Facing the New Year with Faith

Title: Facing the New Year with Faith

Bible Book: Hebrews 11

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Faith; New Year; Christian Living



Hebrews 11:1-2, 6, 14, 27-28, 33-38

Facing the New Year with faith is the only way to make a lasting difference. Dr. John Barnett Donaldson shares the following poetic verse in a chapter titled, “The Life That Lasts”:

The faith of the head
Is the faith that is dead;
The faith of the heart
Is better in part;

But the faith of the hand
Is the faith that will stand,
For the faith that will do
Must include the first two.[1]

Note six things about faith from “the Faith Chapter” of the Bible.

I. There is the designation of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 begins, “Now faith. . . .” Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) writes, “There seem to be three necessary preliminaries in order to faith. First, some one must make an engagement or promise. Second, there must be good reason for believing in the integrity and sufficiency of the person by whom the engagement has been made. Third, there follows a comfortable assurance that it will be even so; in fact, the believer is able to count on the object promised as being not less sure than if it had already come into actual possession.”[2]

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) writes, “What is faith? The old writers, who are by far the most sensible—for you will notice that the books that were written about two hundred years ago, by the old Puritans, have more sense in one line than there is in a page of our new books, and more in a page than there is in a whole volume of our modern divinity—the old writers tell you, that faith is made up of three things: first knowledge, then assent, and then what they call affiance, or the laying hold of the knowledge to which we give assent, and making it our own by trusting in it.”[3]

II. There is the delineation of faith.

Hebrews 11:1-2 reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, writes, “This is not a definition of faith but a description of what faith does and how it works. True Bible faith is not blind optimism or a manufactured ‘hope-so’ feeling. Neither is it an intellectual assent to a doctrine. It is certainly not believing in spite of evidence! That would be superstition.”[4]
Rev. John Angell James (1785-1859) shares the following in Christian Charity Explained, “In reference to spiritual things, [faith] means a firm persuasion of the truth of what God has revealed in his word. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen:’ or, as the passage is rendered by some, ‘Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ It is belief, not only that the Bible is true, but of the truth contained in the Bible: it is not merely a perception of Christianity, as a divine revelation, but also a perception of the truth of its doctrines.”[5]

Dr. Glen Spencer reminds us “Noah Webster (1758-1843) defines faith as ‘the assent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed.’ Without God's revelation, there can be no reliable faith. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17).”[6] Dr. J. Oswald Sanders (1902-1992) put it perfectly: “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.”[7]

III. There is the dedication of faith.

Hebrews 11:6 reads, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) writes, “SOCIETY rests on the faith which man has in man. The workman, toiling through the week for the wage which he believes he will receive; the passenger, procuring a ticket for a distant town, because he believes the statements of the time-tables; the sailor, steering his bark with unerring accuracy in murky weather, because he believes in the mercantile charts and tables; the entire system of monetary credit, by which vast sums circulate from hand to hand without the use of a single coin-all these are illustrations of the immense importance of faith in the affairs of men. Nothing, therefore, is more disastrous for an individual or a community than for its credit to be impaired, or its confidence shaken.”[8]

IV. There is the declaration of faith.

Hebrews 11:14 reads, “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.” Rev. Thomas Hewitt, sometime Fellow and Bursar of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, said, “Faith does not bestow reality on things which have no substance or reality in themselves.”[9]
Remember the words of Romans 10:8-11, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’” This is not just a “positive confession” or a “name it and claim it” statement. From Jonah 2:9 we know, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Luke 1:38 reads, “Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 18:35-43 reads, “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” My longtime friend, Don Biadog, recently called my attention to the following comments on Luke 18:35-43, “Many preachers today urge people to a ‘name it and claim it’ type of faith. They advocate this view of faith in healing based on Jesus words: ‘Your faith has healed you.’ Therefore, they teach that anyone who has sufficient faith will be automatically healed. However, more than faith operates in healing. In this event, it was Jesus' powerful words, ‘receive your sight,’ and his merciful will that healed this man. Jesus desired wholeness for people, and this man was instantaneously and completely healed, resulting in his salvation and praise to God. This man’s faith and persistence got him through the crowd to Jesus. Faith is the means by which we come to Jesus for healing, but beware of believing or teaching that we can demand healing from Christ.”[10]

Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832) comments on the phrase, “‘Declare plainly that they seek a country’—A man’s country is that in which he has constitutional rights and privileges; no stranger or sojourner has any such rights in the country where he sojourns. These, by declaring that they felt themselves strangers and sojourners, professed their faith in a heavenly country and state, and looked beyond the grave for a place of happiness. No intelligent Jew could suppose that Canaan was all the rest which God had promised to his people.[11]

V. There is the demonstration of faith.

Hebrews 11:27-28, 33-35a reads, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. . . . who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe shares the following: “As Dr. Vance Havner said, ‘Moses chose the imperishable, saw the invisible, and did the impossible.’”[12]
By faith there is the accomplishment of God’s purpose. Notice the phrases, “subdued kingdoms . . . became valiant in battle . . . turned to flight the armies of the aliens . . . .” Some forget God gave the call to battle for the conquest of Canaan and the defeat of other enemies of Israel. This was not for self-aggrandizement but for the glory of God!

