Sermon: Faith to Endure

I’d like to bring you special greetings
from Italy, Norma and I had the opportunity this year to go to Italy for the Feast, our
first chance. We got over there and we found that there were a number of people who had
been there on multiple occasions. One couple, this was their 15th Feast that they attended
in Italy. They apparently like the Italian brethren or they like the Italian food – I
never figured that out. But several have been there ten years, twelve years, eight years
and they just keep coming back. So it is truly a delightful Feast site. The Italian brethren
really make you feel welcome, they make you feel like you’re an Italian. The only difficulty
is the language. But I found after a while – speaking English and they’re speaking
Italian – somewhere in between, we began to communicate, so it was really a delightful
time. Carmelo Anastasi, his wife Antonella and Angelo Di Vita, his wife Ann Maria all
do an excellent job in taking care of that Feast site so it was a privilege to be there. There was a lot of walking, lot of touring
and there’s a lot of eating. So, after a while, after three days, I just started to
say, “No more pasta, I’ll skip the pasta.” Because, generally, most meals were four courses
and pasta was number two or three, and so I found I could live a little bit that way!
I brought a lot of Italy back with me – we’ll just put it that way! If you had someone healed right before your
eyes, and there you are, here is a person, maybe he is crippled or have some severe problem
and they’re healed, would you never doubt God if that were to occur? Would you have
faith to endure, never give up, never quit? How big of a miracle would it take for you,
for me, to never fall away, never go back into the world, never would you want to leave
God, His way? I remember when I first came to Ambassador
College, Norma and I were freshmen the same year, 1959, I saw a man come bounding down
the steps of the library. I’d never seen Herbert Armstrong before and I thought, that’s
got to be Mr. Armstrong. It wasn’t, it was a freshmen, just like us! But a few weeks
prior to that he had been a paraplegic. He had been injured in the Korean War, there
had been a land mine blew up under his jeep, he was injured. He had gone to the doctors,
they had told him he would never be able to move from the bottom part of his body, he
had use of one arm I think. After he was healed he would go into the Veterans Administration
because they were giving him complete compensation for that and he said, Look, I don’t need
it, I’m healed. They looked at him, they looked at his records and they said, No you’re
not, you can’t walk, and he would walk out, but that individual, even though he had this
tremendous miracle performed on his behalf, became bitter and disgruntled and eventually
he went off on his own. Miracles are not a sure sign that an individual
will endure to the end, will make it. How many miracles did the Israelites see? How
many Red Seas did they cross, and Jordan’s and manna every day, they had light at night,
a cloud to lead them by day and yet they rebelled, they complained against God and against His
servants. The one thing you find is that they could not see God for looking at Moses and
Aaron, so when human beings get involved and are there, you find sometimes other human
beings can’t see anything but them. Can we see God at work here, as an example,
at what the Church is doing, or do we just see humans? Same lesson, same illustration
we had back at that time. How do we have faith that will endure to the end, that will last
right up to when Jesus Christ returns? The Bible reveals we are facing some horrendous
times here in the future. Matthew 24:8 gives us what I would call a snapshot of the future.
Many of you, when you went to the Feast, took your cameras along or your cell phones and
you took a lot of pictures. Why? Well you wanted to know where you’ve been, who you’ve
seen, you wanted to keep a picture of it. Well God has given us a photograph of the
future, God has given us a snapshot of what’s going to occur in the future and you and I
need to make sure that we look at that, we hold on to that snapshot because it does picture
what will take place. Let’s notice: Matthew 24:8 – “All these are the beginning
of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you and you will be
hated of all nations for My name’s sake.” Now most of us are not used to being hated,
despised, looked down on, but that’s going to come in the future. Matthew 24:10 – “Then many will be offended…”
Now we need to ask ourselves if people are going to be offended, could I be among those.
