Friday, June 16, 2017

Hebrews Chapter Eleven: 12

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” [Hebrews 11:13].

Where is the “quick fix” in Hebrews Chapter Eleven? It doesn’t exist. Not only does the quick fix not exist in this passage, but the intermediate fix doesn’t exist either – nor even the long-term, if by long-term we mean fulfillment in this lifetime. And yet, there is fulfillment, there is satisfaction – but it is not what the world or the church expects; it is not fulfillment found in the City of Man, but rather in the City of God.

Too often when we think of “faith” we think of the quick fix; faith to overcome an immediate problem, faith to have a “breakthrough with God”, faith to get what we want, faith to “receive something from God”, faith for an experience. While we do see examples of faith for the “immediate” in the Bible, faith for the immediate is not the context of Scriptural faith – it is a component of Scriptural faith, but not the context.

Biblical faith is faith for the long haul; it is not drag-racing faith, or oval-racing faith, or road-racing faith – it is over-the-road faith, it is faith moving us, calling us, to a destination and informing our way of life on our pilgrimage to that destination. It is cathedral-building faith, it is not “let me build a house for myself faith”. I can build many houses for myself in a lifetime; I cannot build a cathedral in my lifetime. A house for myself, or a cathedral for others, which is it to be? A house for myself will showcase “my” workmanship; a cathedral will showcase “our” and “His” workmanship. Which is it to be?

The faith of Hebrews Eleven is faith for endurance, faith that gives us eyes to see beyond the natural and immediate (2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18), faith that strengthens us to say “no” to the City of Man and “yes” to the City of God – it is faith for the journey, not faith for the quick fix and let me get what I want when I want it and how I want it.

Quick-fix faith with its incantations and formulas robs the people of God of their citizenship in heaven, for it teaches them to think and live short-term. Quick-fix faith does not mold our souls, it fattens our selfishness and promises to fulfill our temporal desires. The soul formed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God is a soul being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, it is a soul wedded to the Cross of Christ and the Christ of the Cross, it is a soul in which the Seed of Resurrection has been planted.

Hebrews 11:13 tells us that the fathers and mothers of faith did not receive the promises; yet in not receiving them they did receive them; in not receiving them they were assured of receiving them…for they refused to trade their birthright for a mess of short-term and quick-fix potage.

Someone has written that we live in a liquid society, that our “culture” changes constantly and there are no longer any fixed points by which to navigate. The man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24 – 27) need not worry when the storms came, but the house built on sand, “great was its fall.” The words of Jesus in the NASB concerning the house on the rock are “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”

How does one build a house on the rock? “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” We build as we obey Jesus, and as we obey we are formed into His image, not the image of our liquid culture. Grace through faith and faith through grace animates our lives and teaches us to obey; our obedience nurtures our faith and teaches us to receive His grace.

Short-term quick-fix faith in popular Christianity is not the faith that trains our souls, our hearts, our minds, our bodies; it is not the faith that teaches us to love God with all that we are and to lay down our lives for others. Living in a liquid culture, in the City of Man, means that we are ever awash in the flotsam and jetsam of the storms of this age, an age which is passing away – all we can hope for are short-term solutions. Living in the permanent culture of the City of God means that we are “in the world but not of the world” and that we are receiving that which we will receive; we are knowing that which we will know fully (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The faith of Hebrews Chapter Eleven is the faith of pilgrimage and destination. Are we on pilgrimage or have we pulled off the road to eat fast food?

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