Faith Looks Forward
Paul TautgesPaul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.
- 2015 Jan 02
This morning, I awoke with the desire to page through a Moleskine journal that I recently filled up; my soul needed to feed upon the workings of the Spirit in my mind and heart in the past---taking in, again, spiritual nourishment I've received from the Word. Several pages that stood out to me contained the summary of weeks of meditating on the nature of true faith as described in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. I posted these thoughts awhile back, but since my heart needs to be reminded of these things; I trust you will bear with me posting them, again, in a slightly revised and expanded version.
A chief quality of true faith, which rings out from Hebrews 11, is that biblical faith is fueled by the forward look. That is, inherent in true faith is a conscious choice to look beyond what is seen in the here and now (what we can humanly comprehend and reason) to what is unseen and yet promised. As I reviewed my conclusions concerning the qualities of faith, the forward look grabbed hold of my heart once more. This is the future-minded faith the Lord wants from us in 2015. Open your Bible to Hebrews 11 and let's think this through, together.
- Faith looks to “things hoped for” with assurance that God will bring them to pass (v. 1).
- Faith is the assurance/conviction of things not [yet] seen (v. 2). If we could see the details of our futures, now, then walking would not be by faith. We drastically limit what God may do with us if we limit our “faith” to what makes sense to human reasoning.
- Faith chooses to focus on the invisible; it does not require the seeing of that which is visible to compel it to believe (v. 3).
- Faith offers acceptable sacrifices to God; faith calls for earthly sacrifice, letting go of the finite things that may hold us back (v. 4; Rom 12:1).
- Faith is the “channel” in which righteousness is received by God; this faith pleases Him (vv. 5-6; 7b).
- Faith believes that God is the one, true reality---He is. Everything else is “unreal” (v. 6b).
- Faith seeks after God and is rewarded by God (v. 6c).
- Faith trusts God’s Word enough to act in obedience even when naysayers tell us to be more realistic (v. 7).
- Faith follows the Lord’s leading, even though we don’t know the specifics of where we are going or what will be needed to carry out His will (v. 8).
- Faith “claims” one’s future inheritance before it is an experiential reality (v. 8).
- Faith values one’s future inheritance above what may be gained in the here and now; faith sinks shallow roots into what is seen, i.e. in the things of this earth, which is temporary (v. 9).
- Faith looks to God’s city---His kingdom, which is not of this world, not human comforts and assurances (v. 10).
- Faith considers the impossible as if it was already reality (vv. 11-12).
- Faith welcomes the promises of God, having “seen” them from a distance; faith considers them to already be so; the eyes of faith see God’s will as supreme and, therefore, worthy of following more than anything else in life (v. 13a).
- Faith fuels a true confession of God’s promises, which results in contentment to live as unwelcomed strangers in this world (v. 13b).
- Faith seeks the promise as if it already belongs to us. The heroes of faith who have gone before us sought “a country of their own,” though it was not yet their own (in experience). If they would have sought what was now their own (the here and now, the seen) they would have been tempted to return to the comfort of living only in the small world of what is seen (vv. 14-15).
- Faith pursues the heavenly, not the earthly, as superior in value (v. 16).
- God is not ashamed to be associated with people who live by faith rather than basing decisions on the limitations of human reasoning (v. 16).
- Faith acts in obedience to God’s commands, though the means of fulfilling His will cannot be humanly perceived or understood (v. 17).
- Faith clings to the raw promises of God to supply (v. 18).
- Faith considers the impossible as already accomplished by God (v. 19).
- Faith confidently spreads the blessings that are yet to be experienced (vv. 20-21).
- Faith instructs our hearts, based upon the recognition that what God has promised He also will do (v. 22).
- Faith rests in God’s ultimate protection, rather than fearing finite man and acting on the fear of their intimidation (v. 23).
- Faith chooses to identify with the Lord and His promises, rather than with sin and its pleasures (vv. 24-25).
- Faith considers identification with Christ and His reproach as “greater riches” than anything this world offers as an idolatrous replacement, especially the fleeting favor of men (v. 26).
- Faith looks to the eternal reward of following God’s will, not man’s plans (v. 26b).
- Faith sees “the unseen” King as greater---and more worthy of allegiance---than earthly rulers (v. 27).
- Faith obeys unprecedented commands from God (v. 28).
- Faith steps out into greater risk (v. 29).
- Faith obeys God, though common sense would direct otherwise or even tempt us to laugh at God’s promises (vv. 30-31).
- Faith performs acts of heroism, which end up bringing glory to God (vv. 32-35a).
- Faith suffers with the assurance of God’s approval being infinitely better than man’s acceptance (vv. 35b-39).
- Faith considers the unseen promises of God as “better” than the limitations of what is seen (v. 40).
Biblical faith looks forward and this forward look fuels the risk-taking obedience that is needed t follow God. This year, may the Lord grant to us the childlike faith that truly believes He is the God of the impossible! Only this kind of faith has the power to radically direct our values, choices, and the risks we are willing to take for His glory and the fulfillment of His will.