October 26, 2015

Great Themes of the Bible


Hebrews 11

Over the years I’ve seen many give up on their faith in Jesus Christ, and there’s a lot of different reasons as to why. Maybe they’ve prayed, but still they or their loved one contracted an illness or disease, or their loved one died. Or maybe it has involved some sort of accident or financial setback.

There are many who are going through trials, sufferings, and struggles like never before and it’s getting real confusing, and what they’re told is to keep the faith that God is working out His plan and purpose, and that all things work together for good, Romans 8:1.

But seeing what they are going through, this faith makes no sense. It goes beyond and defies all reason and logic; therefore they’re putting their faith on the sidelines, or worse, giving up on faith all together.

The Bible says that this is what it’s going to be like in these last days as the love of many will grow cold, Matthew 24:12. But also many will actually fall away from the faith, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1 Timothy 4:1.

To prevent this outcome it’s important to understand what faith is all about so we don’t allow the enemy of our souls, Satan, to get a foothold when life doesn’t go our direction.

God tells us to believe, but for us as humans there are a whole lot of grey areas that go along with that word.

For such belief to take place it begins with a relationship, because as we have seen and experienced, rules, rituals, and religion simple don’t work. What we need is faith, because without faith it’s impossible.

The writer of Hebrews says,

“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.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)

Life without faith in God is not only hard; it’s impossible. Jude says we are to build ourselves up in the faith, Jude 1:20.

So what is faith?

Tonight I’d like to look at several of aspects of faith as we look at what many call God’s Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11.

Here it says that men and women “obtained a good testimony through faith,” that is, they got it right through faith, they passed the test.

So let’s take a practical look at what faith is all about.

  1. Faith Believes in Unseen Realities

In verse one we have a working definition, or better yet, a description of what faith looks like.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)

The word “substance” in the Greek language means having a foundation, assurance, a title deed, or a guarantee of those things we hope for. Therefore we can interpret this first part, “Faith is the assurance and guarantee of things hoped for.”

The word “evidence” in the Greek language means having a conviction concerning the truthfulness of something. Therefore we can interpret this second part, “Faith is the conviction that even those things we may not see are absolutely true.”

Let’s look at how the Amplified Bible translates this passage.

“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a] the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” (Hebrews 11:1 Amp)

Faith involves both our hearts and minds in believing what’s not made available or assessable to our natural senses. It possesses the reality. This is what a title deed does. It’s the reality that a piece of property is yours. It’s not a future possibility, but the possession of it right now.

So by faith we possess those things our souls and spirits long and hope for, that is, God’s promises, including an abundant life now and eternal life in heaven once this life is over.

So the writer of Hebrews is saying that not only will we possess God’s promises, but by faith they’re already ours. They’re as substantial and real as the chairs we’re sitting in.

Faith possesses God’s promises completely convinced of their reality, even though we cannot see or perceive them with our natural senses.

This is where humanity has it all backwards and turned upside down. Humanity says, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” or “seeing is believing.” But the faith that pleases God says, “I believe even though I don’t see it,” or “believing is seeing.”

And while some people see this sort of faith as a crutch, what I find fascinating is that everyone lives their lives based on such a faith.

When someone gets on a plane, they do so by faith, believing the plane will get them to their destination. They entrust their lives to unknown mechanics and pilots in whom they know nothing about.

In the movie, “Armageddon,” about an asteroid heading towards earth, one of the cast members is getting strapped into his chair in a space rocket and said, “You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”

When we go to a restaurant to eat. You order a meal in complete faith that it isn’t contaminated nor will it kill you. You entrust your life to food packing plants and chefs, that somehow they don’t have some dreaded disease.

When you go to the hospital for surgery you place your trust in the anesthesiologist and surgeon, not to mention the nurses who assist.

In fact, when you came in and sat down you put your faith that the chair was going to hold you up.

Faith believes without seeing. And while many refuse to believe in God because they cannot see Him, this doesn’t negate that God isn’t real.

A Russian cosmonaut stated that since he didn’t see God in outer space, God must not exist. Yet the idea that we cannot see God isn’t grounds for not believing, because you can see Him through His creation. The writer of Hebrews says

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 NKJV)

Everything we see today is made out of those things that we cannot see, that is, atoms. And when any logical person looks at creation they recognized that this universe was not some chance happening, as the evolutionists would like us to believe. What we see is that the universe had a design, and every design must have a designer.

And so the first aspect of faith is that faith believes in unseen realities.

  1. Faith Obeys Without Understanding

The writer of Hebrews gives us several examples of this aspect of faith.

First, Noah

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7 NKJV)

Can you imagine the doubts that must have entered Noah’s mind when God said that He was going to wipe out all life and start over with Noah and his family? If God said something like this to us we’d probably wonder what was in that dinner we ate and would probably reach for the Rolaids.

But not Noah, he believed without having all the information. First he was told to build a really big boat in the middle of dry land. Next he was told that it would rain. What was rain? He never experienced it; the earth was watered by a midst. Then he would have to gather all the animals, but he was never told how.

He did all this believing God as he moved forward in godly fear, and it was this faith that God accounted him as righteous.

