- Trent Peters
The Work of Faith
What does faith do in us? How does it affect and changes us? How does it shape the way we interact with God and the world around us? This could look like many different things. In our quest to find some of these answers, let’s take a moment and look at the example of Noah in the book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews addresses people under great pressure to give up on Christ and go back to their Jewish beliefs.
“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
In what way is Noah an example of faith for us? Noah lived in a day when men were described as “wicked” and when “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). It was a time when the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). Finally, in Genesis 6:13, God promises to make an end of all flesh and “destroy them with the earth.”
However, there is a huge contrast between Noah and the wicked people of his generation. The most significant thing that we are told about Noah is that he “found favour in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). This is why Noah is characterized as a “righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9).
In a day of unrestrained evil, Noah stands out as a righteous man. The evidence of Noah’s faith is seen in his trusting God, believing in His Word, and acting in obedience to God’s command to build the ark in the midst of great mockery from those around him. What evidence did Noah have to go on when God asked him to build the ark? He had never seen anything even close to a flood. All he had to go on was the truth of God’s character and trusting God to keep His promise. Noah made practical preparations for something he had not yet seen. But it is because of his “reverent fear” of God that he really stands out. His faith caused him to act on God’s word no matter how foolish it may have seemed to the world around him.
As believers, our faith and righteousness are reflected in the world by testifying and witnessing to those unseen realities that are coming. As Christians, we should seek to live our lives in the light of a coming judgment and a new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:11-15). We can’t see those things right now, and that faith is seen as foolishness to an unbelieving world, just like Noah’s faith looked like foolishness to the unbelieving world.
So, what does faith look like in a believer? What does faith do in us? How does it affect and changes us? How does it shape the way we interact with God and the world around us?
What did faith look like in Noah’s life? Noah’s faith caused him to trust in God fully. Instead of trusting in his own ability Noah trusted in God. Noah wasn’t able to build the ark without strength and provision from God. His faith also caused him to allow God control; control of who went into the ark and who didn’t; control of all the details, including the building dimensions. This trust also caused Noah to carry on even though it didn’t make sense with human reasoning. It had never rained before, but here was Noah building an ark with people making fun of him. He went against all human logic and facts and went with God’s. His faith also caused him to have confidence and security in God alone, not in his peers and whether he would fit in or not.
We need to learn to put our trust in God alone. In order to have true faith, we need to be in tune with God. We need to prioritize things in our life: we need to allow ourselves time for focused Bible study, we need to examine ourselves and make sure our motives are right in all we do, we need to spend time in prayer, and we need friends who will encourage and challenge us to grow in our spiritual walk.
In what ways should faith make a difference in how we live?
Authentic, genuine faith should always change us in ways only we know. Through prayer and devotion, we seek God’s grace and guidance to shape and fashion us to what he wants us to be. Real faith makes a difference, even when no one is watching.
Faith is also expressed in actions that are visible to others, especially to the poor and suffering. Faith also influences our small, daily decisions about how we behave, like our attitudes and how we treat others around us. It also influences the big choices in life: the house we buy or how we spend our money. Faith is expressed in the personal values we live by. Our beliefs only become faith when they are put into action, as James 2:14-26 tells us that faith without works is dead. The Bible often emphasizes the importance of loving God and loving our neighbours alike. We are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others.
The reward for those who have faith in God is tremendous! “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah became an heir of righteousness that came by faith. Because faith takes us into Christ, the heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), we, too, can become an heir of righteousness that comes through faith. What a great reward!