(1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
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What was the difference between Cain and Abel? The Bible notes that Abel proved by his action that something set him apart from his brother. Though Cain and Abel were full, flesh-and-blood brothers and raised to adulthood by the same set of parents, Abel was markedly different.
Abel's belief in God set him apart from Cain. Even today, those who operate on the same faithful set of beliefs distinguish themselves from those who do not, like Cain. This principle is a simple but monumental reality concerning how one should conduct his life! No other characteristic even begins to come close in value to what faith in God can produce in terms of well-being for an individual or a nation.
Hebrews 11:6 points out faith's importance, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” The epistle's author, who may have been the apostle Paul, adds in Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Faith is thus mandatory for a relationship with God.
Faith in God is not the complete answer, of course, but its lack certainly reveals a fundamental need as people try to find solutions to the problems that arise almost daily. God is the Source of all good solutions, and faith in Him is the beginning step in seeking them out. It is by our personal faith as God's called-out ones that we will not only endure the troubling times that lie ahead but also grow as we respond to Jesus Christ's leadership. Even amid the nation's calamitous troubles, we can triumph through the faithful use of His Holy Spirit!
We cannot be dogmatic that we will experience any direct persecution in the near future. We can be sure, however, that the ongoing troubles will continue to spawn a gradual but ever-increasing weariness and confusion. The “spirit of the times,” the currents of thought in our increasingly anti-God society, will impact our lives negatively. We will likely find it difficult to be certain about how we should conduct our lives during such times. We may have trouble discerning who is telling the truth about ideas and events affecting us. These things will disturb our sense of well-being, but skillful use of faith will keep us focused on Christ.
— John W. Ritenbaugh