The Romans at first called Christians Atheists! This is shown in the records that have been found in the writings of Roman historians of the 2nd Century. Christians were seen as people who were worshipping something that could not be seen! The Romans could see their gods, but their gods were the work of human hands!
These were our thoughts as we read the familiar chapter 11 of Hebrews this morning. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We cannot see God’s kingdom because it has not happened yet! Things that have happened do not require faith, the evidence for them is there before our eyes.
Five hundred years ago some men and women were burnt at the stake because of their conviction that the teaching of the established church was wrong – such as saying believers went to heaven at death! Those who died had developed total conviction in things not seen! As a result they preached about what they read in the Bible, they refused to “recant” and deny it, they died because of their total faith in a hope that was true and of total importance in their hearts.
The accounts in Hebrews of those who suffered and sometimes died because of their faith, might make us fearful of having too strong a conviction because of what it might cost us! Yet notice in the examples that follow in Hebrews 11 the different things for which people were commended for doing or saying which revealed their faith. Key examples are Jacob and Samuel. Enoch could be seen as a special example for us in these days. We read that he was “taken” and did not see death and when Jesus comes that will be the experience of those who are faithful and alive as Paul says in his writings.(I Cor. 15 v.51,52; 1 Thess. 4 v. 17)
What was Enoch commended for? In Hebrews 11 v.5 we read, “Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” Twice in Genesis 5 we read “Enoch walked with God” That simple statement sums up what Enoch was commended for; his commitment to God at a time the world was becoming very ungodly. We will soon read in Jude about Enoch, that he “prophesied saying, “Behold, the Lord comes … to execute judgement on all and convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness … and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” [v.14,15] Perhaps some were saying he did not exist! And so the flood came and destroyed these “ungodly sinners.”
How many things are “spoken against” God today! Many deny he exists. As this world grows ever more ungodly, what a total “conviction of things not seen” do we need to develop. We must fill our hearts with God’s word and then we will walk in the footsteps of Enoch – showing our faith in the same way as he did – and so be “taken” into God’s kingdom.
By Bro D.Caudery
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