Hebrews 11:8-16 -- Jesus Is Better #16 -- Jesus Creates People Of Faith, part 2

Introduction

  • Today:
    • Faith goes on adventures with God.
    • Faith receives power for the impossible from God.
    • Faith looks forward to the better city of God.

1 Faith goes on adventures with God.

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.

  • 8 By Faith Abraham: His inclusion was significant.
    • By the time of Christ, many believed Abraham had been chosen because he was righteous, but this, and many other passages, help us know he was made righteous by faith (see Romans 4:1-3).
    • But, here, his faith is demonstrated, not in the righteousness God imputed, but in the way he left his homeland in obedience to God.

A. First, believe God's inheritance is best.

  • 8 When he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance:
    • Once he got the call, he started packing.
    • It was a struggle for Abraham to believe God's inheritance is best.
      • God said leave your family — he took his father and Lot.
      • God promised a child — he tried to have one through Hagar.
      • God promised to protect him — he twice gave Sarah away to spare his own life.
        • God: Abraham obeyed.
    • It is also a struggle for us to believe God's way is best.

B. Second, go into the unknown.

  • 8 He went out, not knowing where he was going: He had a promise, but not the full and complete picture of what he'd receive and how he'd receive it.
    • Abraham went out into the unknown.
      • He could not trust his feelings or planning, but only the naked Word of God.
    • We like to know where we are going. We like to choose our own way.
      • But it's all a mirage.
        • James 4:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
    • God loves to bring us into the unknown.
      • Step-by-step.
        • Philip -- Acts 8:26 (ESV) — 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.

C. Third, leave comfort, especially of sin.

  • 9 He went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents:
    • Abraham left the comforts of home.
      • Genesis 12:1 (ESV) — 1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you."
      • Note: The author tells us Abraham's decision impacted his future family. He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
        • Meaning, they lived in tents when their day came. In other words, it wasn't any better for Abraham's son or grandson. They all had to live in tents.
    • Abraham left the comforts of sin.
      • Where did Abraham leave?
        • Ur in Chaldea, Mesopotamian region, near the Tigris and Euphrates.
        • It was a culturally advanced society, especially compared to Canaan.
        • It was a land that "served other gods" (Joshua 24:2).
          • So Abraham had to disconnect from an unbelieving, idolatrous, advanced society.
      • We must learn to do the same.
        • 1 John 2:15 (ESV) — 15a Do not love the world or the things in the world.
        • This is difficult.

2 Faith receives power for the impossible from 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.

  • 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive: Amazing. Sarah came to share in Abraham's belief.

A. First, know your limitations.

  • 11 Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age / 12 From one man, and him as good as dead : Abraham was 75 at the promise, 100 at the fulfillment. Sarah was 65 when the promise was given, 90 at the fulfillment. So she was much younger!

    • She was not oblivious to the facts.

      • Faith is pronounced by facts.
      • The facts are not set aside or forgotten with faith.
      • We are to know full well our own limitations.
    • Faith must be in God — not in self — so it is good to see your limitations.

      • Sarah saw her womb and her husband — lifeless and old.
      • Feeding of 5K:
        • Matthew 14:16–17 (ESV) — 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
        • John 6:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
    • 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV) — 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

B. Second, consider God's faithfulness.

  • 11 Since she considered him faithful who had promised:

  • She came to the same conviction as her husband.

    • This was not her first reaction.

      • Sarah stuttered to believe:
        • Hagar:
          • Genesis 16:2 (ESV) — 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
        • Laughter:
          • Genesis 18:12–13(ESV) — 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13** The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’"
    • But Sarah thought about God and His faithfulness.

      • Genesis 18:14 (ESV) — 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

        • She wrestled and toiled and prayed -- and conviction blossomed!
    • Over time, she became convinced by God.

      • "Deep faith is an intimate, tenacious, all-of-life, sweaty, bloody, sometimes clumsy, and always real encounter with God. Faith isn’t a choreographed script; it’s a wrestling mat. It means taking all of your fears, sins, insecurities, and doubts and going head-to-head with God. And yes, like Jacob after he encountered God, you’ll probably get bruised, broken, and lose your swag. But it’s better to be an authentic mess before God than a fake religious person." - Dominic Done, When Faith Fails, page 153-154

C. Third, expect life from death.

  • 12 From one man, and him as good as dead / stars of heaven / grains of sand: Look at what came from that deadness!
    • Teeming life came out of near death.

3 Faith looks forward to the better city of God.

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.^ 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.^ 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.^ 16 But as it is, they desire a better^ country^, that is, a heavenly^ one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.^

A. First, live in a tent.

  • 13 Having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth: Like Abraham -- Hebrews 11:9 (ESV) — 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.

    • We must embrace exile today.

      • The lie: there are two paths from which we must choose.
        • Path 1 -- Isolated, bitter, despondancy (like Jonah and his generation).
        • Path 2 -- Refashion and reconsider theology, spirituality, and lifestyle to fit the dogma of the surrounding culture.
          • Like a fork in the road, these seem like the only options presented to a believer today.
      • The truth: A third path exists.
        • John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
        • John 1:17 (ESV) — 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
    • Embrace the exile life!

      • 1 Peter 2:11 (ESV) — 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

        • This is a sort of exile God will use it to shape you into a prophet-like believer.

B. Second, replace your homeland.

  • 14 People who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland / 15 They would have had opportunity to return:

    • Embrace the exile life by realizing you have a new home.

      • God's city? Yes, and we'll get to it in a moment.
    • But his people have a community today: the church.

      • Ephesians 2:19 (ESV) — 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God...

        • So you are a "sojourner" and "exile" (1 Peter 2:11).
        • But you are also a "citizen" and "member" of the "household of God."
      • Life with the body of Christ is of great help during exile.

C. Third, look forward to real foundations.

  • 16 They desire a better / heavenly / country / He has prepared for them a city: Like Abraham -- Hebrews 11:10 (ESV) — 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    • For people in the first century, and during Abraham's time, the city was the highest form of civilized society, the pattern for ideal community.

      • 10 Foundations: They looked for true stability.
        • Faith is able to see that true stability is found in an immaterial realm.
        • Abraham might have thought God owed him Canaan, but he and the patriarchs actually looked past it to the invisible city of God.
        • Revelation 21-22 is in mind here.
      • 10 Designer and builder: God is the planner (city planner) and builder.
        • His mind and his power are involved in constructing the perfect civilization.
    • Look forward to that city with its real foundations.

      • Worldviews compared:

        • Other worldviews tell us to soak in the joys of today for sorrow and misery are certainly coming.

        • But our view of the world helps us embrace today's sorrows, knowing that coming joy is most certainly ours.

        • "Do you believe that when you die, you rot? That life in this world is all the happiness you will ever get? Do you believe that someday the sun is going to die and all human civilization is going to be gone, and nobody will remember anything anyone has ever done? That's one way to imagine your future. But here's another. Do you believe in a Judgement Day when every evil deed and injustice will be redressed? Do you believe you are headed for a future of endless joy? Those are two utterly different futures, and depending on which one you believe, you are going to handle your (life) in two utterly different ways." - Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering, page 314

Close

  • Pray in these three concepts regarding faith.

    • Faith goes on adventures with God.
    • Faith receives power for the impossible from God.
    • Faith looks forward to the better city of God.
  • Regarding God's eternal city:

    • Psalm 46:1–11 (ESV) — 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah