“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
“…By faith Abel offered God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’
“…By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
– Hebrews 11:1-2, 4-5a,7-8
Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we can be seen. It is not that we know the answers, but that we are known by the God of all creation.
One of our great church fathers, St. Augustine, once wrote, “Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.” In our articles of faith, the creeds, Apostle, Nicene and the Athanasian, we confess our faith in God as father and creator, and in Jesus Christ, his son and redeemer, and in the Holy Spirit, who calls and gathers.
God can see the heart and can tell what we are up to. We may be showy and full of pomp and pageantry. Nonetheless, that does not impress God.
When Cain and Abel presented sacrifices to God, he accepted Abel’s. God saw the sincerity of Abel’s heart. Abel’s heart was in his gift. Cain’s heart was not in his gift.
Cain did not give God the best of his crop. One may suggest that he gave scraps to God.
Like Cain, some Christians give the world the impression that they are people of great faith, but God knows better. He knows the heart.
Scripture tells us that many of God’s prophets walked by faith. Enoch was a man of faith. Through his faith, he pleased God and, as a result, he did not see death. God took him up to heaven.
Faith does some unusual things to the human spirit. It led one to offer a sacrifice. Another to build an ark. Another left his heritage to become a wanderer in the desert.
Noah’s faith meant patience. God had visited him and instructed him to build a huge boat.
Additionally, he was instructed to preach to the people of the world, giving them an opportunity to turn to God.
It was a strange and unusual assignment, because there was no way for Noah to float that huge boat. It was not near the sea and furthermore, there had not been any rain on the earth up to that time. Notwithstanding that, Noah believed and obeyed God.
He preached faithfully, to the people, for more than 100 years. Yet, no one came to the faith or trusted his message. But Noah trusted God to do what he said he would do.
God made a promise to Abraham, a fatherless old man, which in human terms was an impossibility. He told Abraham, an old man who had no children, and whose wife was beyond the age of child bearing, that he would have a son and that his generation would be as numerous as the stars. Abraham believed and trusted God. His faith was credited to him as righteousness.
God is the one who, through his spirit, brings us to faith. The spirit calls us and sustains us in the faith. Without the Holy Spirit, we are lost and have nothing. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau,119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N-4794, Nassau, Bahamas; telephone 426-9084; e-mail email@example.com; or website www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.