These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. – Hebrews 11:13

heb 11.13Earlier we took a look at a list of several of the faithful listed in Hebrews 11:4-16. As we looked at Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah we saw a common theme of faith in God that lead to action and assurance in their lives. God accomplished the impossible in their lives as they walked and lived by faith. We had concluded that true faith does not leave us doubting or fearing or worrying. True faith, truly taking God at His Word, leads to assurance and confidence.

So as we believe, we obey. We trust God for the impossible. And we are assured that He will do what He has promised! Think about it. How often do we claim to be walking by faith, but we are reluctant, and fearful, and full of worry or doubt? As Jesus responded often to His disciples, we are people of “little faith.” Our faith is weak and insufficient.

Why is that? Because we are prone to trust what we see! We walk by sight instead of by faith. Peter is the perfect example. He trusted the reality of the howling winds and crashing waves around him instead of trusting the reality that Jesus had called him to walk on the water.

When we take our eyes off Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) we lose heart, we lose faith, we lose hope, and we sink into the sea of doubt and fear. If, on the other hand, we walk by faith, we know that faith in God is never a blind leap in the dark. We have His Word to assure us – and His Word in fact is the very tool He uses to give us more faith (Romans 10:17).

Moving on into Hebrews 11 and starting with verse 13, these that we have studied all died in faith. That is, when they died, they still had faith but had not received that for which they had hoped.

Remember that faith is the “substance of things hoped for.” It gives us an unshakable conviction that what we hope for will come to pass. And their faith was so strong that although they did not see all the fulfillments of the promises that they had received from God they still continued to believe Him. You see, true saving faith does not ever quit or give up. We have assurance, hope, and confidence that what we believe will come to pass and in fact we are convinced of the truthfulness of what we believe. Why? Because God is trustworthy. And even if we, like these, do not see all the fruit and all the blessing that has been promised we know that God is faithful, He will keep His Word, and we will receive the promised inheritance (Eph 1:13-14).

These had faith and they saw the promises afar off. They had assurance. They embraced the promises and the One who promised. And as a result they confessed, that is, they agreed with God that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth. They walked by faith and saw ultimately that the things they were assured of were not things of this earth, but things beyond this creation.

So often we want the blessing now. We want the inheritance now. (Remember the Prodigal?) We want the fulfilled and satisfied life now. That is why false teachers and heretics have the following that they do. I mean, look at the best selling book titles out there – that says it all. In our flesh, as a natural man, we want all the supposed benefits of following Jesus right now. Many are in it for what we can get, not for what they have been commanded to give.

These listed for us in Scripture, while they had some measure of blessing, also had conflict, persecution, barrenness, and suffering. And they knew the whole time that they were pilgrims and strangers here. Why is it that God tells us not to love the things of this world because it is all passing away (1 John 2:15-17). So why do we want to have the best of everything this world has to offer? It is all passing away. And where is our treasure? Where our heart is. What does our heart crave? That is where we have laid up our treasure.

Too many fail to remember that we are not citizens here. We are just passing through. This is not our home. And too many live life to get all they can that this world has to offer. Jesus spoke about one that did this. He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). What is the benefit of having it all now when there is so much more to come that is so much better?

This is where the word-faith teachers miss both the Word and the Faith. They want the best NOW, but the best is yet to come. That is why we must walk by faith. That is why we trust that God will do what He has promised. That is why we have assurance. I mean, who wants the best now when the best now is nothing in comparison to what is yet to come?

What a bill of goods the church is being sold. It is as if a store clerk was offering you a piece of chocolate wrapped in foil and made to look like a gold coin. Good? Sure. For a little while. Satisfying? You bet – it’s chocolate! But which is better, a chocolate coin, or an actual gold coin? All the best this life has to offer is but a trinket compared to what will be when Christ returns. That is why we are to store up treasure in heaven.

Are you running in circles trying to have the best of everything that this world has to offer? Stop. Rest. Be patient. The best is yet to come.

(tomorrow: Don’t Look Back)