Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Hebrews 11:1-2

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 

Hebrews 11:6

Too often, faith is perceived as something merely internal and mystical. But biblical faith is much more than a blind leap; it is a trust based on past promises, truths, and experiences. One church member said it this way to me this week:

“Faith is not a blind leap in the dark, but a careful walk in the light.”

Steve Robinson

In Hebrews 11:19, Abraham considered that God was able to raise Isaac even from the dead if he followed through with God’s command. The word considered here means “to calculate” or “to compute.” It is thoughtful, intelligent, experienced faith. This is the type of faith that pleases God. This is the type of faith that God commends.

But you might ask, “Isn’t this kind of faith only for those heroes of faith in Hebrews 11?” The author of Hebrews doesn’t think so. He used these examples to commend faith to us. He used practical, concrete, applicable examples for our benefit.

Here are just a few concrete applications of faith from Hebrews 11:17-31.

  • Like Abraham, by faith, we can trust that the God who raised Jesus from the dead can give eternal life to those who believe. 
  • Like Isaac, by faith, we as parents can speak and pray gospel blessings over our children. 
  • Like Jacob, by faith, we as grandparents can speak and pray gospel blessings over our grandchildren. 
  • Like Joseph, by faith, we can admit that this world is not our home and trust God has prepared a place for us.  
  • Like Moses’ parents, by faith, we can teach our children to fear God and believe the gospel rather than cede our children to the values and morals of the cultural rot around us. 
  • Like Moses, by faith, we can seek after Christ rather than wealth, status, and power offered by the culture around us. 
  • Like Moses, by faith, we can speak, share, and illustrate the gospel for the sake of our neighbors and the nations. 
  • Like Joshua and the people of Israel, by faith, we can obey God and trust in his miraculous sovereign interventions. 
  • Like Rahab, by faith, we can fear God and welcome the forgiveness of the gospel. 
  • And like Rahab, by faith, we can accept that God will forgive any who fear him regardless of their past. 

I could go on, but you get the idea. The faith illustrations commended to us were intended to make faith accessible and applicable. Have a read through the rest of Hebrews 11. Consider the examples. Identify one or two that stand out to you. Make note of how you could apply the example to your life today. This is the faith that God invites of us. This is the faith that pleases him.

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

I write and post this on March 17, 2023 which is St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. For more than 1,000 years the Irish have celebrated this saint bringing Christianity to Ireland. In many ways, people celebrate Irish culture more than they do what motivated Patrick.

Here’s why I post. We become what we celebrate.

Our congregation is a Baptist church. We are not Roman Catholic and do not have patron saints. We have significant differences in our theological formulations than do the Roman Catholics. But just because we don’t agree on everything doesn’t mean that church history is to be ignored or utterly rejected. Christians of all denominations and backgrounds can learn some things from Patrick’s life and witness.

Much of what is remembered regarding St. Patrick is fable and myth—like the claim that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. But what is certain about Patrick is his influence as a missionary. A Romanized Briton, Patrick was sold as a slave to a cruel Northern Irish master at 16. During his enslavement, he suffered greatly facing abuse and many difficulties. While raised nominally as a Christian, his suffering drove him to deeper faith in God. He escaped slavery after 6 years and boarded a ship to Europe.

Not long after returning to his family in England, God called him to be a missionary in Ireland—the land of his slavery. Though he may not have been the first missionary, Ireland in those days was pagan and wicked. Facing opposition from the druids, Patrick offered these words.

Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity. But I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of the God almighty who rules everywhere.

St. Patrick

While not well-educated, Patrick prayed deeply and read the Scripture constantly. He also valued the education he lacked and promoted the copying of much European writings that actually resulted in their survival during the Middle Ages. His life and witness was greatly influential as hundreds of Celtic monks left their homeland to spread the gospel to Scotland, England and Europe. 

I’m not suggesting that we adopt Patrick as a patron saint. But Patrick’s life and ministry do teach us some things worth celebrating. If we become what we celebrate, then what have you celebrated lately? Here are a just a few celebration lessons from Patrick’s history that we can adopt.

  • We can celebrate spiritual development and learning. In his excellent book How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Patrick’s love of learning and education influenced the copying of ancient texts and kept much learning alive in the Medieval world. In my devotions this morning, I read these verses in Galatians 4:18-19: “It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” Christ formed in us is the purpose of Christian discipleship (see also Romans 8:29). There is no better way to develop and learn spiritually than to read God’s Word and follow Christ. Take a moment today and celebrate the Bible that you have, the lessons from its pages, and the people who have taught it to you.
  • We can celebrate even in suffering. Patrick’s life was anything but easy. He suffered unjustly as a slave facing cruelty and abuse. Many of us are suffering today physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Some of us have faced unjust or abusive treatment. Patrick did not withdraw into emotional or personal isolation. Rather, his sufferings drove him to God. I’m not suggesting that we celebrate our sufferings. But I am suggesting that we celebrate Jesus who suffered on our behalf, and that we celebrate the God whose suffering through Christ on the cross is our redemption.
  • We can celebrate the work of redemption. Patrick was a missionary. He took the gospel to Ireland, and many became followers of Jesus because of his witness. Who shared the gospel with you? That person, church, Sunday school teacher, parent, grandparent, pastor, missionary, evangelist, friend is worth celebrating. And we must celebrate the salvation of sinners! In the past week, I’ve learned of three people who have put their faith in Christ. One was a gentleman I’ve been talking to recently. He was helped on his journey by several church members. Another was a 6 year old whose grandmother led him to trust in Christ after his many questions about Jesus and eternal life. The third was a gentleman who came to peace with Christ after realizing that the perfection he was striving for had already been attained by Christ. I’m celebrating these who have come to faith in Christ. Will you celebrate with me?

If you don’t wear green or participate in St. Patrick’s day celebrations, that’s ok. But let’s remember to celebrate what God has taught us, how he has helped us through suffering, and how his has redeemed us. If you’re in the Wilkesboro area, join us for worship at Wilkesboro Baptist as we celebrate Jesus this Sunday (8:00 am, 9:30 am, or 11:00 am). If you’re not in our area, make plans to go to church and celebrate this weekend.

My information about Patrick came from this wonderful book 131 Christians Everyone Should Know.

Photo by Artur Kornakov on Unsplash