January 3: The Testimony of Faith

SCRIPTURE

Hebrews 11:2 For by it the men of old gained approval.

OBSERVATION

Men of old gained approval from God because of their faith, and because of nothing else. God has always approved and recognized the person of faith. This verse implies what other parts of the chapter make clear—that God makes his approval known to those who trust Him. How God shows His approval varies, but every believer has God’s witness that his faith is pleasing to his Lord.

Faith is not simply one way to please God; it is the only way.

  • “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:6).

No matter what else we may think, say, or do for or in the name of God, it is meaningless and worthless apart from faith. It cannot possibly be approved by God.

Since the time of Adam, some men have believed in God and believed what He has said. For them life has been meaningful; it has had assurance, substance, and confidence. They did not make a blind leap of faith, but put their faith in a future reality that, because of their faith, God made certain and sure for them. And with this certainty came assurance, confidence, and hope. Believing in God gives reason for living—and for dying. Just before Stephen was stoned, “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). This glimpse of his Lord vindicated all he had endured for the gospel’s sake and all he was then about to suffer. He had something to live for and to die for.

 

UNDERSTANDING

What is God saying to me? 

God’s question isn’t, “Will you work harder?” It’s, “Will you believe more?”

The opening statement struck me: “Men of old gained approval from God because of their faith, and because of nothing else.” It is amazing how important faith is to God. I am reminded how Jesus identified faith. In different situations, of the million things Jesus could point out or be surprised by, it was often faith that he brought up. “Oh, you of little faith.” “Your faith has healed you.” “I have not found anyone in all Israel with such great faith.” If it’s faith Jesus is looking for and faith that gains us approval before God, it’s faith that I want!

I was reading a few days ago in the Psalms and was amazed by something David said:

Psalm 26:1

Vindicate me, Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
    and have not faltered.

David said he had led a blameless life. What?! I’ve read about David (and what the Bible says about all men). How could he claim to be blameless? The answer is found in the second half of the verse. He trusted in the Lord without faltering. Faith. Believing. This is what characterizes a life pleasing to God.

LIFE APPLICATION
 
What will I do about it?

Ask God for more faith and put my trust in him!

God, I recognize I cannot manufacture faith. It is a gift from you. Would you please bless me and your church with an increased measure of faith. May we trust in you without faltering and gain approval from you because of our great faith. Amen.

 
-Levi Thompson
 
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