Faithlife Sermons

Living by Faith

Hebrews Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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(NKJV): But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Verses 37&38 are from ,
,
Believers experience persecution and hardship, or at the very least share in them with their brethren.
Faith is manifested into a tangible evidentiary lifestyle.
What does it mean to live by faith?
Maybe we have some ideas. Maybe we don’t!
As American Christians, our faith experience is very different than most people of the world.
In this great country of ours, we have enjoyed protected freedom unlike any country.
We could compare the American experience to the Roman empire under Constantine the Great:
Prior to 375 AD, the Christian church suffered greatly, and was persecuted mercilessly. Yet, continued to grow and mature in a remarkable way, defying the imaginations of authorities and people.
we could say we are blessed!
The more the church was persecuted, the faster it grew.
The more martyrs the government made, the more new converts the churches saw.
And, we’ve enjoyed this comfortable experience for some time that no one of this generation really comprehends what religious persecution is!
But when Constantine believing he saw a vision from God (to conquer with the cross), he decreed that all must become Christians.
We are so inundated with this cushy existence that we have a difficult time relating to those of the body who are going through terrible ordeals elsewhere in the world!
I believe this to be the strategy of the Devil, because what ensued after was a weakened and ineffective Christian church.
Many of the early settlers came to these shores to escape religious persecution, and the freedom to worship God.
It didn’t take long for the persecution to follow them. Within 100 years, the colonies were divided by church states that squelched religious freedom.
Individuals were taxed to pay the ministers salary.
Churches were built and supported by the state.
The State church of Massachusetts was the congregational church.
Independent Christian practitioners were publically flogged on Boston Common.
This persecution eventually resulted in the great awakening, which later spurned the American Revolution.
After the Revolutionary war, our constitution put an end to religious persecution and the governments involvement in the church.
We finally had rest, but I’m afraid that rest has lulled us to sleep!

I. The True Christian Experience involves persecution.

I. Individually.
"… But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations,

A. It has been so from the beginning.

Abel was persecuted by his brother Cain.

B. It is expected.

Jesus lifts it up in the Beatitudes.
Matthew 5:10–12 NKJV
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Peter shows that it’s normal to the Christian Experience.
1 Peter 4:12–19 NKJV
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Perhaps we don't suffer because we disguise our faith.
We blend in with our ungodly surroundings like chameleons in the tress.
We don’t take a stand for Christ because we don’t want to be ostracized by those around us!
Yet the scripture says four times in the Bible, "The just shall live by faith"

C. You can't hide from it.

Many people believe that if they just mind their own business and don’t let anyone know they are a Christian, that they’ll be ok!
But occasionally the valve just blows open and I let out a lot of steam!
As was the case this past week!
Well Jesus said that a light can’t be hidden, and a candle is made to be put on a candlestick not under a basket!
Perhaps my political opinions are not in line with yours, but that’s ok. I remember when right was right and wrong was wrong.
And so when I see the snakes coming out of their dens to inflict their liberal venom on the unsuspecting populous, I tend to rant, whether they be republican or democrat.
But I can assure you of something:
There are also those that think they they have to go around proclaiming to everyone that they are a Christian!
I am not fooled into thinking that we are going to change anything politically, at least not in the long run. I’ve read the end of the book.
What's coming down the pike is going to take everyone by storm, and it's going to demand that disciples of Christ stand firm and take the heat, no matter what laws are enacted.
Really, our lived out faith should be evidence enough that we are the children of God.
I may see my wardrobe go completely orange before it's over, and that’s part of the persecution we face.
Do we love people?
Do we help people?
Do we share ou
Are we willing to stand up for righteousness?
The question is, if you aren't standing up for righteousness now with such a light affliction, what makes you think you will when the real persecution comes?
But the experience doesn’t stop with our own suffering:

II. The true Christian experience supports those being persecuted.

Verse 33 says partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated
We find faith in action in the coming along side of those who are suffering and being persecuted.
Galatians 6:2 NKJV
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Why is this important?
Because those who are suffering should never suffer alone!
James 2:16 NKJV
and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
speaks well to this idea.
speaks well to this idea. So does the in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
So does the in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
There is a comradery in the body.
This is partly what it means to live by faith!
If our Christian experience is one of seclusion and isolation, then we are failing!
If the world and those around us hate us because of our stand for Christ, then rejoice Jesus said, for they hated the prophets before you, and if they hated me they will certainly hate you!
If we are living righteously persecution will come, and we will be stronger for it!
Because fine silver must be purified in the smelting pot, and Gold in the furnace, and a diamond under much time and pressure.
What do you think it will take to make you like Him?
A diamond is only produced under much time and pressure.
Conclusion:
I am not telling you to invite persecution into your life!
But I am saying that, if you live the normal Christian life, it will be inevitable!
If you believe that all life is sacred and unborn babies need to be protected, you will not be hated!
If you believe the Bible is the word of God, and you cherish it, you will not be hated!
If you believe that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life, you will not be hated!
And for the most part, this is the American Christian experience. We are not persecuted, but it’s not what you think.
You see, we believe that if we just love people with the love of Christ, we are fulfilling our obligation, and surprisingly, people love us!
We are not persecuted, but it’s not what you think.
And so the church does this
We need to love people with the love of Christ. But if we love Him, we are to keep His commandments.
And so there is a difference about believing the list I just gave you, and believing!
If you believe that all life is sacred and unborn babies need to be protected, you will open your mouth and be hated!
If you believe the Bible is the word of God, and you cherish it, you will use it and be hated!
If you believe that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life, you will tell people and be hated!
Our problem is that, we’ve abdicated our responsibility!
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