Summary: What alone gives your faith true certainty and real sureness? The Scriptures answer that question and hold before us the promise of a heavenly fatherland. What a hope for our faith to hold on to!

Text: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Theme: Faith Awaits With Certainty

A. God's word of promise does not fail

B. Our fatherland is ready

Season: Pentecost 12c

Date: August 15, 2010

Web page:,8-16.html

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith in Jesus is Hebrews 11

"Now faith is firmness in what is hoped for and conviction about things that are not seen. In this the ancients were commended.

"By faith we understand that the universe was put together by God's spoken word, so that what is seen did not come from what's visible.

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance, obeyed and left, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he lived as a stranger in the promised land, staying in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of this same promise. For he eagerly awaited the city that has foundations whose architect and builder is God.

"By faith, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was beyond that time of life, he was enabled to become a father, since he counted him faithful who had made the promise. Therefore from this one (and he was dead in these things) have been born those who are as numerous as the stars in the sky and as uncountable as the sand along the seashore.

"In faith they all died not having received the things that were promised, but they died seeing them from afar, welcoming them, and confessing that they were strangers and temporary aliens on this earth. For those who say these kinds of things clearly show that they are seeking a fatherland. And if they were remembering that place which they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better place, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, with them God is not ashamed to be called their God. For he has prepared a city for them.

"(Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16")

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Another ace. He couldn't remember the last time his cards looked so good. Three aces and two queens. He was sure his full house would win. He wasn't going to let the others bluff him out. There was big money in the pot, more than he had ever hoped for. He went all in. The others called. As he flashed around his full house, one of the others began showing his two's -- four of them. His full house had been beaten by four of a kind. But he had been so sure, so certain, so hopeful. What happened?

So what's the difference between that gambler's confidence in his cards and what Hebrews 11 talks about: "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)? He was sure of his hope to win. He was certain that his cards where high, even though he could not see the other hands. What's the difference?

And this is not just an academic question. How often aren't our hopes been disappointed, like this gambler's? Haven't there been times that you were so sure of something only to find out later it was not so? Or have you ever been accused of blind faith, believing in something that is out of step with the real world? So what makes your Christian faith different than that gambler's? Or are we all just gamblers, hedging our bets for eternity?

A. God's word of promise does not fail

1. What makes the Christian faith different than a gambler's bet?

Now the writer to the Hebrews, instead of stating what makes the Christian faith different -- he shows us by listing believers from of old. As we look at just a small part of that list here today, we too see what the difference is.

He starts by taking us back to the very beginning. "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" (Hebrews 11:3 NIV).

Why do you believe that God created the world out of nothing in six regular days? You weren't there to see it. No one else was there to tell you about it. In fact, many of the highest authorities in science and the greatest intellects in our world today deny what these words say. They argue that the evidence shows a gradual change over time, an evolving from the simple to the complex. If you go to almost any natural history museum, you will see them lay out the steps of evolution over millions and billions of years.

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