We’ve all been away from home – camp, camping, visiting relatives, hospital stay, sleepovers, retreats – what a relief to get back home. As enjoyable as being away can be, familiar surroundings, comfortable furniture, known routines, the creak of a particular place on the stairs, memories, they all make home a place like no other. And yet the believer knows deep down that home here isn’t really HOME; something far better is in store for the child of God. Dad, in hospital last time, “I want to go home”.
What is it about a Christian’s faith and its ultimate goal, going home, that sets it apart from all other things? What are some of the characteristics a Christian has that others do not, particularly with regard to faith? The Christian has a different attitude about what is real. He demonstrates that by a particular action and the Christian has an aspiration for something bigger and better than this life.
A. Attitude v. 13a
treated the promises as the real deal
had not experienced the fulfilment of the promises
saw the spiritual reality
confident of them
much bigger than Canaan
“these all …not having received them” v. 13
“all these …did not receive the promise” v. 39
not only Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob who did not receive them; those who lived in the land after the conquest – Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets (vv. 31-32) – did not receive the promise
the promise: the riches of the believer’s inheritance in Christ, purchased by his active and passive obedience
“every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ” Eph. 1:2 HCSB
an inheritance that begins in this life and is completed in the next
salvation including the beginning of our sanctification begins here; glorification is the end, the terminus of sanctification, and will be ours after the resurrection
an inheritance guaranteed by the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence as a down-payment
saw them “from afar”
“Though God gave to the fathers only a taste of that grace which is largely poured on us, though he showed to them at a distance only an obscure representation of Christ, who is now set forth to us clearly before our eyes, yet they were satisfied and never fell away from their faith: how much greater reason then have we at this day to persevere? If we grow faint, we are doubly inexcusable”. Calvin
here at the Table, coupled with the revelation of Scripture, Christ is visible to us far more plainly and vividly than in a lamb sacrificed on a bronze altar
confidence sufficient to live by faith and die in (or according to) faith
These four, according to John Owen, are required to die in faith:
The firm belief of a substantial existence after this life; without this, all faith and hope must perish in death.
A resignation and trust of their departing souls into the care and power of God, when they understand not how they could continue in their own conduct.
The belief of a future state of blessedness and rest, here called an heavenly country, a city prepared for them by God.
Faith of the resurrection of their bodies after death, that their entire persons, which had undergone the pilgrimage of this life, might be instated in eternal rest.
B. Action v. 13b-14
demonstrates their faith outwardly – showed by their actions where their faith was centered, what their ultimate goal was
embraced or hugged them to themselves
this is the warm hearty embrace given to greet a friend from whom one has been long separated
holding close with great joy, satisfaction and thanksgiving
shows the degree of confidence with which they held the promises – try to take something away: a pillow, a football, a child, from someone who is hugging it for dear life
confessed their temporary residency
never put down roots – you don’t hear about the patriarchs building cities; they lived permanently in temporary housing
referred to themselves as temporary residents: After Sarah’s death Abraham told the Hittites “I am a resident alien among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.” Gen. 23:3-4 HCSB
made their real destination plain
by words and actions it was obvious to observers that their search was not over
no roots in Canaan, no return to Mesopotamia, or later, Egypt
they were semi-nomadic, accustomed to travel, the issue wasn’t lack of money for a bus ticket or excessive distance
their final destination is not here in this world/life
C. Aspiration v. 15-16
disregard for the “old country”
they left of their own free will
they already had a country, left it for a better one
they had no desire to return
it was faith that changed their desires and aspirations; desire for the old life and old ways had been replaced with a hunger for the life promised by God
stretch forward to the goal
the nature of genuine faith – single-mindedness; seeking after one goal, renouncing all others, a desire that fuels determination and effort to achieve the objective
Remember the words of Paul in Phil. 3:12-14: Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. HCSB
putting distractions out of mind
intentionally directing thought processes toward the goal of pleasing Christ, restraining thinking from what would hinder godly desires and effort
What is our attitude while here on this earth?
What we are doing now “until he comes”? We are truly experiencing a portion of the promised blessing now; yet in sin-corrupted bodies we cannot experience the fulness of the promise. That awaits the consummation.
Are we “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14
when he brings us to glory – “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Heb. 2:10
We live in that blessed time between his death and his coming. When we gather at the Table we by our actions preach the Gospel – “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” 1 Cor. 11:26
Oh that this would be true of us Sunday afternoon through Saturday evening – that we would declare plainly by all we say and do that we “seek a homeland”, that Going Home truly is the goal of our faith.