Small Faith, Big God
Hebrews chapter 11. You know we’ve looked at this book. We’re now towards the latter half of spending the summer in Hebrews. Our desire was simplistic. Wanted to see the supremacy of Christ in everything. Why? Why Jesus matters and how his story is shared throughout scripture. Hebrews, beautiful book of the bible that ties together all of scripture, Old and New Testament, for us, to see the culminating picture of what Christ has accomplished.
In chapter 10, it starts this, now this hinge point of helping us shape the so what. You look at all the beauty of what’s communicated in who Jesus is in the first 10 chapters, you can get all pumped about it, and then you kind of are left with, now what do I do with what’s been given to me? Now with all that information, these last few chapters become a shaping of your heart in how this should be modeled in the living of your life. What does it look like for us to live in light of who Christ is, and the experience of a relationship with him and walking in the intimacy of knowing Christ as he desires to make himself known in our lives?
When you think about the idea of relationship, intimacy, close, God has been pursuing you for relationship and your now desire to walk with him. It’s hard to experience intimacy and relationship when you don’t feel accepted by the person that you’re pursuing a relationship, or you don’t feel they are trustworthy. By way of reminder in chapter 10, I think that’s exactly where the author started in the shaping of our heart. It’s kind of answering this question. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how well you feel God accepts you.
When you think about intimacy and relationship, that acceptance becomes important. It’s a catalyst for developing that growth for which that relationship is created. In chapter 10, verse 14, I think this is a theme verse. I want all of us just to remember and recognize in Hebrews. When we think about God’s acceptance, him drawing us into him, whether or not Jesus cares about you in that deep way. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 14 is that important verse. It reminds us, “For by one offering, he has perfected for all times those who are sanctified.”
Meaning what he’s saying is when Jesus died for you and you embrace what Christ has done for you, Jesus didn’t just die for your past sin. He died for past, present and future. He covers it all. When God looks at you he sees the blood of Christ on you. He sees the beauty of who Jesus is. So, your acceptance in the Lord has everything for what Jesus has done for you, and not what you have done to provide your acceptance before God, because that will never work. Religion will never work. It will always fall short. Law will never demonstrate your holiness before God.
The only thing law, religious living ever does, is demonstrate where you fall short. It produces two things in people, despair or arrogance. But what Jesus desires is for you to walk in intimacy in him. Hebrews chapter 10, verse 14 becomes that place where we say, okay, God, how do you accept me? Where am I in you? It’s saying that Jesus covers you all. He is embracing you in him. He’s calling you into relationship with him, and when God sees you, he sees the beauty of who God is, and when Jesus hung on the cross, he said to [inaudible 00:03:35], paid in full, it is finished.
When he’s talking about that payment, it was for your life. In light of that, then there’s this living of this new nature in Jesus. God is calling you to more. It’s not just the forgiveness of your past, but it’s now this new identity of you in his kingdom. Jesus is king. He’s called you into this kingdom to live in light of that. We talked about that last week a little bit, and the idea of metamorphosis. When you continue in this chapter, I’ll pick up real quick on the end of chapter 10, as we dive into chapter 11, because it sets the precedent.
These people which are being written to in verse 34, listen to what it says about them. “For you showed sympathy for the prisoners, prisoners of Christ and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.” So these individuals, even the loss of possession, everything in this world that they might have lived for prior to Christ, they have willingly given it up in this pursuit of Jesus.
Then in verse, the very end of this chapter, in verse 39, it starts to encourage the believers and leaves it with this thought in leading in chapter 11. Before I read it, I want to just say this. When you get to chapter 11 in Hebrews, people, if people know anything about the book of Hebrews, it tends to be chapter 11. It’s sort of the place you kind of land and cherry pick from. It’s the faith chapter.
It’s very easy for Christians who know this chapter to sort of mentally check out and say, “Yeah, I know what this is. It’s the faith chapter. Let’s move on.” But 36, verse 36 of chapter 10, reminds us of why, as followers of Jesus, this chapter becomes so important for us. Look at what it says. It says, verse 36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.” Verse 39, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the persevering of the soul.”
So what defines us? It’s kind of saying this to Christians. Look, when living in light of Jesus in this world, Jesus told us, don’t expect the world to embrace us. Take up your cross and follow him. In fact, it will put father against son and mother against daughter. There will be tension created, if not hatred because of your pursuit for Jesus and your demonstration in that shows what you ultimately value in life. But it can wear on you. It can wear on you.
