Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning Franklin, NC 28734 March 27, 2020
“Now Faith Is…”
There is much-sinking sand in our world today—yet many, perhaps including some of us, trust in this sinking sand. Examples now align themselves for our inspection. Some trust their wealth and income to satisfy their deepest needs and longings. In this case, if only there be enough money for a considerable number of years beyond one’s expected lifetime, then all shall be well. Others look to government for their rescue and fulfillment. According to this, if only there be enough government oversight, regulation, and favor on my behalf, then all will go well for me (and ill for my enemies to boot). Still others look to their very selves—whatever that means—for ultimate fulfillment. Such folks trust in their physical strength, or their intellectual prowess, or their abilities to persuade, among others, for their fundamental satisfaction.
The hymn writer rightly notes, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”1 Indeed, and happily, we have a solid Rock on which to stand—the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us learn what it means to stand on Him—by faith—as we hear today’s portion of God’s Word read and expounded.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The inspired author of Hebrews tells us what faith is. Faith is, first, the assurance (literally substance, Greek hypostasis [upostasiV]) of things hoped for. It is as if we have, palpably in hand, that for which we hope. Second, faith is the conviction (literally evidence for, Greek elengchos [elegcoV]) of things not seen. It is as if we can see, and can show to others, the things not seen—or, at least, the things not seen just now.
This is what faith is, according to God in Hebrews 11. Now let’s ask ourselves, “What are the things hoped for? What are the things unseen?” These, simply, are glorious. The One hoped for, yet unseen for now, is God Himself—and we accord Him honor, praise, etc., independent of any blessing from His hand. He is our unseen hope, and, therefore, He deserves honor, praise, glory, and the like, simply because He is worthy of the same. Also, we hope for future favor (what John Piper, in his book of the same name, calls future grace) from God’s good hand.2 Let’s look now at some of the forms that God’s future favor takes.
We long for God’s precious promises to be delivered to us in His day in His way—and we may count on it, for no matter how many promises God has made, they are, “Yes,” and “Amen,” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:19). No matter then the promise, whether of forgiveness of sins, or of peace within the soul, or of eternal life, it is yours, by faith, in the Person and power of Jesus Christ. Moreover, God’s future favor takes the form of His power. This power enables us to live the life that God intends us to live in His Son—with attendant power to live a Godly life and to discharge faithful, fruitful ministry in His Name. God’s future favor also includes us in His perfect plan—which is unfolding at His decreed rate, for His glory and for our good, until its consummation at the Second Coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.
This, then, is faith. By faith: the people of old—that is, the Old Testament saints—received their commendation. This commendation, fundamentally from God, but also from His people, means those folk, literally, were spoken well of (Greek martureo [marturew])–and this not by their deeds in themselves, but by the faith motivating their deeds. By faith, we too receive our commendation, our “Well done,” from Him. This is spur indeed to continue to trust in our Lord for all.
Have you found yourself, either recently or in time past, trusting in something else than Jesus to fulfill your deepest needs and longings? Recall that faith—faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior—is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, and by this our spiritual forefathers obtained a good report. Trust in Jesus, obviously, is better by far than trust in anything else—or anyone else. Yet, if you find that your trust in Jesus is weak, or weaker than you would like, then cry out to Him to increase your faith—as the disciples did unto the Lord on one occasion (Luke 17:5).3 Cry out to Him for the very faith to believe in Him for salvation, if necessary—and let these words which Paul and Silas spoke to the Philippian jailer ring in your ears, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved—you, and your house” (Acts 16:31). Cry out to Him to trust in Him when something else in our world cries out to you to trust in it. Come to the Lord for this faith, and let your cry be that of A. M. Toplady, as expressed in his hymn “Rock of Ages”: “Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
1 Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” (1834).
2 John Piper, Future Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1995).
3 This advice, “Cry out for it,” was a favored exhortation of C. H. Spurgeon (1834-92), British Calvinistic Baptist pastor, when we lack something the Lord commands us to possess or to exert.