Commentary by Walter Albritton
Roll Call of Heroes in the Bible’s Hall of Faith
Key Verse: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
My childhood heroes were the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tarzan. Pictures of these brave men adorned the walls of my small bedroom. Birthday gifts were often cowboy suits and toy pistols. Eventually, I got my own horse, a little Shetland pony named Josephine. I learned to “ride like the wind” and fancied myself a daring horseman like Roy and Gene.
Somewhere along the journey to adulthood, my fascination with those heroes waned. My admiration shifted to men and women of faith. My new heroes were preachers, men whose names are still precious to me – Si Mathison, Ed Hardin, Paul Duffey, Red Hildreth, and Joel McDavid. I wanted to be like them.
Exposed to gifted scholars and authors in my academic training, I grew fond of Elton Trueblood, E. Stanley Jones, Tom Carruth, J. C. McPhetters, Dennis Kenlaw, John Oswalt, Ken Callahan, and David Seamands. They became my mentors through their teaching, writing, and friendship. I give thanks to God for what I learned from each one.
journey has been wonderfully influenced by friendship with Ben Johnson, Leo
Brannon, Maxie Dunnam, Doug Newton, Roy Jordan, Grady Rowell, Jim Dannelly, Al Krinke, Joe
Garris, John Patterson, Bob Dickerson, Earl Ballard, Grady Watson, Jim Jackson,
Stan Rogers, Mike Morehouse, Greg Lotz, Rusty Sheehan, Dwayne Lynch, Charles
Whittle, Andy White, Banks Herndon, Jack Swarthout, Estelle Carver, Herman
Stillwell, Jamie Blake, Joe Turnham, Norm Doorenbos, Robert Powell, Jimmy
Allen, and Thomas Samford. The names of many others, who have blessed my life, are just out of the
reach of my fading memory. To name them
all would require many pages. My wife, Dean, and my sisters,
I mention these names because I believe it is important for each of us to identify persons who have been our faith heroes. Each of us should make our own Hall of Faith and give thanks for the godly influence of the men and women whose faith has shaped our lives.
Names are important. The writer of Hebrews (and many other biblical authors) understood our need to name those whose faith has made a difference in our lives. Some names we expect to be listed, like Abraham, Sarah, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, Samson, and Samuel. Other names we are surprised to see, like the harlot Rahab, Barak, and Jephthah. No doubt we will be surprised to find some persons in heaven whom we did not expect to be there! God has his own list.
God’s list includes those who, by exercising faith and believing that he exists, have pleased him. To please God is simply to obey God, and to do so with the glad heart of a trusting child. God rewards authentic faith both in this life and in the next. He invites us to trust him, to have confidence in his promises, and to act on our faith. This usually requires that we become risk-takers, betting our very lives that walking in the dark, by faith, is better than “a known way.” Like Abraham, each of us must find the faith, or forfeit the blessing, of daring to venture out into “unknown territory.”
God gives us the freedom to choose our own faith heroes. Usually these are ordinary people whose faith enables them to do extraordinary things for God. Each of us can become, by the grace of God, a faith hero to others. To do so, we must be willing to listen to God, dare to seize the opportunities for ministry he gives us, and step out in faith to do his will. What a great privilege it is be an example of faith to others, especially a child!
The more we obey God, risking our lives that his way is the right way, the more confidence we are given to walk by faith. Daily it helps to remember the profound truth of our key verse, that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is not an option, it is a necessity for all who would become authentic Christians. Life makes sense, and God is pleased, when our greatest desire is to please him. Living out such faith in daily life qualifies us, even us, for God’s Hall of Faith!
+ + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)