Characteristics of Faith

What characterises faith and what does it work out in our live? Hebrews 11:1 gives us the answer: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). We’ll now look at what that really means.

The Look Ahead

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” (Rev. 22:12)

Faith looks ahead. Who lives by faith doesn’t doubt for a moment that what God says about the future will come to pass. The things we hope for are so certain for those who live by faith, that it’s as if it’s reality now. Faith works like a telescope, putting the future right before our eyes, to enjoy it now. The trusting gaze at the wonderful hope—waiting for us in heaven—gives us strength and helps us to overcome present difficulties.

Furthermore, this look ahead in faith motivates us to bring sacrifices today. Why? Because faith looks at the reward! What motivated Abraham to live as a stranger in tents in Canaan? “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). What moved Moses to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoying the treasures of Egypt? “He was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).

It’s one thing to talk about it and to agree to it in principle, but it’s something entirely different to actually put it in practice. Take, for example, the Lord’s promise that when we do something for Him and the gospel now, we’ll receive a great reward. Is that a truth we just agree with, or do we lean on it in faith and act on in accordingly?

George Müller put it very well when he said: “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”

Charles Studd has impressively shown in his life what it can mean to sacrifice things in order to have treasures in heaven. The famous former cricket player didn’t put his trust in money and possessions, but made friends with the “unrighteous Mammon” (Luke 16:9 NKJV). While serving as a missionary in China, the following happened:


“He was surprised when one morning he received a thick letter in the mail. The letter bore the watermark of Messrs. Coutts & Co, the Studd family’s solicitor. As C.T. tore the envelope open, he realized that it had been two weeks since his twenty-sixth birthday, the day he was to inherit the money his father had left him. Sure enough, the envelope contained copies of stocks and bank deposits that now belonged to him.

When he added it all up, C.T. calculated that he had been left at least twenty-nine thousand pounds, enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life. But that was not what he had in mind for the money. For two years now, he had been sure of what he wanted to do when he received the inheritance—he wanted to give the money to Christian charities. He thanked God that he was in Chungking, because he needed a British official to sign the papers giving his brother Kinny the necessary authority to dispose of the money.

Later that day C.T. found Mr. Bourne in his study.

“May I come in?” he asked.

“By all means, my good man. What can I help you with?” Mr. Bourne asked.

C.T. got straight to the point. “I received mail this morning. It was information about my inheritance, which I had almost forgotten about. Would you be able to draw up and sign some papers so that my brother can have power of attorney over the money? I wish him to give it away on my behalf.”

C.T. watched as Mr. Bourne’s face turned white. Mr. Bourne caught his breath and then spluttered, “But…but it would be quite a sum of money, wouldn’t it? I mean, your father was a wealthy man.”

“He was,” C.T. agreed, “but he found the Lord just two years before he died, and I am sure he would approve of my giving it away. More important, I know my heavenly Father approves. There is no safer place for my money than in ‘God’s bank.’ He offers one-hundredfold increase. Do you know anyone who offers better interest than that?”

“You…I…no!” the consul replied. “I won’t let you do it. You need to think about this in the cold light of day.” Then he softened his tone. “You will always need food and a roof over your head, and you might marry one day and have children. Think ahead a little. After all, you may like being a missionary now, but ten years from now, who can tell?”

C.T. was shocked. He never imagined that he would have to fight with his host to get him to sign the papers.

“But it’s your duty to sign them,” he said. “I am a British subject, and you are the resident consul.”

Mr. Bourne threw up his hands and sighed. “Very well, but I am going to insist on this: take two weeks to think it over, and if you haven’t changed your mind—and I am sure that when you think seriously about it, you will—then I will sign the documents for you.”

C.T. went away satisfied that he had to wait only two weeks before he could carry out his plan.

In the following days C.T. settled on how the money should be divided up. He decided on four allotments of five thousand pounds each. The first allotment was for Dwight L. Moody, the man who had converted his father. C.T. wanted Moody to use the money to start a gospel work in Tirhoot, North India, where his father had made his fortune producing indigo dye.

The second allotment was for George Müller, a Prussian man who had emigrated to England and now ran Christian orphanages for the poorest children in Bristol.

C.T. chose George Holland to receive the third allotment. Holland was a zealous preacher who worked with the poor in Whitechapel, London. The fourth allotment was to go to Commissioner Frederick Booth-Tucker, General William Booth’s son-in-law, who had advanced the Salvation Army into India.

C.T. divided the rest of the money up among other missions and Christian charities he admired.

Two weeks later C.T. was back in Mr. Bourne’s office, asking him to draw up the papers. Although the consul was not happy about it, he agreed that C.T. had waited the agreed-upon two weeks.

On January 13, 1887, C.T. sent off the paperwork, glad that his money was now safely deposited in the “Bank of Heaven,” as he called it.

(C.T. Studd: No Retreat (Christian Heroes: Then & Now), Geoff & Janet Benge, YWAM Publishing)


Does the wonderful future, promised to you by God, influence your daily life? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to gather treasures in heaven? Is the heavenly interest more important to you than the bank’s? Take God at His Word and include Him and His promises in all of your life’s decisions!


Previous article

Verwandte Artikel