Could I be someone who might be offended and as a result, will betray one another and will
hate one another? Those are not real great words, hate, offended, betrayed, hate. But
going on: Matthew 24:11 – “Then many false prophets
will rise up and deceive many and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many
will wax cold.” So people will grow indifferent and become cold. Verse 13 is what we want
to focus on: Matthew 24:13 – “But he who endures to
the end, shall be saved.” How can we make sure that we will endure to
the end? Here in the future, how will we endure? Let’s go to the book of Hebrews 11 because
we want to take a look today at what God says about having faith, and not just faith but
faith that will help us to endure no matter what test, what trial, what difficulty we
might be faced with, what problems we’re confronted with that we will be able to hang
in there. Hebrews 11 gives the story about faith, if
you look at it from almost an entirely different perspective and many people look, when they
think of faith. Many usually think of faith as a belief, that what you ask God to do for
you, He will perform it, if it’s according to His will. And that’s part of it. But
unfortunately too often we limit faith, we limit what the Bible says about it, it involves
more than just the aspect of receiving, it also has an aspect that we call enduring,
those who endure. So how can we have faith in good times, bad
times? Why don’t we have more faith? There’s a scripture that I think of quite often – Christ
said in the end time when He comes back, will He find faith on the earth? And I ask myself
how much faith do I have? How much do I believe? If our faith is weak now, during good times,
these are the good times, we are not being persecuted today, we’re not being thrown
in jail today, we’re not being lined up and hated and slaughtered and any of those
type of things, these are the good times. What will happen when the bad times come or
the difficulties come? Well let’s begin here in Hebrews 11:1. We read: Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance
of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Now the word “substance” is an interesting
word in the Greek language – it is hupostasis, and many of you will remember that word that
was used years ago trying to foster off the doctrine of the trinity. Hupo is a word that
means “under” – something that is under. Stasis means “to stand.” So hupostasis
means something that stands under, that which stands under, like a foundation, you have
a foundation of the house, it holds the house up, it stands under. Now Jesus Christ, you might remember, gave
the parable – build your house on what? The rock or the sand? So which one do we want
to build our house on? Obviously the Rock, Jesus Christ. Moulten and Milligan has this
to say about this term, reports its use as a legal term, they say that it stands for
the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited
in archives and forming the evidence of ownership. You buy a house, you do a search, you want
to see if there is anything owed against this house, you are given, when you pay it off,
and showing this belongs to you. They suggest the translation, “Faith is the title deed
of things hoped for.” In other words, faith is our evidence that we will receive what
God says. How do we know that if God says it, God promises
it, that it will happen. Well faith is the title deed or the evidence you might say. The
holy spirit, it goes on to say, energizes the act of faith which the believer exercises
in God and it is the title deed which God puts in His hands, guaranteeing to him possession
of the thing which he trusts in. So faith is our guarantee that God gives to us, He
guarantees us that it will happen. Now let’s notice in 1 Corinthians, hold
your place here, we’ll be right back. But in 1 Corinthians 15:12, this is a classic
example of what I’m talking about, here’s a promise from God and it also shows what
happens if this promise is not kept. 1 Corinthians 15:12 – Now if Christ is preached
that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection
of the dead? So one of the false teachings going around at that time is there was no
resurrection, and… 1 Corinthians 15:13 – If there is no resurrection
of the dead, then Christ is not risen. He’s building a logical argument here…and if
Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 1 Corinthians 15:15-16 – Yes…he says…and
we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified that God has raised up Christ,
which He did not raise up, if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise,
then Christ is not risen and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still
in your sins! 1 Corinthians 15:17-18 – So those who have
fallen asleep…he goes on to say…have perished. Because they won’t be resurrected either.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we then are of all men most miserable. Well we know that God has promised the resurrection.
Now how do you know that you will be resurrected in the future? Your faith is the guarantee
of that possession, that God will do what He says He will do. Faith is foundation on
which we can build our lives, all of our actions. Put it this way, if God says it, if God promises
it, it will happen. There’s no force, no power in the universe that is going to keep
God from carrying out His word, His work and what He promises to give to us. So Christ
is our foundation. Now notice going on, it says: Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the substance of
things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Now if you see it, you don’t need faith.
