The Lessons of History

I read an article on the teaching of history in American schools. The author bemoaned the fact that students are being encouraged to overlook the failings of other cultures while being hypercritical of the USA. For example the ancient Aztec civilization is renowned for architecture and agriculture, but teachers fail to mention their practice of human sacrifice. Historians may discuss the Great Wall of China without saying that it was built with slave labor in which thousands died.

In the teaching of US history the National History Standards are quick to call attention to the KKK, the Great Depression, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Japanese cities, while paying scant attention to the achievements of America’s founding fathers, scientists, inventors and adventurers.

In a USA Today op-ed, John Zmirak wrote that it is now possible to earn a degree from an elite US university without taking a single course in American history or classical literature. He wrote, “If we expect the next generation to preserve the constitution of a free society, we cannot send students out after a Lexus-priced education knowing less about America than the graduate of a Slovakian high school. But that’s what we’re doing.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews wants his readers to learn from biblical history. The eleventh chapter summarizes highlights of Israel’s past to teach readers of the New Testament to live by faith in God today. It reads like a list of heroes, a hall of fame of the Bible.

The people listed were not perfect people, but they are singled out because of their faith. John Calvin wrote: “There was none of them whose faith did not falter. . . . Nevertheless, although faith may be imperfect and incomplete, it does not cease to be approved by God.”

Regular readers of this blog have noticed that I have been surveying Hebrews 11. We have now arrived at verse 32 where king David and the prophet Samuel are mentioned. What do these men teach us about faith?

David, one of the great men of the Old Testament, trusted in the Lord when he was a mere lad, tending his father’s sheep. He faced the giant Philistine warrior Goliath with complete confidence that the Lord would give him the ability to defeat him. His psalms are a testimony of his faith. His kingship and the dynasty that followed are based upon his faith in the unconditional promise of God.

Samuel represents all the prophets of God.  He was a man of prayer. He was a man of courage who was willing to confront king Saul when he was wrong. He was a preacher of the truth during the time of the Judges when people wanted to do what was right in their own eyes.

The rest of the chapter describes the fate of many in Israel who were not named but they had a faith worth dying for. They were “tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison, They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. . . . These were all commended for their faith” (Hebrews 11:35-39).

These verses remind me of our Lord’s words in Luke 9:23-25, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

Living by faith can be dangerous. It involves the possibility of suffering and dying for the Lord. Hebrews 11 refutes the preposterous claims of some preachers that if we have enough faith (as they define faith), God has obligated himself to give us lives that are prosperous and pain free. As a matter of fact, this chapter proves that living by faith does just the opposite.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Most of us know nothing of suffering. The church in America is protected and almost pampered, but it may not always be so. The pampered church may one day become the persecuted church.”

He was right. The experience of persecuted and martyred Christians around the world resembles the closing verses of Hebrews 11. We’d do well to pay attention to the lessons of history.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Faith’s Battle Plan

This year, 2024, will mark the 80th anniversary of what has become known as the Battle of the Bulge. This was a last gasp German offensive against Allied forces in Belgium, an attempt to prevent the invasion of Germany. The term “bulge” refers to the wedge the German army drove into Allied lines. Because of Allied resistance and reinforcements, the German army’s offensive was unsuccessful and costly. Both sides suffered heavy losses in the battle.

My father-in-law was in the American army in World war II. He was involved in this battle. He told me stories of the extreme cold, the harsh conditions, and the anguish of seeing comrades wounded or killed. He also told me about being a part of the victorious army that entered Berlin and occupied Germany at the end of the war in Europe.

Hebrews 11 was written to stimulate faith in God. The first readers of the letter to the Hebrews were tempted to retreat in the face of spiritual battles. The author of this letter reviews the stories of some heroes of faith from Israel’s history to encourage his readers not to lose their confidence in God’s presence or his promises.

Two people pf faith are highlighted in Hebrews 11:30-31. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell. . . . By faith the prostitute Rahab . . . was not killed with those who were disobedient.”

Joshua is not named, but his victory at Jericho is an example of faith in action. Rahab is named and honored for her role in helping the Israelite army achieve victory. These two people could not have been more different. Joshua was a national leader, Rahab was living on the outskirts (city wall) of her society. Joshua was a Hebrew, she was a Gentile. He was a man, she was a woman. Joshua was brought up to believe in the living God. Rahab was brought up amid the false worship of Canaanite idols.

