Summary: Sermon on faith preached in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

The Faith that Changes Everything - Hebrews 11:1-10

Sermon by: Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church, West Monroe, LA

Originally preached September 11, 2005

*Everyone has faith in something. As John Bisagno once said, “Faith is the heart of life. You go to a doctor whose name you can’t pronounce. He gives you a prescription you cannot read. You take it to a pharmacist you have never seen. He gives you medication you do not understand... And yet... You take it.” (1)

*Everybody has faith in something, but there is only one kind of faith that changes everything, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. This is the kind of faith the Word of God talks about in Hebrews 11. Faith in God changes everything.

1. First of all. it gives us a rock-solid foundation for our hopes, and we see this in verse 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

*Faith is the substance of things hoped for. What are you hoping for today? I hope you haven’t given up on your hopes and dreams! Life would be terrible with no hope. There’s probably only one thing worse, and that’s a life based on false hope, but when we have faith in Jesus Christ, we have a rock-solid foundation for all of our hopes. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we have something to build our hopes on.

*See, faith is not just positive thinking, or having a positive attitude. Faith is not “The Little Engine that Could” trying to get up that hill: “I think I can! I think I can!” Verse 1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for. This means that our faith in Jesus Christ stands like a solid rock under our hopes and dreams. Our faith is something that we can rest on today, knowing that God will bring our God-given hopes to pass.

2. Faith changes everything! It gives a rock-solid foundation for our hopes, and it gives us a revelation of the unseen world. We see this in verses 1 and 3:

-“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

-Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

*These vs. teach us that faith opens us up to a whole new dimension in life. Faith opens us up to the most important things in life, because the most important things cannot be seen with our eyes. This is true in the physical world. You can’t see air, but you can’t live without it. I’ve never seen my heart or my kidneys or my liver, but I sure am glad they are in here, doing their important work behind the scenes.

*The most important things in life cannot be seen with our eyes. That’s true of love and joy and peace in our hearts. And it is especially true of the things of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Heaven, angels. We cannot see these things right now, not with our physical eyes, anyway, but faith opens our spiritual eyes so that we can see. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”

*One of the best preachers of the 20th century was Peter Marshall. Years ago, they made a movie about his life, and Zig Ziglar tells about something special that happened while they were filming the movie. It was a scene where the actor playing Peter Marshall was preaching a sermon on belief and faith. When the scene was over the cameras kept rolling. Many actors in the pretend congregation got up to congratulate the actor for a great performance, and one of those cast members was Marjorie Rambeau.

*As she walked down the aisle, you could see that she was very emotional. The reason why is because Marjorie was walking, even thought she could not walk. Marjorie had been injured in a car wreck, and for over a year had been unable to take a step, but as she listened to those words of faith, God worked a miracle in her body.

*Marjorie got up and walked and kept on walking. Now a doubter would say that she was just caught up in the emotion of the moment, but faith opens our spiritual eyes to see the Hand of God at work, even through an actor preaching the truth. (2)

3. Faith changes everything! It gives us a revelation of the unseen world, and it gives us a good report. We see this in verses 2 and 4 and 7:

-“For by it the elders obtained a good report.

-By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks.

-By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

*Faith gave Abel a good report, faith gave Noah a good report, and faith will give you a good report too. But how?

1-Abel’s sacrifice shows us. That’s because the Bible tells us that Abel sacrificed an innocent, spotless lamb. Now when Abel did that, he didn’t really understand it, but he was pointing to the Cross. He was pointing to the time thousands of years later when God would become a man.

*Jesus Christ came into the world to die on the Cross for our sins. He is the true Lamb of God who died to take away the sins of the world. Jesus took our punishment, so that we could have His righteousness. Then He rose again.

*So when we put our faith in the Risen Savior, we get a good report from God, but it must come through the Cross.

*Charles Lowery tells the story of a little girl who went to church. I don’t think she had ever been before, but Dad and Mom finally realized how important it is. Anyway, this little girl walked into the church, and saw a huge cross hanging on the wall. Then, she told her Daddy, “That is the biggest plus sign I have ever seen!” (3)

*She’s right! She’s right! The Cross is the biggest plus sign the world will ever see. And faith in that Cross is the only way for you to get a good report with God.

2-Faith gives us a good report. Abel’s sacrifice shows us, but so does Noah’s ship. And verse 7 reminds us that faith gives us a good report, because it changes the way we live: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

*Noah lived by faith. This means he listened to the warnings of God, trusted in the wisdom of God, followed the ways of God, and did the work of God, working to build the Ark for around 100 years!

*I love the way John Hamby put it:

“Noah built an Ark because he believed God. Every tree he felled shouted, faith. Every board he sawed shouted faith. Every swing of his hammer shouted faith.

