Last week I mentioned four men from Hebrews 11:1-8— Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. One key thing to notice about them—they exercised their faith without being conscious of doing so.
Each of these men are examples of genuine faith. They believed in God, sought Him, and persevered in their trust of God.
I'd like to share five observable qualities of the faith they exercised.
The action of faith
The first couple verses help us see that belief in God enables a person to see beyond the obvious, natural, or logical state of things. It is spiritual perception. Authentic faith brings a confidence within a person's heart that moves the mind to believe.
When we begin to see things as God sees them, in a spiritual sense, we see by faith and it produces a confidence in us. As the apostle Paul reminds us—
If we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen? (Rom 8:24 GW)
The effect of faith
Acting in faith brings about a spiritual wisdom and understanding that sees beyond natural, empirical knowledge. It is a spiritual insight that enables a person to see as God sees things.
When Elisha's servant was afraid of the army that surrounded them, Elisha asked God to open the eyes of the servant. Then the servant saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:13-17).
We also have the testimony of creation, which reveals there is a Creator. This is pointed out in several places in the Bible (Psalm 19:1-4; Ro 1:19,20). Even creative arts remind us of a creator, although we create from what already exists, God created what we know as creation out of nothing (Heb 11:3).
Genuine faith is fruitful
Abel shows how genuine faith stirs a genuine and right worship, which becomes a living example of faith. Abel's type of sacrifice wasn't what was accepted, but Abel's heart towards God—his trust and gratefulness towards God. And so, his example still speaks of faith thousands of years later (Heb 11:4).
Enoch's testimony of faith is that he pleased God (Heb 11:5). Enoch's life of trust in God was another living example of faith. It resulted in his being taken up to God without suffering physical death. He is a picture of the ultimate fruit of faith—resurrection and eternal life with God.
The essence of authentic faith
Enoch's example leads us to my favorite verse to describe faith—
No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6 GW)
The nature of authentic faith is based in personal relation with God. It is a relation of trust that involves the voluntary submission of our will to God. It is both a personal and spiritual relationship.
Where did Enoch get his faith? Why and in what was did God reward Him? I see two elements here. God reveals Himself to us and we respond with trust. He makes Himself known to us in some manner and then rewards our trust in Him.
Think about who you trust in this life and who trusts you. Why does this trust exist? Whatever the reason, you reward other people's trust in you by your trust in them.
Believing that God exists is not a mental acknowledgment of God, but a reliant trust from the inner (spiritual) heart of a person (James 2:19). This is the “assurance” spoken of in the first verse (Heb 11:1)
True faith is useful and beneficial
True faith is useful because it stirs us to action. This is how faith becomes visible to others, they see us motivated into some action by our faith.
Noah listened when God warned him. He built the ark (a large boxy vessel), and prepared for the flood even though didn’t fully know what was coming. He was ridiculed for his faith, but continued to trust God in spite of the scorn of others.
Abraham obeyed when God called him to go leave his home, family, and inheritance on earth to go to another land. He went out not knowing where he was going. When I moved my family to the Philippines (in 1990), they went in trust that I was trusting in God. I had been there before, but the had not.
Authentic faith is useful and beneficial in both the present and future.
Moving beyond belief
Faith isn’t a system of right beliefs and practical application of truth, it’s a living, vibrant, personal relationship with God.
Right doctrine and practice are the result of genuine faith, not the other way around. It's great to understand what faith is, but how is it useful?
We need to move beyond an understanding of faith into living it out day by day.
How is faith authentic in your life?
Do you trust God from your heart and with your life daily?
In what way or what area of your life do you need to trust God more fully?