But they both experienced profound changes in their lives to bring them each to their God-ordained destiny, the battle of Jericho.

The changes in Joshua’s life were stages in the growth of his faith. He was personally trained by Moses and prepared to be his successor. As he led the army into battle against the Amalekites  he learned that victory for God’s chosen people would come from God alone (Exodus 17:9, 16). When he went with Moses to the top of Mount Sinai, he experienced the overwhelming presence of God (Exodus 24:13,17).

By being at Moses’ side, he saw how God reveals his will and guides his people (Exodus 33:9,11). When he was appointed to go into Canaan as one of the twelve spies, he came back with a positive report. That experience taught him that the majority opinion is not always correct and that the nation’s disobedience would cost them dearly. Joshua learned that preparation comes before responsibility. It takes time to grow a faith leader (Numbers 27:12-23).

Rahab’s story is different, but it reveals her faith. She had been a prostitute. By this we may assume she was street smart, worldly-wise, and hardened by her former life. When we meet her in Joshua chapter 2, she was changed. God had given her a conscience and a hunger for the truth.

This flawed woman, stigmatized as “the prostitute,” was a changed person. She had a changed attitude toward the living God. She declared, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you. . . . The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:8,11). This was her profession of faith.

Rahab had a changed attitude toward God’s people. She harbored the Israelite spies who came to Jericho (Hebrews 11:31). She had a changed attitude toward God’s word. She had a changed attitude toward her own nation. She believed that God’s judgment was about to fall. She wanted her family to be rescued when that happened (Joshua 2:12-14,18). By faith she was identifying herself with God’s chosen people and rejecting her former life.

As promised by God, a great victory ensued. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30). The battle plan made no sense militarily. Joshua had no elaborate strategy to take the city by force. Instead he led the army to follow God’s instructions precisely. They were to trust the Lord who had promised success.

The plan gave all the credit for victory to God alone. The plan required patience: thirteen circuits around the city wall, once a day for six days, and seven times around on the seventh day. When the priests of the Lord blew the ram’s horn trumpets, the walls of the city fell down leaving the inhabitants of Jericho exposed and vulnerable to the attack of the invading Israelites.

We may conclude from this that God uses all kinds of people. Rahab is an unlikely example of faith, but we find her in Hebrews 11, God’s hall of fame. Joshua’s faith is an example to us of complete obedience, even when God’s plan seems illogical.

The city of Jericho stood as an example of Canaanite invincibility. When God’s people obey him, as they did on this occasion, he displays his strength on their behalf. “Faith is the victory” (1 John 5:4).

Pastor Randy Faulkner


Faith in a Crisis

“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land” (Hebrews 11:29).

“The people” referred to were the Israelites who followed Moses out of Egypt. The Lord had rescued them from bondage and had promised them a homeland of their own. When we read their story in the book of Exodus, some of these people were not shining examples of faith. But here, at least, was one occasion when they got it right.

The New Testament writer of Hebrews draws our attention to the faith of the people that enabled them to obey God and pass through the parted waters. The writer treats this event as a true fact of history and not as a fictional pious legend. He wants his readers to remember that the God of the Bible is a God of miracles. The Lord is keeping his promise to his people to deliver them by means of a great miracle.

The first century and twenty-first century readers of the book of Hebrews are being reminded that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). The Old Testament people of Israel are examples of faith. Moses led them in faith. When God told him to stretch out his staff over the waters of the Red Sea, he did so and the waters parted miraculously (Exodus 14:10-31).

The Israelites were in a desperate situation. In front of them was the sea. Behind them came the Egyptian army in pursuit. It was like being caught in a vise. They were trapped and helpless. The Lord was teaching them to trust him. He wanted them to learn that he is trustworthy and true to his promises.

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).

The Lord wanted the Hebrew people to trust him in every situation. He wanted them to know that he was determined to save them and make of them a great nation. Their part was to believe, to rest in him, and to stand still and see his glory at work on their behalf.

This is the lesson the Lord wants us to learn. Living by faith means that we put our full trust in the promises of God. It is trusting God when all we have to go on is his word. The people crossed over on dry land because they had faith that God would not forsake them or forget them. God will not forget us, either. He will be with us if our faith is in him, no matter what impossible situation we may be facing.

Zane Hodges told a story about an elderly gentleman known as Uncle Dudley. He had lived all his life in a small town in West Virginia. A friend who was an aviation enthusiast invited him to take an airplane ride over the town. They flew around, looking at the familiar sights below. When they landed, the pilot turned to Uncle Dudley and asked him if he was scared during the flight.

