"THE OBJECT OF REAL FAITH"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 2/11/90 a.m. Hebrews 11:9,10,13,16,26,35
PROPOSITION: The faith that is our response to the revelation and grace of God is not of this world, nor is it bound by a love for this world, but looks forward to its heavenly object and reward, and commendation from our heavenly Father.
- THESE last few Sundays we have been studying that famous chapter from the book of Hebrews on the subject of faith......Hebrews 11.
- THE first Sunday in Hebrews 11 we only got as far as verse 1......
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
- WE discussed how futile and frustrating hope is, in this life, without the certainty of a sure foundation of faith.
- WE talked about the fact that the Greek noun that is translated "being sure of" is translated "substance" in King James version of the Bible and has several meanings.
- FAITH is the substance of things hoped for.
* Faith provides something real and solid for what is hoped for, although it is still unseen.
* Faith stands underneath, as in a foundation, for what is hoped for.
* Faith is the full confidence of things hoped for.
* Faith renders them certain, sees them as rightly belonging to us, and takes possession, by anticipation, of things hoped for, although still unseen.
- THIS is the faith that makes hope sure, it gives substance to hope because it is founded on the objective reality of the unchanging promises of God who cannot lie.
- THEN, over the next two Sundays in Hebrews 11, we examined the lives of the men and women listed in that chapter whose faith translated into action.....not just any action, but action that advanced the purposes of God and His kingdom on earth.
* Of Abel whose faith in God caused him to offer the first and best of his livestock in sacrifice.
* Of Enoch, who gave God the best of his time and schedule.
* Of Noah, who gave 120 years of his life for the building of the Ark.
* Of Sarah, who believed she would conceive and give Abraham a son, even though she was 100 years old at the time.
* Of Abraham, who was prepared to give his only son to God.
* Of Moses who preferred to share the mistreatment of God's people by Pharaoh, than to stay in Egypt as a prince.
- ORDINARY people who lived by a remarkable faith and confidence in a God that they did not see.
- LAST Sunday I shared the exciting story recently reported about the difference that men and women of faith are making in Cedar Rapids, Iowa......right now.
* How that for the past 7 years, men and women and churches have been praying and working for a community is different because of the presence of God in its people.
* I was there when the call to prayer started in June of 1983......and churches began to fast and pray for change in that city.
* And how that an independant report on Cedar Rapids says that it is the most stress-free city in the USA right now to live in......that while the crime rate of the state rose 12% in recent years, the crime rate of Cedar Rapids declined 17%......that there is not one doctor in the city that will perform an abortion.
- AND what was so amazing to me, when I heard that report, was that when we were in the middle of it, from 1983 until we left in 1988, we did not see anything that looked like progress. Life looked pretty normal.....the battle was the fight of faith.
- SO we have looked at what faith is......the substance of things hoped for.
- WE have looked at the action of faith.....people of faith and pray and work.
- AND this morning, as we wrap up Hebrews 11, I want to look at the drum beat that the people of faith march to.
- WHAT was it that made them do such extraordinary things?
- WHAT was it that gave them that glint in their eye?
- WHAT was the fuel that propelled them?
II. faith......the objective of life
- WHAT was it that fueled these people of Hebrews 11?
- WHAT was their target, their goal?
- THE key to that is found in several verses throughout the chapter.
- VERSE 9 begins to provide the picture. It is says of Abraham, who left his homeland for a land that he had never seen. Who lived in a tent in the land that God had promised him and his offspring. It says, in verse 9 that he lived in that land,
"......like a stranger in a foreign country."
- EVEN when he arrived at the place that God had told him would be his inheritance, he didn't act like his roots were down and that he would be there forever.......like this was it.
- VERSE 10 says,
"For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
- HE was looking for THE city......one that had foundations, that had permanence......whose architect and builder was God.
- WELL, we read of that city in the book of Revelation, written several thousand years after Abraham's lifetime, in Revelation 21:2-4.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"
- ABRAHAM lived for that city, even though he never saw it, it was the permanence that he looked for.
- VERSE 13 says, of all the people of Hebrews 11, that they didn't receive the complete fulfillment of what they were promised......but that they......
".......admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one."
- THEY did not live as if what they saw, touched, possessed in this life was the beginning and end of their existence (Carol Shelby.....more cars to design, more races to win, more money to earn.....but waiting for a heart transplant and cannot do any of what he longs to do).
- VERSE 26 says that Moses,
".......regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible."
- THESE people of faith are other-worldy. They are marching to a different drummer. They see a different city. Their allegiance is to a different King, one who cannot be seen with the naked eye......right now. They are citizens of a different kingdom.
- THIS doesn't mean that they are wierd. This chapter shows them as being anything but wierd. They are intensely practical and hard working. It is just that they have a different objective.....the city of God that cannot be seen right now with the naked eye.
- VERSE 35 says.
"Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. "
- THERE is a life to be lived in the presence of God, that awaits men and women of faith from this generation.
- WE are going to a city that God has prepared for us (Verse 16).
- WE need to live like it, not as if this place is the beginning and end of our existence.....as if our houses and our lands and our jobs and our families and our goals and our ambitions are what matter most.
- WE have lost Abraham's perspective....and his faith.
- MOST of what we live for and dream about is passing away.
Iii. faith......the real commendation
- LASTLY, I want you to see the reward that the men and women of Hebrews 11 receive.
- THESE people of faith are people who are commended of God.
- NOW, that may not seem to important or practical now, but that is what seperates the people of the world from the people of faith........they are less concerned with the the now as with being in the presence of God for eternity.
- VERSE 1 says that these men and women of faith were commended for their faith.
- VERSE 4 says that Abel was commended of God for his sacrifice of faith.
- VERSE 5 says that Enoch pleased God.
- VERSE 16 says that God is not ashamed to be called their God.
- IN verse 38 the Holy Spirit says that the world was not worthy of these people of faith.
- VERSE 39 says that all these people were commended for their faith.
- GOD has prepared a city for the people of faith.
- BUT it is not just an in-the-sky by-and-by kind of life.
- IT is a heavenly orientation that makes us effective, mighty in battle, strong, courageous warriors of the faith down here on earth.
- WE take the promises of God...those spoken in His Word, and those spoken to our hearts.....and we stand in hope, knowing that they will be done.
- WE don't always see them.
- SOME people even die without seeing them in reality.
- BUT don't waste your time trying to convince them that what they hope for is not real. They act as of they can see it already.
- OUR hope is altogether different than the hope of this world.
- OUR hope is not wishful thinking. It is based on the unchanging Word of God.
- "WE are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." (Hebrews 10:39)
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS