Summary: Faith is a requirement to receive God’s promises.
October 12, 2008
Text: Hebrews 11:1
Title: Receiving What God has Promised - Part 2
A businessman was in a great deal of trouble. His business was failing, he had put everything he had into the business, he owed everybody it was so bad he was even contemplating suicide. As a last resort he went to a pastor and poured out his story of tears and woe.
When he had finished, the pastor said, "Here’s what I want you to do, put a beach chair and your Bible in your car and drive down to the beach. Take the beach chair and the Bible to the water’s edge, sit down in the beach chair, and put the Bible in your lap. Open the Bible; the wind will rifle the pages, but finally the open Bible will come to rest on a page. Look down at the page and read the first thing you see. That will be your answer, that will tell you what to do."
A year later the businessman went back to the pastor and brought his wife and children with him. The man was in a new custom- tailored suit, his wife in a mink coat, the children shining. The businessman pulled an envelope stuffed with money out of his pocket and gave it to the pastor as a donation in thanks for his advice.
The pastor recognized the benefactor, and was curious. "You did as I suggested?" he asked.
"Absolutely," replied the businessman.
"You went to the beach?"
"You sat in a beach chair with the Bible in your lap?"
"You let the pages rifle until they stopped?"
"And what were the first words you saw?"
Though this story is just that, a story, and though the method is a little messed up, the one truth that it contains is that you can trust God’s word. I want to speak to you today about having the kind of faith to receive what the word of God says you can have. I guess nearly every one of you here would say that you think you have the kind of faith to receive God’s promises. That’s a good thing. But if we have that kind of faith, then why aren’t we receiving those promises?
Let’s look at what the word says about the kind of faith we need in order to receive.
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. AN EXPLANATION OF FAITH (1-3) Verse 1 gives us a pretty clear definition of what faith is. Faith is not a New Testament concept. I did a quick word study in the OT and the NT and I want to share some of my findings with you. First of all there are three words that refer to faith; faith, trust and believe. In the OT I found that the first mention of having faith in God is in 2 Chronicles 20:20, “20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” The first mention of believing the Lord is Numbers 14:11, 11The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” Now that is questioning Israel’s failure to believe but the implication is that they should believe in the Lord. The first mention of trusting God is in Exodus 14:31, “31And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” The word that is translated faith, believe, trust is the same Hebrew word, aman (awman). It means to build up or support; to foster as a parent or a nurse; to trust or believe; to be permanent or quiet; to be morally true or certain; to go to the right hand. In the OT they all mean the same thing. Now if you go to the NT there are different Greek words. The word faith and believe come from the same root word pistis or pisteuo. It means, persuasion, moral conviction of a religious truth, to have faith in or to entrust. The word translated “trust” is a different word but it has a similar meaning. Elpizo means to expect or confide (too have the things hoped for) to anticipate with pleasure, expectation or confidence. Let’s look at verse 1 a little more closely. 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (KJV) or 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith (being fully persuaded) is the substance or being sure of (something tangible, concrete assurance) what you hope for (expect; have confidence for) and the evidence or certainty (the proof or conviction) of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.