I can see this podium, I’ve got faith that it’s here, I can touch it. Probably I can
smell it, if I got down here, I could taste it, I can hit it, I know that it’s here,
my senses tell me that. But what about things that you can’t see? How do we know that
those exist, that they’re real? The word “evidence” here means “proved,”
it’s an inner conviction about unseen things, it is assurance that leads to conviction.
Are we convicted about God’s way, His law, that it is the right way to go? The word “evidence”
is a translation of a Greek word that means “proof by which a thing is proved or tested.”
Thayer’s says in commenting here on this definition: “That by which invisible things
are proved and we are convicted of their reality.” We are convicted even though we can’t see
it. We don’t see the spirit world but we know it exists. Do we know that it’s real?
It is the comprehension and understanding that there are ideas, that there are values,
there are laws, there are beings that are realities that we do not see with the human
eye. We don’t see God, we don’t see angels, we don’t see cherubim. I don’t think any
of you have seen a seraph either. We don’t see the throne room of God, we don’t see
the New Jerusalem that God is creating. There is another dimension out there that we don’t
see, that we know about because the Bible describes it, God tells us and what we know
about it, God has revealed to us. But what we know basically is through the five senses
and spiritual things have to be revealed to us. Let’s notice going on here in verse
3: Hebrews 11:3 – By faith we understand that
the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen…that we can
see, that we can know, and that’s what human beings, cut off from God can know, the physical,
through the five senses…but that they were made of things which are not made of things
which are visible. So the visible was made from things that are
not visible, so that means that God, somehow is able to take energy, form it, shape it,
so that it becomes material and we are there and we can see it. But you and I were not
there when God created the earth, we were not there when God created the stars, the
heavens, but we have spiritual understanding. God imparts spiritual awareness to us and
that comes through faith. Brethren, faith is so important for a Christian,
for you, for me, in our lives, that we must live by faith, we walk by faith and not by
sight. Notice verse 27, verse 27 ties in with this also, talking here about Moses: Hebrews 11:27 – By faith he forsook Egypt,
not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing Him
who was invisible. You know faith is, to coin a word, real seeing,
faith allows us to see reality, to have a comprehension of a dimension of a world that
we can’t observe by our senses but we know is there, we have evidence that it is there,
we have substance that it is there, it is guaranteed to us and when God gives us faith,
you know the question comes about, where do we get faith? We start out, all of us I think,
first of all, we have faith in God and when God calls us we begin to understand. But then
when you receive the holy spirit God imparts as one of the fruits of the spirit, faith,
God gives us His faith. And that faith grows, that faith develops through a series of experiences
we have had. Let’s back up to verse 4 again, Hebrews 11:4 and notice a new issue introduced
here. Everything I’ve read to you so far basically gives you a definition and talks
about what God has done. Now we have a new issue, that of human experience and faith
introduced into the chapter. We begin to find those in the Old Testament who are listed
as men and women of faith, who trusted God, who believed God, who took Him at His word,
who believed in His promises. So we begin here with Abel, it says: Hebrews 11:4 – By faith Abel offered to
God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he
was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it, being dead, he still speaks. You see, Abel based his whole life on what
was going to happen 4,000 years in the future. Abel offered up a sacrifice. Now if you go
back and read the story of Cain and Abel, you’ll notice it says God accepted Abel
and his sacrifice. So there are two elements being spoken of there. God accepted him because
apparently he was obeying God and He also accepted his sacrifice. And it said God did
not accept Cain and his sacrifice. So Cain was not living and did not have faith, but
when Abel offered up a sacrifice, and apparently God did explain how to sacrifice because he
took the fat, there was different aspects of the sacrifice that he would not have known
unless God had revealed it to him, he shed blood – he had a perception that about 4,000
years into the future there was going to come a Messiah who would die for his sins. He had
to look forward in faith to the future. Now you and I look back, we look back in faith
that it did happen. He was looking forward that it will happen. Jesus Christ did come,
did die, is our Savior who ascended into heaven, now we likewise look forward to the future
don’t we? We just came back, I thought Clint Porter
explained it very beautifully about the Feast, the pictures being painted for us. We come
back with much more of a clear snapshot of the future, of what God has to offer and we
have confidence in what God says He is going to do. And so we likewise, have to follow
the example of Abel and that is to look forward to the future. You and I have faith in future
promises such as God’s protection, prophecies, Millennium, White Throne Judgment, New Heaven,
New Earth, New Jerusalem, eternal life, resurrection, all of those things, those are all promises
in the Bible. We can say, and it’s easy to say, why I
have faith in the future, I believe there is going to be a resurrection, I believe Christ
will come back and all of that. Our faith in the future however will be reflected in
the present. What do I mean by that, to be reflected in the present? It will be reflected
in our preparation and obedience today for the future. If we believe that God is going
to give us eternal life and that there will be a resurrection, should we not presently
be doing what God says in order to be in that resurrection? In order to have eternal life?
