A Krisis of Faith Series

Whose promises?

“A PERSON OF FAITH”

To live by faith is by nature to live for a world or a life or an experience that is beyond this present moment, this present state of things. To live for something that is yet unseen. It is to trust in a future that has yet to be seen, but only promised. To live is to trust in promises. Every human is a person of faith, because to believe, to hope, to trust is in our make-up.

The questions is: Whose promises do we trust? What is the object of our faith?

CITY OF GOD

City of God is a book by St. Augustine that addresses this very same dilemma: Where should we place our faith? And why?

The context is a background of uncertainty. St. Augustine began writing it just after the city of Rome had been sacked by Goths (tribal peoples from Central Europe, led by Alaric). Up to this moment in time, Rome was thought to be indestructible, immune, the eternal city…But now it seemed to be falling apart.

The people were having a crisis of faith. The Empire in which they found their identity, their peace, security, and hope was showing its true colors. Perhaps it wasn’t immune. The people were asking themselves:

  • What does it mean to be a Roman citizen?
  • Can I trust the promises of citizenship to protect me?
  • Is the Roman Empire able to deliver on its promises?
  • What will be of the peace and prosperity Rome has always promised those who committed to the Empire?
  • What about these old gods of the Roman pantheon–can they be trusted?
  • If not, whose promises CAN we trust?

Augustine offers two options for citizenship:

To remain citizens of “The City of this World,” the other city, the city of men, OR
To understand ourselves as members of The City of God–citizens of the heavenly city of God’s kingdom.

For Augustine, the old gods, the government of the Empire, and one’s citizenship in Rome paled in comparison to the promises of the one true God of the Christian Scriptures, which were proved true by God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Augustine knew that the question is not “will you have faith?” but “in whom or in what will you have faith?”

WHY STUDY HEBREWS?

  • It allows us to look back at the vibrant connections between the Old and New Testaments, the way that promises of the Old are fulfilled in Jesus
  • It helps us see how Christians should deal with the Old Testament
  • It has some of the richest theology and Christology available to us in all of Scripture
  • Most importantly, it helps us ask and answer the most important questions facing humanity:
    • How can we actually approach God?
    • What should we put our faith in?
    • WHY?
  • Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (ESV)

+ To whom was Hebrews written?

Hebrews was written to Jewish-Christians that were part of a young fledgling church in the city of Rome in AD 60s. They had become Christians after hearing and accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ, but their faith was being challenged. They were wrestling with questions of “is it all really true?” “Is it all worth it?”

+ Is Hebrews a letter or a sermon?

Hebrews is a sermon that gives us a glimpse into early Christian preaching immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was written to build, rebuild, and reinforce the faith of the Christians living in Rome.

+ Is the book of Hebrews relevant to me today?

Consider these questions:

  • Do you find yourself discouraged by your lack of faith in Jesus?
  • Do you find yourself questioning your faith in Jesus?
  • Do you find your faith in Jesus is too small to bring you real lasting hope?
  • Do you find yourself being drawn back to something in your past in which you used to trust?
  • Perhaps you do not yet have faith in Jesus…Are you looking to find a reasonable object for your faith?

If you answered yes to any of these, the lessons within the book of Hebrews will resonate with you. Join us in learning how Christ is worthy of our trust.

WHAT DO YOU FEAR LOSING?

Another way to uncover the true residence of our faith is by taking a look at our fears. What, when we consider the possibility of losing it, overwhelms us with fear?

The rich man fears losing his wealth,
The educated woman fears losing the argument,
The athlete fears losing his youth,
The politician fears losing her power.

Where your fear is, there too you will find your faith.

Some of the objects of our faith may deliver this time and our faith in them is validated. But no matter how well a promise performs this time, a next time is always coming…

THE PROMISE OF THE GOSPEL IS UNIQUE

The gospel proves to all humanity two things about Jesus Christ as the object of our faith. 

  • THE CROSS proves that Jesus will hold nothing back to deliver in full on his promises to all of humanity
    • His covenant is superior to all other man-made covenants
    • Of his own volition Jesus went to the cross and proved himself worthy of our trust
  • THE RESURRECTION proves that Jesus is no ordinary man
    • Nothing in this world, not even death itself, could keep him from the fulfillment of his promise of redemption to humanity
    • The God-man Jesus is superior to all things–by his superior power displayed clearly in the resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust.

JOIN US

For the next 12 weeks or so as we see how the book of Hebrews answers the question of “how can we approach God?” unapologetically by saying by faith alone and proving that the only worthy object of that faith is the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

He is superior to every other potential sales pitch for our faith. Hebrews will show us why our faith in Jesus plays itself out in our salvation, our joy and peace, and God’s glory.

Hebrews 6:12 – “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises of God.” (ESV)


NEXT STEPS

Engage in deep and meaningful conversations.

  • Is our society choosing to be citizens of God’s City or the Other City?
  • What makes Jesus superior to any other possible object of our faith?

Read Acts 2 — How are we empowered as we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises?

Honestly reflect on how the ideas in the book of Hebrews are relevant to your personal faith journey.

  • How is your past holding you back from placing your trust in Christ?
  • What do you fear losing?

Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.

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