Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Faith Vs. Faithfulness

What do you think is worse in God's eyes, making a golden idol to worship or doubting God's ability to guide you and protect you?

My answer to this question would be making a golden idol but that wasn't God's answer.   -I find it interesting that the Israelites' idolatry through worshiping the golden calves didn't exclude them from the Promised Land. However, their hard hearts and unfaithfulness by not actively believing God's promises and God's ability to protect them and take care of them warranted 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

I have been studying the book of Hebrews for my Bible Journey class and I have been pondering a statement that the professor made about the word "faith" in Hebrews. Dr. Greaux said for the author of Hebrews having faith meant faithfulness while to the Apostle Paul having faith was about believing in God. As Dr. Greaux put it, faithfulness in Hebrews is about persevering and enduring by believing that God's promises are true because God made the promises and He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

The antithesis to faith in Hebrews is believing that God is not faithful and will not do what He promised. Three different times in the writer tells us "If you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion" (Hebrews 3:8-11, 3:15 &4:7). This is repeated to make sure we realize that what kept the Israelites out of the promised land was unfaithfulness that grew out of a hard heart. They doubted God's promise that He would lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. They doubted that He would be able to protect them and their children.

Hebrews is famous for its eleventh chapter, "The Hall of Faith" as it is sometimes called. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Noah and Samson all make the cut and are commended for their faith in action. They not only believed in God but they believed God and their actions were the result of their faith even in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances.

As I think about faithfulness to God, I realized that I am much more likely to struggle to act on God's promises than to worship a golden calf. It seems to me that on-going faithfulness, faith in spite of difficult circumstances, faith that holds on in the midst of suffering and doubt requires a tender heart that is not hardened to the things of God.

What do you think?

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