“All these people … did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” - Hebrews 11:13
Last year the movie “I Can Only Imagine” took
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. The film is closely based on the life
story of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band Mercy Me, and how he
came to write the double platinum song “I Can Only Imagine,” the most popular
Christian single of all time. Hollywood by storm
During Bart’s childhood, his dad, Arthur, was, in Bart’s words, “a monster.” Bart’s dad had a nasty habit of losing his temper over the smallest things, and when he flew into a rage, Bart was his punching bag. During Bart’s childhood, Arthur beat him over and over and over again. But when Bart was a high school freshman, Arthur was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Around that same time, he gave his life to Jesus Christ, and Arthur was absolutely transformed by the power of Christ.
Bart’s dad died on my 18th birthday: November 11, 1991. Seven years later as Bart was thinking about his dad—completely healed and forgiven in heaven—it only took him about 10 minutes to write the words to this amazing song. As Bart Millard wrote those lyrics, he was doing what the word of God says every man and woman of faith should do: Fix our thoughts on heaven.
Hebrews 11 tells us about several great men and women of faith. We read that they did not consider this world to be their home: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth” (vs. 13). Or, as the Living Bible translation puts it, “they agreed that this earth was not their real home but that they were just strangers visiting down here.” That’s such a great way to put it!
I’d like to share with you three powerful insights from this verse about true faith:
Faith Insight #1: True faith keeps living even as our bodies are dying. Except for Enoch, who was taken straight to heaven without dying, every faith hero was still “living” by faith when he or she died. In other words, true Bible faith is unfazed by death. You see, your faith is something that involves your physical body but is not tied to your physical body. It resides deep in your soul and spirit. And since your soul and spirit never die, neither does your faith. If you are a man or woman of faith, when your body dies, your faith will live on.
Faith Insight #2: True faith sees and welcomes God’s fulfilled promises even when those promises haven’t been seen or fulfilled yet. God promised Abraham and his family the
but Abraham died before his family took possession of it. God promised Moses that
he would lead his people to the promised land, but Moses never got to live in
that land himself. As the world looks at these men, it might say that their
faith was in vain. What they believed would come to pass didn’t come to pass
until after they were dead, so it seems like a waste. If the world only knew
how foolish that reasoning is! Faith in God is NEVER in vain! Faith in God is
NEVER a waste! If you only live for what you yourself can see and experience,
when your body dies, your impact on this world will also die. But if you live
by faith, your influence and impact in this world will carry on long after your
body is in the grave. land of Canaan
Faith Insight #3: True faith admits that we are strangers and temporary residents on Earth. Our true home is in heaven. My favorite part of Hebrews 11:13 is the final part: “And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” If you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, did you know that you’re an alien here on earth? You might not have green skin, gigantic eyes or an antenna, but you are an alien. This is NOT your home planet, is it? Heaven is. If you are a faith-walking believer and follower of Jesus Christ, here on earth you are a temporary resident, and you are really, really strange. You don’t think like the world. You don’t talk like the world. You don’t act like the world. Your priorities are different. The way you handle tragedy AND success is different. They way you handle death is different. There’s no doubt about it. If you are a man or woman of faith, you’re a space cadet here on earth!
If you’re a true follower of Christ, frankly, you’d be much happier back in your homeland. But you and I must wait—because God still has work for us to do until He calls us home. He has us here on earth—at this time and in this place—for a reason. There is so much work for us to do. There are so many lost people who need to be found so they can go to heaven too. There are so many hurting people who need to be touched by the mercy and compassion of Christ working through you and me. We dare not stop working until God calls us home! If our lives were just about you and me, we should have gone home to heaven yesterday. But since our lives are about loving and serving others, we must continue loving and serving them in faith.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for our Worship Service Sundays at 10 a.m. at the new Dr. Ralph Baker School in Victorville. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.