The Hope of Faith

The Hope of Faith

• Monday after our celebration of the Resurrection, I listened to the book of Acts while working in the garage (I use the ESV app for phones, which has a “listen” option, then plug the phone into one of those little speakers).  I thought I’d try to get a little distance from the text and let someone else just read to me “what happened next” after the Lord rose from the dead.

• Here’s what struck me. Even with the Resurrection in living memory — meaning people who had seen the risen Lord were still alive — the struggles of the Apostles were so similar to our own. Fear of conflict and persecution (and so prayers for courage), uncertainty regarding the will of God (and so prayers for direction), inner conflict over personal lusts versus obedience to God (Ananias and Saphira, among others): their stories are so similar to ours even though Thomas, for one, had physically put his fingers in the Lord’s hands and side.

• One moment that caught my ear was a statement made by Paul during his defense before Agrippa. (By that time, Festus was the Roman governor [like Pontius Pilate] and Agrippa was the Jewish king [like Herod].) Early in his comments, Paul says “why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”

• There it is. Already, the Resurrection, the center of Christian faith and hope, is a matter of doubt and suspicion. Apart from faith, it was no more believable then than now. I touched on this briefly during Sunday’s sermon: we tend to think something like, “the Christian faith is so attractive, if only we didn’t have to accept so many crucial elements on faith!” We fail to see that faith is the point. God’s intent from the beginning was that we should wrestle and learn, with time, to trust him. This isn’t a weakness of the Christian faith, it’s the point of the Christian faith.

• If you read Hebrews 11 with this in mind, you’ll see the author is trying to convey this: faith is at the very center of our lives. By it we will one day receive “commendation,” and without it we will never be able “to please him.” He is the “rewarder of those who diligently seek him,” which is, of course, an act of faith.

• If the enemy can tempt you to a perpetual doubt or anxiety, he can steal from you the greatest things in life, all of which we access by faith: union with Christ, rest in God’s sovereignty and power, hope in Christ’s victory over sin and death, peace regarding the life to come. Don’t let him do that. “Believe in God” as Jesus said, “believe also in me.”