Thursday, November 14, 2013

What is Faith? Part 29 of 31

TEXT: Hebrews 11

IDEA: Faith is confidence that results in actions carried out in a variety of situations by ordinary people in response to the unseen God and His promises. These actions have various earthly outcomes but always the ultimate outcome is God's commendation and reward.

PURPOSE: To encourage listeners to trust God in the midst of ordinary lives.

When we look at all of the characters paraded in front of us in Hebrews 11, we learn a lot about faith from their experiences.

I. Faith alone establishes our relationship with God, but faith is not alone: it shows itself in action.

Most of the examples of faith in Hebrews 11 were persons acting in accord with what God had said they should do:

By faith Abel offered to God a superior sacrifice.

By faith Noah built an ark.

By faith Abraham left Ur and later offered Isaac.

The author of Hebrews 11 spits out action words in rapid succession, especially in 11:32-34—conquering, administering, gaining, shutting, quenching, escaping, becoming powerful, routing, etc.

II. We bet our lives that God and His promises can be trusted.

Faith (not a static belief or cognitive assent) spurs us to act in accordance with God's truth.

People of faith know that what we see is not all that is real. We can act in the confidence that what we don't see is really there.

III. They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, but God did the extraordinary, working through them.

As ordinary people, they were flawed.

Ordinary people lived ordinary lives for the most part, but God was working in them in extraordinary ways.

Abraham and Sarah lived year after year in a desert, in a city, they traveled, but God didn't visit them every afternoon. A lot of what happened must have seemed very ordinary.

The Christian life is not a life of miracles. We trust God in the ordinary life of every day and sometimes we're surprised that God has worked in us and through us in an extraordinary manner.

IV. Faith works in a variety of situations.

Note that in Hebrews 11 we don't have a single healing, though that miracle can be found elsewhere in the New Testament.

Instead, we have an offering, a transportation to heaven, the building of a boat, the moving of a family, the ability to have a child, obedience in offering that child back to God, the blessing of children, seeing into the future, defying an authority, choosing mistreatment above pleasure, keeping a religious ordinances, suffering persecution, etc.

Faith involves conquering in war, deliverance from wild animals and fire, even resurrection.