"My Visible Faith"
In this passage we find some things which mark us as Christians. We live lives that the world finds either odd or exploits for its benefit. So what does a Christian do?
My Visible Faith
A. There is no doubt in my mind that being a Christian is the best life I could possibly have. But to say that it is a life free from trials, temptations, harm by others or being taken advantage of would simply be false. Being a Christian, by definition, means giving up of self. The very word describes me as a follower of Jesus Christ.
B. We love passages like Heb. 13:5 that say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We hear similar words in the OT and from Jesus in the NT, but the interesting thing is that this promise of not leaving us or forsaking us is often connected to our actions. In essence it a promise with strings attached.
C. Jesus tells us to “let your light shine before men…” and that loving him is connected to keeping his commands. A visible faith is a requirement for being a Christian. It is not just a proclamation about what you believe, but a visible transformation that proves what we believe.
D. This morning we want to look at a few of those strings that are attached, a few of the “do’s and don’ts” that make up the Christian life. I call it “my visible faith.” The reason is simple, what we are called to do are things that can be seen by others – the problem is, these are things that can be judge by others as well.
I. Let Brotherly Love Continue
A. Heb. 13:1 is the beginning of the expectation the writer has for all of his readers. When you look at the roots of Christianity in Jerusalem, we find the church began with this principle of love for one another. In Acts 2 the people had all things in common and shared their possessions, eating in each other’s homes, in Acts 4 we find that “no one said any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
B. Later in Acts we see Gentile congregations giving to the Jewish Christians suffering in Jerusalem. We hear that story told again in 2 Corinthians and other places. The point is, loving other Christians was an expectation even when it came at personal cost.
C. This “brotherly love” or love for fellow Christians is where Christian love begins. Paul make it clear when he writes to the churches in Galatia and tells them, “Do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10) The calling by the writer of Hebrews is imply, keep on loving the church family. That is something we are already doing, and now he is simply reminding us to keep up that great ministry.
II. Show Hospitality
A. The second teaching of our visible faith continues the idea of showing love (READ Heb. 13:2). According to Paul in Rom. 12, hospitality is a mark of every Christian. When Paul writes about how to identify men to serve the church as shepherds, hospitality is one of those visible signs of maturity.
B. Before you get caught up in what does it mean for you personally to show hospitality and tell me why it is too unsafe to do so in this day and age, let me simply remind you of what Jesus said separated the sheep from the goats. Remember in Matt 25 Jesus talked about people who did or did not show feed HIM, clothe Him, visit Him and other things and they all asked, “When?” His reply, “when you did it for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
C. You can argue what “hospitality” means today, but I will simply direct you to God’s word that says “do it.” Pick the level you are willing to do, but do it. Show kindness, not just to people in this congregation, but to strangers. No one may see you doing this good work, but your Father in heaven does.
D. Let me just put verse 3 in this section. We are not talking a prison ministry, which is good, but people whose faith is what caused them to be put into prison. The idea is to show love to those who suffer because they are Christians.
III. Marriage Is Holy
A. In a day and age in much of the Western countries where marriage is being redefined we hear what many call an outdated message here (Heb. 13:4).
B. While many feel the Bible doesn’t speak to the modern era of relationships between people, I would stand with the Bible as speaking the eternal truth from God. That won’t make me popular with people who justify why they live or do the things they do outside of the bonds of marriage.
C. Self-control is a teaching that helps us to focus on the blessing we do for others. When it comes to marriage, we honor our wife or husband by giving ourselves only to them. In mind as well as body. This is a huge issue in country where the view of the human body is connected to selfish desires. God calls us to honor our spouse.
D. When the write speaks that God will judge those who don’t honor their spouse, it is done so as a warning as to how God will decide who spends eternity where.
A. Heb. 13:5. If you watch Christmas shows, a common thread is the idea of greed. Many shows start with a person centered upon the desire for more – more money, more things, more presents – and then by the end of the show we see that more was never enough and relationships were more important.
B. Jesus treats greed as form of idolatry, a way in which you serve something other than God. Here the calling is for contentment with what you have. Contentment is difficult when you are hungry, homeless or unemployed.
C. Then comes the promise – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is a promise with strings attached. You want God, then learn to live as God calls you to live. A life based upon others and contentment finds the blessing that God is always with us.
A Look at vs 6. When God is my helper the power that man has is limited to this human form. No, life may not be easy as Christian. There are those who suffer, but they are not alone. Paul makes it clear that in much or little, when God is with you you have all you need.
B. The calling in this section and the next is for a visible faith. A faith that takes all we have learned and puts it into practice not just theory. A faith that costs but the reward is far greater than cost.
C. Before this sermon we sang, “Living for Jesus” in just a moment we will sing “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” Don’t just sing those words, let them be the reminder of what God has called you to do when you this day.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister