Aloha Friday Message – August 9, 2019 – Faith in Death

1932AFC080919 – Faith in Death

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     Hebrews 11:13-14 13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

 

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!

Perhaps you’re already thinking I must be crazy to be talking about faith in death. We all know the saying usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, we do know that is usually true, and to that – these days for sure – we could also add, “and we can be certain that whatever we do or say will offend someone.”

This has an unfortunate – and probably intended – effect on those who endeavor to speak the Truth: We tend to hold back sometimes so we don’t set off a firestorm of negative judgments from the people around us, even from people who have no idea who we are or what we stand for – we’re just worthless in their judgment. We can easily be discouraged by this prejudicial attack on our own faith – that is, unless we remember that their lack of faith, lack of righteousness, lack of humility is their eternal death knell. Consider this:

Hebrews10:36-38 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.” In this passage the Apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk 2:3-4 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

By faith …Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua at Jericho, Rehab – all of these acted by faith in faith that God would be true to his promise for those who are righteous, and they were counted as righteous because of their faith. All of these Israelite heroes died in faith despite never seeing the fulfillment of The Promise. The righteous live in faith and die in faith. They have faith in death because death is part of the promise of redemption, salvation, and eternity. I encourage you to read Hebrews 11 so you can become familiar with how God saw righteousness in the actions of these predecessors of the Apostle Paul. I encourage you further to consider how he will see the righteousness in the actions of the successors of the Apostle Paul.

     Hebrews 11 starts with the beautiful description of faith: 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. “The assurance of things hoped for;” this is echoed in Romans 8:24-25 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes [waits for] for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. And next we have “the conviction of things not seen.” In this we see that the expectations of faith are not burdens, but rather they form a pillar of strength, a tower of support, for all that is promised but as yet is not manifest. We trust that the fulfillment will be complete because we know that the Maker of the Promise makes all things complete. The Apostle Paul references this notion in verse 3 – the worlds were prepared – God completed all his work in the universe. The words “was formed” – as the history of the universe – is written is Greek in this passage as κατηρτίσθαι (katērtisthai) [kat-ar-tid’-thai] – From kata and a derivative of artios; to complete thoroughly, to complete, to prepare, i.e. adjusted exactly “down” to fully functional. As we have said here before, God doesn’t make junk, and what he makes is inherently perfect; what we have made imperfect carries within it his perfection. Therefore, since he has made the promise, we can confidently expect the promise to be fulfilled, and that is how we live by faith and die in faith.

Belovéd, if we live by faith, then we can be confident that our faith will endure even death. Were it not so, all our faith would be in vain; but in what does our faith consist? What is the Mystery of Faith? “Christ has Died. Christ has Risen. Christ will come again.” And, “Dying you destroyed our death. Rising you restored our Life. Lord Jesus, come in Glory.” Yes, it is true, these are the “old” acclamations, but they sum up our hope rather succinctly. If we want to define the object of our faith we need only to turn to the ever-popular and well-known John 3:16-17: We will be resurrected to everlasting, eternal life with God, his angels, and his saints. Of all the promises made by God, that is the most beautiful and the most lasting, and therefore, it is the one in which we have the greatest faith. If Christ only died, then our faith is in vain. But – as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-27, IF Christ was indeed raised, then we can have faith in the promise that he will come again (after all, he told us he would in John 14:1-3!). That is “the conviction of things not seen.”

In life and in death we embrace that conviction because we can “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” (See Hebrews 10:23) After all, he created all things (John 1:3a) and all things were created for him (Colossians 1:15-16) – including you and me. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (↔ Music Link) (Psalm 50:10), and he is our shield and protector. Whenever others come against us because of our faith, we need not fear because he promises not to fail or forsake us: Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.

We have faith in our lives because we know that we can have faith in – at the time of  – our death as an everlasting promise from the One, True, Eternal God who completed a fully functional universe, and that promise is that we are, have been, and will be eternally his and that where he is will be our homeland. Instead of the unbelievers’ “I hope so,” we hold fast to the believers’, “so is my hope!”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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