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Faith's All-sufficient God (Heb 11:29-31)

Hebrews: Jesus is Better  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:54
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By faith we understand that God makes possible what to us is impossible because he is all-sufficient. Grow in knowing God so that by faith you will be confident that His way is more sure, that He will be victorious in His timing, and that He is a merciful God to the undeserving.

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In our study through Hebrews, we’re in the Hall of Heroes Who Endured by Faith. We just passed Moses, though we aren’t finished completely with him yet as we turn to the faith of “the people” of Israel at the Red Sea and at Jericho (upon entering the promised land). And within the walls of Jericho we find faith in a most conspicuous place—in the heart of Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute.
Let’s Read Hebrews 11:27-31
Hebrews 11:27–31 ESV
By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
PRAY

The Bible is nothing if not authoritative and relevant.

(Let me explain why I’m beginning with that today.)
We of all people ought to believe that God’s word is fully authoritative for faith and practice. And because God’s word emanates from the Living God, we understand why it is “living and active” as the author of Hebrews proclaims with vivid imagery (Heb. 4:12). That means the Bible’s truth is both eternal and current; it’s relevant to you today. Adhered to by faith, God’s word has power to cut to our wicked inner secrets and give us new desires that align with the heart of God. (an example - The fruit of the Spirit - Gal. 5:22-23) Again, the Bible is authoritative and relevant.
With that said, let’s head back to our current place in Hebrews, where we’re swimming in the theme of faith, marching through this historical list of God’s people who endured by faith. The point of the list is that these heroes are ultimately “commended” for faith... and nothing else. And yet, without the work of Christ, even their faith would have been for naught. 11:39-40 - Even so, as we proceed through the list we find that with each example given their are in fact evident ways that we find the Bible’s relevance to daily exercising faith. So when we consider the faith of these individuals or groups in their context, we find faith’s relevance to our own situations—our Red Sea’s, Jericho’s, and sinful pasts, if you will...)
In the context of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and later walking circles around a fortified city, and through the eyes of Rahab (a Canaanite prostitute rescued by faith), we learn that by faith we trust God to do what we cannot possibly do for ourselves. We are utterly dependent on His sufficiency. We embrace this motto by faith: “God, do for me what I cannot do on my own.” Our faith lies in an all-sufficient God.
[Let’s return to our first example of God’s sufficiency in impossible circumstances.]

Follow you through where, God?

Hebrews 11:29 ESV
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
So Isreal has come out of Egypt after the 10th and final plague, when the destroyer passed over the homes of the Israelites but put to death the firstborn in every Egyptian household. God plundered the Egyptians—much had been destroyed by the plagues, and much of their riches given to Israel in sending them away. Thus a mass of 2-3 million Israelites left Egypt on foot with all their possessions. Not long after, Pharaoh, not surprisingly, has once again had a change of heart and is in hot pursuit with soldiers and horses and chariots. Meanwhile, Isreal finds themselves at the edge of the Red Sea, certain that their is no escape from Pharaoh’s wrath. And man they’re perfectly calm about it and full of faith. Um, no. They’re freaking out and giving Moses the what-for. So why does our text talk about their faith?
In fact, with all their grumbling, we might be surprised the text doesn’t simply continue speaking of Moses’ faith. He was the one most obviously demonstrating faith: Exodus 14:13-14
Exodus 14:13–14 ESV
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
But then in v. 15 God also told Moses to command the people to go forward and that when Moses stretched out his staff, God divide the waters. When Moses did as God said, God produced a strong east wind all night (now that’s some serious wind) and made a path of dry land right through the waters. And here is where the Israelites exercised faith: Ex. 14:22
Exodus 14:22 ESV
And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
What did God do with the pursuing Egyptians? - Ex. 14:28
Exodus 14:28 ESV
The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.
Here’s a reminder of faith’s relevance from the example given by our author of Hebrews :

Faith knows that God’s way is sure.