Which is why in verse 36, he uses this word, endurance. We need endurance. I don’t think this is just individualistically, but I think as a community in Christ, we need to live with endurance. We need to endure because life, life can take the wind out of your sails. Let me give you an example.
When America started, the people that originally came over and helped settle America were people seeking religious freedom from the oppression that they had experienced in Europe. They wanted to have the bible in English, and they wanted to be able to teach their kids from scripture in English. They had come from a history of people that had been persecuted, burned at the stake for this pursuit and so they developed the Geneva Bible, set sail across to America. It was the first study bible that ever existed, I think in the world, but at least definitely in English.
They come across to America and they’re known as the Puritans. Where are the Puritans? Have you thought about that today? Puritans, they come to America, they help found America on religious freedom. Where are they? Nowhere. They were written into history and written out. Why? There’s a book called “Jesus Made in America,” that speculates as to what happened to the existence of the influence that they had in the culture, but they walk in this idea that when the Puritans came to America for religious freedom, they began to promote and propagate, that they developed this form of piety that was so legalistic in its presence, that the next generations began to reject it. They, rather than be legalists, they swung the pendulum the other way and they became just moralists.
In that moralism, they introduced this idea of liberalism in Christianity. It’s where you get the people like Thomas Jefferson. He starts ripping pages out of his bible that he didn’t accept. You have this legalistic piety. You have this liberalism being expressed in the church, and in that, in both cases, they lose the centrality of their message. That’s why we say here as a church family, the balance of the Christian life is to understand that we want to live in grace and truth. That the truth is the catalyst for life change. The truth sets you free, but when we teach the truth, it’s not to bash and beat people up. It’s to serve, to come underneath, to encourage us in Christ, to make Christ known in our lives. The truth sets us free.
When we look at the truth, we can see where we fall short, but we also see the beauty of who God is and the transformation that he brings. That’s what makes his grace so important. God, God loves us right where we are. He may not love what we do, but he loves us right where we are. We don’t have the power to transform our lives because we have a sinful nature, but it’s the grace of God being made known in our hearts as we surrender our lives to him, that he begins to transform us, moment by moment in his image.
Jesus pursues us. While there’s this tendency in our lives, religiously thinking, to be legalistic, and in rejection of that, to just become liberal all together, the mark of a Christian is about being a disciple and walking that balance. There’s actually a book called, “The Grace and Truth Paradox in our Lives,” but to live this out with endurance, because what could be written about us as a church is the same story as the Puritans. With such zeal they moved to this country to find freedom in who Christ is and then, gone.
In chapter 11, then this faith chapter is very significant for us. I better move into this. But chapter 11, in verses 1 to 3 starts with the idea in this faith chapter of talking about faith. Then it starts giving us examples in faith from here on. It says this, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it, the men of old gained approval by faith. We understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
I think about this section in the presentation of faith, and I try to think if today is your first day to our church, and you haven’t been with us through this series in the Hebrews, and you’re sort of helicoptering in on this verse, or if you’re an unbeliever and you just happen to pick up the scripture and you come to this, you helicopter in and you sort of read verse 3. Verse 3 is a strange verse. Look what it’s saying. “By faith we understand the worlds were prepared by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” It’s sort of like calling you to believe in this thing that popped out of nowhere, right? This invisible person created all of this. Just trust me, right?
It’s kind of a … Maybe I can find a better word for this in the next service, but it’s just ignorant. To just simply suggest to people that God made all of this out of invisible nature, visible comes. And to give o reasons or explanations … Just believe it. Just have faith. Just trust me, right? You think about the book of Hebrews being written to the Jews. Some of the Jews that come from the Sadducee background didn’t even believe in an afterlife. Here they are in this verse, talking to Jewish people. If you’re just reading verse 3, telling them to have faith and wishing and hoping in invisible stuff.
I mean, just because you have faith, doesn’t necessitate that it’s going to be healthy. There are a lot of people that believe a lot of things and it is not going to work out for them. A lot of people have a lot of passion in the things they believe, but it will not hold water at the end of the day. Just because you’re passionate about something, just because you have faith in something, doesn’t make that something a good thing to have faith in. You look at all the religions in the world, and they all talk about a different God, right? You ask people, why do you believe what you believe and they chalk it up to experiences. Because I had this warm feeling.