“No,” came the hesitant reply. Then Uncle Dudley added, “But I never did put my full weight down.”

That is what some Christians try to do. They have trusted in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation, but they have not put their full weight on him to meet the struggles and difficulties of this life. They try to solve their problems in their own inadequate strength. They have never put their full weight down. They have not learned that the Christian life is to be lived by faith.

Hebrews 11 begins with a concise definition of faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is our response to what God has said in his word. It takes seriously God’s revealed truth. It anticipates the future with hope because of God’s infallible promises and his loving presence.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Moses’ Faith, and Yours

The main subject of Hebrews chapter 11 is faith. Verse 6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” As examples of faith, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews calls our attention to  some of the prominent personalities of the Bible. They show us what it is to live by faith.

One of those people was Moses. The Bible tells us he was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). As the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter it is possible that he was trained in military science, agriculture, economics, architecture, law, and diplomacy, among other things. He doubtless had access to great wealth and influence.

“By faith he left Egypt” (Hebrews 11:27). He abandoned the power, prestige, pleasures, and possessions Egypt offered him. Actually Moses left Egypt twice. The first time he left was in fear for his life. He had killed an Egyptian taskmaster for beating a Hebrew slave. He left as a fugitive to live in the desert of Midian as a shepherd. For the whole story read Exodus 2:11-25.

The second time he left Egypt was after God had called him to lead the Hebrew people to freedom. Moses conquered his fear and failure to live by obedient faith in the true God. He went back to Egypt to confront the powerful Pharaoh with the Lord’s message: “Let my people go!”

Hebrews 11:27 says that this time he was unafraid of the king’s anger. Instead, “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” This is a way of describing Moses’ close relationship to God. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11). This close relationship began when the Lord called Moses from the famous burning bush (Exodus 3:1-22). It sustained Moses through many difficult days.

“By faith he kept the Passover” (Hebrews 11:28). Probably this means that he instituted, or established the Passover, following God’s instructions. Through Moses the Lord had given the king of Egypt repeated opportunities to relent and allow the Hebrews to leave. God had sent one plague after another against the Egyptians to display his power over their idols. Each time the Egyptian ruler became more resistant and rebellious.

The final plague was a terrible sentence of death against the firstborn in every Egyptian household. Only those dwellings were spared whose doorposts and lintel were sprinkled with the blood of an unblemished sacrificial lamb. God had said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:12-13).

These instructions were unusual and unprecedented, but the people of Israel obeyed them by faith. There was nothing like this in Moses’ previous experience, either. He had nothing to go on but faith in the word of God. Because the blood of the Passover lamb was seen on the entrances to the houses of the Hebrews, they were spared the awful judgment imposed by God’s angel of death. The people of Israel were permitted to leave Egypt after that.

We may learn several practical lessons from the faith of Moses. First, we are reminded that faith pleases God and that unbelief displeases him. Pharaoh denied the Lord’s existence and power and it cost him  his life. Moses believed the word of the Lord and God was pleased to invite him into a special relationship.

Another thing we notice is that early mistakes (Moses was guilty of manslaughter) do not permanently disqualify one from serving the Lord. Moses’ brother Aaron led the people to worship a golden calf idol. Yet he was forgiven and eventually anointed as Israel’s high priest. Think of the early mistakes and sins of Jacob, Samson, David, Peter, and Paul.

Also, it is obvious from the story of Moses that nothing is wasted in the plan of God for a believer’s life. Without a doubt, Moses’ early training among the young aristocrats of Egypt helped prepare him for leadership among the people of God. Not only that, his years in the wilderness of Sinai made him familiar with the geography and topography of the region where the Israelites would travel on their long journey to Canaan.

Finally, the New Testament teaches us that Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). It is through faith in his shed blood (Ephesians 1:7) that we may be saved from eternal destruction and given the gift of eternal life. When John the Baptist introduced Jesus he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Finding Purpose and Meaning

American author Richard Bach has been quoted as saying, “Here’s the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t!”

Recently I read about the celebrated potter Warren MacKenzie, who in his nineties continues to produce works of such beauty that they bring the art world to his door. In an interview, he said, “A good potter can make forty or fifty pots in a day.” Out of these, “some are good and some of them are mediocre and some of them are bad.” Only a few will be worth selling and fewer still “will continue to engage the senses after daily use.”

