Summary: Sixth message in the Romans series dealing with Faith. A little side trip in Hebrews 11
“Faith of our Fathers” Hebrews 11
The Gospel is the power of God for everyone’s salvation. God reveals the failure of mankind to live up to His standard of righteousness resulting in wrath and alienation between God and man. God also reveals His plan to reconcile man to God through the saving work of Jesus Christ. In order to do that, God had to deal with the gigantic debt incurred against Him. He also had to arrange for a positive righteousness to our account.
The story of salvation begins in gloom and ends in glory. It begins with a rebellious creature incapable and unwilling to fellowship with God and ends with an invitation to join the glorious divine community and union of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. How does this all happen? How does God bring about such a transformation? Paul systematically lays out the process throughout his letter to the Romans. He began (1-3) by demonstrating the absolute failure of man to live according to God’s required standard. He powerfully presented God’s reconciliation plan in 3:21-31 conveying God’s willingness to offer the perfect righteousness of Christ to all those trusting in Him. Because Christ died for the sins of the ungodly, God was free to JUSTIFY the ungodly. Christ removed our moral bankruptcy by his death. By His resurrection life Christ offers to all, His perfect righteousness resulting in a glorious reconciliation with God.
The heart of the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures resulting in forgiveness and redemption and propitiation and the he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures resulting in justification and regeneration and reconciliation.
What is our part in this plan? Such an all-inclusive rescue must require something on our part. Scripture clearly proves that no one can or ever will be able to make up for offenses or earn favor with God through our feeble attempts to comply with the absolute standard. Since we do not have the capacity to deal with our contemptible condition, we must humbly cry for God to do what we cannot. God graciously justifies the ungodly in response to their humble trust in Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9
The last thing man wants to admit is personal helplessness and inability. The first thing God wants to hear is our acknowledgement of complete dependence upon Him. It is a rebellious spirit of independence that got us into this dilemma in the first place.
Abraham believed in the God of resurrection and life.
Abraham believed in God’s promise in the face of improbable and impossible odds.
God strengthened him because he held to his persuasion that this Creating, life-restoring God would do exactly what he promised He would do.
God considered or credited Abraham with righteousness not because of his works but because of his humble dependence and trust in Him.
What are the elements involved in genuine faith we have learned so far?
1. Faith requires an object – God.
2. Faith involves a promise from the object of our faith.
3. Faith involves a confident expectation in the promise made.
4. Faith involves action or movement based on the confident expectation.
We act even though the fulfillment is still not realized and unseen.
5. Faith involves eventual reward or fulfillment of the promise.
If there is not immediate reward we sometimes “lose faith” in the object.
We proposed last week that everyone lives by faith everyday. All of these elements come into play with every incident of trust. When it comes to faith in God, many have “lost faith”. Many have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith because of faulty thinking and a failure to understand the nature of God and His promises. The writer of Hebrews invites us to listen to some eyewitness testimony from those who maintained their trust in God in spite of obstacles and circumstances. Each of these Old Testament saints bears witness to God’s faithfulness to His promises.
Faith is not just the entrance pass into the Christian life it IS the Christian life.
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20
Paul links faith both to the past and to the present. Through faith he became identified with the death of Christ.
Through faith he continues to live the resurrection life. Galatians 3:1-7
Since it was our independent spirit and intentional rebellion that broke relationship with God in the first place, only a return to humble dependence and genuine trust can please Him. God included Hebrews to inspire and sustain faith in the midst of tribulation and struggle. If our confidence folds under testing it only proves its weakness and perhaps phoniness. In chapter twelve, the writer of Hebrews encouraged the readers to consider the testimony of those presented in chapter eleven so that they would continue to hang on to their trust in God no matter what raged around them.