Week 42 It is By Faith That We Believe

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 42

Scripture Readings: Hebrews 11-13

Key Scripture Verses: Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“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 we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

I don’t know about you, but I often think people are slow to believe in God or to have faith that God exists, but at the same time, they are quick to put their faith in a lot of other things with hardly questioning them. For example, I see people crossing streets in front of cars, knowing that a car is coming, but assuming that if they don’t look at the car, the car will slow down and let them pass through the street without hitting them. Amazing faith! Another example—we believe that small particles such as atoms and molecules exist because it’s in a book and a trusted teacher told us so. But, if our preacher says God exists, we question whether we even believe in God and Jesus, and virgin birth, etc. And if our friend says she saw an angel, we want to believe that, so we think she might have actually seen an angel. We are quick to believe gossip that another person tells us, often without even checking out the facts, and we might even repeat the gossip, because it’s too juicy not to share.

We are quick to believe a lot of things on faith, so why is it that we feel we need proof, rational proof that God exists and we feel we need to be able to prove his existence with our cognitive processes. It is my experience that those who already believe in God tend to find rationalization that God exists, using premises that already point out to God’s existence to those who already believe. And that those who do not believe in the existence of God use arguments that do not disprove God any more than those who try to prove that he does exist. The arguments are faulty on both sides of that camp, because you either have a tendency to believe or not before you begin the argument and neither side can prove either side of the argument by true scientific method.

Like the Apostle Thomas, we want to see and believe and if we can’t see, we question the validity of an argument. We even say, as Thomas did, “I want to see for myself.”

The Bible doesn’t prove that God exists, but it does cite several instances of some interesting phenomena that either happened or some very interesting facts of science and rational thinking are outside of my understanding and the logical reasoning behind them escapes me. Or the stories are just stories of people whom did not even exist, even though archaeological finds indicate that some of them did, in fact, exist. Chapter 11 of Hebrews cites several of the Bible stories of people who acted on faith: There’s Enoch whom God took from earth without dying, because he pleased God. There’s Noah who was ridiculed and went against conventional wisdom and cultural belief and built an ark to save himself and his family because he believed what God told him about a flood coming that would wipe out everything. And what about Abraham who took his son to slaughter him, having such faith that God would do what was right and provide the lamb for the slaughter; and, then God did provide an alternative, so Isaac would live. And there’s the story of Sarah, who was old and barren and was told she was to have a baby, because it pleased God for her to do so and because he promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations.

Faith is belief in something we do not have visible proof of, cannot prove by our limited, rational minds. We believe that certain other people in our lives love us. Why is it so hard to believe that God loves us? We observe all the intricacies of order and detail in nature—why is it so hard to believe that God created it just that way? We believe in a historical Jesus who lived on earth—why is it hard to believe that he was who he said he was? His disciples martyred themselves, losing their lives because of their faith and belief in Jesus and that he was the Christ—they were there, knew him, witnessed his life and miracles—why is it hard for us to believe?

Likely those of you reading this blog are reading it because you believe that Jesus was who he said he was—you believe as I do that Jesus was the Messiah, so I’m “preaching to the choir,” as they say. The fact is, we believe on faith, because of our reading of the scripture, because of God’s personal urgings which call us to him, because of the revelations he has provided to us at a personal level, because of the experiences we have had and continue to have as we worship him. We believe because of the consistencies that are revealed to us as we live by that faith. We believe in Jesus because of answered prayers and because of a tradition of believers who for over two thousand years have reported of answered prayers and their experiences with the living Christ.

I can’t convince you that God exists—I’m not going to try. Only God himself can reveal himself to you. I pray that you and I will have the faith of Noah, of Abraham, of Enoch, of David, of the Apostles, and that the living God will become a reality in our everyday lives that we will no longer need to question his existence, that we will know of his existence personally because of our relationship with him. I pray that you and I will have the confidence and the assurance of his love without having to see the nail marks in his hands and the hole in his side, that because of faith, we will know without a shadow of doubt that Jesus lives, that he is the Christ, and that he loves us beyond measure.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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