It may not seem like it from our perspective when God tells us to do something, but God’s way is more secure. Even when we’re crossing over (or passing through) overwhelming problems too big for us to handle. - God hasn’t called us to the path of least resistance, but the path of faith in Him. Wholly dependent on him is right where he wants us. When we’re weak, He’s strong—and that’s the point and the plan.
Also note that the very path of faith that led to Israel’s deliverance was the means to defeat God’s enemies. - We certainly don’t want to be known for grumbling our way into grace, and whining our way into obeying God. But eventually the Israelites trusted God and obeyed when he told them to go forward. The Egyptians, we understand, (in spite of all God’s power they had seen) STILL lacked faith that the God of Israel was the true living God. Their obstinate, willful ignorance led to their destruction.
The work of Jesus the Messiah is the path of righteousness (of restoration to God) for those who believe, but his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection is also the seal of judgment for those who refuse to put their faith in Him.
Now as our author’s list progresses, it’s not surprising that this same generation’s faithLESSness in the wilderness gets skipped over. He pointed out earlier their LACK of faith (Heb. 3:16-19)… their disobedience that led to wandering 40 years in the wilderness and not getting to see the promised land. And since the purpose here is to elevate examples of faith, the author moves on to the subsequent generation that had renewed instruction to obey God by faith. So the next two examples of faith come in the era of Israel’s invasion into the land Canaan.

V is for Victorious God.

So we jump forward (over the Jordan River this time) to Joshua and Jericho, to a second illustration of the people of Isreal having faith.
Hebrews 11:30 ESV
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
(Peter O’Brien) “Faith consisted in their readiness to act in accordance with God’s instructions; the people faithfully carried these out until the city fell.” - Remember what happened?
Israel had been instructed to come in and conquer all the inhabitants of the land. Now bc they had already heard about God’s mighty deeds for the people of Isreal, the Canaanites shut themselves up inside the fortified city of Jericho. So Joshua and the people needed to take this city, but they had a wall problem. God had unique was of bringing down this wall (in Joshua 6). No doubt it sounded peculiar, but under Joshua’s leadership, Isreal obeyed God’s instructions by marching around the wall, blowing trumpets constantly, while the people themselves remained silent (no shouting). They did this each day one time for six days. On day seven they marched 7 times, and after the final time, when the trumpets blew, Joshua gave the people permission to shout. When they did, the walls crumbled.
Irony?: Joshua 6:27 ha ha.
Joshua 6:27 ESV
So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Here’s another reminder of faith’s relevance from the example given:

Faith knows that God will win.

God tests our faith to see if we really believe that it is ultimately HE who gives victory.
God’s aim is his glory, and his glory is our highest good. Isaiah 48:9-11
Isaiah 48:9–11 ESV
“For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
Beholding his glory is our highest good. By faith we accept the testing of our faith as a means of his glorification, of proving it is He who is victorious.
And let’s not forget that God raises up men to lead us in the faith. Pray that you will be such a man, and be obedient in the little things. Ps. Follow such men. - Don’t look to their stature or even gifting; look to their faith. (Find someone with a demonstrated consistency in their faith. - If you follow every new exciting guy, you’re gonna get burned.) Don’t look to what they can do for you or that they’re precisely your “style;” look to their faith.
Do your kids need to see you have great business success, or is it better that they remember your faith?
Do I benefit more by seeing the generations above me living comfortably in retirement, or by seeing you continue to humbly and sacrificially serve by faith?
One more application here: Our following God by faith looks to the world like nonsense/foolishness. (The tragedy is that they are those who are perishing. 1 Cor. 1:18)
There is literally a CBS TV sitcom coming out called Living Biblically, about a guy who decides to start living his life according to the Bible and keep record of it in his column in the newspaper. I’m confident that it will insult and offend us, as well as stoke the flames of those who view bible-believing Christianity as a laughingstock.
This stuff shouldn’t surprise us, but by faith we understand biblically that God will be proven right. Though his victory be delayed, you can rest assured that it will be complete. - So we must not be ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16)… and we must literally live to bear the message of the cross, through which one day God will be proven right. - Though now for a while the world mocks us, God will vindicate the righteous—those who live obediently by faith.
With that said, we must be careful in all this not to look down our nose at how the world responds, bc apart from God’s grace through faith, we are exactly the same. We really must view ourselves like the final faith figure for today—the Canaanite prostitute—a sinner far from God.

Rahab-ilitated

I know the pun is a painfully bad joke, but we’ll see that the result of Rahab’s faith was transformational. Instead of being devoted to destruction, she became numbered with the people of God. Within the context of the walls of Jericho, we find a most surprising (but welcome!) addition to the list of faith heroes.
Hebrews 11:31 ESV
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
When Joshua and the Israelites took Canaan, they obeyed God, burned the city, and put to the sword all the inhabitants—except for one household—Rahab’s. Why? Joshua’s words right before the final trumpet blast and shouting of the people: Joshua 6:17
Joshua 6:17 ESV
And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.
The Bible also gives us a hint at how that action was an indication of Rahab’s faith - Joshua 2:9
Joshua 2:9 ESV
and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.
So she believed the God they served was more than capable of giving the land into their hands. It seems she had faith that her best chance of rescue for her and her family was to believe the spies and help them remain undetected. - Her faith was proven right and true, for we saw in Joshua 6 that God allowed her household to be spared.
And one more reminder of faith’s relevance from the example given:

Faith knows that God is merciful.

