Build Your Altars - The Altar of Faith
Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
This verse from Hebrews 11 is known as the definition of faith. It tells exactly what faith is all about. So since today's altar is the altar of faith, I'm going to break this verse down a bit.
First of all, look at that very first word. The word "now." We don't have to wait twenty years for our faith to mean something. Our faith has substance right now.
Substance is the actual matter of a thing or reality. So right now our faith is a reality. In other words, as soon as we put our faith in Christ, our sins are washed away. At that moment we become a child of the king and a resident of heaven.
We've never actually seen our eternal home, and we've never actually seen Jesus face to face, but our strong faith in Him is the evidence that one day we will see all that we know to be true.
Faith is essential to the Christian life. After all, without faith, we could never have salvation. Faith is our way to peace with God, as Paul stated here in Romans 5:1:
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
We must have faith in all that Jesus did for us in order to be made just. But faith isn't something that we forget about after we pray the prayer of salvation. Faith is something that carries us through our entire Christian journey. We must have faith that the same Jesus who saved us from our sins will carry us through every trial we meet along the way, even when it seems that the odds are totally against us.
When I think about building an altar of faith, I can't help but think about Elijah in I Kings 18. He built a literal altar of faith before the prophets of Baal that day. Elijah knew long before he offered the challenge to the false prophets that God was able to send fire from heaven. He'd never seen it happen, but he had faith that his God was able to do anything. So when he offered up the challenge he never once doubted that God would give the victory.
Fire did fall for Elijah that day, and Baal was shown for what he was, an idol. A god made of stone with no power to help those who called on him. Our God is a God who hears us and answers our prayers. We just need the faith to call on Him.
And it doesn't take much faith. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 17:20:
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Jesus told his disciples that nothing would be impossible to them if they had the tiniest bit of faith. A mustard seed is barely bigger than a grain of sand, but if we have just a speck of faith, we can move mountains.
The point is that our whole life should be motivated by our faith. After we are justified, we are to live by that faith that made us just. This is a standard that was set forth in the Old Testament in Habakkuk 2:4b:
"but the just shall live by his faith."
Paul quoted Habakkuk's words several times in the New Testament in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. The writer of Hebrews also repeated these words in Hebrews 10:38.
So God inspired the writers of His Word to say these words four different times. Must be pretty important. I think it all goes back to those words in Hebrews 11:1.
Faith must be our substance. It must shape our reality because it is our reality. If we are saved, we are on our way to our eternal home. This world is just a stopping place on the way to our heavenly home. The faith in that reality must guide us each step of the way!