Early in his career as an artist, MacKenzie gave up drawing and painting, silk screening and textile design, and concentrated on ceramics. He had found his lifelong passion and purpose.

If you take time to think about your purpose in life, you may suspect that God created you to do something significant. Do you know what it is? George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you could have been.” If you want to discover your destiny, look to your Creator, the Author of life. He is the source of purpose and meaning.

God’s purpose for our lives starts right where we are. If we miss it, it may be because we are listening to the wrong voices or not going through the doors God has opened for us. Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Other than the incarnation, I know of no more staggering truth than that a sovereign God has ordained my participation” (in doing his will).

Author Bill Peel said that the purpose of God for our lives is not a big secret. He is not hiding his will from us. He suggests three principles for discovering God’s purpose. (1) God desires that we know him in a personal way. (2) God desires that we submit to his authority and are conformed to the image of Christ. (3) God wants us to be involved in his mission on earth.

Moses discovered his purpose in life and he acted on it. “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

These verses pass over the first forty years of Moses’ life. Reared with royalty and luxury, he was being groomed for high office in the kingdom of Egypt. As he grew up he noticed the difference between the lives of the Hebrew people who retained their faith in the true God and the Egyptians who worshiped false gods.

Moses made the mature, and costly, decision to exchange the visible for the invisible, the temporary for the eternal. He made the calculated choice  to align himself with the people of God. The Egyptians saw them as slaves. Moses saw them as people of destiny. God had a purpose for these people, and for him.

He chose “disgrace for the sake of Christ.” This is the writer’s way of saying that Moses’ identity with God’s people was also his identity with God’s Messiah. The Hebrews were the people through whom the Christ would come.

Visitors to Egypt today are awestruck by the splendor and opulence of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Their temples and tombs have yielded unspeakable treasures. This may indicate the fabulous wealth and luxury available to Moses as an adopted son in the royal family. He “left Egypt” “because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:26).

He found his purpose. He was looking ahead. Like the son of missionaries who would introduce himself this way: “Hi. I’m Eric Crain. I was born in Germany, I go to school in France, I live in Portugal, but my home is in heaven!” That’s what Moses discovered. He had a heavenly destiny and a heavenly reward and a heavenly purpose.

This enabled him, by faith, to turn his back on the prestige, power and wealth of Egypt and to be identified with the people of God.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Living by Faith

Abraham is the Bible’s most prominent example of a person who lived by faith in God. He is honored in Hebrews chapter 11, the faith Hall of Fame. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Abraham believed God when he did not know where (vv. 8-10), when he did not know how (vv. 11-12), and when he did not know why (vv. 13-16). It was faith in God’s Word that made him leave his home, live as a pilgrim, and follow wherever God led.”

The New Testament says that those who have faith in Jesus are spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9; Romans 4:16; Hebrews 2:16). This means that we may inherit the promises made to Abraham if we live by faith, as he did. Hebrews 11 uses the story of Abraham to teach us what it means to live by faith.


“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went” (Hebrews 11:8). When he said “yes” to God’s call, Abraham was saying “no” to all that was familiar. In fact, his home city, Ur, was a center for idol worship (Joshua 24:2). So he was saying “no” to the worship of false gods and responding with a “yes” to the only true and living God.

For Christians, obedience means saying “no” to anything that is in opposition to the will of God and saying “yes”  to what we know God wants us to do. The will of God is revealed in the Word of God. The Bible tells us what to believe and how to live. Like Abraham, we are called to respond to God’s will with  obedience.


“By faith he made his home in the promised land, like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents” (Hebrews 11:9). Canaan, the new land to which God sent him, was inhabited by people who lived in cities. By contrast, Abraham lived as a nomadic herdsman, moving through the land and living in tents. In several different places he built altars for the worship of God. In this he was publicly identified  with the true God.

Augustine, over 1600 years ago, lived in the decadent Roman empire. He taught that there is a distinction between the “city of God” and the “city of man.” Followers of Jesus hold dual citizenship and every day we  weigh whether loyalty to one conflicts with loyalty to the other. Like Abraham we are to keep our eyes of faith on the eternal “city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, 16).


Abraham’s faith was put to the test on several occasions. In Genesis 12-16 we see him dealing with one challenging situation after another: famine, conflict over grazing lands, the kidnapping and rescue of his nephew Lot, Sarah’s temporary unbelief, and the matter of Hagar and Ishmael.