Is God going to give eternal life to just any old person if that person hasn’t developed
his character, hasn’t changed, is not growing? Our difficulty with faith is living by faith
daily, isn’t it? It’s not just looking to the future, I mean we can look and hopefully
we don’t doubt those things, but our difficulty is living daily by faith. Let’s notice in
verse 5 about Enoch. It says: Hebrews 11:5 – By faith Enoch was taken
away so that he did not see death…now there were those who wanted to kill him so God removed
him from their destructive ways so that he would not die by being murdered…”and was
not found because God had taken him,”…God had transported him to a different spot…for
before he was taken he had this testimony that he pleased God. Now in reading over this, I’ve read chapter
11 of the book of Hebrews many many times, I never really focused on the fact that Enoch
pleased God, that his life, what he did, how he lived, pleased God. And so he had faith,
because verse 6 tells us: Hebrews 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible
to please God. So the fact that he pleased God shows that
he lived by faith. So when you look at these men, you look at Abel, he trusted God and
he believed that there was going to be a Messiah. Enoch looked at God for protection and the
God he knew would eventually resurrect him. You drop on down to verse 7 and you find that
Noah knew that there was a flood coming, 120 years in the future and that God had promised
to protect him if he did his part. Let’s notice verse 7: Hebrews 11:7 – By faith Noah, being divinely
warned of things not yet seen…now notice the wording here and how this is so applicable
to us, he was divinely warned of things not yet seen…moved…he did something, he had
to go out and cut some timbers down, make some lumber and he began to put together an
ark…he moved with Godly fear…and as it goes on to say here…prepared an ark for
the saving of his household by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness
which is according to faith. He was warned; you and I are warned about
the future, are we not? I read one scripture, chapter 24:8 of Matthew, we’re warned about
what’s coming in the future. Now one can take a warning – now you can be driving
down the highway and you may see a warning sign, “Warning, Bridge Out” but what if
you say, I went over that bridge yesterday, I don’t think that bridge is out. You go
on down and the bridge is out, you didn’t heed the warning. Well you and I are traveling and I don’t
care how we’d like to, time doesn’t stop, it marches on and there is coming a time in
the future when what God promises will take place. Now what God says will take place,
we’ve not seen it yet. Just like he, he had to build this ark out in the middle of
the field somewhere, 120 years working on it and he must have been called a nut case,
could have been all kinds of psychiatrists come by and examine him, look at him, “What
are you doing?” He did it, he built it because he had the sure word of God, did he not? It
was coming, there was going to be a flood and God was going to preserve him. Now God, he was moved with godly fear and
godly fear moved him to action. We go to the Feast every year and one of the main things
we go there for is to learn to fear God, to stand in awe of God, to respect God, to love
Him and to learn about Him. So you and I, when we know what God says, we should be moved
to action, we should be moved to change our lives, we should be moved to some type of
action. Then he prepared, he prepared an ark. You and I should be preparing likewise for
the future. Notice now in verse 8, the story moves on to Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 – By faith, Abraham obeyed
when he was called to go out to a place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he
went out, not knowing where he was going. So notice, he obeyed and he was called. Faith
leads to obedience. He had faith in God. One thing about Abraham
that some of the historical documents seem
to indicate that he had been a mathematician, astronomer and he was, where he was living
at that time, quite well off. So he gave up his occupation, gave up his job, he gave up
his family, his wealth. God said, I want you to go over here to Canaan and he took off.
