Summary: This message deals with the subject of overcoming faith. It is a part of my series on the book of Hebrews.
TEXT: Hebrews 11:30-40
TOPIC: “Overcoming Faith”
A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued:
"Is anyone up there?"
"I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?"
"Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer."
"That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch."
A moment of pause, then: "Is anyone else up there?"
I’m afraid that many times our faith is no stronger than this man. Overcoming faith causes is to face difficulties in a different way than the average man.
What does overcoming faith do?
I. OVERCOMES OBSTACLES (V. 30).
A. Faith overcomes obstacles by refusing to despair.
1. The walls of Jericho looked formidable.
a. Its site was about 5 miles west of Jordan. It was the most important city in the Jordan valley and the strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan.
b. The main defenses of Jericho in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1500–1200 B.C. ) followed the upper bank of the city mound, and comprised two parallel walls, the outer six feet thick and the inner twelve feet thick.
c. The walls were of a type which made direct assault practically impossible. An approaching enemy first encountered a stone abutment, eleven feet height, back and up from which sloped a thirty-five degree plastered scarp reaching to the main wall some 35 vertical feet above. The steep smooth slope prohibited battering the wall by any effective device or building fires to break it. An army trying to storm the wall found difficulty in climbing the slope, and ladders to scale it could find no satisfactory footing ( Archaeology and the Old Testament, 174).
2. The obstacles we face sometimes are equally formidable.
1.) Financial circumstances
2.) Physical circumstances
3.) Emotional Circumstances
B. Faith overcomes obstacles through obedience to God.
1. The Israelites followed God’s plan.
a. Although it did not make military sense, they followed God’s plan.
1.) Remember “the plan”.
2. We must follow God’s plans.
a. Even when it does not make “common sense.”
1.) Most of the time, God’s ways don’t fit human reasoning.
a.) Die to self to live. (Matthew 10:39)
b.) Humble self to be exalted. (Luke 14:11)
d.) Give freely in order to receive. (Luke 6:38)
C. Faith overcomes obstacles through the mighty power of God.
1. Jericho was defeated by the power of God, not the ingenuity of men.
2. Obstacles we face can only be overcome by God’s power.
II. OVERCOMES DANGER (V. 31-34).
A. Notice the list of dangers in the text:
1. Dangers from outer attack (Rahab) (v. 31).
2. Danger while fighting the Lord’s battles (v.32-34).
a. Gideon (with a few followers) (Judges 6)
b. Barak (With an army) (Judges 4)
c. Sampson (Alone) (Judges 13-14)
d. Jephthah (an unlikely candidate- Illigitimate) (Judges 11)
e. David (Shepherd / poet) (I Sam. 16)
f. Samuel (a preacher) (1 Sam. 1)
g. Daniel (political captive) (Daniel 1)
h. The three Hebrew children (unknown to the world) (Dan. 1-3)
B. There are no dangers we can not face successfully if we approach them with faith in God.
1. Ease and comfort are NOT promised.
2. God’s power and presence are promised. (Heb. 13:5; Psalms 37:28)
III. OVERCOMES THE FEAR OF DEATH AND PERSECUTION (V. 35-40).
A. Faith overcomes persecution:
1. Tortured and not delivered (v. 35).
2. Mocked (v.36)
3. Beatings (v.36)
4. Imprisoned (v.36)
5. Impoverished (v.37)
6. Exiled (v. 38)
B. Faith overcomes fear of death:
1. Burned to death (v. 34)
2. Stoned to death (v. 37)
3. Sawn in two (v. 37)
4. Killed with a sword (v. 37)
C. Faith bares its fruit:
1. Miracles (v. 30, 35).
2. A good testimony that encouraged others to follow God (v. 39).
3. A better place rewarded for faith (v. 40).
God’s grace arrives just as we need it, appropriate for every challenge. Even if we’re lonely? Even if we’re ill? Yes. Even if we’re tortured? Even then.
Michael Sattler, born in Germany around 1490, became a Benedictine monk. As he studied Paul’s letters, he grew dissatisfied, left the monastery, married, and became a Lutheran. Sometime later he became convinced of believer’s baptism and became an Anabaptist of growing renown whose ministry attracted both converts and enemies.
Sattler, his wife, and a handful of associates were arrested in the mid-1520s and imprisoned in the tower of Binsdorf, where he wrote a letter to his flock: The brethren have doubtless informed you that some of us are in prison. Numerous accusations were preferred against us by our adversaries; at one time they threatened us with the gallows; at another with fire and sword. In this extremity, I surrendered myself entirely to the Lord’s will, and prepared myself, together with all brethren and wife, to die for his testimony’s sake.