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A Call to Faith

Devotions

At a sports league Hall of Fame, visitors can learn about the history of the sport, see memorabilia such as old balls and equipment, and acknowledge the accomplishments of the players and coaches who are honored for their exceptional achievements.

In a similar way, Hebrews 11 offers its own list of exceptional men and women of the Bible: the “Hall of Faith.” Previously, we were told that “the righteous will live by faith” (Heb. 10:38). Now we get both a definition of what faith is and some shining examples to imitate. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (v. 1). Faith doesn’t require visibility; hope and confidence in the object of faith are what matters. When vision fails, faith steps in.

That brings our author to a list of biblical figures who are commended for their faith. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah—each in their own way—trusted in God, even when they could not see what He had promised or when their circumstances seemed to contradict it. Abraham, for example, trusted God’s leading, “even though he did not know where he was going” (v. 9); and Sarah (beyond childbearing age), “was enabled to bear children” (v. 11) because she trusted God’s promise.

Perhaps most important, each of these figures lived in expectation of something promised by God, but “they did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance” (v. 13). While some experienced a partial fulfillment of God’s promises, they ultimately were looking forward to “a better country—a heavenly one” (v. 16). Though all of them died, Scripture tells us that they “were still living by faith when they died” (v. 13).

Apply the Word

Biblical faith is built on the foundation of God’s Word. Since we have that confidence in Christ and Scripture, we too are encouraged to live by faith. What promises of God are particularly difficult for you to believe? Take those to Him in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your faith so that you might trust Him in all that He says.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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