Dr. A. S. (Arthur Samuel) Peake (1865-1929), shares the following in The Heroes and Martyrs of Faith, “In our own soft and sentimental age, an age of vivid imagination, of nerves, anaesthetics, and cowardly shrinking from physical pain, the stories of the torture-chamber touch us with amazement if we are able to enter with sympathy into all the cruel misery they involved. We cannot help the reflection, if the old time of persecution were to come back, though in the more terrible form which the ingenuity of modern science on the one hand and the profounder knowledge of the human body on the other would make possible, how would the Churches of the present day meet the crisis? It can hardly be doubted that the first effect would be to sift the Churches to a faithful remnant, though it is not to be questioned that reserves of courage would be found in some where we should least expect it But we should have at least this assurance, that the power of faith in which they triumphed would remain our chief hope; the firm hold on spiritual realities would be our surest safeguard against defeat of the spirit on the physical battlefield.”[13]

By faith there is the attainment of God’s promises. Notice the phrase, “obtained promises”. This does not merely mean the making of promises but the taking of the thing promised to be our own. “[Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), founder and director of the China Inland Mission, warns, “Want of trust is at the root of almost all our sins and all our weaknesses; and how shall we escape from it, but by looking at him, and observing his faithfulness? . . . All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”[14]

By faith there is the allotment of God’s power. The words “suffer affliction” and endured” refer to Moses. The writer to the Hebrews tells about “others” being “tortured” and “still others”, who endured “trial of mockings and scourgings . . . chains and imprisonments . . .” not to mention those who were “stoned . . . sawn in two . . . tempted . . . slain with the sword . . . destitute, afflicted” and “tormented” (Hebrews 11:35-38).

Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013) shares these words from George Muller (1805-1898): “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”[15]

VI. There is the determination of faith.

Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) explains, “Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept him, rejected by all who reject him, loved by those who love him and hated by everyone who hates him. What greater glory could come to any man?”[16] Hebrews 11:35b-38 reads, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

Martyrdom is the ultimate form of suffering. Stephen, a deacon, was the first Christian martyr (Acts 6:8-15; 7:1-60). Early Christians faced suffering at the hands of malevolent people; felt shame after their heaven-sent Master’s pattern; and found strength as they humbly demonstrated marvelous power. Martyrdom is a cruel method of torture ending in death. In martyrdom, a person receives a devilish mockery, while at the same time, they reveal a divine majesty. While some believers suffer for their own faults, true Christian martyrs suffer death for their relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ message to the church in Smyrna recorded in Revelation 2:10, reads, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”


Luke 17:5-10 reads, “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

Luke 18:1-8 reads, “Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”

Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978) shares the following: “At one time [John] Bunyan [author of the Pilgrim’s Progress] was tortured by uncertainty. ‘Everyone doth think his own Religion rightest,’ he said, ‘both Jews and Moors and Pagans; and how if all our Faith and Christ and Scriptures should be but a 'Think so' too?’ But when the light broke he ran out crying, ‘Now I know! I know!’ The Christian faith is a hope that has turned to certainty.”[17]

In 2 Timothy 1:3-14, Paul writes Timothy, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

As this year passes on to the next, may our heart’s desire be one of facing the New Year with faith.

[1]John Barnett Donaldson, The Two Talents with Other Papers, Sermons, Leaders, (Minneapolis: North & West Publishing Company, 1900), 205.

[2]F. B. Meyer, The Way Into the Holiest: Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1893), 198.

[3]Charles H. Spurgeon, “Faith,” Sermon Notes, (Hebrews 11:6) .

[4]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 2, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1992), 317. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[5]John Angell James, Christian Charity Explained: or, the Influence of Religion Upon the Temper Stated, in an Exposition of the Thirteenth Chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, (New York, NY: Thomas George, Jr., 1836), 55.

[6]Glen Spencer, Jr., Hebrews: Looking unto Jesus, (Dallas, PA: Glen Spencer, 2011), 237. Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp.

[7]Wiersbe, Exposition, 317.

[8]Meyer, Hebrews, 198.

[9]Spencer, Hebrews, 237.

[10]Life Application Bible Commentary, eds. Grant Osborne and Philip W. Comfort, Luke, “NAME IT AND CLAIM IT?” (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992-2000), 427. Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

[11]Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament. Database © 2014 Wordsearch.

[12]Wiersbe, Exposition, 319.

[13]A. S. Peake, The Heroes and Martyrs of Faith, Chapter 15, “Heroes and Martyrs,” (New York, NY: Hodder and Stoughton, 1910), 194.

[14]Ajith Fernando, Deuteronomy: Loving Obedience to a Loving God, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 173.

[15]Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book: Over 5,000 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions, Revised and Expanded, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997, 2009), 185.

[16]A. W. Tozer, Born After Midnight, (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1959), 58-59.

[17]William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976), 128.

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 & http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210 © December 28, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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