Presentation of Faith: Abel
Presentation of Faith: Abel
Perry Duggar |
Abel tells us how to present our lives as an acceptable sacrifice to God.
Presentation of Faith: Abel
Believing God – Message 2
June 28, 2020
- Introduction: We continue our series, Believing God, a survey of Hebrews 11. (Genesis 4:1-2)
- The title to today’s message is Presentation of Faith, which focuses on Abel.
- Theme verse: Hebrews 11:4a (NLT)—It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering…
- Abel was the second-born son of Adam and Eve, after Cain, the first-born.
- These brothers were born after their parents rebelled against God, plunging all of humankind into sin and separating us from God.
- This separation caused by sin, made return to God by faith necessary.
- These sons pursued different occupations as stated at Genesis 4:2b (NLT)— When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. [a farmer]
- Each of these brothers gave an offering to God as an expression of worship.
- Abel’s offering was… (Hebrews 11:4)
- #1 - Acceptable by faith. (Hebrews 11:4a; C/R: Genesis 3:21; 4:3-5; Proverbs 14:12; Romans 5:9; 12:1; Hebrews 9:22; 13:15-16)
- Hebrews 11:4a (NLT)—It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did.
- Let’s turn to Genesis to see the background of this event.
- Genesis 4:3–5a (NLT)—3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. …
- Cain and Abel gathered at a particular time—harvest—and a particular place—an altar of some type on which to make sacrifices; why did they do this?
- They would have known nothing about the need for worship, the necessity of sacrifice, had they not been told by God personally or by their parents.
- Adam and Eve had been exposed to animal sacrifice when God made clothing for them following their Fall (Gen.3:21); perhaps that was the first sacrifice, which continued.
- Each son offered what he produced: Cain presented some of his crops—grain, fruit or vegetables and Abel presented best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock (v.4).
- God accepted Abel and his gift, but did not accept Cain and his gift, which indicates that God had established and communicated an acceptable pattern for worship and sacrifice.
- There was nothing offensive or inherently wrong with grain, fruit or vegetable offerings; in fact, the law of Moses would later include such offerings.
- The later-given Mosaic law offers insight into why Abel’s gift was accepted and Cain’s rejected: blood sacrifices must be offered to cover the sin of the worshiper to make his other offerings acceptable. (Rom.5:9)
- Hebrews 9:22b (NLT)—…For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
- The death of the sacrifice shows the seriousness of sin against God. (All against God.)
- Abel’s offering was better because he believed what God said about sin and offerings and gave what God required: a blood sacrifice!
- Cain gave God what he wanted, not what God wanted; in effect, he denied the seriousness of his sin by worshiping God the way he (Cain) wanted to.
- Cain did believe in God or he would not have brought a sacrifice; he acknowledged that he owed an expression of appreciation for God’s provision at harvest time.
- In fact, the passage indicates that Cain initiated the offering—and Abel joined him.
- Cain believed in God, but didn’t believe God; he ignored God’s instructions about sacrifices.
- He thought he could approach God in the way he wanted, and expected God to accept what he offered, but when God rejected him and his gift…
- Genesis 4:5b (NLT)— …This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
- Cain became angry with God and pouted, because he didn’t get his way with God!
- False religion is trying to come to God by any way other than God has prescribed.
- ILL: If a doctor diagnosed you with a fatal disease, would you follow his treatment plan or just tell him what you preferred to do instead?
- Sin is a fatal—and spiritual death is eternal, yet many of us think we can decide how we will respond to God—and remain sure of His forgiveness.
- ILL: Here how it sounds: “I want to go to heaven, so I will believe in Jesus, but I don’t intend to stop living immorally, I will continue to serve myself and mistreat others, I will hoard whatever I have—and I am sure that God will be ok with that and will welcome me into heaven when I die because that seems reasonable to me.”
- Cain did not mind worshiping God or sacrificing some of his produce to Him, as long as it was on his own terms; but God rejected his sacrifice and rejected him.
- Cain is an example of a religious, but unsaved, man who believes in God and even in religion, but follows his own will, his own opinions, his own preferences.
- It seemed reasonable, but Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)—There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
- APP: Am I presenting God the sacrifices He wants, or just offering Him what I want?
Abel’s offering was…
- #2 - Approved by God. (Hebrews 11:4b; C/R: Genesis 4:6-8; Leviticus 9:24; Romans 8:15-16; James 2:14)
- Hebrews 11:4b (NLT)—Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts.
- Abel’s evidence of faith was that he offered the blood sacrifice that God required.
- We have no reason to think Abel was a better man than Cain, or even less of a sinner, but Abel trusted what God said enough to obey it—and his brother, Cain, didn’t.
- Genesis 4:6–8 (NLT)—6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
- Cain was angry that God did not approve of his offering—or of him.
- Cain wanted to dictate to God what was acceptable, not submit to God’s directions.
- When God rejected Cain and his offering, Cain became angry and pouted, because he believed God had mistreated him—which was sin!
- Sin always begins with doubting God means what He says, then substituting one’s own ideas, opinions and preferences in place of God’s Word. (Ex.: sexuality, marriage)
- What we truly believe will always become evident in our actions.
- James 2:14 (NLT)—What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
- Abel’s sacrifice revealed the kind of faith that results in salvation; it implied that he understood his own sinfulness and the need of a blood sacrifice (death) for forgiveness.
- We can’t be sure exactly how God showed his approval of [Abel’s] gifts.
- It may have been by direct communication, or it might have followed a practice that God used repeatedly in the Old Testament: a fire from God consuming the sacrifice.
- Five different times in the Old Testament fire from God burned sacrifices made by Aaron (Lev.9:24), Gideon (Judg.6:21), Elijah (1Kgs.18:38), David (1 Chron.21:26) and Solomon (2 Chron.7:1) and perhaps, here, at the first sacrifice by a person expressing worship to God recorded in the Bible.
- Abel was considered righteous, not because he was righteous, but because he trusted God, had faith in God’s words, followed His direction—and was declared righteous.
- APP: Do you know that you are righteous in God’s eyes and your life’s offerings are received with His approval? (Rom.5:15-16)
Abel’s offering was…
- #3 - Assertion of necessity of obedience. (Hebrews 11:4c; C/R: Genesis 4:8-10; John 14:15,21; James 1:22; 3:15-16; 1 John 3:11-12)
- Hebrews 11:4c (NLT)—Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. [Abel is still giving us instruction from his life recorded in the Bible.]
- How did his death occur?
- Genesis 4:8 (NLT)—One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. [Jas.3:15-16; 1 Jn.3:11-12]
- Cain was angry with God, but also resented his brother, who was accepted by God, because Abel’s obedience exposed Cain’s disobedience.
- Rather than admitting and repenting of his sin, he blamed his brother for humiliating him and out of his envy, his resentment, his jealousy, murdered him.
- Genesis 4:9–10 (NLT)—9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” [God knew, this question required Cain to think about his evil act.]
- “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” [Yes! Selfish]
- 10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!
- Because God is just, Abel’s blood cried out for God to avenge his murder.
- Abel’s message to us is that we must come to God in the way He prescribes—by faith, not by good behavior or works of charity, certainly not in whatever way we want.
- We must accept and obey God’s revelation of right and wrong above our own opinions and preferences.
- James 1:22 (NLT)—But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. [John 14:15,21]
- We cannot claim to have faith in God and continually disregard His Word.
- APP: Does the faith I profess result in presenting a life that is obedient to God’s Word? If not, is it truly saving faith?