It’s like, really? You believe in this god and say that you have this feeling, but then I go talk to these people over here of another religion and they have the same feeling. But they can’t both be true because they contradict one another. There’s got to be a basis for faith beyond feeling. I wanted us to know, as Christians when someone reads a passage like that and they’re saying that, our hearts should resonate with this. God made a mind inside of your skull and he wants you to use it. Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.
God gave you a mind for a reason. It’s like, I use this example, but just because I stopped believing in gravity today doesn’t mean I’m going to float to the ceiling, right? I can believe it as passionately as I want, but it doesn’t make it true. So, the basis of faith isn’t out of ignorance. I understand in verse 3, he’s calling us to believe in the reality of what we are, based on what we can’t see that created it, but verse 1, gives us the establishment of every place we’ve been in Hebrews for the first 10 chapters to say now, this is why we can trust this way.
It’s not based on ignorance, on just wishful thinking. It’s not superstition. It’s not delusion. That’s what you hold to if you’re a Brown’s fan every football season, right? But this is what he says in verse 1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This idea of assurance is confidence. So I ask the question, where does this confidence and conviction come from? He’s building this verse. This verse isn’t one you just helicopter in on. This verse is built out of all the verses that we read previous to this. The conviction and the confidence that we have in this faith, has to do with everything we’ve seen in Jesus.
So I would say it like this for you, and if you’ve been through this series guys, you’ve seen this build, but if you’re looking at Jesus, saying how do I really know Jesus is who he says he is? How can I really trust in this? All the religions in the world, how do I know this one’s correct? We’ve taken an approach to answer that question, right. There are multiple ways we could answer this question, but we’ve taken the approach of Hebrews, which is simply to look back over all of Jewish history.
We’ve gone through this in verses. You can go back through Hebrews if you want to listen to this series. I tell you, especially pick up in chapter 5, but we’ve talked about the themes that God has established from the beginning. Prophet, priest, sabbath, temple, law, and look at the Old Testament passages when God created those things. New covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31. We looked at the Old Testament passages in this, where God said for the people he has, he established those things. These things are simply a shadow of the greater thing for which Jesus will ultimately fulfill. Every one of these things in the Old Testament are just a picture of one who will come as the fulfillment of everything.
What we’ve seen in Hebrews is Jesus is the law. Jesus is the sabbath. Jesus is the temple. Jesus is the priest. Jesus is the king. Jesus is the sacrifice, all of it culminating in him. This wasn’t just made up. This wasn’t a figure in history that just appeared. This is all of history, pointing to one person, for all time, for all sin. A whole testament manuscript older than Jesus, declaring the coming of Jesus. There’s no religion in the world that can do that.
For thousands of years, Christ has called his shot, so that when he arrives, we don’t miss it. Nothing relates to that, and so when we talk about this confidence, this conviction, I want us to know, this isn’t just a feeling. That God wants us to experience, God created you as an emotional being. God wants you to experience every facet that it is to be a human being, but we don’t lead with feelings.
We have a foundation. So faith is built on this foundation. Things in life will rock us. Think about the Puritans. Things in life will rock us, but it’s that foundation that becomes the centrality of who we are. Faith is built on the past. In fact, when you look at other verses in scripture, look at this. It says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “But now faith, hope and love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.”
So let me put this in perspective for us. I want you to think of these three words that he says, faith, hope and love as past, present and future. Faith is established on what’s been accomplished. God’s just not asking you to guess and hope you’re right in the end. God has established it. We look at that because of what we’ve seen, we have seen a God who’s trustworthy and we can put our hope in him, into the future. So faith is on the establishment of the past, hope in the future, and because we’re secure in these two places, you can love right where you’re at.
When you don’t know what to do with your past, and you’re dealing with the uncertainty of the future, it’s difficult to appreciate the moment. But when you’re secure in your faith and resting in the hope in a God who’s demonstrated himself trustworthy, and you can appreciate the circumstance for what you’re in. Love, right? So faith, faith for us, is so significant and living out what God calls because it’s the foundation for which we build for everything in the future, both in the present in love, and what is to come in hope.
So he says in verse 2, which I know I skipped by. It says this, “For by it the men of old gained approval.” Now what he’s going to do, is he’s going to start showing how in this faith, demonstrated over and over, that we are inspired by the hope of others. He starts to lay out for us then stories of individuals who exercised faith and the beauty that it presented in this world.
