Jericho theirs. Jericho had real problems. Bad water, which was killing the land and causing miscarriages among the women, made the future of Jericho bleak.

The prophet’s solution seemed odd to say the least.

Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ” (2 Kings 2:21 | NIV84)

Some Bible scholars see the salt as somehow curing the water. But there is a powerful lesson here about the ritual of separation. The healing of Jericho’s water separated (or freed) the city of Jericho from Joshua’s ancient curse making it habitable for man again. Here’s the curse:

At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: “At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations;at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26 | NIV84)

Elisha’s first miracle confirmed something that God’s people knew and should never, ever forget: God, not Baal, is in control of people’s health, in this case, the fertility of both the land of Jericho and of the women who lived there. L. Bronner in his work, The Stories of Elijah and Elisha, made this interesting observation:

At Ugarit, a stone monument pictured Baal as ruling the earth’s underground waters, the Canaanites honored Baal as the god responsible for fertility on earth. By decontaminating the water in Yahweh’s name, however, Elisha discredited both ideas and showed that Yahweh truly is God.

In our day of advanced medicine and science in the treatment of all kinds of sickness and disease, Christians should keep in mind that it is He, not man, who heals people. We can thank God for doctors and medicine and scientific discoveries that have all made life better for people, but we need to keep in mind that it is God who heals, not doctors and not pills and not science. Only God can heal a person, whether that healing takes place gradually through medical treatment or instantaneously through obvious divine intervention. No man can heal another man any more than a farmer can make a seed grow into a plant.

Proverbs 3:5 – 8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes;fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8 | NIV84)

This group of verses is part of a larger teaching that goes from 3:1 to 4:27 in which Solomon advises his “young readers” to guard their spiritual health, which he equates with wisdom. For example:

Get wisdom, get understanding;do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:5-7 | NIV84)

If you want to live a life full of God’s blessings, then you need to guard your spiritual state. Proverbs 3:5, 6 are quoted often but are really in the middle of a thought. Prosperity takes many forms: long life (verse 2), favor and a good name (3:8), wealth and provisions (3:9 – 10). Verses 5 and 6 talk about our responsibility and and God’s:

Our responsibility:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways acknowledge him… (Proverbs 3:5-6a | NIV84)

God’s responsibility:

…and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6b | NIV84)

Human wisdom is woefully inadequate, but God’s wisdom is never ending and is therefore sufficient guidance for life. If we trust in God’s wisdom and allow Him to control the way we go, then as Moffatt wrote:

He will clear the road for you.

We should never assume we have all the answers or solutions to our problems. As one writer noted:

We are urged not to take ourselves too seriously, but to reverence God. Such reverence will result in “healing to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

It’s all about keeping things in proper perspective. Knowledge of God leads to spiritual health and well-being, and that in turn has a positive effect of both the psychological and physical aspects of the human person.

Isaiah 58:6 – 8

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him,and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn,and your healing will quickly appear;then your righteousness will go before you,and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:6-8 | NIV84)

This group of verses comes in the middle of Isaiah’s discussion of what God really wanted from His people. Not only does God want His people to pay attention to the letter of the law, but also to the idea of service – serving God and other people. God doesn’t want His people withholding food from themselves as a form of self-mortification, but rather He wants us to do something positive for other people. In the early chapters of Isaiah, we saw that the worship of God in Israel had become cold and formal and nominal. Near the end of his book, we learn that the idea of mere outward forms of repentance don’t necessarily translate into a changed heart. Fasting for a day without living right the rest of time is not nearly enough.

Over in the New Testament, fasting and tithing were encouraged by Christ but were to be closely followed by service to others. As one Bible scholar of note wrote:

No man can know God and close his heart against his brother.

What does all this have to do with health and healing? Simply this: When we live our lives honoring God and His Word and in service to others, He honors us. Beginning at verse 8 is a series of wonderful promises. They are all the result of living a righteous life: Righteousness goes before us, the glory of the Lord follows us. Among the promises God has in store for those who live right are: light, health, righteousness, protection, and answer prayers. These are the blessings reserved for devout, consecrated believers.

Does any of this guarantee that a good Christian will never get sick? Of course not. We all know wonderful, devout believers with cancer or heart disease. Fact is, we live in a fallen world and our bodies will eventually wear out. Not all of us will die of old age. Living a righteous life is absolutely no guarantee of a life of good health and healing. But living a righteous life does guarantee that no matter how sick or healthy we may be, we know that God is in control and we have faith in His will and His plan for our lives and for the lives of our loved ones. When we live right, we understand completely what Paul meant when he wrote:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 | NIV84)

HEBREWS: THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, PART 1

After handling all those snakes, no wonder a healing service followed.

Faith is the essential component of Christianity, yet so many Christians have no clue what Biblical faith is. Faith is not “positive thinking.” It has nothing to do with psychology. To some, faith means believing that you will be able to get a job done on time or that your child’s fever will go down. While there is definite value in positive thinking—Christians should be the most positive people on Earth—this has nothing to do with Biblical faith. The object of real Biblical faith is not one’s need or one’s faith, but God and His Word. We believe in God and we trust in His Word. Of course, this means that a Christian needs to know what the Bible says in order to exercise his faith. With so much Biblical illiteracy in the modern Church, little wonder the nature of faith is so misunderstood.

