Summary: Over the last two decades in our country we have grown accustomed to hearing the concept that “true faith” is always evidenced by tangible success.But this is a false gospel.
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 21
“Faith is the Victory”
We live in a society where winning is everything. Everything in our society is success oriented. Even the church has acquired the success syndrome. Over the last two decades in our country we have grown accustomed to hearing the concept that “true faith” is always evidenced by tangible success. Proponents of what has come to be known as the “health and wealth gospel” have built Television empires that sell their ideas, that unless you are healthy and wealthy you not living up to your potential. Anything less than tangible success that leads to your comfort and prosperity in life is shamed as being a defective faith. So any failures, illnesses or tragedies are ruled to be outside of the will of God and beneath the dignity of the Christian. Is that what the Bible really teaching about faith?
No, in fact to believe this “false gospel” about faith is to ignore the principal that there is a difference between spiritual success and material success. There is a difference between being deemed a success by the world and deemed a success by God.
Last time in (11:23-29) we looked at “Moses: A Man of Faith” and noted how this man considered by the Jews to be the greatest of the Old Testament characters lived by faith. Today the author of Hebrews gives his summary to his great “Heroes of the Faith Hall of Fame,” he gives two great principles about faith. This passage is extremely important for blowing the fog of confusion away from what faith is and what kind of life faith guarantees. Today we will see the two-fold nature of faith, first we see the exciting victories of faith and secondly we see the enduring virtue of faith.
First, The Exciting Victories of the Faith 11:32-35a
In verse thirty-two it is as if the writer realizes that time constraints will not allow him to continue a detailed account of the heroic exploits of faith. He says, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:” He has now confined himself to six additional figures whose lives span from the time of the Judges through the Monarchy and ends with the inclusion of “the prophets.” These men who are mentioned are intended to be suggestive of a host of men and women who had lived for God in a hostile world.
Gideon the first listed is a powerful example of faith, in that he and three hundred select men routed the Midianite army with torches and empty jugs (Judges 7:7-25).
Barak, when the judges ruled Israel, was a military leader who along with Deborah, led Israel to defeat Siscera and the Canaanites (Judges 4:8-10).
Samson, is usually remember for his great strength not his faith, yet in spite of his weaknesses, he was a great champion of Israel during period of the Philistine oppression (Judges 13:1- 16:31).
Jephthah, (Jud 11:1-12:7) often remember for his foolish vow, placed his faith in God and relied on his power to overcome the Ammonities.
David, a man who could and did make tragic mistakes, was first and foremost a man of faith. David is called “a man after God’s own heart” because of his faith and his desire to do the will of God.
Leon Morris points out that each of the men cited here had defects in their faith. “Gideon was slow to take up arms; Barak hesitated and went forward only when Deborah encouraged him; Samson was enticed by Delilah; and Jephthah made a foolish vow and stubbornly kept it.” Although their faith was less than perfect it did not keep them from being used by God!
Then the writer names Samuel who was first of the prophets and the last of the judges. He started as a young boy and continued always through his life serving God.
The last to be named in this list are “The prophets,” who remain unnamed accept for Samuel, all served God cheerfully, courage-ously and confidently accepted God commands and faced whatever opposition came along.
In verse thirty-three he details some of what they had been able to do through faith, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (35) Women received their dead raised to life again.”
The accomplishments sound like the stuff of childhood fantasies – slaying dragons, vanquishing evil, beating the odds, rescuing the damsel in distress, laughing in the face of death, escaping just in nick of time and making it all look incredibly easy.