Hebrews 11:1-7 -- Jesus Is Better #15 -- Jesus Creates People Of Faith, part 1

  • We have one life to live.
    • 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) — 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
    • Love will endure forever, but we can live by faith and hope in this life only.
  • Hebrews: Jesus is the ultimate word, brought our great salvation, is our great savior, stepped down so we could step up, offers the fullest life, brings us into true rest, makes God's help available to us, can be our best friend, is our best pursuit, is our best anchor for life, is the best priest, brought a better covenant, sets us free to serve God, is the better sacrifice, and offers us the best race to run!
    • Question: What kind of people are created by the truth we've unearthed in Hebrews 1-10?
    • Answer: People of faith.
      • Faith people are those who venture out in obedience to God, risking their safety and perception of security for God and his kingdom. They say yes to him in ways small and great.
      • Why would Hebrews 11 show us these people of faith?
        • So that we might endure:
          • Hebrews 10:38-39 (ESV) — 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
          • Habakkuk was hoping for something. He could not see something. Yet he was assured and convicted by God.
  • Today: A look at faith and how it works, followed by Abel, Enoch, and Noah's faith.
    • 6 Things about faith.

1 Faith unlocks assurance by trusting God and His promises. (11:1)

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

  • 1 Faith is: Less of a theological definition, but a practical explanation of the outworking of faith.

    • Definition: renunciation and reliance, a God centered trust, a confident obedience to God's word despite circumstances and consequences.
      • Living in light of God’s character and truth.
    • Practical outworking: Assurance and conviction about the hoped for and unseen that is so sure and certain that it leads to action.
      • Note: Faith is not an inactive word!
  • Faith defined.

    • Reaction to God that leads to trust,
      • which in turn leads to assurance and conviction,
      • which in turn leads to incredible action,
      • which demonstrates the faith for all to see.

2 Faith leads to specific action (11:2)

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

  • 2 Their commendation: The Old Testament saints were celebrated by God for their faith.

    • Much of their faith came at moments of decision or conviction.
  • Not constant, but at specific moments (context after).

    • Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab -- all of them had moments where the faith within was on full display.
    • But they didn't always walk without wavering.
      • Jude 22 (ESV) — 22 And have mercy on those who doubt...
      • Does this definition of faith mean the opposite of faith is uncertainty, a lack of conviction? Is there any room for the doubter? Yes, I think. Throughout the stories he'll recount there will be moments of faith, but not an entire life of only and exclusively faith.
  • But faith does lead to specific actions, and these actions are loved by God!

3 Faith Is Confident In God's Word (11:3)

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.

  • 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God: The first real example of faith is found in the first portions of the Old Testament, and "we" are involved.

    • So we learn right away faith that though faith will sometimes go above our human reasoning, it is not unreasonable, for belief in a Creator God is logical.

      • This isn't against reason. Consider this reasonable and rational statement: "the greatest system our world has ever seen was designed by a great engineer." Does that take great intelligence? No, it is a very reasonable, rational statement. Or this: "The design of creation has an intelligent designer behind it." These are entirely rational statements, truths for us to understand. Oftentimes, the conflict in our modern world between science and Scripture is unnecessary. We as Christians rejoice over science and celebrate living in a scientific, technological age. Nevertheless, we also understand that God created us with the ability to investigate and know science. Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter." I relate this to scientific inquiry. It's as if God has planted all throughout the cosmos his wisdom, principles, and design, concealing them and then inviting man to discover what he's made. The scientist who discounts God should search further. If they continue on in an honest scientific inquiry they would be led toward God, not away from Him. It's not that they know too much, but too little. -- David Guzik, Jesus' People Of Faith

      • Modern science: what is seen was made out of other visible things.

        • Response question: where did those visible things come from?
        • 2 Peter 3:5 (ESV) — 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,
      • Scripture: What is seen was NOT made out of things that are visible.

  • This is the concept: faith says there is power in what God says.

    • God speaks. We trust Him. We act out as a result.
      • Through adversity, challenges, difficulties, and hard circumstances.
    • Example: Peter and the nets --
      • Luke 5:5 (NKJV) — 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”

4 Faith Is The Way To God (11:4)

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.

  • 4 More acceptable sacrifice: Faith, not works.
    • There are many guesses regarding the reason God accepted Abel's sacrifice.
      • Blood vs. Produce
      • Living vs. Lifeless
      • Firstborn vs. Firstfruits (or lack thereof)
      • Stronger vs. Weaker
      • Grew spontaneously vs. Grew with human ingenuity
        • But the Bible doesn't thunderously declare the difference between their sacrifices in any way save one!
    • But God gives us the reason -- By faith Abel offered to God...And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
      • Abel offered his sacrifice and worship to God by FAITH.
    • In one sense, this is a classic Faith vs. Works passage.
      • Don’t attempt to come to God based on your own merit.
        • Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
        • Haven't we learned this in Hebrews?
      • But do come to God by faith!

5 Faith Pursues God (11:5-6)

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.

  • 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death:

    • Enoch's story:

      • He was the seventh from Adam.

        • He would have lived 300 years while Adam lived.
        • Note: Incredibly long lifespans in these pre-flood, immediately post-curse conditions.
        • He was raptured 70 years before Noah’s birth.
      • Those were ugly times to be alive.

        • Genesis 6:5 (ESV) — 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
      • He walked with God.

        • This fact is mentioned twice:

          • Genesis 5:22, 24 (ESV) — 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah... 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

        • And "God took him."

  • 5 Enoch pleased God. Enoch pursued God.

    • By faith, he walked with God.
      • 6 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.
      • This speaks of incredible diligence.
        • 300 years of walking.
  • 6 He rewards those who seek him:

    • Life is enriched when we seek the Lord.
    • Jesus: Matthew 6:4, 6, 18 (ESV) — 4 ...And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6 Faith Works For God (11:7)

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.

  • 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen:

    • Noah likely lived in Mesopotamia, between the Tigres and Euphrates, a long way from any large body of water.

    • Instead of excusing himself as we might have, Noah received God’s warning.

      • Genesis 6:13–15 (ESV) — 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it...

  • 7 In reverent fear, Noah constructed an ark for the saving of his household.

    • He respected God's voice more than the people alive at that time.
      • Proverbs 29:25 (ESV) — 25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
      • Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV) — 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
        • This isn't paralyzing fear, but reverence which causes you to move!
        • Satan's lie:
          • Be saved by works.
          • Keep your salvation by works (legalism).
          • Forget about works (license).
            • James 2:26 (ESV) — 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
  • 7 Constructed an ark:

    • Genesis 6:22 (ESV) — 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
      • Size of ark: 438 feet long, 73 feet wide, 44 feet high (conservatively).
    • His obedience to God must've felt impossible.
      • Costly.
      • Embarrassing.
      • Focus.
      • Precise obedience.
  • God will invite you into his work.

    • It is a joy to be invited to partner with God.

      • God will accomplish His work with or without you. But He loves you, and because He does, He invites you to participate. Isn't it true that love, by nature, is invitational? Love reaches out and includes. That's what love does. God loves you, so He wants to include you in His passions and in His mission. That's why He invites you in. - Britt Merrick. Big God: What Happens When We Trust Him