By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
In this chapter of Hebrews, titled by many as “The Faith Hall of Fame,” the words “by faith” appears at least twenty times. Hebrews 11:6 announces, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and goes on to tell about this faith, using Biblical characters as examples to define what this faith looks like for us. These real life people died without receiving what was promised, they only welcomed them from afar…they were aliens and strangers with their eyes on a Heavenly city…they were men made strong out of weakness who conquered kingdoms and shut the mouth of lions…they regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater treasures than all of Egypt.
As a result of this faith that was planted in their hearts by God, they didn’t receive rewards and notoriety here. No pats on the back. Instead, they were sawn in two, faced jeers and flogging and were imprisoned. They were men and women of whom the world was not worthy of.
True faith rises up within us as a work done in our hearts by God. According to Colossians 1:5-6 it springs up like a seed. You will know it is there when you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do, like loving unlovable people or being sacrificial with your time and money when that’s not normally you. We nurture this faith by being connected to Jesus through prayer and Bible study, as well as being spurred on by fellow believers.
Sometimes what we do seems pretty unnoteworthy, only to later find out that our act started off a chain of events much bigger than our little step of faith. I don’t think we have to do things to prove that we have faith, we just have to obey each day, doing the things you think that God is telling you to do.
This is an excerpt of a story that I’ve thought about a few times since I read it 25 or more years ago. It is about Boris Kornfeld, and Charles Colson told about him in his great book, “Loving God.” He is one of my heros of the faith, maybe somewhere in the 100th edition of God’s ‘Faith Hall of Fame.’
Kornfeld was a prisoner in the Gulag of Russia back in the 1950’s. He was a self righteous Jew, but his life was changed by God as he was around a fellow prisoner who was a believer. He would recite the Lord’s prayer many times a day. This man shared with Boris about being a Christian and how to forgive others because we’ve been forgiven by God.
Kornfeld was a surgeon and they put his skills to work, serving as the prison doctor. He was doing a surgery on a guard who was particularly mean. He could have simply sutured his vein in such a way that the man would bleed to death. Startled by his own evil heart, he found himself reciting the Lord’s prayer as if out of the blue. He became a Christian. The man who told him about Jesus was transferred and Kornfeld was left to figure his faith out alone in this dank prison. One day the doctor was performing a surgery on a cancer filled prisoner. As he worked on him through the night, he felt the words of faith tumble from his mouth as he told this man about how he had strangely, but surely, found the forgiveness and the love of God.
The next morning, the young patient awoke to the sound of running feet. Though it looked like Dr. Kornfeld and the patient were alone, someone overheard. This person dealt eight blows to Kornfeld’s head, killing him. But his faith lived on. The patient was a writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He became a Christian through that encounter, and he began writing essays that were somehow circulated throughout the world to expose others about the inhumanity of the Soviet System.
Read more on his story from https://kazakhnomad.wordpress.com/tag/dr-boris-kornfeld/
That’s what true faith does. Against all odds we take risks, head into situations that we don’t know what the outcome will be, quit jobs when it doesn’t look prudent to do so, and dream dreams about what God will do in and through us when we simply obey.
Won’t it be fun to hear the rest of the stories and see our own story unfold when we get to glory?
*Image from pastorjohnmerrit.com