I would tell you guys, I think even based on this passage, and we’ll see this in Hebrews chapter 13, I think in verse 7, if my memory serves me right, where not only do we look at the stories in the bible of people who exercise faith, but that story of faith continues to be written. Find some heroes. Not just in scripture but even, even today, and even some dead guys of recent. I mean that’s part of the reason, every time we’ve gone to Hebrews, at least that I can remember, we’ve ended in some picture of church history. Because that faith and seeing that faith lived out, continues to inspire us in our living.
So he says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that was righteous, God testifying about his gifts. By faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” His life lives on by faith. “Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death, and he was not found because God took him up, for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up, he was pleasing to God, and without faith it’s impossible to please him.” I’ll stop right there.
He’s going to share example after example. I’m not going to read them all. If you want to read them all this week, you can. Hebrews 11, read them all, okay? Great bible stories of faith being exercised, but one of my favorites, I think I really love is Enoch because Enoch is Genesis chapter 5, and he sort of just disappears. God just comes and gets him. Then it tells us about one of his descendants, Methuselah. It says these weird things about Methuselah. It just says he got really old, and he was the oldest person to every live, 969 years. Such a weird thing to say in the bible. Did you ever wonder why in the world does he even tell us that? It’s only so you get a bible trivia question right and you look smart to all your friends, right?
There’s a little bit more to that. The bible doesn’t say things just to say things. It’s very intentional. Methuselah’s name, if you translate it back in the Hebrew, it literally means after him comes judgment. What happens right after Methuselah? The flood. So here in this story with Enoch, you see God removing those that pursue him. Then he allows Methuselah to sustain longer than anyone that has ever lived, 969 years. That is crazy old, right? 969 years, Methuselah lives, but his name was a pronouncement to the people that had turned wicked. It’s a demonstration of God’s grace.
Methuselah lived on as a warning to the people that after him is coming judgment. Turn to the Lord. Enoch was the beautiful example that walked with God. Then in verse 6 it says this, as if to turn up the heat. Not only are we saying faith is important. It’s just not something that you do. It’s everything that you are. You’re created as a worship being. You will put your worth, value and meaning in something in this world. You will look for something around you to demonstrate the image that you are.
The sad reality as human beings, is we put that hope in so many broken things. Just tell me I’m pretty. Tell me I’m worth something. Accumulating stuff. Looking to people, but all of that design is intended to be in Christ. He is the one who has given his life for you, demonstrating your worth, your value. So he’s saying as if to turn the temperature up on this, without faith … We’re not saying that you just should have it, but it is impossible to please him. You’re not working your way there, but rather trusting what he’s already done.
Then he says it like this, in an opposing statement, in a positive now. He who comes to God thinking about what faith is, you must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those who seek him. What is faith? It’s trust. It’s the place of confidence. It’s seeing the image of who God is, his character and nature is trustworthy, and the hope that rests in him, because the reward that awaits us in being with him face to face, for which we were designed to be. Rather than saying, I’m trusting in myself as king, we turn to the one true king.
It reminds you of last week in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 29, just turning that temperature on faith up, it says this, “How much severer a punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the spirit of grace?” I love the way Ephesians puts it when you think about faith. It says this.
Christians, most of you know this, hopefully you know this. If you don’t know this, this is a passage in the bible that you should just memorize, okay? It says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” So the faith is where you trust. It’s not a work. Look what it say. I want you to think about these words. This word grace, this word saved, this word faith, and now you carry it in this next phrase. It’s not of yourself. So whatever these words are, it’s not about you and your performance and what you’re doing. It’s not of yourselves. Look at this. It is the gift of God, and now look, and the contrasting word here in verse 9, “Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Like whatever you call faith, however you think about faith in your life, it is not a work. Ephesians 2:8-9 contrast that beautifully for us, but it’s trusting in this gift that God has given us, which is by his grace that saves the soul and rescues us, because in our lives, we’re looking for worth, value and meaning in everything else apart from who he is and what he’s done. And yet he’s pursued you. He has died for you.
So in that theme then, he starts off in verse 7. He goes on in Hebrews 11. He starts talking about Noah and what he’s done. In verse 8, he talks about Abraham and then Isaac and then Jacob and ends with Joseph. Sharing again this living out of faith. Then in verse 13, he says, “All these died in the faith.” But here’s the interesting thing. “Without receiving the fullness of the promises. But having seen them, having walked in them from a distance,” so they see what God’s saying and where God is going, “And having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on earth, for those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own, 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.”
