Summary: Hebrews 11 has a long list of great men and women of faith. What can we learn from them for our own living faith today?
PRINCIPLES OF LIVING FAITH FROM HEBREWS 11
Hebrews 11 is one of the most familiar passages in our New Testaments. It begins with a definition of faith, offers amazing examples of faith, and ends with a call for us to have faith-based upon what we know from God.
Lightfoot: “An enthusiastic appeal for steadfastness” - this chapter is an appeal to stay strong in our connection to God no matter what we encounter.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
From the beginning of this great chapter, we understand that
-Faith has to do with our hopes
-Faith has to do with spiritual realities beyond our vision
-Faith has to do with building our life with God
-Faith has to do with trusting a God who can speak and call the universe into order
That kind of faith is demonstrated in the next several verses and we want to build up our faith by looking at these examples and unearthing Principles of Living Faith.
1. FAITH LEADS US TO WORSHIP GOD (4)
NLT 4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
In the opening chapters of the Bible, Cain and Abel both came before God in worship and with an offering. We aren’t given much detail in Genesis 4 apart from Abel bringing the portions of the firstborn of his flock, and this was an acceptable offering before God. Here we are informed that faith compels Abel to do this.
So as we look at our worship before God, our offerings, the truth is we could never repay the debt that was paid for us. Our offering is not a payment to God, but instead, with a strong foundation in faith, we know that what we have is not ours anyway, and when we withhold our offerings of money, talents, time, fellowship, or even sin in our life- what does that teach us about our faith (what we hope for, what we put our trust in). Is it with our Lord, or is it with ourselves?
James 4:7 tells us to submit ourselves before God to resist the devil.
What is it that we are offering today, and what are we withholding?
2. FAITH LEADS US TO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (5)
NLT 5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying - “he disappeared because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.
What is strange about Enoch is that he did not die, he was translated. Whatever that means. But what is meaningful here is that God was pleased, satisfied, with the life Enoch lived.
Faith calls us to live in relationship with God. We know from the OT that Enoch walked with God at least 300 years. He released his fears and flesh, gave everything to God!
Andrew Murray: “Learn with Enoch to walk with God the walk of faith. ... Let every day - the most ordinary one or the most difficult one - be a day with God, as one of the days of heaven upon earth, a day of which faith is the beginning and the end.”
Build up your faith by living in daily relationship with Him!
3. FAITH IS ACTIVE IN SEEKING AND BELIEVING GOD (6)
NLT 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
I think that this is one of the areas that we get backward sometimes. It’s human nature to as “What have you done for me lately?” and we want God to reward us for things we accomplish in our life. We want material blessings and we want to negotiate with God. God, if you get me this raise at work, or if you heal this sick person, or if you do this or that, I promise I’ll go to church more, I promise I’ll be more consistent in my giving, I promise I’ll never ask for anything again. I imagine that sounds familiar to a lot of people here, but I don’t think that is the order in which faith works.
Seek God first. He gave us life and breath, and he gave us his son so that we would seek Him, and reach for him and we would find him because He is not very far from us, we are His children. Acts 17:27.