In the sports world, many athletes are recognized by their accomplishments in their perspective sports profession and at some point they are inducted into the “Hall of Fame”. I love the game of basketball and list of hall of famers are tremendous. The list includes stars like:
- Kareen Abdul-Jabbar (1995)
- Nathaniel “Tiny” Archibald (1991)
- John R. Wooden (1960)
- Jerry A. West (1979)
- Clyde Drexler 2004
- Walter Frazier 1987
- Moses Malone 2001
- William F. Russell 1974
- Cheryl Miller 1995
- Oscar P. Robertson 1979
And the list goes on and on and on. In the entertainment world, there is the walk of fame on the streets of Hollywood Blvd. Each square has a name of a person in music, theatre, or movies. Some months ago we saw Smokey Robinson inducted into the “Walk of Fame”. This year the following names were added to the streets of Hollywood: Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Kevin Costner, Anthony Hopkins, Brooke Shields, Glenn Close, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, Cindy Williams, Patty Duke, John Singleton, Ted Turner, Hans Zimmer, Steve Edwards, Journey, Nancy Sinatra, Jose Jose, Mickey Rooney and Jan Rooney. Posthumous stars will be awarded to Elizabeth Montgomery, Ethel Waters and Dr. Seuss.
And in A.D. 70 we find a list of “Hall of Famers”. These individuals are unique not because of their professional lifestyles in sports, music, entertainment, theatre, or movies. These individuals we read and study about in Hebrews chapter 11 are not all people with distinguished backgrounds yet they are listed for us in Hebrews 11 a chapter known as the “Heroes of Faith” or “Faith Hall of Famers”.
You ask what is it that makes them so unique? What did they do that would name them “Hall of Famers” or “Heroes of Faith”? Here’s my answer as simple as it maybe: They kept the faith.
Understand, faith is a common denominator. Every one alive daily expressed faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising faith.
Faith in the physical world. When you awoke and went into the bathroom this morning you flipped a light switch and you had faith that it would work. When you get in your car you have faith that it will start. When you mail a letter you have faith the postal system will get it to the right address. When you go to the pharmacy you have faith that the pharmacist will give you the right drugs. Every time you walk into this building or any building you are expressing faith in the architect and the workmen.
Faith in the spiritual realm. Each of us regardless of our backgrounds or educations, our social status or our talents can express faith. The difference between the faith we exercise in our daily routine and our religious faith is the object of that faith. Again everyone places their faith in something or someone. The Moslem puts his faith in the Koran and in Mohammed. The humanist put his faith in himself. The follower of religion, in his own good works. None of these can save, because in each case the object of faith is wrong. Your faith is only as good as the object in which you place your faith. The Bible insists that we personally put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” It’s our faith in Jesus Christ that brings true salvation and it is that same faith that pleases God.
Well, then the question is what does it take to have a faith that pleases God? Before we discuss what it takes let’s talk about what it does not take. Because there are some misconceptions regarding faith that we need to clear up.
• First, faith is the ability to manipulate God. This is the approach of the “health and wealth” prosperity gospel. This approach only sees faith as having one aim – one fruit – a life of ease and blessing.
• Second, faith is adherence to a set of beliefs . You must believe the right doctrine. But Paul says in 2 Tim. 1:12, “ I know whom I have believed.” If your beliefs are not founded on the right person it does not matter what else you believe.
• Third, faith is a blind leap into the dark. To many unbelievers faith is the anti-thesis of science. To these saying “you just have to have faith” is the same as saying “just have to act contrary to everything you know and trust that it will all work out for the best.”
• Finally, that faith is simply devotion to whatever god one happens to follow. It can be said, “He is a person of deep faith” about a follower of Mohammed or the Ayatollah or of a Christian. What matters is that they are sincere.
Unfortunately none of these is true faith. Hebrews chapter eleven portrays what real biblical faith looks like. And the verse 7 verses show the “MARKS OF TRUE FAITH”.
I. The Mark of True Faith is Displayed in your BEHAVIOR – v. 1-3
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.(3) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
True faith is confident obedience to God’s word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Faith is described in a two-fold way. It is the “substance of things hoped for,” and “the evidence of things not seen.”
