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Faith Moves Us To Worship

Legacies of Genuine Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:01
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As we look in verse 4 of our study of Hebrews, we find mention of Abel. Genesis shows us that Abel’s sacrifice was by faith, Cain’s wasn’t It also hints at a sacrificial system to come. He worshipped fully understanding his sin need

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REFLECTION: 1 John 3:11-18
1 John 3:11–18 ESV
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
SCRIPTURE READING: Gen 4.3-10
Genesis 4:3–10 ESV
3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
OPENING PRAYER:
“May I lay at thy feet these fruits grown in thy garden,
love thee with a passion that can never cool,
believe in thee with a confidence that never staggers,
hope in thee with an expectation that can never be dim,
delight in thee with a rejoicing that cannot be stifled,
glorify thee with the highest of my powers,
burning, blazing, glowing, radiating, as from thy own glory.”
INTRO / TRANSITION
Whole-hearted, Half-hearted, or Your-heart’s-not-in-it-at-all (aka “going through the motions)?
What’s your current job situation? Are you all-in? Killing time?
There are areas of all of our lives that we can think about that fit each one of these categories. What are you doing right now half-heartedly?
Where are you on edge? It wouldn’t take much to push you over the line to make you “lose it”, walk away, blow up, act out, cancel “err-body”? Who does that sound like…?
That’s more like Cain…we’ll come to that in a moment.
Our study of Hebrews 11 walks us through a veritable catalog of biblical characters who are exemplary in their faith in a significant way - be it one instance or a lifetime of faithfulness.
One commentator notes:
By repeating by faith also teaches us to avoid the error of moralizing the Old Testament stories. This happens quite often among evangelicals, particularly in children’s Sunday school curricula: “Be like Moses, not like Pharaoh.” While the Old Testament narratives do indeed contain moral lessons we ought to learn, the author reminds us that these moral lessons are not the main point. We must remember that the moral lessons of the Old Testament come within the context of the storyline of the gospel.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. et al., Exalting Jesus in Hebrews (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2017).
It is very significant that this great chapter on faith begins with a worshiper—because worship is fundamental to everything else we do in life. As we shall see when we come to Abraham, everywhere he went, he built an altar. He knew that faith and service grow out of authentic worship
R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, vol. 2, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 70.
SERMON TEXT: Hebrews 11.4
Hebrews 11:4 ESV
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
Why was Abel’s sacrifice better?
Why was Cain’s sacrifice rejected?
Though he died, he still speaks? What’s that about?
Our series is called Legacies of Genuine faith. Some are heroic acts, some of great feats of courage in the midst of insurmountable odds. Some of small acts used in the hands of a mighty big, Sovereign God. But these are people. And the first act involves a choice to go all in. A sacrifice. An act of worship.
Think back on our reading from Jeremy in Genesis 4. We see the Shepherd and Farmer feud beginning at the beginning. You may recall this surfacing during our Advent season as we discussed the adversarial tension between role of these two groups of people.
Genesis 4:2 ESV
2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
Different occupations. Different motivations. Different offerings.
Genesis 4:3–4 ESV
3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,
Notice Cain’s offering lacks any distinction “THE fruit of THE ground”, while Abel’s denotes the “firstborn of HIS…and their fat portions.”
If we’re not careful we draw surface conclusions from this by category of sacrifice. There’s no “pro carnivore” or “anti-vegan” proof-text here. The title of this morning’s sermon isn’t, “You Freagin’ Vegans Are Gonna Kill Somebody!”
Actually, later on in Leviticus 2 and Numbers 18, there are specific directions given to Israel related to the offerings from the fruit of the land, oil, produce, vegetables, spices, etc.
No, the greater issue is revealed in our New Testament commendation in Hebrews 11.4.
Hebrews 11:4 ESV
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Biblical Faith brings AUTHENTIC WORSHIP!

Authentic Worship is product of obedience and attitude.
1. OBEDIENCE
Abel’s faith produced faithful obedience to God’s expressed will and word. Cain did it his way, but Abel did it God’s way. Abel brought God exactly what he asked for.
Today, if we would come to God we must come not with our own works, but rather with and through the sacrifice of Christ—the way of Christ, not “the way of Cain.”
QUESTION: ARE YOU CHARTING YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, OR ARE YOU WALKING GOD’S WAY?
I need to come back to this and unpack this obedience for just a moment as it relates to Abel. We do NOT have a record of a specific command from God to Abel and Cain regarding sacrifices. We’ll see that soon…but here is a timeless principle that we know from Proverbs...
Proverbs 15:8 ESV
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
2. ATTITUDE
While this verse doesn’t speak to a specific ability that Abel had, nor does it state he had a positive outlook on life - we do see an attitude (a position of the heart and posture of the will) affected by his faith. “Abel is commended for looking to God as the object of his belief - his affection.
We must come with the heart attitude with which Abel brought his “better sacrifice”—joyously giving his very best from his very first. This is what the Lord is looking for—followers who bring what he asks for with a joyous heart. This is approved, authentic worship, and it can only happen through faith!

Cain’s offering was a monument to pride and self-righteousness—“the way of Cain.” Abel, on the other hand, believed and obeyed God: “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.” He brought God what God wanted. This was acceptable worship.

