Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Hebrews 11 is the hallmark of faith in the Bible. It’s one of my favourite passages in the Bible because the subject of faith has a special place in my heart. I’m endlessly fascinated by the dynamic of faith in the relationships we have with God as believers and the wrestling wrought within us.
Especially since faith and logic are not fair weather friends. It’s not that we cannot reason with God as some presume. If anything, God makes a clear invitation in Isaiah 1:18 – come, let us reason together. The key thing here, and where we often get it wrong, is what level the reasoning is happening on.
We want God to come down and reason with us on our level. He wants us to come up higher and reason with Him on His level. It’s how we grow in relationship with Him. It’s how we get to know His heart, His mind, His nature. It’s how we become more like Him.
Allowing God to bring us up to His level often means surrendering our right to be right. It means embracing a wisdom that is not of this world, a wisdom that looks like foolishness to the world, a wisdom that will never be in agreement with the world.
So faith will always require us to go into unknown. The very essence of learning is getting to know something new, something that up until that point was unknown to us. If our faith tended to our comforts and served as our security blanket, it would defeat the very purpose of its existence. It must nudge, pull and if necessary, drag, us into the unknown where we can encounter God afresh.
It takes faith to have a testimony.
We have to stop pretending that faith makes life easier. Your faith doesn’t make it easier, it makes you stronger.Erwin McManus
Being on the receiving end of a testimony will always be infinitely easier than being the one in the middle of the test that precedes it.
In our wrestling with and for faith, doubt isn’t the real enemy, just the face of it. It’s the expression of something deeper – fear. Fear of looking bad. Fear of losing out. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of not having enough.
Faith will always falter where fear has gotten a foothold in your life. Until we take a step forward, we’ll never know the love of God that’s right behind the fog of fear. His perfect love for us which casts away every fear from us.
As a believer, you can’t run on other people’s testimonies forever. It’s like having a relationship with God by proxy. It’s as ludicrous as liking someone, then asking your best friend to be in a relationship with them on your behalf.
You need roots deep enough to ground you in your relationship with God. We can debate all day long about the Bible, doctrine and other Christian matters. But you can’t argue with me about what I’ve seen with my own two eyes and experienced for myself.
As ironic as it may be, there’s a faith, an evidence of the unseen, that comes by seeing God do certain things for you. There’s a surety you get in who God is by experiencing it for yourself.
It takes faith to give a testimony.
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.Revelation 19:10 NKJV
But the day I listened to Bill Johnson speaking on this verse forever changed my understanding of testimony.
A testimony is a prophetic decree. It bears witness to who God has been in the past and in so doing prophesies who He is in the present and who He will be in the future. Because He’s a God who doesn’t change.
When you give a testimony, however big or small you think it is, you’re not just giving a nice story. You’re speaking the power of Jesus into the lives of everyone who encounters it.
It takes faith to receive a testimony.
Typically, our response to testimonies as believers (especially in a church setting) is to cheer and applaud in the moment then promptly move on to the next thing on the service program.
Here, I’m not just talking about the cute testimonies like getting a job or a car. And I don’t call them cute to degrade them. They’re just as vital as any other to our walk with God. But many of them are a well-put together version of events that don’t require much stretch in your imagination to see how things turned out that way.
I’m talking about the jaw-dropping, what-happened?! kind. The kind where your mind cannot make heads or tails of what you’ve just heard but your spirit is leaping with joy because something in you recognizes the hand and heart of God all over what’s been shared with you.
We have so many of the former and not enough of the latter. Because we’re not accepting God’s standing invitation to have more of Him in our lives and in our world. Yes, He’s a God of provision. But have you read the Bible? There’s so much more He can do.
One of the amazing nuggets I got from Bill Johnson’s sermon was the ability to receive a testimony on someone else’s behalf. You may not be in need of what the testimony is praising God for accomplishing. But you probably know someone who does. And by faith, you can stand in the gap for them and receive that testimony, that prophetic decree on their behalf. I get excited thinking about the possibilities of all the ways God can move in this way.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.Hebrews 11:39-40 NKJV
Really think about the implication of this verse. All these men and women have their eternal promise on hold because God wants us to be part of the party. He doesn’t want us to miss out so much so that the likes of Abraham, Sarah, Enoch, Moses, Joseph, Rahab, Gideon and David are in a cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we run our race like they did during their time on earth.
Our story is incomplete without theirs. But their story is incomplete without ours too. Every morning we rise is an opportunity for us to step out in faith and witness God’s glory just like they did. I never want to lose the awe and wonder of being loved by the Creator of the universe. I want to see God. Again and again and again and again. For all my days on earth and every day in eternity thereafter. I never want to miss an opportunity to see God.
And so, my prayer for you, is that you will never settle for yesterday’s manna (miracle) or merely be content with sharing your neighbour’s manna.
May your pursuit of God only be rivalled by His pursuit of you.