Summary: The key to a successful death is a purposeful life
This morning we have a challenge before us. We are recognizing those who have graduated from high school and college as well as those who have graduated in even larger ways. We are remembering this weekend those who fought and died in our nation’s military and we should also consider those who have died and lived and died as soldiers in our faith. They died to this world, lived for Christ and then died physically so to receive their reward in heaven.
The key to a successful death is a purposeful life.
Hebrews 11:35 says that those in the great Hall of Faith lived as they did so that ‘they might receive a better resurrection’.
Hebrews 11:39-40 says, ‘And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised because God had provided something better…’.
There are some young people we are recognizing this morning who are embarking upon the years before them in which they will decide what their life will be all about.
Will it be about the here and now or about a ‘better resurrection’?
Will it be about their ‘gaining approval through their faith’ or about seeking approval from the world.
We are witnessing an epidemic in our nation of people who are now living only for this world. They are living only for this life and making their decisions based upon how they can make the most money, be the most comfortable or live the longest amount of years.
The unique thing about Hebrews 11 is that most all of the people who are mentioned as part of a great Hall of Fame of faith could have just as easily found themselves as members of a great Hall of Shame. There are no perfect people in Hebrews 11.
There are no perfect people in this auditorium this morning.
The key element was their faith.
A strong enough faith to override the weaknesses and failures of their humanness.
During the week this room is a most amazing place. It is so peaceful and a great atmosphere. These pews have no sin. I have never come in here and heard the pews or the carpet or the lights complain or say anything negative. Even these first few pews never complain about being ignored or feeling lonely and the back pews never complain about the extra weight of people who crowd into them. It is such a great place and THEN on Sunday…..we arrive. We bring in our sin, our stuff, warts and all. But we also bring in something else, Someone else: The Holy Spirit comes. He can take us from our Hall of Shame to the Hall of Faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘Faith is the assurance/substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen’.
I love how Watchman Nee, a great Chinese believer of a century ago, explained this. Just like there is a realm we never experience when we are blind or deaf (grand canyon or beautiful music) so without faith we will never see the SUBSTANCE of or experience what God has made real and available for us. Without faith we are blind or deaf to God’s spiritual riches even though they are real and completely within our reach.
Our five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste and hearing) are limited to God’s purpose and design for our existence in this physical world. God exists beyond these limits and we sense Him as He chooses to make Himself Known within the range of these senses.
Faith ads another sense.
True faith is something we learn how to walk in just like we learn to walk physically. When you learn to walk physically you will stumble, fall, get up and learn to trust others along the way. What if a baby was born and we expected it to run like it was in the Olympics. The truth is that a baby is going to have to do a lot of crawling and stumbling and falling before it can ever run. Too many people wait to use their faith until they are in the midst of life threatening challenges and then they wonder why they struggle to believe God. They have not learned to walk in faith and grow in faith through the smaller challenges of life.
Most who live for this world are not people of faith. It is not a part of their lives. They live a lifetime never experiencing the realm of what God has for them.
Most in our American churches today see faith as a foreign language because they have been so saturated with what the Bible calls the ‘spirit of the age’.
In England they are closing churches every day and opening a new Mosque every week. The farther a nation drifts away from God the more unfamiliar the waters become. America has drifted into some very ugly waters where things we never thought possible have now become very common