Sunday, September 24, 2017

Paul's Epistles – Hebrews – Part 18: Faith in Action

Paul's Epistles – Hebrews – Part 18:
Faith in Action
Pastor Bruce A. Shields

The “official” writer of this epistle is unknown. However, I obviously believe it is Paul since I have included it in the “Paul’s Epistles” Sermon Series.

I believe there is enough evidence from early scholars to agree this was more than likely Paul’s work.

We have already seen in Hebrews so far;

·        Jesus is greater than angels
·        And that we are to pay the most careful attention to Jesus and His way so we do not stray
·        And how Jesus (New Covenant) is greater than Moses (Old Covenant)
·        Paul’s warning about unbelief
·        A Sabbath Rest for the People of God
·        Jesus the Great High Priest, Jesus the Perfect High Priest
·        Therefore, It is Time to Grow Up
·        The Certainty of God’s Promise
·        Melchizedek the Priest, Jesus like Melchizedek
·        The High Priest of the New Covenant
·        Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle
·        The Blood of Christ, Christ’s sacrifice, Once for All
·        A Call to Preserve Faith

“Faith in Action”

Hebrews 11
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

The overall message of this epistle to the church is;
The Cure for Lacking Boldness or Courage in your Christian Faith and Backsliding is a Right beginning for the Glory and Work of Christ”

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. THIS is what the Ancients were commended for.

a. Paul begins at the very beginning
                                                                 i. By faith we accept the universe was formed by God’s Command

                                                              ii. What is now seen was made from what is not seen

b. Paul continues his walk through those who live their faith by putting faith into action
                                                                 i. Abel’s faith brought forth a better offering, and he was commended as righteous

                                                              ii. Enoch’s faith pleased God and he was taken to heaven, escaping death

                                                           iii. Noah’s faith built the Ark, and he was commended as the heir of righteousness

                                                            iv. Abraham’s faith caused him to obey, and go forth to an unknown land

c. Keeping faith alone verses faith in action
                                                                 i. All these people who had faith were NOT commended until that faith was put into action

                                                              ii. The moment their faith stirred up works (deeds, action), they pleased God and were commended.

a. They did not receive the things promised

                                                                 i. They knew they would not be made perfect, nor receive their heavenly home until after death, yet, they remained in faith until the end.

                                                              ii. They, as Paul explained in last week’s sermon, preserved their faith.

                                                           iii. They saw what was promised from a distance, and welcomed it
                                                            iv. They understood, the earth is not their home, and they were foreigners and strangers here

b. They had opportunity in their lives to return to their old lands
                                                                 i. We are not “forced” into faith or obedience

                                                              ii. As Paul explained last week, we CAN walk away, turn our back on Christ, the New Covenant, God at any time, and return to our old lives.

                                                           iii. However, Paul also made it clear, to do so curses ones soul to the second death.

                                                            iv. Every choice and action in life has consequences, some leading to the second death, from which there is no escape

c. Instead, they longed for better homes, heavenly ones
                                                                 i. Because they preserved their faith, and put it into action, knowing they would not receive the promise of perfection and heavenly homes here on earth, God was not ashamed to be called their God

                                                              ii. For He HAS prepared a city for them

a. By faith
                                                                 i. Abraham offered Isaac, even though God said through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned

                                                              ii. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau

                                                           iii. Jacob, though dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and worshipped as he leaned on his staff

                                                            iv. Moses’ parents hid him

                                                               v. Moses left Egypt and kept the Passover

                                                            vi. They passed through the Red Sea

                                                         vii. The walls of Jericho fell down when the armies marched around them

                                                      viii. Rahab was not killed with the disobedient because she welcomed the spies

b. Real Faith causes you to be a “doer” and put faith in action

James 2:14-26
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]?21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

                                                                 i. Without “action” your faith is dead!

c. What shall I say then?
                                                                 i. There are countless others recorded in God’s Word who lived by faith

                                                              ii. None receiving what they hope for in this life, yet remaining in faith for God’s promise

                                                           iii. Some were tortured, faced mocking, flogging, chains, imprisonment, put to death by stoning, sawed in two, killed by the sword, some were destitute, poor, persecuted, mistreated, living in caves or holes in the ground.

                                                            iv. But some, through faith in action conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouth of lions, quenched the fury of flames, escaped the edge of the sword, whose weakness turned to strength, became powerful in battle, received back their dead, raised to life again.

CONCLUSION – these were all commended for their faith

None receiving what had been promised since God planned something better so that together with us would they be made perfect!

Next week we will look at the end of Hebrews 12 and how God disciplines His children.

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