His greatest test of faith is mentioned in Hebrews 11:17-19. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” Genesis 22 tells the surprising story of how God directed Abraham to sacrifice his son. God was asking Abraham to give up the most precious thing in his life, Isaac the son of promise. He must have been bewildered by this command. It seemed ridiculous to offer up his son when God had promised that it was to be through Isaac that Abraham’s chosen descendants would be numbered.

How did he respond to this test? “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). In fact he considered that God would have to raise Isaac from death if he was to keep his promise. God had promised descendants to Abraham and that those descendants would come through Isaac. He maintained his faith in the word and power of God. In the desperate moment when the terrible sacrifice was to be offered, God delivered Isaac from death by means of a substitutionary sacrifice. Abraham passed this supreme test of faith.

When God interrupts our lives with uncomfortable circumstances or new directions, we should not panic. Instead the example of Abraham shows us the way to pass the test. We must pause and take time to reason it out, and consider what God has promised to do. Then respond with faith in his promises.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

“Yes” to the Will of God

Bill Bright was the founder of the student movement known as Campus Crusade for Christ. With thousands of full time Christian workers all over the world, “Cru” has been used by God to influence millions of people  for Jesus Christ. An interviewer once asked Mr. Bright “Why did God use you and bless your life?”

He answered, “When I was a young man I made a contract with God. I literally wrote it out and signed my name at the bottom. It said, ‘From this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ.'”

Bright’s story reminds me of Abraham. He stands out as an example of obedient faith and full surrender to God. In Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, almost one third of the verses are about Abraham’s faith. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

When we read about Abraham, we learn we learn some things about living by faith. Abraham responded to God’s call with instant obedience. He  was called to leave his home in the ancient city of Ur. Archaeology has uncovered a treasure of information about this great city.  Hundreds of cuneiform tablets have been unearthed there revealing Ur as the cultural capitol of world civilization in Abraham’s time.

Surrounded by lush orchards, irrigated fields and beautiful gardens, Ur was wealthy and sophisticated. It was a center for commerce, the arts, engineering,  and government. Ur was a desirable place to live. God spoke to Abraham there and told him to leave. As soon as he heard God’s call, Abraham started packing! This was an act of faith. Living by faith means we will be willing to obey God, as Abraham did.

Suppose you were Abraham’s next door neighbor and he told you he was leaving. “Why?” you ask. “Are you going on vacation?” “No.”

“Is it for a new job opportunity?” “Not exactly.”

“Do you have relatives living there?” “No.”

‘When are you coming back?” “I don’t know. Maybe never.”

“What will you do there?” “I don’t know that either.”

“How will you live and support yourself?” “I don’t know.”

Then he tells you something that sounds strange to your ears. He says that an impression from the one true God, an impression that seemed very much like a voice, told him to leave Ur and go to a new place to which he would be guided. He tells you that God said that something very good would happen to him and his family if he did what God told him to do.

What would you think if you heard something like that? That may have been what Abraham’s friends and relatives thought too. Daft! Crazy! Abraham has taken leave of his senses!

Archaeologists also tell us that Ur was a center for idolatry. There was in Ur a massive ziggurat and several temples dedicated to the worship of the moon god. The Bible says that Abraham’s father Terah, worshiped false gods (Joshua 24:2). So Abraham was brought up in a culture of idol worship. In leaving Ur, he was saying “no” to a world that was opposed to the living God. He was saying “yes” to the person and the purposes of the one and only true God.

Howard Hendricks used to illustrate the principle of obedience to God in this way. “Suppose written on a piece of paper I told you that I have the will of God for your life. You might ask me, ‘What can you tell me about it?’ I’d say three things for sure: it is good, it is acceptable, and it is perfect (Romans 12:1-2). God says his will for us is good. If you ask me how good it is, I would answer, ‘As good as God is. His will is acceptable and perfect. That means there is no way to add to it or take away from it. You cannot improve on it.’

“You might say, ‘Well that sounds appealing.’ When I hold out the paper to you it is blank. There is only one thing on it. There is a line for you to sign your name. If you ask, ‘What are the details? Can I see the fine print?’  The answer would be, ‘Just sign it.’ Agreeing to the will of God for your life means letting him fill in the details. It means saying ‘yes’ to his plans and purposes whatever they may be.”