Do your works reflect your faith? Faith will make us work.

-Only his steadfast belief in God kept Noah faithful [year after year] cutting the trees and planning the construction of the Ark.

-The ark was 450 feet long, 75 ft wide and 45 ft. high, that means that it was nearly one and a half times the length of a football field and more than four stories high, it could hardly be hidden from the ridicule of the scoffers.

-Can you imagine the mockery and jeering that Noah must have faced on a daily basis as he built this huge ship? It was a hundred miles from the nearest ocean and far too big to move.

-The majority of the people simply refused to believe Noah’s witness concerning the coming flood. Yet, he in faith went right on working and witnessing, building the ark and warning of the coming judgment.

-Then as a final act of faith, he and his family stepped into the ark and the [Lord shut] the door.” (4)

*Faith made all the difference in the way Noah lived his life, and it can do the same for us... -Even more so! Because when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are born-again with a new nature. We also receive God’s Holy Spirit, and He begins to move our life in a whole new direction!

*So have faith in God.

*I like the story Susan Skidmore heard from one of the School Counselors she works with. This grandmother told Susan what her little grandson prayed at the dinner table. He had just learned the story of Noah at church, and after thanking God for the food, he said, “And Lord, if you need someone to build an Ark... --I’ll do it!” (5)

*That’s faith! -The kind of faith that gives a good report.

4. Faith changes everything! *It gives us a good report, and it gives us a relationship with God. We see this in vs. 5:

-“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

*We don’t know much about Enoch. In the whole history of the world, what happened to him has only happened twice: men caught up without dying. But the thing I really want you to see here is the relationship that Enoch had with God by faith. Genesis 5:21-24 puts it this way:

-“Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

*Because of his faith, Enoch walked with God. That means he had a relationship with God, he spent time with God, he talked with God, and He was headed in the same direction as God.

*Now there is only one way to get that kind of relationship. There is only one way to walk with God: And that is by faith. You must open your heart to trust in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Savior and Lord. That will change everything in your life.

5. Faith gives us a relationship with God, and it gives us great rewards. Verse 6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

*There are many rewards from faith! In verse 7, Noah reminds us that we will find shelter in the storm. Jesus gives us peace in the middle of our worst storms, and that’s just one of His rewards for faith!

*Verses 8-10, remind us that we have the reward of a Heavenly home. Christians, this world is not our home! We are looking for a city whose builder and maker is God! And no matter what happens to us in this world, Jesus will walk with us every step of the way, until we get home.

*Richard Hogan was a speaker at a large Christian convention in 1990. Thousands of people were there, and Richard told about his recent visit to Jack Cutbirth, a pastor in his last hours of life due to a fast-spreading cancer.

*Jack had served in WW2 as an army chaplain and had ministered ever since then. When they met for the last time on this side of Heaven, near the end of their visit, Richard asked: “Jack, is there anything you want me to tell your brothers and sisters on opening night at the convention? Thousands of them from all over the world will be gathered to hear about [God’s amazing love.]”

*And Richard said: “The old soldier of the cross spoke with such a feeble voice I couldn’t make it out. Then he said it again, ‘Dick, tell my brothers and sisters that Jesus never fails.’”

“Is there anything else you want me to tell them?”

“No, just tell them that the love of Jesus never fails.” (6)

*I read that story and I thought back to one of the last times I ever saw Chip McNeil. It was just a few weeks before he died, and he was so sick, lying in a hospital bed with a fever of 104 or 105 degrees. But he was singing:

-Jesus never fails!

-Jesus never fails!

-You might as well get thee behind me, Satan,

-You cannot prevail...

-Because Jesus never fails! (7)

*That’s faith! I knew I was standing on holy ground.

*When you are dying of cancer, Jesus never fails!

-When you’ve got 20 feet of water in your house, Jesus never fails!

-When you are lying in a bed with a fever of 105, Jesus never fails!


*That’s faith, real faith, the kind of faith that changes everything.

-Have faith in God.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral Sermon: “God Pleasing Faith” by Edward Skidmore - Hebrews 11:1-13

(2) From See You at the Top, by Zig Ziglar, Pelican Publishing Company, p. 18

(3) SBC LIFE - September 2005 Issue - “Drifted or Lifted?” by Charles Lowery

(4) Adapted from SermonCentral Sermon: “The Pathway of Faith” by John Hamby - Hebrews 11:1-7

(5) Adapted from SermonCentral Sermon: “God Pleasing Faith” by Edward Skidmore - Hebrews 11:1-13

(6) Adapted from SermonCentral Sermon: “What Are You Working For?” by Michael Murdock - 1 Thess 1:2-3

(7) "Jesus Never Fails" Gary Driskell © 1983 Straightway Music