IT WAS BY FAITH I
Last week we looked at Hebrews 11:1-3. We look at the two aspects of faith. One says I believe in this or that, the second aspect is giving your whole life to it. We illustrated this life committing faith by talking about what we believe with God’s creation of the entire universe.
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews 11:1-3
One of the statements we made last week was that to the average scientist and philosopher this equation works nothing + nothing + billions of years = everything. But to the Christ follower the equation that works is Jesus > Everything.
Now as we said after verse 3, this whole chapter speaks of living examples of this radical faith. Faith that puts your whole life into it. So the point of chapter 11 is to flesh out and demonstrate more stories of faith so that we would imitate the faith and inherit the promises of God.
- Abel – Giving in Faith
In talking about Abel I have to say that I disagree with Disney. I know that I am walking on thin ice to question Walt. But Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Pirates of the Carribbean tells me that that Dead Men Tell No Tales…They are not silent, but they still speak to those who will listen. Abel still speaks 10,000 years later. Abel lived when the heart was new. He was the second generation on earth, but he still has a message to us today. The obvious theme of Hebrews 11 is faith, and it is about faith that Abel speaks to us.
Okay, let’s read.
4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
Abel’s parents were Adam and Eve and they could not have been people of faith in the same way as their descendants. They had seen God face-to-face, fellowshipped with Him, talked with Him, and had lived in the garden with Him. Until they sinned they had no need for faith. Even after they sinned, they had the memory and knowledge of a beautiful relationship with their Creator. Their children were the first to have a need for faith in its fullest sense. Abel was the first man of faith, and it is important to understand that his faith had to do with his personal salvation.
A. Abel Made a True Sacrifice
4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. (4a)
This verse takes us back to Genesis, where we read of Abel’s sacrifice,
3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. Genesis 4:3-5
1. Cain and Abel must have known something about Worship
a. Both offered Gifts, Worshiped and Knew How to Worship
i. Abel offered a better sacrifice, with blood, and was accepted
ii. Cain presented ‘some of his crops’
– God Only Accepted Abel’s Sacrifice
B. Abel Obtained Righteousness
4 Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man (4b)
1. He did what God told him to do in Faith
2. His faith was the Kind of Faith that God declared as Righteous
2. True faith is always obedient.
C. Abel Still Speaks from the Dead
4 and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. (4c)
1. Abel was Killed by Cain’s Anger
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
2. Abel’s faithful giving still speaks to those who listen!
Cain was sentence to wander in the desert, but the amazing part is that he was the father of Enoch. Who is a great man of faith!
II. Enoch – Walking in Faith
5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” [Genesis 5:24] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Enoch is our second hero of faith. While Abel exemplifies Giving in Faith, Enoch exemplifies Walking in Faith.
21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:21-24
A. Enoch Pleased God
For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. (5a)
I. Enoch believed in God and He went Home without Death
2. God is pleased when we believe in Him
B. Enoch Sought God’s Reward.
1. Enoch was one who ‘who sincerely seek him’
2. And God blessed Enoch for that.
C. Enoch Walked with God
24 Enoch walked faithfully with God Genesis 5:24a
1. ‘Walked Faithfully’ is used twice in the Text
D. Enoch Preached for God
14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming…” Jude 14-15
E. Enoch Entered into God’s Presence
24 …then he was no more, because God took him away. Gen 5:24
III. NOAH – OBEYING IN FAITH
7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.
26 Faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26
True faith always has actions to support its claim. As we discussed last week. In order for our faith to be valid, it must visibily rediate itself in good deeds. If you believe in God, there will be evidence of it in the way you live, in the things you say, and in the things you do.
I am going to summarize Noah a bit, because he was a part of the Message last week. Which you can download from our website or on iTunes.
A. Noah Responded to God in Faith
7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat 7a
1. Noah Walked with God
9 Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Genesis 6:9
2. Noah Rebuked the World
7 By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world 7b
3. Noah Received God’s Righteousness
7 he received the righteousness that comes by faith 7c
a God’s righteousness is bestowed on those who Trust in Him.
b. Noah was the first person in Scripture called Righteous.
IV. ABRAHAM – FOLLOWING IN FAITH
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
A. The Pilgrimage of Faith
He went without knowing where he was going. 8
1. Going without Knowing…that’s faith!
a. The Apostle Paul did the same, Acts 20:22
B. The Patience of Faith
he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. 9
1. The land was promised, but never possessed.
a. Abraham, his son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob, always lived in tents, but His patience was in Hope.
V. Sarah – Believing in Faith
A. Sarah was Barren and 90 years old, but she Believed!
11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
1. The Lord was Gracious and Loving to Sarah
1 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. Genesis 21:1-3
2. God’s Promise came True!
A Thought – Hebrews 11:4-12
Look at this list…(just the phrase after each name in the text)
Enoch was taken
Sarah was able
why?…why did this happen? (look just before their names)
It was by faith
VI. Summary – Hebrews 11:13-16
13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Not Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Sarah never possessed the Promise Land. It was 500 years after Jacob died that Israel began to possess the land. Yet they still longed to be in the Place where God Ruled. They were looking for a heavenly homeland. A City prepared by God for them.
It was all by faith