Jesus Is. . .!

Jesus Is…
Hebrews 11:1-13
September 3, 2017

There are lots of things in life we just don’t understand. I mean a few weeks ago I had to get a bunch of dental work done. Yet, why is it sharks simply have lots of razor sharp teeth that pop up when one breaks.

Have you wondered why we have all those sweat bees outside? I know there’s an answer, but I wonder, God . . . why?

For that matter . . . mosquitoes, moles, and centipedes . . . REALLY?

And . . . we can ask those serious questions . . . as we wonder about hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Why do bad things happen to good people and why do some kids pay for the sins of their parents? Questions of sickness and death.

We could go on with lots of questions, some serious and some silly!

All kidding aside — another thing people have a hard time understanding — even Christians — is FAITH. Faith can be difficult to get our minds around because at times, many of us struggle when it comes to defining concepts that our five senses don’t grasp.

To make matters worse attempts at defining faith lead to lots of misconceptions.

Some people mistakenly think of faith as some kind of magical potion or power and think if we could just work up enough of this remarkable substance or feeling — or whatever it is — we could do anything. It’s like the FORCE in Star Wars.

Other’s think of faith as simple positive thinking – – or having a hunch.

But all of these attempts at defining FAITH fall far short of an accurate definition. So, I want to dispel misconceptions like these and set ourselves straight when it comes to understanding exactly what FAITH is — because FAITH is vitally important. In fact, there may not be a more important word than FAITH.

Faith is the means by which we receive anything at all from God. And — without faith, it’s impossible to please God. It’s not difficult — it’s impossible! It can’t be done.

We’re moving into week 14 of our study of the book of Hebrews. Today and next week, we’ll be looking at chapter 11 of Hebrews. It’s nicknamed the Hall of fame of Faith. And this chapter will give us a great perspective and understanding of FAITH – – because it not only defines FAITH, but the writer cites example after example of people who were known for their faith. Let’s look at Hebrews 11:1-13 ~

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

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.

5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.

Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.

By this He condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.

And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants

as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar,

and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. – Hebrews 11:1-13

As we begin to look at FAITH, we can say – – Faith is believing, even when we don’t see. It’s what the writer was getting at in verse 1 – –
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

It’s kind of a strange verse in the sense that faith is the assurance of what we hope for, but it’s the conviction of things we don’t see. How does that work?

Let’s look at verse 7 as an example. Picture what the writer said about Noah ~
7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.

Noah was warned about a flood. It’s not like there was a forecast which said a hurricane was approaching. He didn’t have that luxury. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t in the forecast . . . yet, Noah was so sure of this unseen future event – – – that in faith He built the ark as instructed by God. You see, true faith does not need to SEE and then BELIEVE. FAITH BELIEVES and then SEES.

We’re going to watch a video clip from the movie Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail.

Indy and his father are searching for the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus used in the Last Supper. His father has been shot and is dying. They’ve been looking for the cup, and it’s especially important because the cup is supposed to heal those who drink from it.

With his father groaning in the background, Indiana is following clues from a notebook compiled by his father to guide him through a maze of obstacles to the place where the Grail is hidden.

LET’S WATCH WHAT HAPPENS!!

Indiana was faced with the impossible. All he saw was the cliff and the vast gulf beneath him. He realized it was a leap of faith. While his father was whispering, “You must believe, boy, you must believe.” It’s a great metaphor for our faith.

Faith is like that — it’s believing in what you cannot see. A. W. Tozer wrote ~
“A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One Whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see — expects to go to Heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up — is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passeth knowledge.”

Isn’t that a great statement?! We can put our faith in God even when we can’t see what He’s up to because we know His attributes. We know He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, always present and absolutely trustworthy.

Faith is confidence in God, that He is there, that He cares, He’s faithful, He intervenes and He embraces us when we throw ourselves into His arms.

Look at verse 3 again ~
3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

God’s fingerprints are all over the world. We trust that God is the Creator of the universe. He created the world out of what was not visible. The writer is telling us we were not created out of some single cell ameoba. We are complex beings who were created out of nothing. The Latin phrase for this is – – ex nihilo

Ultimately, it means the universe came into existence by divine command and was not assembled from preexisting matter or energy. This is totally, 100% the work of God! No exceptions, no Darwinism. This is all God and God alone!

