- Sermon Notes
Living by Faith-2
The 2016 World Series will stand out as one of the most remarkable in history as the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win game seven in extra innings. There’s little doubt that the MVP, Ken Zobrist, will someday be remembered in baseball’s Hall of Fame after playing on two World Series winning teams in a row.
He’ll join other hall of fame greats such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Dizzy Dean, and Lou Gehrig, men who were considered some of baseball’s greatest because of the amazing feats they accomplished. When Ty Cobb retired, he held 90 major-league records, some of which still hold today.
But when it comes down to it, it’s just baseball. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 accomplished great feats also, but the significance is eternal. They were men and women that influenced the world around them because they had faith.
The writer of Hebrews reminds them of these heroes of faith to inspire them to stand strong in their own faith. They were Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, but they were being pressured and even persecuted by the Jews around them to go back to the ways of the Old Testament, back to that which is just a shadow and a copy of what they had in Christ.
People who are strong in faith, however, are people of influence. Instead of being drawn backward by the people around them, they need to grow stronger in their faith and they should be the ones who are influencing the people around them.
That’s a great lesson for all of us. What influence are you having in your “sphere of influence"? Are they influencing you or are you influencing them? These heroes of faith should inspire us to step up in our faith as well.
These verses show us what living by faith looks like. God wants you to live by faith, not just believing that there is a God, but that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- The name Noah means ‘rest.’ His parents gave him that name saying, “This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands…”
- Noah, however, is not a picture of Jesus; he’s a picture of those who put their trust in Jesus. He is a picture of those who ‘rest’ in the work of salvation God accomplished for them through the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son.
- Noah’s Ark, however, is a symbol of Jesus Christ; He is a refuge from the gathering storm that will culminate in the judgment of the world.
- It’s not enough to be near the ark, it is only those who cross the threshold and pass into the ark that are saved.
- Verse 7 - By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen… became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
- God warned Noah in advance that judgment was coming upon the earth because the wickedness of man was great on the earth and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- Jesus gave a similar warning in Matthew 24…
Matthew 24:12, 37, “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold… For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah…”
Revelation 14:6-7, I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come;”
Acts 17:30-31, “God is now declaring that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
- Noah was warned by God about things not yet seen… Up to that point it had never rained. A canopy covered the earth creating the famous greenhouse effect. And yet Noah heeded God’s warning and out of reverence, because of his faith, did what God instructed.
- Even if the world does not end in cataclysmic judgment in your lifetime, the moment you die will be the end of the world for you. Are you ready to step into eternity?
- God has made a way of salvation, the ark of God, you might say, is Jesus Christ, and by faith you enter in and become an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
B. By faith make a difference in others
- Noah did not follow the crowd. Which is amazing in and of itself because following the crowd is part of human nature…
Illus - I remember traveling in Russia and watching as a crowd would gather around me if I stared at something in the display case long enough.
Illus - When I was a student at Oregon State, I made the mistake of joining a fraternity because I wanted a sense of belonging. And I just went along with the crowd and eventually I even became president of the fraternity. I was leading and influencing in the wrong direction.
Then God finally got a hold of my heart and I decided to walk away from the party life and go to church. No one went with me at first, but eventually I began to influence them in the right direction. At one point, I was asked to go to a party and someone responded, “He won’t go, he’s high on life.”
- Noah lived in a time of great wickedness on the earth and not only did he not follow the crowd, he became a preacher of righteousness.
2 Peter 2:5, God preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
- Though he was a preacher of righteousness, no one listened to what he preached, no one took it to heart, except his own family.
- Even if they wouldn’t listen, he spoke the truth. We’re not responsible for whether people receive the truth, but God does ask us to speak the truth and to speak the truth in love. Your job is just to be faithful, to do your part and leave the results to God.
- And, besides, you never know what impact you could make. Even if you only impacted one person, it would be worth it… and if you make an impact on your children, it’s most certainly worth it.
Illus - Abraham Lincoln once credited his mother with instilling in him his character. Paul made mention by name of Timothy’s mother and grandmother because of their influence on him…
2 Timothy 1:5, I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.
- Whatever your ‘sphere of influence,’ God wants us to make an impact on others, out of reverence for Him because of our faith.
II. By Faith be Men of Action
- Verse 8 - By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going to a place… not knowing where he was going, living as an alien in the land of promise.
- Faith moves, faith takes action, faith does things, faith makes a difference in the way the life is lived.
- When Abraham was living in the land of Haran with his relatives, God called him to leave that land and his relatives and his father’s house to go to the land which God would show him; a place he had never been before, the land God would one day give to the people of Israel.
- Here’s the point, he trusted God and took action even though he had never seen the land he was headed toward. He simply trusted in God.
A. Walk by faith and not by sight
- Many people would love to have a blueprint for their lives that they can follow. They would love for God to set the agenda and to send them a memo or a text message or even a tweet, “send something, just tell me what to do every step of the way.”
- But God doesn’t work that way, He doesn’t tell you in advance how everything’s going to work out. He expects you to trust that He knows the way through the wilderness and expects you to follow, just one step at a time.
Illus - In the early days of the church a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. But God used it for His purpose; those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
One of those was Philip. As he was going from village to village preaching the gospel, an angel of the Lord spoke to him and told him to go out to the desert road leading to Gaza. No explanation, he wasn’t told in advance what to expect, just go.
But who should he run into on that desert road? A court official from Ethiopia who had come to Jerusalem to worship. The Spirit then told Philip to join him in the chariot… The Ethiopian just happened to be reading a scroll of Isaiah and he just happened to be reading Isaiah 53… As a result, history tells us, the gospel came strongly to Ethiopia.
- Men of faith are men of action; but they are also men of faith. In other words, they are men of action because of their faith. They do what they do out of a desire to honor God with their lives.
- We walk by faith and not by sight, and as we walk by faith, our faith also tells us how to walk. In other words, when you walk by faith, you also walk by way of God’s character.
Colossians 1:9-10, We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
- Some people believe that the end justifies the means and that as long as they’re accomplishing something, it doesn’t matter how they do it. Not so.
Illus - To quote the famous Wesley from Princess Bride, “We are men of action; lies do not become us.”
B. Faith looks to the reward
- There is an interesting and intriguing theme that runs through these chapters on faith; it is that part of faith, or perhaps part of the reason for faith, is looking to the reward that God has in store.
- Allow me to quickly run through those verses so you can see them one after another and then we’ll look at
- 10:35 – Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
- 11:6 – He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- 11:9-10 – Abraham lived as an alien in the land of promise, dwelling in tents – he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (He wasn’t looking for an earthly city, but a heavenly one.)
- 11:13-14 – All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they were seeking a country of their own…
- 11:16 – But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called to their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
- 11:25-26 – Moses chose rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
- 11:35 – Others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection.
- We’re all just strangers and exiles on this earth; we’re also looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
John 14:1-3, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
- What is that place that Jesus is preparing? What is that city all these looked for in faith?
Revelation 21:2-3, And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them…
- There is built into all of us a great ‘looking forward’ aspect of our nature; always looking forward for something.
Illus - We look forward to getting our driver’s license, graduating high school, graduating college, getting married, having a child, having that child sleep through the night, and on and on…always longing for something.
- Don’t get too comfortable here; this earthly city is not our home. We’re strangers and aliens here.
Illus – The sacking of Rome in 410 AD left Romans in a deep state of shock. It was unfathomable that this great city could be sacked and pillaged. As a response, Augustine wrote the famous book, The City of God.
The Earthly City consists of those who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of this present, passing world; they find their greatest treasure is here and it is here on earth that they look to fill the longing of their heart.
The City of God is marked by those who have fixed their eyes toward heaven and who find their greatest treasure there; they look for that reward.
Hebrews 11:6-19 NASB
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.