By Kristen Entwistle
On June 17, 2015, a 21-year old white man walked into a church during a prayer service and murdered nine people. Among those killed was the senior pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney. Clem, as he was better known, was preaching at the age of 13, pastor by 18. At the age of 23, he was elected as a state legislator to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He married his wife Jennifer in 1999, and had two daughters, Eliana and Malana. President Barack Obama began his eulogy for Clem this way:
Giving all praise and honor to God.
The Bible calls us to hope. To persevere, and have faith in things not seen.
‘They were still living by faith when they did,’ Scripture tells us. ‘They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on Earth.’
We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith. A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed.1
The President went on to tell of the things that Clem had done in his life, and the mark he had left by his faith on his congregation, his family, and his country. Clem was a modern-day man of faith, one who followed in faith to where God called him. He was not perfect, but he followed in faith. We don’t know all of the details of Reverend Pinckney’s life. But the people who did know him knew of his faith. And they tell of it still today.
Remember how we defined faith? We said that faith encompasses “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth, a personal surrender to Him, and a conduct inspired by such surrender.”2 Faith isn’t just belief or just giving our lives to Christ, or even just how we are living. It’s a combination of all three. This is the faith that our heroes in Hebrews 11 showed us, and that those living by faith still show today.
We’ve seen throughout this study that God uses ordinary, messed up, broken people to fulfill His purposes. He used a prostitute, a murderer, a doubter, an adulterer, a stealer, and a cheater to show us examples of faith. How much more does He use us, His imperfect vessels, for His purposes through faith.
Join me as we enter the final chapter of our Hebrews 11 Study!
Download Chapter 14 now!