Abraham (Hebrews 11:8) signed off on God’s will  and said, “I’m all in!” God led him on a tremendous adventure. He had no idea where God was going to lead him to go. He had no idea what God was going to ask him to do. He was living by faith and his faith is an example to us.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

The Walk of Faith

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22). For this reason “he was commended as one who pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). He stands out in his generation because he walked with God. His name appears in a context where every life ended in death. Except for Enoch’s.

I heard about a man who said to his wife, “I think I will go to church with you today.” This was surprising to her because he had never professed faith in Christ and he had previously shown little interest in spiritual things. She started to worry. What will the sermon be about? What scriptures will be read? Will the people be friendly to him?

When the scripture reading was announced, her heart sank. It was Genesis 5. The chapter contains a long list of ancient names. There is no gospel in that chapter. Only the refrain after each name, “and he died.” Surprisingly her husband continued to go to church with her.

After a few more weeks he professed his faith in Jesus and became a Christian. She asked him what it was that got him thinking about his need of salvation. He told her it was the reminder of the reality of death in the reading of Genesis 5.

Enoch appears in that chapter which describes the generations on earth before the great flood. Everyone in that chapter experienced death. But not Enoch. He is described as the man who walked with God and then one day, God miraculously took him to heaven.


The New Testament compares the Christian life to a walk. Christians are called to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), to walk in the light (1 John 1:7), and to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). This is possible only if one has a relationship with God. Enoch was a man of faith. He trusted in God. Hebrews 11:5 says that he pleased God. He had a relationship with God.

The next verse tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). To seek God is to come to him on his terms and to trust in him. Enoch sought God and he was rewarded with a relationship.


The New Testament tells us that Enoch was a prophet who preached against ungodliness (Jude 14-15). We have no idea how Enoch prepared his sermons, or where he delivered them. But I believe nobody in his world would have an excuse for not believing in God. He was a faithful witness.


“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away” (Hebrews 11:5). The account in Genesis says, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). One day Enoch went for his walk with God and he never came back home. God had taken him to heaven without his having to die.

This is a glorious picture of what will happen to the believers who are alive on earth when Jesus raptures his church. They will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air along with believers who will be raised from the dead. “And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Two questions

Are you walking with God? The word “walk” is a metaphor for faithful Christian living, or living in fellowship with God. To have fellowship with God one must have a relationship with God. That is possible only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Are you looking forward to Christ’s return? Jesus is coming again. Are you ready to meet him? Remember that God rewards those who seek him by faith.

Pastor Randy Faulkner


Only One Way

It has been said that true faith involves trusting God and obeying God in spite of feelings, circumstances and consequences. In fact, it is sometimes hard to live by faith if these three things are conspiring against us.

Feelings, for example, can be deceptive. They come and go. Some days we feel that all is well and others, well, not so much. Some people are tempted to doubt God’s love for them. I have found myself in spiritual conversations with folks who lack assurance of salvation because they do not “feel” that they are in a right relationship with God. Feelings can get in the way of faith when we put more confidence in our emotions than in the promises of scripture.

Difficult circumstances, such as illness, unemployment, broken relationships, financial hardship, grieving the death of someone close, or any of many possible disappointments, can sometimes be barriers to faith. Some people make excuses like, “If only this would work out for me then I would trust God more.”

Outcomes, results, or consequences may lead some people to try to bargain with God. “If I could just see ahead to how this would turn out, then it would be easier to have faith.” We don’t always find it easy to trust God for the outcome, but that is what he asks of us. He alone knows the future.

The men and women who are listed in Hebrews 11 are noted for their faith. They trusted God despite emotions, circumstances, and consequences of their decisions. The people in this biblical hall of fame built their lives on the foundation of faith. Because of this God was able to use them in significant ways, and they are examples to us of what it means to live by faith.

Take Abel as an example (Hebrews 11:4). He represents the right approach to God in worship. He is contrasted with his brother Cain. In this contrast we are introduced to two value systems, two religions, two means of worship. The background to their story is Genesis 4:1-7.

God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. We are not told the reason why, but we may safely assume that God had called them to worship in a specific place and time and according to a prescribed procedure. The story in Genesis tells us that Abel’s offering involved blood sacrifice and this was acceptable to God.

Cain’s offering did not meet with God’s approval. He apparently assumed one way of approach to God is as good as another. The New Testament calls this “the way of Cain” (Jude 11). This self-righteous attitude is still with us today. There are many people who think they can approach God the way Cain did, by offering to God the works of their hands. But the Bible says there is no one who can be good enough or do enough good to be acceptable to a holy God.

