Summary: A sermon for Independence Day weekend (USA) on Hebrews 11:8-16 (Much information from other Sermon Central Sermons and an article by Iain Murray: http://www.puritansermons.com/banner/murray3.htm)
A writer from perhaps the third century AD described Christians in these words: They live in their own homelands, but as foreigners. They share in everything as citizens, but endure everything as aliens. Every foreign country is their homeland, but every homeland is a strange country to them. They spend their time on the earth, but their citizenship is really in heaven
“This is a Christian nation” is a quote that is found in many of the writings of the Founding Fathers and the writings and decisions of many statesmen and judges in the United States throughout our history. Until 1963 it was understood that this was a Christian nation.
President Obama said recently , “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” While this statement grates on many Christian’s nerves (including my own) he is simply stating the realities that we are facing. How did this happen? Prior to 1963, the U.S.A. was a God-honoring country. Our children prayed to God in public schools. Then in 1963, public prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in the schools by the Supreme Court. At that point we began to teach secular humanism because we could no longer teach the Christian faith. Abraham Lincoln said, “"The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next." I dare say that it goes beyond just the government and into every area of life. I am not denying that there are many Christian public school teachers who are doing their best to bring their faith to the classroom but in my cases they are too handicapped to make a big difference as in past generations. Christian parents who have children in public schools also need to battle against this ungodly trend in the teachings and examples brought before them. The prevailing tide is secular. Our attempts to make the schools "religion free" has had poor results: drops in test scores and rises in immoral, criminal, and violent behavior.
Our parents and grandparents never worried about whether we would grow up Christian. The church was the only show in town. [And] Church, home and state formed a national team that worked together to instill “Christian values.” This is not so today.
All sorts of Christians are waking up and realizing that this is no longer “a Christian nation”. This news may be a shock to some of us, but a quick look at primetime TV is enough to demonstrate the point. In many ways we have awakened to find ourselves behind cultural enemy lines. We are in a foreign land to the Christian faith. This realization means that we must order and live our lives differently.
In our Scriptures this morning, the writer of Hebrews is telling the Jewish Christians to remember the heroes of the faith. They wanted to turn away from Christ and go back to Judaism because it would be much easier. If they gave up on Christ they would be accepted by their society. Hebrews 10:32-34 tells us some of the conditions at that time for Christians.
In Hebrews 11:8-21 the writer is encouraging them to remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and how they lived. The King James says in vs. 13 that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. The dictionary definition of a pilgrim is “a person regarded as journeying to a future life.”
In our history we have the pilgrims who founded the colony of Plymouth in New England in 1620. We will refer to them briefly during this talk. We also need to adopt their attitudes.
Thesis: The writer gives us 4 qualities that these had in overcoming all in which they encountered
Confidence (Vs. 13 KJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them)
There “Confidence” came from, not turning from God, but trusting in him! Despite their Suffering! Despite their Hardships! A person of Faith has this Confidence! I have Confidence that no matter how bad times may get, they are going to get better! Listen, they may; Take the Ten-Commandments from our Court Houses, but it’s going to get better! Take Under-God out of our Pledge of Allegiance, but it’s going to get better! Rip these pages out my bible, but it’s going to get better! Stop us from preaching, but it’s going to get better! Although it often becomes worse before hand, it will get better for the Christian!
A person of faith has this quiet confidence that God will take care of them, even though dreams are shattered and plans lay collapsed at their feet and they feel trampled by life. They may not see the fulfillment of all their dreams, but nevertheless they persist in the faith and die in the faith with a kind of quiet confidence.