...to the undeserving, the “disobedient” (a term Hebrews uses as a synonym for faithless)
Through faith God rescues us from lives of sin that lead to destruction and transfers us into the number of his beloved children.
Like Rahab, though you seem yet far off from God, race into His merciful arms by faith, lest you find yourself caught up with those destined for destruction. - We are all Rahabs. We are all undeserving. We are all complacently awaiting destruction. BUT GOD... (Eph. 2:13 & Rom. 8:1) - Heb. 10:22 (let us draw near…)
Ephesians 2:13 ESV
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Romans 8:1 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 10:22 ESV
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Rahab figures out that she is insufficient (her situation impossible), but that the God of the Israelites is clearly sufficient, having proven himself God over the impossible. - So you say, God can’t save me. My sin is too deep. Listen again to the lyrics of the song we sometimes sing together, but Matt Maher, “Lord, I Need You”:
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more Where grace is found is where You are And where You are, Lord, I am free Holiness is Christ in me
As Romans 5:20-21 says:
Romans 5:20–21 ESV
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You are right to believe that your sin is a problem insurmountable for you. But not for Jesus. He made the impossible possible. Your forgiveness and invitation to God is made possible bc Jesus died to pay your sins penalty and rose again so that in Him you can have spiritual life.
Our faith is in fact in the one who is God OVER what is impossible from our side.

By faith we understand that God makes possible what to us is impossible because he is all-sufficient.

So even though the problems we must pass through are overwhelming, too big for us to handle, God can... and ultimately will... deliver (even if we must first pass through death). And although the enemies we face are too powerful for us to defeat, God will conquer. (Even when we face persecution at the hands of our enemies, that does not equal God’s defeat, for Rom. 8:37 will tell us that in such circumstances we are yet “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”) And finally, yes our sin has been far too destructive for us to mend, but God has made a way through the sufficiency of Jesus.
[Conclusion] That summarizes where we’ve been today in the text, but before we end I want to point out what our problem is with weak faith, and how that leads to our constant highest focus for application:

Our faith is weak when we have a puny view of God.

The more robust your theology, the stronger your faith will be. We’re selfish and whiny and all of that bc we aren’t learning to see things through the lens of God’s perspective and His plan.

Faith Knows God.

We readily admit that life isn’t easy, but Hebrews graciously reminds us that Jesus understands all of our human weakness (he even sympathizes bc he lived thru hunger and suffering and so forth), and yet his faith in the Father was anything but weak. And that unwavering faith empowered his faithful obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus is our only means to God, and he is also our supreme example to follow.
So we won’t pretend the things we face aren’t hard (even impossible) for us to handle on our own; Jesus didn’t (Luke 22:42-44).
Luke 22:42–44 ESV
saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
And we won’t act like Christians don’t face impossible problems; instead, we rely on God (put all the weight of it on Him), and we remain steadfast in hope because we can intimately know the God over our present circumstance. He has been ever-faithful in the past, so we rest in assurance of faith that His future victory is already written.
So yes you may be facing severe trial, and you will likely yet face what seem to be impossible circumstances, but keep this at the front of your understanding of faith: The more your view of God grows, the more your faith will grow, and you’ll hear him say, “I know full well that you are insufficient and that you can’t; but I am, and I can.” He is the great I AM, and He can. That is faith’s foundation. Through Christ our hope is tethered to this same God.

Grow in knowing God so that by faith you will be confident that His way is more sure, that He will be victorious in His timing, and that He is a merciful God to the undeserving.

Man, this truth of God’s word is relevant to your daily living by faith like water is to the human body. There we read that the thirsty human soul finds life in Jesus. And that the life we now live in the body we live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20). Drink deeply in the word of God to know Jesus more… by faith in him you will stand firmly in life’s storm. And as we wait it out, remember that God is glorified in our faith, that his patience means the salvation of many (2 Pet. 3:15), and that God is not mocked—his complete victory is just around the bend. Therefore, by faith keep thirsting after God and bearing witness to His goodness… and let God be God. God says, “You are insufficient, and you can’t; but I AM, and I am able.” - Let’s pray to our all-sufficient God in closing.
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