“The conviction of things not seen”
The Romans at first called Christians Atheists! This is shown in the records that have been found written by Roman historians early in the second century. Christians were seen as people who were worshipping something that could not be seen! The Romans could see their gods, but their gods were the work of men’s hands!
These were our thoughts as we read the familiar chapter 11 of Hebrews this morning. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We cannot see God’s worldwide kingdom because it has not happened yet! Things that have happened do not require faith, the evidence for them is before our eyes.
Some 500 years ago some believers were being burnt at the stake because of their conviction that the established church was wrong – and they were preaching about this. Those who died were convinced of this, therefore they preached about what they read in the Bible, they refused to “recant” and deny it, they died for their faith in a hope that was vitally important to them. Even today such believers who live in some Islamic countries and even some Asian countries are having a difficult faith testing time. Could it happen in all countries?
The accounts in Hebrews of those who suffered and sometimes died because of their faith, might make us anxious as to what a strong conviction might yet bring upon us if the nation in which we live becomes totally atheistic.
Notice the examples in chapter 11 of the different things for which people were commended for doing or saying, that revealed their faith; Enoch is a most appropriate example, we read that he was “taken” and did not see death. When Jesus returns that will be the experience of those who are faithful and alive as Paul says in his writings.(1 Corinthians 15:51,52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
What was Enoch commended for? In verse 5 we read, “Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God”. Twice in Genesis 5 we read “Enoch walked with God”.
That simple statement sums up that Enoch was commended for his commitment to God at a time the world had become very ungodly. We read in Jude of Enoch that he “prophesied saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came … to execute judgement on all and convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness … and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him’” (verses 14,15).
As this world grows ever more ungodly, we will be walking in the footsteps of Enoch and showing our faith in the same way as he did – even though some speak “harsh things” against us.