1. The meaning of faith, 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV 84)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)

Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. (J.B. Phillips)

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. (CEV)

Oral Roberts, praying for healing. Is this what Biblical faith looks like? Some people think so.

You can search the Bible from cover to cover but you won’t find a definition of what faith is. However, a number of facts about faith are given. Those facts taken together will lead us to a better understanding of Biblical faith.

This verse in the Greek begins with the verb “is.” Faith, then, is a present, ongoing reality in the life of every believer. Faith is not an on again, off again thing practiced in difficult times. Faith is not some ancient virtue simply to be studied. Christian faith is a living faith; it is a way of life. While the word “faith,” pistis, is translated in various ways: belief, trust, fidelity, firm persuasion and conviction, in the Bible faith is always linked to God. So at the outset, we must understand that Biblical faith is not a belief in self or man but in God.

Going a little further, faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for. The Greek word is interesting; it was commonly used in the sense of a “title deed.” A title deed is the foundational document or contract of some transaction. So then, faith is the “title deed” of things hoped for. Hypostasis is sometimes used subjectively, as the NIV has: we are “sure.” But it can also be used objectively, as in the KJV’s “substance.” The common thought promoted by the KJV has led to what used to be known as “the prosperity Gospel,” which taught that believers will be given what we want if we have enough faith. That’s basically what the KJV says; that the things we want, which at present have so substance, will be made real by faith. The problem with that translation is that it doesn’t line up with what the author has been and will be teaching about faith. Genuine Biblical faith is the absolute conviction that God will do what has said He would do. There are spiritual realities, like the promises of God for example, that have no substance at present, but are made real nonetheless—they will be given “substance”–by faith. Our faith convinces us that God’s Word; God’s promises, are true and that they exist whether we can see them or not.

Now, having faith in the promises of God suggests that we actually know what God has promised He would do. This is why so many modern believers live lives full of disappointment and disillusionment: from their perspective, God has not conformed to their wills; He has not given them the things they had been hoping for. But faith has nothing to do with God bending to our wills; faith takes God at His Word. Faith bends our wills to His will for us.

2. The assurance of faith, 11:2, 3

This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Genuine faith is what “the ancients,” or “the elders” were commended for. The ancestors of the the Hebrews reading this very letter had the right kind of faith. But those present-day Hebrews were struggling; they were getting restless, maybe even impatient with God. As far as they were concerned, God was not solving their problems. For the recipients of this letter, life certainly didn’t seem to be getting any better. A lot of frustrated Christians are just like these ancient Hebrews. It’s way too easy to assume God doesn’t care or God isn’t involved when it seems like our prayers go unanswered. But as verse 1 stated, faith in the invisible things of God is “proof” or “evidence” that we know God knows what He is doing. The “things” themselves are not proof of anything; it’s faith that’s important, not the thing hoped for.

If that sounds a little too metaphysical, verse 2 tells us that such thinking is rooted in faith; it’s historically provable. The Hebrews holding this letter were at the end of a long line of faithful men. As this chapter progresses, the author will use examples of people in Hebrew history who bore witness to genuine faith. The faith Christians have is not some pie-in-the-sky ideal, but historical. An apocryphal book, Ecclesiasticus, has a whole section devoted to looking at the faith of historical figures. It begins like this: “Let us now praise famous men…” Faith is self-evident. Rich or poor; sick or healthy; these things don’t enter into it. Possessing a “thing hoped for” is not evidence of faith. Having faith is evidence of faith. All the people noted in Hebrews 11 would be unknown to us today if they didn’t have faith. The faith they had was what made them “famous.”

Granted, all this is hard to grasp. To help us get our minds wrapped around the nature of faith, the writer gives us an example of the nature of faith: creation. The material universe all around us is understandable only on the basis of faith. Christians are sure God did the work, but we weren’t there to see it happening. Not only that, we are told that everything, including the very ground upon which we are standing, was made out of invisible things. Think about the implication of 3: what seems real to our senses is really only a byproduct of that which our senses tell us unreal. So, Biblical faith is so much bigger than merely hoping that your flu symptoms will go away quickly or that you’ll get that new job you’ve been hoping for. Biblical faith is not denying reality, it is the ability to penetrate this superficial world of what we can see so that we can grab hold of the supernatural and eternal realities that lay behind it. Biblical faith is able to punch a hole through this world into the next, and reaching through, bring back that which God has promised.

Biblical faith transcends time and space; it reaches past the boundaries and barriers of this world of flesh and into the high places where the vistas of eternity can be seen. By faith we hold the title deed to that piece of property. When you understand that, you’ll understand what real faith is.

The Gunsmoke set. It looked real, but just like the material world, it was all just a façade.

This material world is a façade; an illusion. What’s real is what we cannot see. Biblical faith is not child’s play; it’s not something for weak-willed, easily influenced losers who see faith as a short cut to getting what they think they deserve in life. Biblical faith is something only mature, reasoning believers can practice. It is based on God’s Word. If you don’t know what’s written in your Bible, you’ll never understand or appreciate what Biblical faith is. But when you know what God’s Word says and you have confidence in what God has said in it, history becomes filled with meanings, your life will make sense, and you’ll face whatever your future may hold without fear.

Another illusion. The lagoon on Gilligan's Island was actually set, right next to the Hollywood Freeway.


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