Next was Abraham.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8 NKJV)

 The words, “faith,” and “obedience” go together. You cannot have one without the other.

When God called Abraham he was 75 years old, and while Abraham may have had retirement on his mind, God had other plans, so God told him to get up and get out. Now, while God told Abraham to leave, He never told him where to. And while Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he still obeyed and God rewarded Him, making him the father of many nations.

Later on God told Abraham he was going to have as many descendants as the stars in the heavens. The only problem was that Abraham was too old to have children, and Sarah was barren. But still Abraham believed and Isaac was born. But then God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

When Abraham moved forward in faith, God spared Isaac and gave Abraham many precious promises, and Abraham’s faith was accounted unto him as righteousness, Roman 4:3,9,22; Galatians 3:6.

There’s always a risk when it comes to faith. Unfortunately we live in a “lifetime warranty” society. We want guarantees before we step out by faith. And that’s all backwards.

The Bible says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV)

We are to walk by faith in the unseen realities of God’s promises; rather than limit God by our own natural senses and reason.

The Bible tells us to do a lot of things that don’t make a lot of sense, like forgiving those who hurt and abuse us. Or the Bible tells us to give back to God the tithe. Faith obeys even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense and when we don’t understand.

This aspect of giving brings us to the next aspect of faith

3 Faith Gives Without Question

Just like obedience and faith go hand in hand, so does giving and faith. God uses our finances to test our faith, and giving to God the tithe is a huge step in this process, especially when things get tight.

God says, “What are you going to trust more, your situation or my promises?”

What I find interesting is the first person to get their name in God’s Hall of Faith is Abel. Abel didn’t do something mighty for God, what put him in God’s Hall of Faith was his giving.

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4 NKJV)

Notice it was by faith that Abel sacrificed. It wasn’t what he gave, but rather he was willing to give God the best. It was a sacrifice.

There are two ways to give. One by reason, the other by revelation. When we give by reason we look at our bank accounts and figure out what we can afford. This requires no faith.

To give by revelation is to give according to God’s word and prayer. God says to bring the whole tithe, and Jesus said not to leave this undone, Malachi 3:8-11; Matthew 23:23. We need to pray prior to our giving asking God, “What do you want me to give?” This is giving by faith; this is the sacrifice that pleases God.

We are not to give saying, “Okay if you give to me Lord, then I’ll give unto you.” This isn’t faith; it may be gratitude but not faith. Faith is planting a seed.

The Apostle Paul said of the Macedonian churches that they gave above and beyond their ability, 2 Corinthians 8:1-3, and then he said,

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NKJV)
And so the third aspect of our faith is that we are to give without question.

  1. Faith Persists Without Giving Up

The world says, “If it feels good, do it, but if it doesn’t, then don’t.” But if we live by our feelings or emotions then we’ll end up being ruled by our moods. As a people of faith we’re to live by faith based upon God’s word, not our emotions.

Faith is persisting even when we feel like giving up. Sometimes we don’t feel like reading our Bible, read it anyway. Sometimes we don’t feel like praying, pray anyway. When we don’t feel like it, that’s when we need to the most. If we only read our Bible and pray when we feel like it then Satan will make sure we’ll never feel like it.

Keeping on keeping on is the secret of success. No professional athlete enjoys working out, or professional musician enjoys the hours of practice, but persisting through the feelings is what makes them successful.

Those godly men and women we read about didn’t become godly by accident. They persisted and developed spiritual lives of faith in spite of how they felt. We see this in Abraham’s life when the writer of Hebrews says, “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10 NKJV)

We see it in Moses.

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27 NKJV)

Moses endured Pharaoh’s wrath and spent 40 years in exile, and again while delivering Israel from her bondage to the Egyptians. He even endured the slings and arrows from his own people because his eyes were on the prize; his eyes were on the Lord the whole time.

Many are close to quitting, whether it’s because of illness or financial hardship. Or they’re ready to quit their marriage, a relationship, job, or their dream. And the reason is because they’ve got their eye on the problem and not the One who can solve it.

And so while their situation seems beyond hope, God says, “Keep your eyes on me, and keep on keeping on, and I will see you through to the other side, to My promises for your life.”

The Apostle Paul tells us,

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)

Faith is also persisting without giving up.

  1. Faith Trusts Without Receiving

Notice what the writer of Hebrews says about all these listed in God’s Hall of Faith

“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” (Hebrews 11:39 NKJV)

Living by faith doesn’t exempt us from life’s problems. Just ask those who have or who are now experiencing persecution for their faith.

All of these men and women from God’s Hall of Faith believed, even though they never received the fullness of God’s promise. Notice what the writer of Hebrews goes on to say,

“God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:40 NKJV)

This last aspect means that in faith we’re to continue to believe in God’s promises even when we don’t receive them. There have been many who have prayed for revivals, but never saw them materialize in their lifetime. But later, God sent revivals, and it is their faith and prayers that are often mentioned as the foundation of those revivals.

And so faith is

  • Believing without seeing,
  • Obeying without understanding,
  • Giving without questioning,
  • Persisting without giving up, and
  • Trusting without receiving.



















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