Because he knew that God had something in mind. Again, our problem is believing God
and trusting Him on a daily basis. He was called, as it says here, by God, he obeyed
and He called him to go out to another place. God has called us today likewise, has He not?
He has called us out of this world, out of this society and He’s called us to follow
Him and go His way. So we’ve been called to live God’s way of life today. Now when
I talk about living God’s way daily, I’m talking about the fact of things like keeping
the Sabbath, observing the Holy Days, being willing to tithe. He left family, he left
country and big city and followed God. And just as verse 9 says: Hebrews 11:9 – By faith he dwelt in the
land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with
him of the same promise. So he became a sojourner and the Feast of
Tabernacles teaches us that we are sojourners today on this earth, that God has something
else in mind for us. Our ultimate reward in the future is going to be in the New Jerusalem,
the New Heavens and the New Earth. Then in verse 10 it says: Hebrews 11:10 – For he waited for the city
which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Now where in the Old Testament when you read
the life of Abraham, do you read God talking to him about New Heavens, New Earth, New Jerusalem?
Yet the Bible is very clear here that he waited for the city, he looked forward not just to
the Millennium, not just to the White Throne Judgment but beyond to eternity, to what God
was offering in eternity, His ultimate reward. Verse 11 we find that Sarah also had faith,
she was moved by faith to obey God and she conceived, it says she knew that God was faithful.
So she had faith in God’s promise. And again, one reason I’m covering these examples is
so that we will know, and know that we know, that God truly is faithful. In verse 17 we
have one of the most outstanding examples of faith in the Bible. Notice verse 17: Hebrews 11:17 – By faith Abraham, when he
was tested, offered up Isaac and he who had received the promise offered up his only begotten
son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” Concluding, notice
his conclusion, the only thing he could come up with, he had three days to think about
this. He concluded that: Hebrews 11:19 – …that God was able to raise
him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. So he knew that God was faithful and that
God could or would resurrect him, because God said it is through this sign that I will
fulfill My promises. So he knew that was going to take place and so he had to have confidence
and faith at what God said He would do. Now I want you to notice here, it says God
tested him. You and I will likewise be tested. No one gets into the kingdom without God knowing
for sure that we will live His way of life, that we will put Him first. When you were
baptized, you said that you loved God more than anyone else and that He would come first.
Now you make that promise to God – you know what? He holds you to that and He will require
you to prove to Him that you’re willing to do that. And Abraham did. So when you look
at the story, you find that he was willing to trust God. Going on to Isaac in Verse 20 and Jacob in
Verse 21 and Joseph in Verse 22, all talked about future blessings, things to come. Isaac
passed on a blessing, Jacob blessed his sons, Joseph talked about the future Exodus taking
place. Obviously God must have revealed to them some future events that were going to
take place concerning their children. These men and women did not have the Bible to read
every day. How much of the Bible did Abraham have? None, it wasn’t written yet. Moses
came along and wrote the first five books, so he didn’t have the Bible. These men and
women did not read the Bible daily. God appeared to them on occasions, told them about His
plan, His purpose, their part in it, what He wanted them to do and they did it. They
had to have faith. Now would it be possible if you hadn’t seen
God in five to ten years to say, Did He really tell me that? Is that something I should be
doing, and maybe have second guesses? I don’t know how often God appeared to them because
the Bible just doesn’t say. But we find different accounts recorded here in the scriptures.
But you and I are privileged that we have this, we can read it and we should read it
every day. Why? Romans 10:17. Romans 10:17 – Faith comes by hearing and
hearing by the Word of God. We want our faith to grow? Study the Bible!