If we read this story in the light of subsequent biblical teaching, it seems that Abel’s offering was acceptable because it involved substitution, an innocent sacrifice taking the place of the guilty sinner. “In fact the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). This is why “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

The Genesis account of Abel and Cain did not end well for Abel. Cain murdered his brother. This shows that the life of faith can be costly and difficult. But in spite of feelings, circumstances and results, Abel worshipped God in a manner that was acceptable. God gave Abel the highest possible commendation. “By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4).

Raymond Brown has written, “Although Abel was murdered by his evil brother, he is still speaking; the story of his faithful achievement speaks to people in every generation, not only about the quality of their offering to God, but also their motivation. Is the outward offering of worship, money and service a genuine expression of our love and commitment? God sees not only the value of the sacrifice, but the heart of the giver.”

Brown adds this additional truth for our learning: “Abel speaks to (us) still more clearly by reminding us of the most important offering of all, ‘the sprinkled blood’ of Christ” (Hebrews 12:24) who, although he was murdered by the angry and jealous successors of Cain, was not like Abel, the helpless victim of sudden hate. His entirely voluntary sacrifice was both determined and approved by God.”

Abel’s faithful witness is a reminder that for us there is only one way of approach to God. It is through the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

A Sixth Sense

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

There is a sense in which all people live by faith every day. Society is built upon a foundation of faith. We drink water from a faucet in perfect confidence that it is safe to drink. We eat food in a restaurant trusting that it is not contaminated. We place our lives in the hands of surgeons with faith in their training and experience, We board huge airplanes with confidence in the reliability of the airline, the pilot and the mechanics who serviced the plane.

This is how faith operates. It willingly accepts and acts on things it does not understand. The heroes of the Bible are distinguished by their faith in God. They had faith in the invisible God and they trusted him to keep his word. Their exceptional faith marked them as examples to us of how to live by faith in God. Hebrews chapter 11 gives us a list of some of these heroes of faith.

The chapter begins with an explanation of faith. It tells us what faith can do. The text says “Faith is being sure of what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1).  “Being sure” is a translation of a word which means “to stand under.” In Bible times this word was used of a title deed which stood under and validated a commercial transaction. So faith is said to be the foundation upon which our future rests. It is assurance that God will give the eternal life that we hope for.

Abraham had this kind of assurance. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded  that God had power to do  what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).

Like Abraham, we are offered the gift of righteousness and acceptance before God. This comes through faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

It is faith in God which gives us hope for the future. It is not faith in ourselves or other people, or faith in politics, or faith in horoscopes, astrology, or any other new age mumbo jumbo. People exercise faith in these things all the time. But to have acceptance with God our faith must be placed in the right object. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

When we exercise saving faith in this way, it leads to certainty. Hebrews 11:1 says we may be “certain of what we do not see.” What do we not see as yet? We cannot see the future. We cannot see God. He is invisible. We do not yet see the all the events connected to the second coming of our Lord Jesus. But by faith we live in confident expectation of the fulfillment of his promises. “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not already have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24-25).

This is illustrated in the stories of biblical people who exhibited faith in God. “This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:2). They gained God’s approval because of their faith and they are held up to us as examples. To be sure, they were not perfect people. When you read their life stories in the Old Testament, you discover that they had moral blind spots like the rest of humanity and there were times when they failed spiritually.

But they were approved by God for one reason: their faith. That is what Hebrews 11 is  all about. It gives us the stories of people who were forgiven, restored, made new. In each of these examples, God gave witness to their faith. This was his stamp of approval on their lives.

One of the things we discover when we read about the faithful in Hebrews 11 is that faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised in order to grow stronger. For us now, it begins by having faith in Jesus as savior. Faith grows through the reading and study of the Bible. Our faith is nourished when we keep company with other people of faith. In addition, we may pray as the disciples of Jesus prayed, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

God has given us five senses by which to live on the human level, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and feeling. But they are not adequate to help us reach the divine. We need what John Wesley called “a sixth sense,” which is faith. It is faith which puts us in touch with divine reality. It is faith in the divine-human Jesus. It is faith in the promises to be found in the divine-human book, the Bible. It is faith which God approves. It is faith which God rewards. It is faith which makes us “certain of what we do not see.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner