In the first half of Hebrews 11 we read of the great victories and miraculous accomplishments of those who escaped. But in the second half (vv. 35-39) we read of those who endured.

Daniel was delivered from the lions; but in the Roman Coliseum the lions ate 1,000’s of Christians. The “three Hebrew children” were delivered from the fire; but 1,000’s of Christians were burned at the stake. Joseph was delivered from Pharaoh’s dungeon and exalted to the throne. But John the Baptist was executed in Herod’s prison and escorted to the chopping block. Peter was delivered from prison by an angel; but James was killed by the sword.

Some have a superficial faith; a superstitious faith; a skittish faith; a swerving faith. What about a strong faith?

Mature Faith Believes in the Supernatural Power of God

Heb.11:32-35 is a testimony of supernatural faith. Everything recorded there is supernatural. We believe in the supernatural power of God.

Mature Faith Bows to the Sovereign Purposes of God

Heb. 11: 36-39: “And others” – mockings, beatings, chains, imprisonment; stoned, sawn, tempted, killed; destitute, afflicted, ill-treated; wandered in deserts and mountains; lived in caves and holes; clothed in animal hide.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.”

Mature Faith is Based on the Settled Promises of God

Heb. 11:13: All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Vv. 15-16: And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Paul said, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.” He spoke of “light afflictions that are for but a moment but work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have not seen clear evidence that fewer Christians die of cancer than do unbelievers, or that they are more immune to the diseases that afflict the human race. Some of the kindest, most gracious saints of God have had more than their share of bad health. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised healing. I do not deny the reality of divine healing; I will not hesitate to pray for God to heal; I will set no limits on what God can do, but I will not follow Christ for the promise of healing.

I see no sign that Christians escape accidents more than others. I helped good friends clean up the mud and water after a disastrous flood. I remember taking food and clothes to a Christian family whose home was destroyed by fire. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for any promised protection from disaster. I will not scoff at amazing survival, nor deny that God keeps us from wicked men and tragedy. But I will not follow Christ for the promise of protection.

I do not believe that Christians are necessarily more prosperous than others. As James said sometimes the rich oppresses the poor. We all know people of integrity that have not prospered or acquired wealth. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promise of wealth and success.

I’m not sure that Christians are less likely to suffer from emotional distress than others. I have watched Christians suffer emotional and spiritual disabilities. It may seem heretical, but I’m not sure I would enjoy living in the same house with either Peter or Paul. I believe that a person’s attitude and emotional well-being will be improved by a dynamic Christian faith, but there is no guarantee that believers will be spared times of anxiety, depression, and worry. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for any promise of personality enhancement or emotional immunity.

Why follow Christ? One reason alone. In Jesus, we behold the face of God. He is the truth, the everlasting truth. God in the flesh. I know that in His life, death, and resurrection, I am reconciled to God the giver of life; that nothing can separate me from the love of God. To Him I offer my life … damaged or whole … a life cut short or full of years … he is the one certain thing in an uncertain world. He is to be worshipped because he is God who saves me.