Hebrews 11:39, 40
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Many of us see faith as the key to having our prayers answered, a tool that enables us to get stuff from God. But Hebrews 11, the “faith chapter” defines faith entirely differently. In fact, after listing several heroes of faith it says: (v.13) “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” They did not lose their stuff because their faith had grown weak. They died in faith but still did not receive.
Here are some things faith did result in though:
Faith’s primary purpose is not to obtain things, even answers to our prayers. Faith is primarily to enable us to please God (v.6). “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Faith produces confidence and assurance (v.1)
Faith produces insight and understanding into areas we could never understand empirically (v.3). No one can unequivocally prove how the world began, neither creationists nor evolutionist, but we can know how it began because “by faith we understand” that which we could never know or understand otherwise.
Faith produces sacrificial worship and can cause the influence of our life to live on long after we are gone (v.4). Though dead, Abel still speaks.
Faith can spare us from death – certainly eternal death and sometimes physical death (v.5)
Faith demonstrated in our life can produce condemnation in those who refuse to believe (v.7). Noah, “by his faith condemned the world”.
Faith produces obedience (v.8). “By faith Abraham …. obeyed and went.”
Faith enables us to be fruitful beyond our own abilities (v.11). “Sarah, who was past childbearing age”, had children.
These all lived and died in faith but did not receive the promise from God. Does that sound like God failed them? The end of the chapter explains why they did not receive.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better …”. (Hebrews 11:39, 40)
I love the bow that is put on this package to tie it all together. Because all these were not living as citizens of this world but were looking for a “better country”, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” (v.16)
May I live in such a way that God is not ashamed to be called my God.
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.