We want to believe in God – study the Bible! You know, that’s why God has given it to
us. He makes promises but as we study the Bible, as John 6:63 says, the words that Christ
spoke, they are life and they’re spirit. So we begin to have a spiritual awareness,
a spiritual mind, spiritual perspective, we begin to see and God gives us life, He stirs
up His spirit within us. So we can daily look at the promises of God, fulfillments, see
what God requires of us and if we have any doubts we can go back and read it again. You
can read it every day, you can read in different translations. I’ve got a Bible program,
I’ve probably had fifty, sixty translations on it, I mean you can read in any translation
you want to, to see what the Bible says. 2 Corinthians 5:7 is a scripture I referred
to earlier. It says: 2 Corinthians 5:7 – We walk by faith, not
by sight. We have to live by faith, sight is not good
enough. We have a whole lesson of ancient Israel, they walked by sight and they were
not faithful. God wants us to live by faith. Faith is like a seeing-eye dog to guide us.
Somebody who is blind has a seeing-eye dog, if you ever watch a seeing-eye dog and a blind
person and that dog takes them, stops, knows when to cross the street and they follow that
dog explicitly, they have confidence in that dog, he knows exactly what he’s doing, they’ve
worked together. And so it is with faith. As our faith is tested, we walk along with
God, we walk with faith, then God guides us, leads us and we begin to have more confidence.
God gives us faith to guide us, to motivate us, to stir us up, to point us in the right
direction. I remember hunting down in Texas once on the
top of the mountains about 9,000 feet high, down toward Big Bend and I got up, I was climbing
up this rather steep side of the mountain and turned around and looked back down and
it was so steep going down I was afraid to try to go back down. I had a gallon container
of water, I had my tent and my rifle, I was ready to get all those big deer up there.
O.K., I get up on top and its sheer drop off on the other side, straight down. I’m sitting
there watching the eagles swooping back and forth, but I’m also thinking, how in the
world am I going to get off of this thing? And all at once some sheep came up and it
dawned on me, how did they get up here? They didn’t follow me, somehow they were up here.
So I stood up and as soon as I stood up, they took off and they disappeared. O.K., where
did they go? Well I went a little further and I found that there was a bridge between
my ridge and the next ridge, and they scampered over that bridge and I scampered over that
bridge and finally worked my way up to the top. But you know, God directs us, He asks us sometimes
to walk where we don’t know where we’re going, it doesn’t look right but He promises
to guide us and lead us. In Hebrews 11:6 again, we find that without faith we cannot please
God. So if we’re going to please God we must live by faith, we must believe He is,
as we read here in Verse 6: Hebrews 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible
to please Him, for he who comes to Him must believe that He is…in other words, we believe
that He exists, a lot of people say they believe God exists, that’s happened, but notice,
it says…that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. You and I have to diligently seek Him. The
word “diligent” means to “search out” that we don’t just sit back and say, well
I’ve got it made. No, we search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so. Let me
read to you from Wuest Word Study of the Bible, how he translates verse 6: “Without faith
it is impossible to please Him at all. For he who comes to God must of necessity in the
nature of the case, believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him out.” So if we believe that God exists, then we
will diligently, with all of our heart, follow God, serve Him, do what He asks us to do.
