May 22, 2018
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 22 May 2018
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word “Faith,” and on the other oar the word “Works.” Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.”
So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again—this time the other way around, but still in a circle.
After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, “You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and ‘faith without works is dead’ also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing” [Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishers, 1979) 403].
Hebrews 11 details the works of Old Testament saints who demonstrated that faith pleases God and that He rewards those who seek Him. Faith in God enabled a multitude of believers to honor Him in their daily life. Hebrews 11 proves that when we believe God, we act upon his revealed Word.
Works are not combined with faith in order to accomplish salvation. Hebrews 11 does reveal that works are the inevitable and necessary consequence of a faith that is more than mere intellectual assent, in the same manner as the visible fruit of a tree demonstrates that there is life within it (cf. Matt 7:16; 12:33; Luke 6:44; Jas 2:14-20).
Matthew 7:16; 12:33 – “You will know them by their fruits. . . . “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.
Luke 6:44 – “For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.
The faith that a follower of Christ is called to emulate is not only a general confidence in God and his revealed Word, but also a specific trust in the components of biblical hope that we share with Old Testament saints, such as a heavenly city (11:16) and “better resurrection” (11:36). The faith emphasized throughout Scripture is focused upon eternity: “things not yet seen” (11:7). Interestingly, none of the events or persons referenced in Hebrews 11 are cited as examples of faith in their original Old Testament context. Perhaps the lesson for us is that faith is the basis for every faithful work, even when not specifically indentified as such.
Just as eyesight produces a conviction regarding objects that exist in the physical world, so also does faith produce the same convictions regarding “things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Faith proves that it is genuine by producing “assurance” that “things hoped for” will occur. Faith also provides insight concerning realities that are otherwise unseen, and the one with such trust allows these unseen realities from God to result in a dynamic and effective power for daily living.
Hebrews 11:2-3 provide two illustrations with regard to faithful confidence in God. First, faith enabled the saints of the Old Testament to gain approval with God (i.e. He approved their faith). Second, faith allows us to understand that all that we see and experience on earth comes from God who we cannot see. Creation testified to the power of God. We learn the will of God — including his plans that began with the act of creation and extend to the consummation of all things in Christ — by responding in faith to the revelation of God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
Your Missionary to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.