First, the word translated “substance” (hupostasis) in the Greek, means literally ‘to stand under or to support.’ Faith is the foundation that gives the believer the confidence to stand. The verse could be translated “faith is the confidence of things hoped for.”
This is illustrated in the life of the missionary Hudson Taylor. “When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was caught in a calm., and it was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and sought him to pray for the help of God. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. Taylor said, ‘I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And it was done. While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there?” The captains voice responded, ‘Are your still praying for wind?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well,’ said the captain ‘you better stop praying for we have more wind than we can manage.’” [Paul Lee Tan. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979). # 1493]
Second, word describing what faith is, is translated “evidence” and means “conviction.” This inward conviction enables the believer to believe things not yet seen, that God perform what he has promised.
Another story of a captain of a ship illustrates this point. “The story is told by the captain of a ship on which George Mueller of Bristol was traveling. (Mueller was a man who had several children’s homes and depended on God alone to provide for them.) During his lifetime he received more than 1,000,000 pounds from the Lord without advertising – every penny came as an answer to prayer.
We had George Mueller of Bristol aboard, said the captain. ‘I had been on the bridge for twenty-four hours and never left it and George Mueller came to me and said, ‘Captain, I have come to tell you that you must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.’ ‘It is impossible.’ I said. ‘Then very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.’
‘I looked at that man of God and thought to myself. What lunatic asylum can that man have come from, for I never heard of such a thing as this?’ ‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you know how dense this fog is?’ No he replied, ‘my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.’ He knelt down and he prayed one of the simplest prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ‘As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe He has, there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’
‘I looked at him and George Mueller said, ‘Captain, I have known the Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door and you will find the fog has gone.’
‘I got up and the fog indeed was gone and on that Saturday afternoon George Mueller kept his promised engagement.” [Paul Lee Tan. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979). # 1494] That my friends is the conviction that only faith can bring.
II. The Mark of True Faith is Declared in your WORSHIP – v. 4 (Gen. 4:1-10)
“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”
- Your worship in faith is declared in what you bring – The text says; “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” and in Genesis 4:4 we find that “Abel brought of the first-born of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering.” What this says to us is that when we worship God, we must worship God with our best.
- Your worship in faith is declared in how you bring what you bring – The text reveals that Abel’s offering was much more excellent than his brother Cain. Why? Cain’s offering was not accepted by God because Cain’s heart and attitude was not right. To worship God requires the right attitude and posture that’s the whole meaning of Psalms 100, Psalms 146-150, and Psalms 34.
- Your worship in faith is being watched by God – The text again records that “God testified of his (Abel) gifts…” God sees your faith worship!
- Your worship in faith is a lifelong testimony – The declares for us that “…and through it he being dead still speaks”. You may build great cathedrals large or small.
- You may build skyscrapers grand and tall. You may conquer all the failures of your past. But only what you do for will last.
III. The Mark of True Faith is Demonstrated in your WALK –
v. 5-6 (Genesis 5:23-24)
The life of Enoch teaches of three (3) very important aspects of walking with God that we should make notice of:
b. Your walk should be progressive – That is to say that a believer should never find themselves in neutral or park. You should not park in your successes, failures, possessions, or your positions
c. Your walk should be life changing – The text says that “Enoch was taken so that he did not see death”. The KJV uses the word “translated” which in the Greek means to transpose (two things, one of which is put in place of the other) to transfer, to change, to transfer one’s self or suffer one’s self to be transferred, to go or pass over , to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another. What that means to us is that the more you walk with God, the more you ought to look like God.
d. Your walk should be pleasing to God – The text says before Enoch was taken, he had this testimony, that he pleased God. There should only be goal in life for the believer and that is to please God.
IV. The Mark of True Faith is Produced in your WORK – v. 7 (Genesis 6-9)
The text gives us some helpful wholesome principles to insure that a faith that works is evident in our lives.
- Do your best – The text says “Noah moved with godly fear”. To move with godly fear means to act cautiously, circumspectly, to beware, fear, to reverence, stand in awe of. What that says to us is whatever you do for God, do it to the best you can.
- Prepare yourself – Noah prepared an ark. How could Noah prepare for something he knew nothing about?
a. He listened to God – Genesis 6:13-16
b. Take good notes – Mat 11:10 For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”
c. Just do it- Genesis 6:22 says Noah did all that God commanded him, so he did.