- Sermon Notes
Living by Faith
There have been some remarkable feats of courage, determination, and sheer grit that have stood out in the annals of sports history. The 2016 World Series was one of the most remarkable as the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win Game 7 in extra innings.
That same year the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Championship, the first in NBA history. And let’s not forget 2019, the year Tiger Woods won the Masters for the 5th time, overcoming personal and physical challenges; one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
There are many Hall of Fame greats such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Dizzy Dean, and Lou Gehrig; men who were considered the greatest in their sport.
But all of these have one thing in common, it’s just sports. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 accomplished great feats also, but the significance of what they accomplished is eternal. They were men and women that influenced the world around them because of their faith. They didn’t just believe; their faith became the driving force of their life. They relied on God in what they accomplished.
They were ordinary people like you and me. They were not perfect, that’s for sure, but they believed God and it made all the difference in their lives and in the world around them.
It’s interesting that though each of these people were common, ordinary sinners like you and me, there is no mention of their sin or their failures in this chapter. God gave them a second chance and what He celebrates, what He highlights, is the victory of their faith.
It should remind us of Hebrews 10:17, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” The good news is that your story isn’t over either. If there are sins and failures in your life, you can get up and continue in faith and finish well and God will highlight and celebrate your victory in faith as well; and your sin and lawless deeds He will remember no more.
People who are strong in faith are also people of influence. Instead of being drawn backward by the people around them, they grow stronger in their faith. They lead by example and they lead by their influence. They make a difference.
That’s a great lesson. These heroes of faith inspire us to step up and be men of women of faith as well. These verses show us what living by faith looks like.
- 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 is not a picture of Jesus; he is 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.
- Jesus is the Ark which saves. Only those who enter the ark will be saved. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me,” Jesus said.
- 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 and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- Jesus gave a similar warning in Matthew 24 — that this will be a sign of the latter days; it will be like the days of Noah…
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…”
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 Jesus 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. Yet Noah heeded God’s warning — and out of reverence, and because of his faith, he 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.Influence those around you – by faith
- Noah did not follow the crowd; which is amazing in and of itself because following the crowd as part of human nature…
Illus – I was in Russia several years ago and noticed something interesting. A crowd would gather if someone stared at something in the display case long enough. People follow the crowd.
Illus – When I was a student at Oregon State, I wanted a sense of belonging. I wanted to be part of a crowd. I made the mistake of joining a fraternity. We were ignorantly traveling a path toward destruction. And then I became president of the fraternity! I was leading and influencing in the wrong direction.
Then God got hold of my heart and I walked away from the party life. I remember that day very well because I had to walk through empty beer bottles and across a sticky floor; I stepped out into the sunshine on a Sunday morning and said, “Lord, I miss you. I’m coming home.”
I found my Bible, got in my car and drove until I found a church. No one went with me at first, but eventually others joined.
- 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 to leave the results to God.
- 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 mentioned Timothy’s mother and grandmother by name 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 you to make an impact on others out of reverence for Him — because of your faith.
II. By Faith be Men of Action
- By faith Noah, taking God at His word, took action and built the ark.
- 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 and 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, Abraham trusted God and took action even though he had never seen the land he was headed toward. He simply trusted God.
A. Walk by faith and not by sight
- Many people would love to have a blueprint for their lives 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 expect you to follow, one step at a time.
Illus – In the early days of the church a great persecution arose against the believers in Jerusalem and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. But God used it for His purpose; those who were 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 onto the desert road that leads to Gaza from Jerusalem. No explanation, he wasn’t told in advance what to expect, just go.
And 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 the 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.
- In other words, it’s not just what you believe, it’s what you do with that belief that matters.
- 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 the end justifies the means; that as long as they’re accomplishing something, it doesn’t matter how they do it. Not so. You may have a worthy goal, but if you’re hurting people along the way, you’re not doing it God’s way. In other words, character matters.
Illus – To quote the famous Wesley from the movie Princess Bride, “We are men of action; lies do not become us.”
- If you’re walking by faith, you’re walking because of your faith and you should walk in such a way that God’s heart and character comes through.
B. Faith looks to the reward
- There is an interesting and intriguing theme that runs through these chapters; an aspect of faith, or perhaps part of the reason for faith, is looking to the reward that God has in store for those who believe.
- Allow me to quickly run through those verses that speak of looking to the reward so you can see them one after another and then we’ll look at what they mean.
- 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 that 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 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 strangers and exiles on this earth; we’re also looking for that 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 Jesus is preparing? What is that city all these look 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 to 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 the night, and on and on… Always longing, always looking for something.
- Don’t get too comfortable here; this earthly city is not your home. We are strangers and aliens here.
Illus – The sacking of Rome in 410 A.D. left Romans in a deep state of shock. It was unfathomable that this great city that was even called The Eternal 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. Their future and their hope is fixed on heaven.
Hebrews 11:6-16 New American Standard Bible (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, [a]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.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed [b]by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received [c]ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead [d]at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
13 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. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been [e]thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not [f]ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.