Hebrews 11:1- 4 6-7-08.
Today I want to talk for a little while about “faith”. Everybody has some type of faith, people have faith in many different things, when we get into our car we have faith that it will crank and get us to our destination, we have faith that our doctor knows what he or she is doing; everybody has this mindset of faith of some kind or another. No one can live a single day without exercising faith.
Faith is also expressed in the spiritual realm. Each of us regardless of our backgrounds expresses faith. The difference between the faiths we exercise in our daily routine and our religious faith is the object of that faith.
Everyone places his or her faith in something or someone. The Moslem puts his faith in the Koran and in Mohammed. The humanist put his faith in himself, a religious person in his own good works. None of these can save, because in each case the object of faith is wrong.
Our faith is only as good as the object in which we place our faith.
We’re told in the Bible that we are to personally put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’
‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.’
I. WHAT IS FAITH ?
To understand what faith is we must get past certain misconceptions about faith.
There are people that think that as long as they are sincere about what they believe then that faith will be good enough.
But Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:12 ‘-- for I know whom *I have believed- so saving faith is not in an object or some self concocted idea, but it’s in Jesus Christ.’
If your beliefs are not founded on the right person it don’t matter what else you believe.
Hebrews tells us what real faith is. Hebrews 11:1-3 ‘Now faith is the sub stance* of things hoped for,--we notice the word “sub-stance”, a good way to understand the meaning of “sub- stance” is to think of a sub-floor, it is what is holding up what is above it, it is the unseen support.
Faith is the affirmative response to God’s will and Word. Man possesses faith when He takes God at His Word. We don’t need to see something to believe it. Faith is the acceptance of something simply because God has said it.
Jesus said in John 20: 29 “… blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”
Now faith is the sub stance* of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen. Hope is faith relating to the future; conviction is faith relating to the present. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
No man was present to witness the Creation; it must be accepted by faith. He created something out of nothing, so that things that are seen were not made of things, which do appear. The book of Genesis explains the events of this creation, and that explanation must be accepted through faith.
True faith is simple obedience to and believing God’s word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Faith is described in a two-fold way. It is the “substance of things hoped for,” and “the evidence of things not seen.”
again, the word “sub stance” means literally ‘to stand under or to support.’ Faith is the foundation that gives the believer the confidence to stand. “Faith is the confidence of things hoped for.”
God has two ways in which men can come to Him today. The first is that you can come to Him by works. That is if you can present perfection in your works, God will accept you—but so far nobody has been able to do that. Adam didn’t, and no one since has ever been able to do it. Abraham didn’t, and David didn’t, and Daniel didn’t. None of them made it by being perfect. Therefore, this is not a satisfactory way to come to God, but many people are hobbling along that futile route.
Listen as I tell you about a missionary named Hudson. “When Hudson first went to China, he was on a sailing vessel, and their vessel had come very close to the shore of cannibal islands because the ship was caught in a calm, and it was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Hudson and sought him to pray for the help of God. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. Hudson said, ‘I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And so it was done.
While he was in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there? Hudson ask” and the captains replied, ‘Are you still praying for wind?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well,’ said the captain ‘you better stop praying for we have more wind than we can manage.’” Hudson had faith in what was unseen as yet.
Another word describing what faith is, is “evidence” and it means “conviction.”
1Now faith is the sub stance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This inward conviction enables the believer to believe things not yet seen, that God will do what he has promised.
That is the conviction that only faith can bring.
Verse 4 again to do with Abel’s faith.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Even though Able is dead today his faith is still speaking out as we read about here from the Word of God.
Romans. 10:17 says faith comes by hearing the word of God.
God revealed to Adam the only way back to Him was by a blood sacrifice, something must give its life, an animal had to be killed, its blood had to be shed in order for man to come back to Him, that was Gods way at that time, and it was pointing to the future when Jesus Christ would give His life, He would shed His Blood, He would become The Lamb of God.
This lamb sacrifice was made known to Able and Cain, god would receive no other offering, and it had to be Gods way. And God has not changed His mind or the way back to Him today.
John the Baptist said in John 1: 29 ‘The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’
John 3: 16-17 says ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.’
Faith Caused Abel to Worship God (v. 4)
4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Adam had without a doubt told both his sons,” Able and Cain” the word of God, the way back to God.
Adam chose the choicest lamb as an offering and he brought it to the place of sacrifice.
The lesson which is taught us by this first example of faith is that, Abel believed that which he had heard from God on this all important subject, and Cain did not believe God.
But notice, Cain was not godless, as some folks may think. In fact Cain’s offering may have in some sense cost him more than Abel’s.
But the way back to God that Cain chose was his own way.
While the way which Abel took was the way that had been made known and had been revealed and laid down as God’s way.
Cain had heard the “report” as well as Abel, but he did not believe God. He invented what he must have supposed to be a better or more excellent way.
Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, an offering unto Jehovah” (Gen. iv. 3).
But, that ground the LORD God had just before put under the curse for man’s sin, and had said to Adam Genesis 3. 17 “cursed is the ground for thy sake”
Cain, brought as his offering to the LORD that which God had pronounced to be “cursed.” Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof.
What was it that made Abel’s a more excellent sacrifice than Cain’s? We can understand it when we remember what the Words “by faith “means.
They mean that God had spoken; that Cain and Abel had heard; that Abel obeyed God and Cain did not!
It was a question, as we have seen, of believing what had been spoken as to “THE WAY BACK TO GOD” God’s way back (which Abel took) was by sacrifice, by the death of a substitute, by the blood of Atonement.
This was the law of redemption, which was afterwards laid down in Israel’s legislation.
Man’s way back (which Cain invented) was “without blood “; and a way which he had devised out of his own heart. But in Hebrews 9:22 we read, without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin.
Cain’s way was the “ New Theology “ of his day: and it consisted in not believing what God had spoken; and in inventing a “ New “ way of his own.
Cain’s way, is mans way, Cain’s way is actually where all the man made religions of the world sprout up from.
The extents of these two ways are this:
One is God’s way, the other is man’s, One is by faith, the other is by mans imagination, One is of grace, the other is of merit, One is of faith, the other is of works, One is Christianity the other is Religion.
The one rests on what God has said, the other rests on what man thinks.
The one rests on what Christ has done, the other rests on what man can do.
These two words sum up and embody the two ways—“ DONE “ and “ DO.”
As to what man is to “do” there is no end to the variety.
God put down the principle once and for all that men must approach Him on only one basis: by faith, and that salvation will be by faith in Christ. Not only did Abraham see Christ’s day and rejoice, but alsodid Abel.
There at the very beginning God made clear the way to Himself: Heb. 9:22 “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” We come to God on one basis, that we are sinners and that the penalty for our sins must be paid. That is the reason a lamb had to be slain. That lamb couldn’t take away sin, but it foreshadowed the coming of Christ who is “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” And it was offered in faith.
Abel’s offering pointed to Christ, and he came by faith—that is the way of salvation. God made the way very clear at the beginning, God has made it very clear to us: Christ is the way to Himself; God gave Him to die for our sins. Abel, illustrates to us the way of faith—it is the blood-sprinkled way, the way that is Christ.