Faithlife Sermons

Abraham: Forward Looking Faith

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:58
0 ratings

Because the fulfillment of God's promises are in the future, we must learn to have a forward looking faith.

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
Of all the Faith Heroes found in Hebrews 11, Abraham receives the most coverage. So much coverage, that it will be necessary for us to take several Sundays to cover he and his wife Sarah adequately. This morning I want to focus on just three verses, Hebrews 11:8-10:
Hebrews 11:8–10 ESV
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
What we learn from these verses is that Abraham had a Forward Looking Faith. We have already learned that a God pleasing faith is a faith that looks to things that are unseen and sees them as a living reality. One of the reasons that the reality we are looking to is “unseen” is because the consummation of that reality will happen in the future. In other words, we are looking forward through time. Abraham clearly illustrates this, in these first three verses:
In verse 8, we see that he had a Faith That Heard and Obeyed God’s Kingdom Call
In verse 10, we see that he had a Faith That Saw a Better Future
In verse 9, we see that he had a Faith That Lived a Better Life
That is the type of faith each and every one of us must have.

A Forward Looking Faith: Hears and Obeys God’s Kingdom Call (vs. 8)

From all appearances, Abraham had a good life in Mesopotamia. His life was not perfect, but it appears he came from a wealthy family. By the world’s standards, “life was good.” Then one day, he heard God’s voice calling him to pack up and leave for a new and better land where he would “receive an inheritance.” The problem was he didn’t know where he was doing. To get there he was totally dependent on God to lead him and show him the way.
Christ is still calling people to a better life:
Mark 1:14–15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
As Redemptive History progressed, God’s call to a Better Life came into focus in greater and greater clarity. By the time of Jesus, the Jews understood that it was not just a “Promised Land” or a “Davidic Kingdom,” but the Kingdom of God! This is good news! That is what the world “gospel” means: “Good News!”
We all long for a better life and a better world, because no matter how good our life is, we all see that there is something seriously wrong with this world and this life. The Bible makes it clear what this is—it is the curse of sin. We all live in a cursed world and we are all personally under a curse, this is because all of us are sinners.
The world rejects this idea. They think the problem is external to themselves. If was can just tweak a few things, we could all live in a perfect world. The problem is history proves that mankind cannot build a better world. The more things change, the more things remain the same. Today people have a higher standard of living than any other time in history, yet people in their despair are taking their own lives at a higher rate than ever before. The recent suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain illustrate this.
In the midst of the despair of this world, the voice of God is still heard, “the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.”
Just as it was with Abraham, the only way to this Better Life is to heed the call and place your faith the one who calls you. Just a Abraham had to follow God, so we must follow Christ. There is no other way:
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Even though we can’t know the way by ourselves, by faith we can see the land to were we are going. I want you to look at verse 10 again:
Hebrews 11:10 ESV
For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
By faith Abraham was able to see beyond the Promised Land and saw the New Jerusalem! By faith, we too can see that City and the Better Life that is found there.

A Forward Looking Faith Sees a Better Future (vs. 10)

In following God to the Promised Land, Abraham learned very quickly that the Better Future God had promised him was not to be found there. In Mesopotamia, Abraham lived in a house, now in the Promised Land he lived in a tent!
This is still the way it is when a person decides to follow Jesus:
Luke 9:23–24 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
In case we missed the point, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include this story in his gospel just a few verses later:
Luke 9:57–58 ESV
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Following Jesus does not result in “The Best Life Now.” If you what to live the “Good Life” now, you are better off not being a Christian! The Christian life often results in the loss of “health, wealth and prosperity”! In fact, it often results in the lose of your life!
This is why true faith must be Forward Looking Faith. It learns to see beyond our present reality to a better reality. This is important not just when life is hard, but even more so when life is going well. In the United States most of us are not required to give up family, property and our lives to be a Christian. Often times our lives can be good, very good! It is when life is good that we are in the most need of Forward Looking Faith. This is because the good things in this life are seductive. Their “goodness” blinds us to the reality of even better things. So many have failed to heed God’s Kingdom Call because they have become intoxicated by the things of this world.
This is a tragedy, because the unseen things are far better. They are far better because they are eternal. Everything good in this life will end in loss and tears. The death and the aging process will take everything and everyone you love from you. But the Kingdom God is different. God is calling you to a place were His hand “wipes away every tear.”
Revelation 21:1–4 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
This Better Future does not mean we place our present life on hold. I want you to look at verse 9 again:
Hebrews 11:9 ESV
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob did not put their lives on hold until they “possessed” the land, they lived in the land as if the land was already theirs! As Christians, we are called to do the same.
1 Peter 2:11–12 ESV
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
This brings us to the last characteristic of a Forward Looking Faith:

A Forward Looking Faith Lives a Better Life (vs. 9)

Even though we are waiting for a Kingdom that cannot be built by human hands, this does not mean we are sitting on our hands. The Kingdom of God has already broken into our hearts, the heavens and the earth may not have been renewed yet, but we have!
The Kingdom of God is a subversive force in this world. In a famous parable Jesus compares it to a mustard seed.
Matthew 13:31–32 ESV
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
There is a lot of interest among younger Christians of the millennial generation in “social justice.” They think of themselves as being progressive, but in reality they are repeating the mistake of their great-great-great grandparents made 120 years ago. Back then it was not called “social justice,” but rather the “social gospel.” Their motives were good, but their methods bad. The “social gospel” attempted to bring about social change by the same method the world uses—changing the externals. In contrast, the Gospel brings about social change one life at a time—through internal conversion. Individuals change the world, not the use of political or organizational power.
Going back in time even farther, the people of Mesopotamia also attempted to change the world by the use of political and organizational power—it was called the Tower of Babel. The story of the Tower of Babel is found in Genesis 11. However, as always happens, the concentration of power corrupts. The tower became such a source of concentrated power, that if not stopped, it would have destroyed the world in evil. To stop this evil, God had to intervene and He scattered and confused the human race. But what is truly significant is that the story of Abraham begins in the very next chapter, Genesis 12. This is no accident, God is teaching us something—the way to change the world is by Forward Looking Faith. Abraham was just one man, but through Abraham and his Forward Looking Faith, the world has been changed! From Abraham came Israel. From Israel came David. From David came Jesus and from Jesus comes the Kingdom of God!
This is how we change the world, by living the Kingdom Life now! By our good deed and our good words, some of our unbelieving neighbors (even those who persecute us) will come to faith and they too will become mustard seeds! True Christianity has been the greatest force of good this world has ever known. From True Christianity has come the protection and honoring of women and children, the end of the slave trade, hospitals, mass education and literacy, economic growth and innovation. Conversely, from false, worldly Christianity has come some of this world’s worse evils. Jesus warned us of this when He said, “Those that live by the sword, die by the sword.” Those who rely on the coercive power of government and mass movements will die by that power. Christ has given His church something mightier than the sword—He has give us the Keys of the Kingdom—the preaching of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament!
So let us, like Abraham, have a Forward Looking Faith:
A Faith That Hears and Obeys God’s Call
A Faith That Sees a Better Future
A Faith That Lives a Better Life
Let’s Pray:
Related Media
Related Sermons