Summary: Abraham responded to God’s Word; rebuked the world; and received God’s righteousness.
[The outline was borrowed from John MacArthur’s Hebrews commentary.]
A business man well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, “Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.” “I have a better idea,” replied Twain. “You could stay in Boston and keep them” [SermonIllustrations.com (Faith and Works)].
James 2:14-20, The Message:
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed is rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do for them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
James 2:20—“Faith without works is dead.”
Many people today have the wrong idea that they can add Christ to their lives without subtracting sin.
Salvation does not only involve a CHANGE IN BELIEF; it also involves a CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR.
If you really believe in God, there will be evidence of it in the way you live, in the things you say, and in the things you do.
John MacArthur writes,
Satan has continually tried to confused and mislead people, including God’s people, about faith and works. If possible, he will convince a person that he can be saved by doing certain good works. If this strategy works, the person will be lost to God. If a person trusts in God and is saved, Satan then tries to convince him of one of two extremes—that he must do good works to keep his salvation (legalism) or that, now that he is saved by faith, he can forget about good works (license). From Genesis to Revelation, however, the Bible is clear that a person is saved only by faith, and that when he is saved, good works should follow as a result [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, pp. 317-318].
Read through Hebrews 11 and you will see that every one of heaven’s heroes demonstrated their faith by their works.
ABEL had faith. How did he show it? BY PRESENTING TO GOD THE PROPER SACRIFICE.
ENOCH had faith. How did he show it? BY WALKING WITH GOD.
And NOAH had faith. How did he show it? BY PREPARING THE ARK.
Abel illustrates the WORSHIP of faith.
Enoch illustrates the WALK of faith.
And Noah, perhaps more than any other person in history, illustrates the WORK of faith— OBEDIENCE.
Sermon Text: Hebrews 11:7
Three things in Hebrews 11:7 give proof that Noah’s faith was genuine:
1. HE RESPONDED TO GOD’S WORD;
2. HE REBUKED THE WORLD;
3. HE RECEIVED GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.
I. NOAH RESPONDED TO GOD’S WORD (Hebrews 11:7a).
“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. . . .”
Genesis 6:5-13, 17
Noah responded to God’s Word BY FAITH. “By faith Noah . . . prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” By faith Noah obeyed God’s word.
TRUST AND OBEDIENCE ARE INSEPARABLE. As we like to sing, there is no other way than “to trust and obey.”
A. Noah obeyed God without questioning Him.
The verse tells us that God warned Noah “of things not seen as yet.” What had Noah not seen? Rain!
Genesis 2:6—“. . . the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth. . . . But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
Hebrews 11:1—“. . . faith is . . . the evidence [conviction] of things not seen.”
One of the greatest practical acts of faith in all history was Noah’s cutting down the first gopher tree for wood to make the ark [MacArthur, p. 319].