Introduction: We begin our summer series today called Believing God. (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; 11:6)
This series of messages will focus on Hebrews chapter 11.
- This chapter is often referred to as “The Faith chapter,” “The Heroes of the Faith,” or “God’s Hall of Fame,” because it lists the exploits of Old Testament men and women who honored God by believing His promises and pursuing His calling.
- I don’t think these people are listed for us to admire, believing ourselves to be capable of much less, but rather as examples of what each and every one of us can accomplish by faith; these were ordinary people who lived, and acted, according to their faith.
- Today’s message, which serves as an introduction to the chapter, is entitled, the Purpose of Faith; I will explain some of the ways that faith functions in our lives.
- Theme verse: Hebrews 11:6a (NLT)—And it is impossible to please God without faith.
- By the time of Christ, Judaism was no longer the supernatural system God had originally given; it had been twisted into a system of works based on legalistic requirements.
- But God has never redeemed people because of their works, redemption has always been by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:38; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11)
- Both the Old and the New Covenants were fulfilled by faith.
- : As we begin, ask yourself, “Do I live by faith?” If yes, then how does it show?
Faith… (Hebrews 11:1-3,6)
- The word translated, “faith” is the Greek word pistis, which means belief, trust, persuasion, conviction, constancy, reliance, assurance.
- Hebrews chapter 11 begins with a brief definition of faith.
Persuades of truth. (Hebrews 11:1; C/R: John 14:16,26; Romans 2:8; 10:17; 1 Peter 8-9; John 2:27)
- Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)—Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
- The author of Hebrews (name not given) expressed this definition of faith in two parallel and almost identical phrases which provided, not a full theological definition, but some basic characteristics to help us identify the practice of faith in people’s lives.
- First, at verse 1a, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.
- In Old Testament times, people had to trust in the promises of God for a coming Messiah, a Deliverer who would take away sin.
- These people believed God’s promises, because they encountered Him (most had no Scriptures); heard His voice, experienced His Presence, in a way that was undeniable.
- The experience changed them, so that the reality of God became truth for them.
- As a result, they had confidence, in fact, were certain, that what they hoped for, what God had promised them, would actually happen.
- They were so sure of these promises that they based their lives on them, though the consequences of their beliefs resulted in sacrifice, rejection, hardship, and suffering.
- Though the promises would be fulfilled in the future, for some, the far distant future (beyond their lifespan), they acted and lived as though they were present.
- : Do God’s promises about the future (heaven) control your life in the present?
- True faith, according to v.1b, also gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
- God’s promises about forgiveness of sins, provision in our present lives and eternity in His Presence can’t be seen, yet we regard His promises as more real and true by faith, but it is faith fortified by experience through encounters with the Holy Spirit.
- We are absolutely certain of things this world considers unreal and impossible.
- Unsaved people have no means of perceiving, no spiritual senses, to detect and confirm spiritual realities (1 Corinthians 2:14), so it is not surprising that they do not believe in God and regard us as irrational, deluded, gullible, or at least, naive.
- For Christians, our faith is reality, so it provides us a foundation for living, an assurance of spiritual truth that is unshakable.
- This faith, the ability to believe, is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), received through an encounter with the Holy Spirit, when we truly heard and understood the Good News (Romans 10:17) and were born again (John 3:5-7).
- Being born again, becoming believers, children of God, changes us, so that our faith becomes our identity—more than our race, background or family of origin.
- By faith, the promises of God found in the Bible (sometimes communicated directly by His Spirit) become true, including the fact that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior.
- By faith, I know that the Bible is God-breathed, and therefore, undeniably true, so it becomes my guide, my direction, for my life in every situation.
- : Does your faith define you? Is it the controlling part of who you are?
Pleases God. (Hebrews 11:2,6; C/R: 2 Corinthians 5:8-9; Ephesians 5:8-10; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Hebrews 11:2 (NLT)—Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
- The good reputation may refer incidentally to what other people thought, but the focus of this verse is of God’s opinion about these people who lived by faith.
- We earn a good reputation with God through our belief, trust and obedience to His Word.
- We can’t do what we want to do, or even what we think is best; as believer we must always act according to our faith, so we must do what God wants.
- God makes His approval known to those who trust Him. (Have you experienced it?)
- Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)—And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
- Even our obedient actions, our greatest, most sacrificial, works are only acceptable to God because they are performed by faith, by people who have been forgiven of their sins and determine to sincerely seek God, to please Him with their lives.
- It is our faith which makes our works acceptable, worthy of praise and reward, because by themselves, even our best efforts would be insufficient to merit the approval of God.
- : How does God view you? What is your reputation with Him? What rewards will await you in heaven?
Perceives of creation. (Hebrews 11:3; C/R: Genesis 1:1; Nehemiah 9:6; Job 38:4; Psalm 33:6,9; Romans 1:19-20)
- Hebrews 11:3 (NLT)—By faith we [writer included himself and his readers] understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
- The Scripture tells us that God is the Creator, and many verses throughout both the Old and the New Testaments confirm that; do you believe that?
- Since there were no witnesses to the Creation of the universe (Job 38:4), we must accept or reject God’s claims as Creator by faith—but rejecting God’s claims regarding creation also raises questions about the truth, the inspiration, the source, of the entire Bible—and therefore, the Gospel itself.
- If we disbelieve in God and doubt His inspiration of the Bible, we must find another explanation for our existence.
- The scientific method is not helpful because it requires developing a hypothesis which can be tested through experimentation to observe whether the theory is true.
- Since the creation was not observed and cannot be reproduced or repeated, we are left with speculation, theory and untested hypothesis to solve the question of our existence—unless we believe God’s Word.
- If you approach the issue with a bias of disbelief, then unproven, and unprovable, ideas, whether the big bang or evolution, allows you to reject the Bible and God with it.
- If God is the Creator of the universe, but more specifically, the personal Creator of each one of us, who placed His image—a part of His nature—within each of us at conception, then we have dignity, value, and purpose for our lives.
- This is why racism is sin that springs from a lack of faith. (1 John 1:9-11; 3:14-15; 4:20)
- If we are merely than the chance combination of amino acids, a random collection of cells (30 trillion of 200 specific types), it makes no sense to say that we have purpose other than survival, with no moral standards and certainly no spiritual expectations.
- But if God is our Creator, then we are responsible to Him for how we use our lives.
- Verse 3 says that God created from nothing (Latin: ex nihilo) meaning He was first, and He formed the entire universe and all matter, as well as each of us.
- If God is not Creator, if He appeared at some later time, created by pre-existing matter, why are we responsible to Him for our lives? How could He control eternity?
- I think that people know innately that God is the Creator.
- Romans 1:19-20 (NLT)—19 They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
- : A Gallup poll from June 3-16, 2019, found that 40% of adults in the U.S. ascribe to a creationist view of human origins, believing that God created people in their present form within the past 10,000 years; 33% think that humans evolved over millions of years with God’s guidance; and 22% think that evolution occurred without God’s involvement, which coincides with increasing number of Americans with no religious identification.
- The article focused on the fact that the majority embraced evolution, though I think that it is more striking that 73% believed in God’s involvement.
- : Do you know that God is Creator, so you are responsible to Him for your life?
- Do you believe God’s promises? Do you live by faith according to His Word?