Sometimes it is rather tempting to think of faith as a kind of magic formula. If you muster up enough of it, you will get rich, stay healthy, and live a contented life with automatic answers to all your prayers However, life does not work according to such neat formulas. As proof, the author of Hebrews presents a stirring reminder of what constitutes "true faith" by reviewing the lives of some Old Testament giants of faith (Hebrews 11).

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Without faith, the author says bluntly, it is impossible to please God. In describing faith he uses the word "persevered". As a result of their faith, some heroes triumphed: They routed armies, escaped the sword, survived lions. However, others met less happy ends: They were flogged, stoned, sawed in half. The chapter concluded, these were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

The picture of faith that emerges does not fit into an easy formula. Sometimes it leads to victory and triumph. Sometimes it requires a gritty determination to hang on at any cost.


What our faith rests on is the belief that God is in ultimate control and will indeed keep His promises-whether that happens in this life or the next.

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