Summary: This sermon deals with how to build our lives by faith by using those within God's Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11. We look at the topics of belief, obedience, giving, persistence, and thankfulness.
Building A Life of Faith
I’d like to approach today’s message with this question, “What Pleases God?”
What does it take to please God? Some people think the way we please God is through rituals. You chant certain prayers, pray over certain things, light incense or candles, or the like. But that’s not what the Bible says.
Others think we please God through following rules and regulations. We make a list of what we’re supposed to do and not to do, and if we do all the “to Do’s” and don’t do any of the “Do Not’s,” then God says we’re okay. But that’s not what the Bible says.
Then there are those who think that we please God through religious observances. That we observe certain holy days, or attend certain religious events, then we’ll religious enough to hear God says we’re okay. But that’s not what the Bible says.
What does the Bible say?
“But 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.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
The Bible says is that God isn’t interested in rituals, rules, regulations, or religion. God’s interested in relationships, and that it’s impossible to please God unless we possess one thing, and that is faith.
Today I’d like to look at how we can build a life of faith so God is pleased.
The Bible tells us that we are to build our lives on a foundation of faith, Jude 1:20. If this is true, and it is because the Bible is truth, what is faith?
To take a practical look at what faith is all about, the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, also known as God’s Hall of Faith, is a good place to start. It’s the list of those God says had great faith. But what was it about their lives that singled them out for this great honor? This is what I’d like to look at, that is, those different aspects of how we can build a life of faith.
1. Faith is Believing When We Don’t See It
The first verse is what many describe as the quintessential definition of faith, but it isn’t so much a definition as it is a description, and the rest of the chapter is the example.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
The New Living Translation reads, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and it’s certain of what we do not see.
We often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But God says, “You’ve got it backwards. You have to believe it in order to see it.” That’s faith.
Like an architect planning a building, or an artist creating a sculpture, or an athlete trying to break a record. They have to believe and envision it before they can accomplish it. They have to believe it’s possible long before it will ever be possible.
Warner von Braun, builder of the Atlas and Saturn rockets, said, “There has never been any significant achievement in human history that was not accompanied by faith.”
While we may not see God, it doesn’t’ mean He doesn’t exist. The Russian cosmonaut who didn’t see God in outer space reportedly said, “Since I can’t see God he must not exist.”
While we may not see the face of God, we do see Him in creation and the changed lives of those who by faith have come to believe.
American astronaut John Glenn said, “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”
Faith then believes before seeing, but there’s more
2. Faith is Obeying When We Don’t Understand It
Consider Noah. Can you imagine what he thought and the doubts he must have had when God said, “I’m going to wipe out every living thing on earth and start all over with you.” I don’t know about you, but I’d wonder what I just ate for dinner. But not Noah!
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7 NKJV)
Underline “moved with godly fear,” and write in the margin, “obey,” and that’s because it’s a great definition for “obey.” Now circle the word, “faith.” These two go together. Faith is obeying when we don’t understand, when it doesn’t make sense.