The evidence of their faith. They’re looking and longing, because they realize this world is not what they were created for. They’re living for a greater calling. I will just say for us, and for those that live out their faith, this was a good place to test our lives, to examine our lives. When we talk about faith, I don’t want us to be fooled into thinking that it’s this intellectual ascent. Like I have faith in God and it makes no difference with life.
What they’re saying is faith in this sense, this person begins to recognize, in that faith, they’re not created for this world. So the way they put down their roots isn’t to belong in this world, isn’t to live for the things of this world, because they’re not taking those things with them. It then simply asks the question, what’s the evidence of your life demonstrate?
Where is your hope? Faith becomes tangible if the heart truly embraces it. He goes on from there in verse 17, and he continues with the theme again with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, verse 23. He starts talking about Moses and the faith that he expresses. I’m going to sum all this up in just a moment. Then the idea of Jericho falling and Rahab and where she stood in that midst. Then he just says this. He goes through this whole living of faith. That’s your identity in Christ, continuing that faith.
Then he says in verse 32, “What more shall I say, for time will fail me.” That’s why I’m skimming this, this morning, because time’s going to fail me. Right? Time will fail me. If I tell of Gideon and Barack and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and the prophets. I mean you could go on and on. This is the living out of faith and he does continue to share what happens in their life and the things that they saw conquered in kingdoms and righteousness, and lion’s mouth clothes and fires quenched and escaping of swords and strongholds broken and mighty war taking place.
He goes on and on, living through the torturing in these circumstances. Beautiful, powerful stories. You know guys, sometimes when I see these stories in scripture, I begin to start looking in the mirror, and in comparison of these stories, I think sometimes that we ourselves can look at these and think, I’m not them. I am not a King David. I am a, if anything when it comes to faith, I am a faith failure, right? I’m not, I’m not what these stories are, which is a shame to get to that place because the reason they share these stories is so that we are encouraged by the faith of others, right? But let me just remind you, in case we put these people on a pedestal.
Let me just remind you of who these individuals were. Abraham came from a land of Ur, of the Chaldeans, where they worshiped pagan gods. His name before, Abram was to honor a pagan deity. Abraham wasn’t obedient in every way that he followed God. Jacob was a deceiver. Joseph was arrogant. Moses had a speech impediment and he didn’t want to do anything that God called him to do. Rahab, when you look at this passage on Rahab in verse 31, we don’t operate by a last name basis for anybody, but they give one to Rahab. Here look, by faith Rahab the harlot, did not perish. Who wants to walk around with that label in their life. You know me, Rahab. What do you mean, the Rahab down the street? No, no, no. I’m talking about Rahab the harlot. Oh yeah. That one, right?
I mean you’re forever labeled. Every time you read about her, it’s always got the tag on it. Or what about King David? We’ve romanticized his position. David the shepherd, he wrote beautiful poetry out with the sheep, but can I remind you that shepherds in David’s day and even up into the time of Jesus, that was the looked down upon position in society. That’s what the ignorant people would do because they couldn’t hold any other job down. Eh, just send him out with the sheep. At least they’re doing something.
These people weren’t warriors because of what they had within themselves. When you think about Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves, as a gift of God. Not of works lest anyone should boast.” For me the next verse is the beautiful verse, “For you are created in Christ Jesus for good works.” What it’s saying is you are created as a being to reflect the glory of who God is in this world. I’m from the East Coast. When I moved out here, the mountains, man. Seeing the mountains just blew me away. I thought after living here for so long, I would get used to it, but I am not used to it. It just, for me, declares the glory of who God is.
But you think about you, different than any other creature that exists. You’re made in the image of God. That is the most beautiful expression of the glory of who your God is. Created in Christ Jesus for good works. That idea of created for good works, it’s literally saying that you are God’s whole world. You’re his art, his masterpiece. Created in him for good works.
What makes faith so brilliant is that faith is not about, it’s not about you, but rather it’s about the beauty of what you trust in. What makes your faith so powerful? Because it’s not about the size of your faith, but it’s about the object of your faith. You could have all the faith in the world, but if what you trust in isn’t dependable, it doesn’t matter. But you got just a little bit of faith, and if it’s in the glorious king, that makes all the difference in the world. It’s not about the size of your faith, but the object of your faith.
That’s why Jesus said to his disciples, faith of a mustard seed moves mountains. He picked the smallest seed that he could think of, within that cultural context, and he’s saying to them, it’s not the size of your faith. It’s not the size of your faith. It’s the object of your faith, because when you take the size of that faith, no matter how small it is, and when you put it in what is trustworthy, and you begin to walk with that trustworthy God every day, what it does with your faith is it grows into this huge mustard tree.