Obedience without the right attitude is no worship at all…it’s hypocrisy.
Mark 7:6 ESV
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
“Half-hearted and no-hearted” “going-through-the-motions” will produce deception and darkness...
Romans 1:21 ESV
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
James 1:22 ESV
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Biblical Faith points to CHRIST’S SACRIFICE

The rest of the Old Testament provides a few more hints as to why Abel’s offering was accepted. Here’s where we’ll pick up those “obedience notes”
For example, earlier in Hebrews we saw that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). We see then that Abel’s sacrifice was in some sense foreshadowing the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament and thus the sacrifice of Christ.
Abel was born into a world where his parents were “covered”. You recall after the fall of man, the sin of Adam and Eve, they needed to cover their naked bodies - they tried with fig leaves (fruit of the land), God, however gave them animal coverings. You can’t get coverings of skins without shedding blood. God provided this.
Genesis 3:21 ESV
21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
As children often do, it would be reasonable to expect that Abel and Cain would ask, “where did that come from”?
Then would come that transparent, revealing, heartbreaking account of their sin, its cost, but God’s mercy.
Abel seemed to understand that his greatest problem was that he was under divine judgment, and he needed a sacrifice. He would use the most sensational example he had, one that started with God as a result of man’s sin. Abel’s blood sacrifice pointed to his own sin and to his hope in God’s provision of a sacrificial Savior.
Isn’t this beautiful…its gory but beautiful. Isn’t life that way, though?
Hebrews 12:24 ESV
24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Your blood speaks a better word Than all the empty claims I've heard upon this earth Speaks righteousness for me And stands in my defense Jesus it's Your blood
What can wash away our sins? What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood Nothing but the blood of Jesus What can wash us pure as snow? Welcomed as the friends of God Nothing but Your blood Nothing but Your blood King Jesus
Your cross testifies in grace Tells of the Father's heart to make a way for us Now boldly we approach Not by earthly confidence It's only Your blood
This is why Abel’s sacrifice was “acceptable” to God: it was offered “by faith” in God’s promises (Gen 4:4).
2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

A WORD ABOUT THE WAY OF CAIN...

We can say something about the attitude of Abel because he stands in stark contrast to the attitude of Cain. Where specific qualifiers were not really used to describe Cain’s offering as I indicated before, much nuance is given into Cain’s response to his confrontation.
Notice the text again in Gen 4:5-8
Genesis 4:5–8 ESV
5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
I cannot say this any better than brother R. Kent Hughes’ notes on this passage:
Cain’s attitude puts it all in stark perspective. The Scriptures indicate that when God rejected Cain’s offering, Cain became “very angry, and his face was downcast” (Genesis 4:5), thus revealing just how shallow his devotion was.
And when God pleaded with Cain to change and do what was right, warning him that sin was crouching like a monster at his door and desiring to have him (Genesis 4:6, 7), God was met with silence. Like the calm before the storm. Whereas Cain’s mother, Eve had been talked into sin, Cain would not be talked out of it.
He liked being mad. And so it has been with those in the way of Cain.
The famous author Henrik Ibsen, who was a specialist in anger, a man to whom anger was a kind of art form in itself. For example, when he wrote the ferocious play Brand, he recorded: “I had on my table a scorpion in an empty beer glass. From time to time the brute would ail. Then I would throw a piece of ripe fruit into it, on which it would cast itself in a rage and inject its poison into it. Then it was well again.” Cain too drew strength from his rage. The release of venom was his elixir. He would rather kill than turn to God’s gentle pleadings and repent. So he directed his hatred for God at his brother Abel and killed him.
Proverbs 29:11 ESV
11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
A NOTE ON CONFRONTATION
Here’s a thought I’ve found to be consistently true: when confronted, people either repent of run! Gen 4.6-8 Cain not only ran, but compounded his sin by murder. We rarely choose to go down in flames by ourselves.
Proverbs 13:1 ESV
1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 ESV
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
Hebrews 11:4 ESV
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Biblical Faith Testifies for Generations

Hopefully, we will all leave the type of testimony left by Abel: though he was dead, his life bore witness to the grace and mercy found only in a substitutionary sacrifice.
Christians should aspire to leave behind a legacy of faith. Each of us should live, and talk, and love in such a way that when our story is told, there is a wealth of material that testifies to the saving power of Jesus Christ, just as Abel did - his faith testified to the greatness of Christ even beyond the extent of his life.
Spurgeon notes:
The first of the long line of martyrs triumphed by faith. If you are to be strong to bear witness for God, you must be made strong by the same power that wrought so effectually in Abel. If, like his, your life is to be a speaking life—a life that will speak even out of the grave—its voice must be the voice of faith.
He spoke by faith when he lived. Faith makes him speak now that he is dead. What wonders faith can work. The first saint who entered heaven entered there, it is certain, by faith. It was faith that enabled him to present an acceptable sacrifice, and it was faith that presented him to heaven. If the first who entered heaven entered there by faith, rest assured that will be true to the last, and none will enter there but those who believe.
4Him Song...
I want to be a man that you Would write about Oh a thousand years from now That they could read about Your servant of choice in whom You found favor A man who heard Your voice
Summary about Abel.
While we don’t know a great many details about Abel’s faith, we know something of his faith.
We don’t know what all was revealed to him, but as Adam’s son, he would have known about sin, its consequences, and the necessity and privilege of worshiping the Creator.
We do know that his faith moved him to worship God..
he picked the best he had
he sacrificed it in a way that pleased God
CONCLUSION
There is something inherently wrong about a life that does not worship the God of this Bible. It’s not a Biblical faith.
In his 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College, the late American novelist David Foster Wallace captured this universal, even primal, human dynamic. Wallace was not a Christian, and yet his words strike a profound spiritual chord: 
The compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship . . . is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never feel you have enough. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. . . . Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is . . . they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
Choose the way of Abel…which points us to the way of Christ.
Reject the self-absorbed, easily triggered, ready-to-run way of Cain.
Make sure your faith is a worshiping faith!
2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
John 4:23–24 ESV
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
INVITATION
BENEDICTION - REV 1.5b-6
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Rev. 1:5b–6)
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