"Faith Defined by Action"
The stories of Hebrews 11 show what it means to “live by faith.” These stories are for our encouragement to live similar lives for a similar reason.
Faith Defined By Action
A. The Hebrew writer just told us that a believer who spurned the Son of God counting the cross as no value and therefore profaned the blood of the covenant in which he once made has outraged the Holy Spirit of grace. That was hard to hear.
B. But Heb. 10:39 reminds us that we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. We are of those who have faith and preserve their souls. That is who we are. O for a faith that will not shrink the pressed by every foe. That will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe.
C. Faith is not hard to see. When I flip this light switch I believe that current will turn on and off the lights. I don’t see the electric current, but I believe this switch can determine what happens to that light. When I see a doctor because I am sick and he prescribes medicine that I don’t know, I take it because my faith is in the doctor and I trust that medicine will make me better.
D. We put faith in many things. What I know is the more faith I have in something, the more confident I am. The stories we are going to look at today are told to help you strengthen the faith you already have. It is not about “Does God Exist?” Faith moves me forward in my spiritual journey. I grow in faith and grow in confidence. In fact, I think faith is defined by the actions I take.
E. I can tell you I am a Christian, but if I don’t live the life of Jesus, how Christ-like am I? The Hebrew writer is wanting people to understand what it means to live by faith, not just proclaim something. To help us, he defines for us faith and tells us stories that we already know to show us how to walk in faith.
I. Faith Defined
A. When looking to define faith we often turn to Heb. 11:1. There are two words used here that are helpful for us to understand the rest of the chapter and examine in light of our professed faith.
B. The first word that gets translated “assurance” and the second is “conviction.” These words express a similar thought and are not two aspects of faith. Faith believes without doubt.
C. I can be a skeptical person and that plays on my ability to live by faith. Yes, I trust God – at least I can say that in words. But trusting him and obeying him are often different in my life. Yet, true faith connects the two deeply. Faith is so convinced that God will do what is right that I do what God desires because I trust his will better than my want.
D. The very basis that we believe in God and that God created the world is a testimony of faith. Science can help us greatly, but it will come down to faith believing in an unseen power that I choose to call God.
II. Stories of Faith
A. Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17). If I want faith in God the only way to spend time with God. But faith can also grow by looking at the lives of people who spent time with God and seeing the outcome.
B. You see, faith is not just about absolute trust in God even though you can’t see God, it is about action in your life that demonstrates that faith. Enoch was a person who pleased God by walking with God. But have you ever thought what that phrase means to you? Look at (Heb. 11:5-6). Faith believes that God exists AND that God wants to love you by giving you what is best. That is why we seek God. Because God sees the picture my eyes can’t see. With his knowledge, seeking him is the only answer, not just the best answer.
C. When you study faith there is a name that comes up time after time – Abraham. Here was a man called by God to simply go, and he did. He was told he would have a child and at age 100 he did. He was told to sacrifice that child and he was willing to. Why did Abraham believe so deeply in God? Maybe our writer can shed a little light on that for us (READ Heb. 11:13-16).
III. When Faith Is Shaken
A. Can I ask an honest question? What do you desire? For people like Abraham, the answer was simply being with God, a homeland, a heavenly country.
B. The reward that God gives is not always a perfect family, a great job, and good health. In fact, the truth is, God doesn’t always calm the storms of life, sometime he just calms me by being in the storm with me. Listen to Heb. 11:35b-38.
C. Sometimes our faith is tested so much and shaken so hard it seems that enduring this life’s trials are overwhelming. And I come back to these verses, to stories of modern day men and women who gave their lives in the name of Jesus. I wish I could tell you that great faith equals and easy life, but I can’t promise you that because God doesn’t. What he promises is that he rewards those who seek him.
D. The world is not worthy of such faith, but it when the world sees such faith in action, some are drawn to the object of that faith – God. These people did not receive the fullness of their faith for it is only with us that faith, for a while, became visible in the body of Jesus.
E. But Jesus only spent a few years in his ministry before his death, burial and resurrection. Then after 40 day he was taken up into heaven to continue the role of the great priest.
A. There are many things that I don’t know, but let me tell what I do. I know that my redeemer live and ever prays for me. I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free. Yes, I know beyond any shadow of any doubt that my redeemer lives.
B. It is that faith that takes me through the good days and the bad. It is knowing my shepherd walks with me through all the shadows and still gives me green pastures that keeps me going. I know that my redeemer lives. Let that become your anthem as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister