Strength Through Faith

Hebrews 11:11  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
“Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:1111Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)).
The energy or consistency of the public testimony is often found to be closely connected with, if not absolutely dependent upon, the strength and consistency of the testimony maintained in the household. One may be greatly helped or hindered by the influence which prevails there. History furnishes many examples, and it is not at all overlooked in scripture; for we find the frequent occurrence of the mother's name of the successive kings of Judah; not so with the rulers of the revolted ten tribes. In the New Testament the names of three women are before us in the very closest connection with the entrance into this world of the One who came for the truth of God in fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers. It was said of Timothy that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:1515And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)); while the aged apostle was persuaded that God's Spirit had set His seal upon the faith and piety of Lois and Eunice, and that faith unfeigned dwelt in Timothy also. The faith which dwelt in those godly women had much to do with the formation and development of Timothy's character. God will acknowledge and use such things wherever they are found; for He is the giver of faith and grace, while a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in His sight.
There is nothing more clearly set before us in both Old and New Testament revelation with regard to the family, than that God holds the husband and father responsible for the conduct and order of the household. That which God saw in Abraham's household encouraged Him to make the revelation of coming judgment upon Sodom (Gen. 18:17-2217And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. (Genesis 18:17‑22)); while the moral disorder in Lot's household counteracted his preaching to them (Gen. 19:1414And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. (Genesis 19:14)). It is a question here of fulfillment of the promise: God is ready to bless and to bless largely; but is the vessel ready to receive the blessing? By nature we have our hopes and fears, our desires and expectations, ambitions, etc; but inasmuch as self-enjoyment and exaltation is the end and ultimate object of all our inward exercise apart from grace, God has to make a complete clearance in the end of all that would interfere with His work of blessing. Empty vessels may be brought, and He will fill them out of His abundance. Clearance must precede blessing. Sometimes the flesh in us sees nothing desirable in that which God presents to faith, and the blessing is despised and perhaps bartered away as in the case of Esau, “a profane person.” It is not of course a question of eternal salvation, but of undervaluing the place of privilege and honor in testimony for God upon earth; it may lead as in his case to personal rejection at the end. Paul by bringing his body into subjection shut out such an alternative (1 Cor. 9:2727But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27)). There might have been such an one among the Hebrew saints, as there may be now among Gentile Christians.
Sometimes, again, a religiously disposed mind appreciates the distinction which faith brings, and would make a personal sacrifice to get it, as Jacob. For the old nature can become religious and adapt itself outwardly to the ways of God. That which is seen afar off is agreeable to one's inclinations; and religious activity is set up to establish the vision (Dan. 11:1414And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. (Daniel 11:14)) or to bring about the blessing. But the effect is only to delay and obstruct real blessing; for God will not use it. Discipline, painful and humiliating at the time, is God's way of preserving and preparing the soul for the future blessing. It is not correct to speak of the power of either faith or prayer, although we often hear the expression: to hear and believe when God speaks to us, to judge that He who has promised is faithful and able also to perform is faith. To be speaking continually to God about ourselves and each other is prayer, often involving the confession of weakness as also of failure. Paul in the realization and confession of weakness found strength come in (2 Corinthians 12:1010Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)). “When I am weak, then I am strong”: prayer and faith link us up with God Himself, to whom power belongs.
The Son of David was encouraged to build the temple of Jehovah by such a revelation in the midst of the weakness and indifference of the people of God. The Lord Jesus risen from the dead instructed the apostles to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. Had they commenced their testimony without waiting for this, there would have been a breakdown; but the promise of the Father was fulfilled with the result that “with great power gave the apostles witness.” The Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind is upon the servants of Christ. God's Spirit has come to stay with the saints and may be counted upon. His methods are a direct application of the written word making it living and powerful in our own hearts, increasing our spiritual apprehension, revealing Christ, leading out our heart in prayer, keeping us in dependence upon and subjection to Christ Jesus the Lord, and making us to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Abraham was “strong in faith” (Rom. 4:2020He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (Romans 4:20)), he was accustomed to have to do with God personally so that when under such a trial he did not waver. The fact that Sarah his wife shared his faith must have been a great comfort and help to him; it was an auxiliary blessing not to be despised. God is pleased to use such things for the comfort of our heart and deepening His work within us. So in the case of Gideon, he was sent of God on a midnight visit to the Midianites, that his hand should be strengthened (Judg. 7). So Paul was lifted up by the coming or presence of Titus (2 Cor. 7).
There is not only God's work in one's own soul, but the blessing He brings by that which He has wrought in the heart of another. How different was it in Jacob's family, his own beloved wife corrupting the household by bringing in false gods! But for saints walking in obedience, loving each other in the truth is to be in the line of the Spirit's action, in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, and grace and peace are multiplied. Sarah, no less than her husband, intelligently and reverently grasped the promise and waited patiently for its fulfillment. They were mutually helpers of each other's joy, but not without failure; for the flesh will never cease to assert itself while we are in the body. Yet our God is able to turn even our failure to account for His own glory and our spiritual profit; as the history of Hagar and Ishmael viewed in the light of divine interpretation (Gal. 4:21-2321Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:21‑23)) abundantly illustrates. G.S.B.