A lot of people feel they have faith but they only have half of it. They believe, they say
they believe but they don’t obey, that’s what the second half is telling us. Faith leads to obedience, it leads to seeking
God out. Jesus Christ, you might remember, when He was here on the earth, God in the
flesh then, He did not come to do His own will, He said, “Not My will but Your will
be done,” referring to the Father. James 2:19 we read that the demons believe God exists;
they know He exists, He created them! James 2:19-20 – You believe there is one
God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and they tremble! But do you want to know,
O foolish man, that faith without works is dead. Unless our belief leads to obedience, it is
dead. Faith is more than just belief, it is trust. I’ve given the example here before
but I can’t think of a better example so I’ll give it again. That’s the example
of the wheelbarrow. Let’s say there was a gentleman who has, for ten years, wheeled
a wheelbarrow across the rope between two canyons. He goes over, he comes back, he’s
never fallen. Now you can see him, you know he can do it because he’s done it 365 days
a year – you believe he can do it. Trust is getting in the wheelbarrow. See now you
put yourself in his hands. And so it is with us. Trust is putting ourselves in God’s
hands. You say it, I do it. If You command me, I’ll follow. You see that’s what God
is looking for in us. The Greek word for faith, “pistis” means
to have, refers to trust because it talks about the character of one who can be relied
upon. We have faith in God, in means that we rely upon His character, you can trust
God. Why can we trust God? Because we can rely upon His character. He does not lie,
He does not prevaricate, He does not twist facts when He says it, He will do it, you
can rely upon it. Dead faith, you can tell if faith is alive or dead, dead faith doesn’t
affect behavior or develop trust. Living faith develops trust in God and it will affect our
behavior, it will affect how we live, what we do. See God is a rewarder, we trust Him,
God will do what He said. So we have to diligently seek Him and obey Him. Notice verse 7 again here in Hebrew 11. You’ll
find, as we go through – I won’t read all this again, another aspect of faith, and
this with Noah, was faith and fear together, to focus on that a little more. The word “fear”
means to act cautiously here, circumspectly, reverence, to stand in awe and many can say
they have faith, but if we fear God, the fear of God, lack of faith – let’s put it this
way, a lack of faith many times is a lack of respect and fear of God. We don’t fear
Him the way that we should. Noah was given a charge by God to do something, build an
ark. You and I have been charged today as part
of the body of Christ, to preach the gospel to the world, endure to the end, he who overcomes
will be in the kingdom of God. God gives us certain charges, certain things to do. Now
you find Abraham in verses 8-11, Abraham and Sarah. Their example is of faith and patience.
They waited twenty-five years for a son. Now what lesson do we learn from that? Well, God
doesn’t always answer immediately, He doesn’t always take away a trial. You know, when we
go through a trial and we ask God to take it away, He doesn’t always take it away
immediately doesn’t he? God wants us to learn a lesson and that is, to keep our minds
focused on Him. Focused on Him, belief in Him, faith isn’t emotion, it’s trust,
it’s belief, it’s action, it’s relying upon God, and as verse 13 goes on to say,
notice: Hebrews 11:13 – These all died in faith…they
had faith but they died, so death doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, they died in
faith…not having received the promises but having seen them afar off and were assured
of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. And he goes
on to say that they looked forward to a homeland, and if you drop down to verse 16, that God
had prepared a city for them. So God wants us to keep our mind focused on
our primary reward and that’s not in this life. You know a mistake that many make today
is wanting everything now, got to have it now. Matthew 6:33 says: Matthew 6:33 – Seek you first the kingdom
of God and His righteousness…and it says…all these things will be added to you. Can we wait for our reward? Can we wait for
the reward that God is going to give us? Can we be patient? Notice the promise from God
in Mark 10:29: Mark 10:29 – Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly
I say to you, there is no one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or
mothers or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s. Now I know that we have some sitting here
today whose marriages have broke up because they were willing to obey God and their mate
left them. Notice what Christ promises though in verse 30: Mark 10:30 – “Who shall not receive a
hundredfold now in this time…so God promises to bless us – houses, brothers, sisters,
mothers, children, lands, with persecution…He said there will be problems…and in the age
to come, eternal life.” That’s the ultimate reward, in the age to
come, eternal life, that’s the ultimate reward, in the age to come, eternal life.
But look around, I see dozens of individuals who are my brothers and sisters in the faith.
