Hebrews 11 has often been referred to as the “Hall of Faith.”
The chapter begins in verse 1 with a definition of biblical faith:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
We are told that it was by faith that the men of old gained the approval of God (v.2) and that “without faith it is impossible to please” God (v.6).
The author of Hebrews then proceeds to list by name many of the Old Testament saints who gained the Lord’s approval and brought Him glory by virtue of their faith-filled lives and actions. Among those named are Enoch, Noah (for whom one of my sons is named), Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, and the prophets. All individuals worthy of their inclusion in this list.
There are un-named others who are included in this “Hall of Faith” as well. They were men and women of faith who received back their dead by resurrection, were subject to mockings, scourging, and torture, stoned, tempted, and put to death, all because of their faith in God and their lives of faith.
The Bible says that these people “gained approval through their faith,” even though they “did not receive what was promised.”
What a list, and what a witness these men and woman of old are to us today.
But, I can’t help but believe that the list of those who have lived, and do live, with an “other worldly faith” in God continues to be added to.
I’d like to briefly share about three men and women that I know and/or have recently learned about that I believe have that “other worldly” kind of faith that pursues God and His will and purposes on this earth and thusly, gain His approval.
The first is a Chinese pastor who started the church that I attend on Sunday evenings. This man obviously has the spiritual gift of “apostle” or church planter. He is an itinerant missionary who lives and operates out of a nearby major city and has started at least four Mandarin congregations in university cities in our state. I know that his ministry extends beyond the borders of our state; he has traveled as far as Canada to be involved in the start of Mandarin congregations there. What amazes me is that this pastor has an earned PhD in an engineering field and could be comfortably employed by an engineering company for the support of his wife and children. Yet, he has responded to the Lord’s call on his life to evangelize and disciple international students and start churches. I recently asked a fellow church attendee if the pastor has a ministry organization through which I could contribute to his support. I was staggered to learn that he does not have a ministry organization and he does not conduct fund raising campaigns. He and his family are supported by the Lord through the free-will offerings received from the churches he starts and other churches and individuals who know him and share the vision the Lord has placed within his heart. He is a man with an “other worldly” faith.
The second man is one that I only know about through the newsletter of friends who serve in a “closed access” nation. This man was prayerfully considering leaving his place of service in another part of the country to join my friends in their work. He eventually informed them that he has decided to stay where he lives and continue his service as the pastor of a house church network. The church he personally serves has been visited several times by government representatives and there have been threats of arrests. This man said that if anyone was to be arrested, it needed to be him rather his young associate who is married with young children. Thus, his decision to remain where he is. This man has an “other worldly” faith and confidence in God and a self-sacrificing love for his fellow believers.
The third person that I would share with you about is a young lady who lives in our community. I do not know her or her name but was told about her by two leaders in the church where she is a member. This young lady has long had a burden for the low-come families who reside in a Section 8 housing community in our city. She became involved in ministry to the children and families who live on the “Loop” while still a university student. Her ministry is that of evangelism through word and deed. Her compassion for the people on the “Loop” was so great that she was not content to minister to the people as an “outsider.” She sensed the Lord’s call on her life to minister to the people from the “inside,” as one of the people, a resident of the housing community. So, when she recently graduated from the university with a degree, rather than seeking employment in her field that would guarantee her a comfortable career and income (an income that would have disqualified her from housing in a low-income area), she chose rather to work for the local school district as a teacher’s assistant. As a T.A., with the low-income that T.A.s make, the young lady has qualified for an apartment on the “Loop” and is now ministering there as a resident. This un-named young woman, compelled by the love of Christ has chosen to live a life of poverty and simplicity and serve others, exemplifying an “other worldly’ faith that gains the approval of the Lord.
I am inspired by the men and women who are referred to in Hebrews chapter 11 to live a life of faith that pleases the Lord. I am just as inspired by the two men and one woman that I have shared with you above in this post.
To live by faith and pursue the Lord and His purposes and glory on this earth. To look past and to forsake the pleasures and comforts of this life for the sake of the Gospel. To trust, for the care and provision of my family and ministry, the One who has called me into His family and Kingdom service.