This tiny, tiny seed, but it’s not because of you. It’s because of what you trusted in and the dependability of what it represents. So here’s what faith is. It’s surrender. It’s rest in the trustworthiness of Christ. It’s laying it all down and saying, “God you are sufficient for me.” I look at the stories of these that have walked by faith. I recognize in the back of all these stories is shares in Hebrews chapter 11, that some of these people, they failed, and they failed on a public display, in grandiose ways.
But you know when you think about failure and you relate it to your own life, when I fail, what I’ve learned in this faith journey is I’ve learned another way my soul is not surrendered to God. But I have another opportunity because of his grace, just to lay it down again. And say God, it’s for the beauty of who you are. Faith is not about what you’re going to accomplish. I’m not telling you today, God have faith so that you can do a bunch of stuff. I’m telling you, have faith so that you can rest in the one who’s more than capable of transforming your own heart in this world.
God’s not about results, guys. We talked about this last week. God’s not about the result. God doesn’t need you, but he wants you. The only thing that God looks for us in our lives, we’re not going to come before God and talk about all our accomplishments. He just wants you faithful. What he wants is you.
Verse 39 and 40, let me close with these verses and then I’m going to share a moment in church history. “In all these things, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.” They’re saying this faith was still looking for the coming of Jesus, when you consider these Old Testament saints. They’re still looking for the promises in Christ. They realized that the full picture hadn’t come yet, and Hebrews now ties it all together for us. So here they are living this out, but because God had not provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
So it’s saying this. That God is culminating all of history now in this picture of faith of which you have become a part of, of which you belong. It’s really declaring to us that the story of faith is still being written and now we have become a part of that story.
I was reading a book. I read a lot of books, so I can’t remember what book this came out of, but whoever I was reading, was talking about a conversation they had with a young lady named Margaret. She wasn’t young anymore, but when she was young, she was talking about being a Christian in China. I think her parents were Christian missionaries in China. When the Japanese conquered China in World War II, they put people in camps, in prison camps, including Christian missionaries.
This young girl found herself in this camp, Margaret. She was telling this story about this person she referred to as Uncle Eric, who Uncle Eric took care of all the young people that were there and ministered to all the people. He kept the faith, and she referred to him as Jesus in running shoes. As she’s sharing this story about Uncle Eric, they begin to realize, Uncle Eric was a very popular figure that everyone knew at the time. Uncle Eric’s name was Eric Liddel. Eric Liddel was, I believe he was from Scotland. He grew up as a missionary kid in China. Uncle Eric was where we get the story Chariots of Fire, if you’ve ever seen that or are familiar with that.
Uncle Eric had a gift. He was fast. He went on to win the Olympics in the 400 meters. What’s interesting about Uncle Eric is his best race was the 100 meters, but in the Olympics, he didn’t believe in doing anything on Sunday. He used that for worship, so because they had that event on Sunday in the Olympics, he refused to run the 100 meters, and instead he chose an event that wasn’t his best event, the 400 meters. He went on to win the gold medal.
After he won the gold medal, he went back to China, of which he was a kid at. Became a missionary, ministering to people there. He found himself in the same camp with Margaret as well as other young people who were there as missionary kids. Different people were in this camp. At one point, even Winston Churchill arranged for his release from this camp, and Eric was, he had married, had three kids. He chose to give up his spot that Winston Churchill had secured for another lady in that camp who was pregnant. He stayed there and he continued to minister to the young people.
One man named David Mitchell, he went on to become a doctor, talked about how Eric taught the kids familiar songs and he remembers him teaching through 1 Corinthians 13, which I read a passage, faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love. Matthew 5. He just remembers Eric teaching from those places of the bible. 1945 came and the camp was liberated. Not Eric Liddel. Just a few weeks before, he died. He had developed a brain tumor. Never saw his wife and kids again. Once he got put in that prison camp, that was it.
They said his dying breath, he lay in the infirmary and was close to death. The last words he uttered, “It is complete surrender.” He slipped into a coma and he died. Little over 40, right? You think about what this chapter is. The faith chapter, and what God calls us to in him. Guys, maybe in this room, someone goes out to be the next Billy Graham, I don’t know. Jonathan Edwards, whatever. I can tell you in anything that you accomplish, none of it matters apart from this. Faith. And that God who is dependable, the one who is secure.