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On The Journey

On this Sunday we celebrate the time that we have had with Dr. Caleb Tindano of Burkina Faso.  He will be going home on June 12 and we are going to miss him.  This brother has been on a journey both literally and metaphorically.  Similarly we are all on a journey through this life.  The Bible uses this same imagery in Hebrews 11 to teach us how to walk in this journey of life and how to do it well.

Believers Live By Faith

In Hebrews 11:8-12, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the life of Abraham and Sarah.  They were called to leave their home country and to travel to an unknown place.  There they would live in tents with a nomadic lifestyle.  They would also have kids at an extreme age (90 and 100).  Lastly they would be the source of multitudes.  These descendants are more than just the biological, but more importantly, include those who are children of Abraham by their faith in Jesus Christ.

Over and over again the passage states that they did all this by faith.  Now this is important because in Hebrews 10:38 it says that “the just shall live by faith.”  This is a quote from the Old Testament passage of Habakkuk 2:4.  It is similar to Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “we walk by faith, not by sight.”  Now what did they do by faith?  Several verbs are given to explain their actions of faith.  First is “obeyed.”  Obedience is something we naturally resist.  However, faith enabled them to go to a country that they didn’t necessarily want.  They also, “dwelt,” “waited,” and “bore.”  Each of these were things that were not easy to do.  They dwelt in a land in tents, as nomads, and among hostiles.  They waited when all of us would vote or now.  And, Sarah gave birth at 90 years old.  When do you say, “no thanks, but I changed my mind.”

Faith is that inner knowing and trust that God will do what he has said he will.  But far simpler than that, faith knows this: at the end of the day God is good.  The strange thing about believers is that they could look at all the stuff going on around them and quit trusting God.  But instead they continue to trust that God is what he says he is, he is good.

Believers Die in Faith

In Hebrews 11:13-15 we are reminded that Abraham, Sarah, and all other righteous people died while having faith in God.  To those who don’t believe in God this would probably be the strongest argument for walking away from this “God.”  The Spirit reminds us that though Abraham didn’t see all that was promised to him, it wasn’t because God wasn’t good or that he doesn’t really exist.  It does mean that the scope of his promises is far greater than our life.

There is a modern phenomenon that psychiatrists increasingly encounter called “Truman Show Delusion.”  The Truman Show was a movie in which a man’s whole life was secretly filmed and he eventually discovers that everyone in his life, even his wife, is an actor in a show in which he was the only real thing.  However absurd this may seem we sometimes act like this in regard to life.  God’s promises are greater than you and your life on this earth.  They encompass all believers of all time and all life, both this temporary life and the eternal life we have begun to enter.

Abraham didn’t see all the promises.  But he did see them by faith, “afar off.”  He was also assured of them.  This assurance can only really come from God himself.  When we assure ourselves it only works so long.  This is a supernatural assurance that is in the face of even death itself.  They “embraced” those promises as well.  They changed their lives and raised their kids in the environment of a full embrace of God’s promises.  “We want them and we will see them someday.”  By doing this they were confessing their true identity as nomads in this world.  God’s promises are about things that are beyond this life, which makes us nomads among those in this world who see this life as all there is.

By faith, believers are citizens of a heavenly kingdom (vs14).  Just like people who go to another culture experience a cultural dissonance, so believers feel that dissonance everywhere they go, even in their home town.  This world does not value true faith in the One True God.  Spiritually it is not our home and this makes us homesick for that place we have never been.  We know it by faith.  It is a country and a capital city that will be supplied by God himself.  No civilization or world of man will create them.

The reason I entitled this section, Believers Die in Faith, is because of the words of verse 13.  Believers not only live by faith, but when they come to the end of their life, that same faith continues.  It looks forward with the trust that God is good and it is not over yet.

God Rewards Our Faith

Ultimately our very salvation and eternal destiny is tied to our faith in God, specifically the Lord Jesus.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

But another aspect of this in Hebrews 11:16, is that God is not ashamed to be called their God.  More than that, he is not ashamed to claim us in the life to come.  He walks into a room of the world’s rich and powerful, beautiful and strong, and picks up those whom the world looks upon as weak, poor, ugly, undesirable.  They are beautiful to God simply because of their faith in him; faith that endures through death.  You are beautiful to God to the degree you trust him.

Thus God has prepared this place for those who have trusted him in life and in death.  God’s kingdom will come down and not just be in our hearts.  Jesus will literally come through those clouds and establish a world of peace that operates on the basis of trust in God.

No matter where you are on this journey, your faith will be tried.  You are a stranger in a strange land and that is an uncomfortable feeling.  May you remain faithful to Him who is always faithful and in the end will be found to have been completely good.

On The Journey Audio