In last week’s lesson on faith, we discovered that when you put your faith in God’s promises, you have just given yourself the “proof” you need for it to become a reality. But does it really work? The writer of Hebrews will now spend most of the rest of the chapter providing proof that it does. Let’s take a look at vs. 2:
“For by it our ANCESTORS were approved.” (Hebrews 11:2 HCSB)
Beginning with Noah in verse 7, Hebrews 11 identifies who these “ancestors” who “were approved” actually were: Abraham in verse 8, Sarah in verse 11, Isaac and Jacob are in verse 12, and the list continues to include Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and a host of others that I won’t take the space to list. These are all familiar names to us, and even more so to the Jewish people. But did you notice something? All of these people who were “approved” by their faith lived BEFORE Jesus was born! This means they were living under the “old covenant”!
We will be looking a bit more closely at the lives of each one of these ancestors in later lessons, but for now, let’s just focus for a minute on the issue of all of these pre-new covenant people being approved by their faith. Most honest Christians would admit to having thought from time to time that it takes a lot of faith to believe in Jesus. But what about those who lived before Jesus was even born? How much faith did it take to believe in Him when all they had to put their faith in was a promise of a coming Messiah-a promise that was, for some of them, 4000 year-old? I, for one, have a hard time believing a 40-day-old promise, let alone a 4000-year-old one, especially when I don’t see anything changing around me. Just what was it that made them believe?
Friends, as we will see in more detail in future lessons, these people walked and talked with God. They knew Him, they had a personal relationship, a friendship with Him. They watched where He was at work in their lives, and they knew what kind of God they were dealing with. God was real for them. They learned that He was to be trusted in every part of their lives, so when He promised to send His Son to save the world, they believed. And by their faith they were approved.
Our situation is a little different from that of our “ancestors”. In fact, we have an advantage over them: Jesus has already come!
It may be hard to believe in something that happened 2000 years ago, but it’s no harder than believing in something that won’t happen for another 2000-4000 years. And just as God didn’t ask the ancestors to believe without showing Himself trustworthy of their belief, neither does He leave us without proof. God was real to the biblical patriarchs and He wants to be real to each of us. If we spend time with Him, He will speak to us. He will show us where He’s at work in our lives. He will guide us on a daily basis, and we will know, by our own, personal experiences, that He is a God to be trusted. Once we begin to trust Him in our everyday life, it becomes an easy thing to believe that we are saved, and when we do, we, too, are approved by our faith.
Do you have faith in Jesus? Can you be approved by your faith in Him? If you’ve given your heart to Jesus but you’re having trouble believing that you are really saved, then seek a relationship with Him. Spend time with Him. Watch where He is at work in your life. Put your confidence in Him for the little things. You will quickly learn that He is trustworthy, and when you do, you will also learn that you can believe Him when He says that, “it is by faith that you are saved, not by works, but it is a gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Enough to ponder, friends. But do ponder this: If you desire to be able to believe in Jesus’ saving power, just as the Biblical patriarchs did, then why not spend some time getting to know Him? Experience Him in your life. Develop a personal relationship with Him. Once you see how trustworthy He is in the everyday areas of your life, you will no longer have any doubts about your salvation!
God bless you!
(To access tne entire “Faith” mini-series, please click here.)