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Summary: Sermon describes the endurance and blessing of faith in Jesus.

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LASTING FAITH

Please read Hebrews 10:35-11:1

Lasting faith brings rich rewards. However, what is lasting faith and what are its rich rewards? Lasting faith is faith that does not give up. Hebrews 11:1 informs us that faith is believing what cannot be seen. For example, salvation cannot be seen. Nevertheless, when we pray to God for forgiveness of sins because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we sense something has happened. We have become clean. We do not see the cleansing, but we “know” we have it. How do we really know? By faith! Likewise, God cannot be directly seen. Yet, the Bible tells us that creation is shouting forth the existence of God. Heaven also cannot be seen. Yet, we struggle to live the righteous Christian life because we believe in the eternal reward heaven promises us. Finally, angels and demons cannot be seen. Yet we “know” that Satan is actively working this world for his own wicked ends. Nevertheless, the Scriptures tell us that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. We do not see either side in the spiritual battle, yet we know they fight–and that our side–God’s side–wins. We Christians live our lives as though all of these are certain. And they are! By faith we know that that which we cannot see IS!

Christians do not live with such radical beliefs based on blind faith. The tradition of believing God before he has made his promises evident is thousands of years old. Abraham–went to a place he knew not to found a nation he never saw come to fruition. Why? He believed that God had called him to go. Wise men who came to Jesus, traveled months based upon a combination of star-sightings and spiritual revelations. Every sinner who confesses his sins to God for the first time is operating based on unseen promises that the Holy Spirit has communicated to his heart. The Christian who abstains from sinful pleasures does so in hopes of a greater reward, The Christian who endures abuse and even death because he names the name of Jesus Christ, does so because he believes that name is worthy, even though he has never physically encountered him.

Faith itself is wonderful. But, what makes it truly precious is that it will not fail. Hebrews 10:35 tells us not to throw away your confidence. In a society that places such stress on tolerance, open-mindedness and moral relativism, it seems the highest arrogance to say, “I am right about God.” Yet, we are right. Our Bible explains God to us simply, clearly, and accurately. Furthermore, if the truths our Bible teaches are correct, then the teachings of other religions are wrong. We must walk in the confidence that we are right. If you are not sure that Jesus is the only way, truth and life–if you do not know that you know that you know that “whosoever believes in Jesus will not die, but have everlasting life,”–than you will not be a powerful witness.

We not only gain the confidence of being right, we find a true sense of joy at having found the meaning of life. We know why evil happens, what happens when people die, why we exist. We know the answers to the great philosophical questions of life. And, the answers are so wonderful–our Creator is good and he loves us, and we can live forever with him. The good really will be rewarded for all their suffering, and the evil really will be judged for all the hurt they have caused. Praise God for his justice, mercy and love!

In Hebrews 10:36 perseverence is called for. When doubts about God and faith come, you don’t give in, you dig in. You dig in to the Word of God. You dig in to prayer. And you dig in to the support your brothers in Christ offer you.

If hardship and death come to you because of the name of Jesus, you accept it as an honor. You have joined the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. You have joined the prophets of the Old Testament. You have joined the disciples of the New Testament. You have joined the many Christians throughout church history who have suffered for the name of Jesus.

Faith is powerful, but we have just learned that it is also painful. What makes faith worth suffering for? Hebrews 10:35 tells us that faith results in a rich reward. Verse 36 tells us that the reward is promised by God–therefore it is a sure reward. Finally, verse 39 reminds us that the reward of faith includes salvation–eternal life with God!

So, through this passage in Hebrews, what has God communicated through his servant, the Apostle Paul? First, we must keep our faith by knowing that the truths we do not see are indeed true. We must keep our faith by clinging to the Bible, to prayer, and to our Christian brothers during times of doubt. We must keep our faith by enduring persecution as an honorable service to God. Finally, we must keep our faith–knowing that our reward is rich, certain, and eternal.

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