So, faith is believing even when we can’t see — but our invisible God gives reasons all around us to believe anyway. Another characteristic of genuine faith is ~

OBEYING God’s call in our lives — even when we don’t understand. Faith isn’t only a way of SEEING — it’s a way of LIVING. Genuine FAITH is more of a VERB than a NOUN. Look at verse 8 —
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.

And he went out, NOT KNOWING where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

So Abraham’s faith motivated him to obey God even when it meant leaving his homeland and heading off for some unknown destination — a trip that must not have made much sense to him. And the truth is many times God’s commands don’t make sense to us. Oswald Chambers was right when he said, “Common sense is not faith and faith is not common sense.” Proverbs 3 reminds us faith requires us to “lean not on our own understanding.”

The fact that God’s instructions didn’t make sense to Abraham didn’t stop Him from ACTING on his faith. His example teaches us that authentic faith is characterized by action like this. Next week we will see men and women of faith who were obedient to God. Their faith in the future made them ACT in the present because genuine faith is not passive. It’s dynamic and forceful.

So let’s ask ourselves ~ What would people who know us and work with us — people who see us live our lives — what would they say we believe? This is an important question for us to consider because genuine faith includes OBEYING, even when we don’t understand it. Could we do what Abraham and Sarah did?

That’s such a crucial aspect of faith. We don’t always understand it. We don’t always like it. We don’t always get it. Yet! We are called to be people of action. We’re called to trust in the plans God has for us, whether they make sense or not. It doesn’t matter. God promises if He calls you to do something, He will be there with you. He will see you through to the very end. He will not abandon you.

Ultimately, one of our struggles comes in verse 13. After talking about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah. The writer says this ~
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar,

and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. – Hebrews 11:1-13

That’s so powerful! Each one was faithful – – even unto death. But they didn’t receive what was promised. The ones referenced by this are Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham and Sarah especially exemplify this: called to a Promised Land and promised innumerable offspring. They embraced these promises while living nomadically in a land not wholly theirs, where they had just one son.

Not receiving the things promised means they never entered the land of Canaan, the promised land; they never saw their children and children’s children become more numerous than the stars.

Yet, and this is where we can learn as well . . . YET they greeted what they didn’t yet have. And the sense of that phrase to greet them from afar literally means they joyfully embraced them, just as we would embrace a good friend we have not seen in a long time, that’s how they embraced the promises which were so distant.

Think about the promises we have from God. His presence, His wisdom, His knowledge, His power, His grace, mercy, love, encouragement, His death, eternal life . . . I can keep going on . . .

We have all of these promises . . . but so often we see them from afar. We don’t always realize the promises and hopes we have in this lifetime, yet there is that great hope we have in a distant reality which is called eternity, eternal life with God. It’s the gift Jesus gives to us when we have faith in Him.

Abraham made this profound, revealing statement in Genesis 23 ~
SLIDEI am a sojourner and foreigner among you. – Genesis 23:4

Think about the life Abraham and Sarah led. They never had a permanent home. They never set down roots. God called and they followed! We make permanent dwellings. We don’t like the idea of picking up and moving. We have too much junk to be nomadic. Imagine the relief we would have if we just got rid of lots of our stuff!! And we didn’t have any cares in this world to hold us back – ultimately from serving God! Could we do that?!?! Any volunteers?!

Abraham and Sarah accepted and made themselves content as sojourners, strangers in an alien country. And remember this . . . and it’s so important as we all fight for life.

THIS IS NOT OUR HOME!! Our true home is heaven. We long and I believe all people long for heaven. That’s where we hope to reside. That will be our permanent dwelling place. We will no longer be sojourners on this journey. Someday, our great hope, the great promise will be the realization of life eternal with our Lord and Savior!

Ultimately, faith is believing. It’s believing in God, even though you cannot see Him. It’s trusting that God will never fail you, will never forsake you. It’s believing in Jesus as THE Son of God who came into this world to redeem you, to forgive us of our sins . . . and when you say YES to Jesus, when you say “I BELIEVE” then you have salvation! You have the promise of what you cannot see . . . God’s presence, today, tomorrow and forever.

Comment(1)

  1. Reply
    Robyn Carpenter says

    Very nice sermon. I enjoy learning about Faith, my Faith.

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