We have a new family, we have the family of God. We look around at each other, you might
say, well, I don’t know about this person or that person and they may think the same
thing of you but the thing you have to realize is, this is our family for eternity and eventually
God will give everybody that opportunity and we will be a part of that family. You see,
we live in an age where people seem to want immediate rewards. Faith is in the future,
obedience is now. When I say faith is seeing the reward or the future, what I’m talking
about is our reward is in the future, but we obey now. What is the attitude you will find among many
religionists today? They talk prosperity gospel, you know, all you’ve got to do is obey and
supposedly they will receive everything now. It’s not called the religion of sacrifice,
self-denial, of overcoming, of character development – that’s what God has called us to, but
He’s also called- called us to blessings that He gives to us. As the apostle Paul said
in Philippians 4:11 – notice, he said: Philippians 4:11 – Not that I speak in regard
to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content: I know how to be abased,
I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and
to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Now we would all rather abound, would we not?
But there are times when we might be abased, we might not have so much. And so God shows
us that He is with us, it doesn’t matter what we would call the good times, the bad
times. Faith motivates us through the good times and the bad times. Now God will always
do what is best for us. Let’s notice
Hebrews 12:10. Why does God allow us to go through difficulties and trials? Well let’s
notice, verse 10: Hebrews 12:10 – For they indeed for a few
days…talking about our physical parents….chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our
profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Why does God allow anything to come upon us?
So that we can profit from it and we can develop His holiness. Hebrews 12:11 – Now no chastening seems
to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable
fruit of righteousness to those who have strengthened by it. Therefore…the Bible says…strengthen
the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees…and you and I are to…make straight
paths…and it goes on to exhort us. So God will always do what’s best for us.
Look at faith from the perspective of God. If we don’t have faith, what does that mean
to God? Well we doubt His word, we doubt His character. God is saying, Here I am, I’ll
do what I’ve said, but we’ve got to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. His
character and nature stand behind His word. Is God an appearing God and a disappearing
God? Is He alive one moment and dead the next? No, He’s alive all the time and He will
fulfill His promises. Testing allows God to know how we will react
to any given situation. Remember what God said about Abraham after He tested him with
Isaac? He said, “Now I know…” Now God knew what Abraham would do, that he would
obey Him. There’s going to come a day when God will say of every one of us, “Now I
know,” now I know what you will do and He will give us eternal life. Let’s notice
in James 1:2. It says: James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy
when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect, complete, lacking nothing. What is God’s desire for you and for me?
That we might be perfect, complete, mature, lacking nothing. That we truly do have His
character. So you and I must believe God. Let’s notice one last scripture here, in
Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12 continues the same theme over from chapter 11 concerning faith
and you read here…let’s back up to Hebrews 11:32 first of all. It says: Hebrews 11:32 – What more shall I say? For
the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samson
and the prophets; who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises,
stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies
of the aliens. It shows everything that God did for them through faith. Hebrews 11:35 – Women received their dead
raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might
obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, and
of chains and imprisonment. Hebrews 11:37 – They were stoned, they were
sawn in two, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword. They wandered around
in sheepskin… Now, when you get to verse 35, the question
is, did these individuals lack faith? And the answer is, no they did not. They had to
have faith to endure, right? They were going through some horrendous trials but they had
to have faith. Notice verse 39 here: Hebrews 11:39 – All these…the Bible says…having
obtained a good testimony through faith…so they had faith…did not receive the promise.
So they had faith, they had confidence in God. So just because we go through a major trial
or test or somebody dies or in the future, perhaps somebody is martyred, doesn’t mean
they lack faith. We must have faith to endure daily, we must have faith to endure the major
difficulties that might come in the future. So we’re told in chapter 12: Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, we also, since
we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…we have these tremendous examples…let us lay
aside every weight…it’s what Mr. Porter was talking about…lay aside the weight and
the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race…we’re not
in a sprint, we’re running a longer race, we have to have endurance. Run with endurance
the race that is set before us. Your race might be different from my race, but we’re
all running a race towards God’s kingdom. Hebrews 12:2 –Looking unto Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith… Brethren, Jesus Christ is the one who begins
the process in us, He’s the author, He’s the one who is working out His plan in us
and He is also the finisher of our faith. If we yield, we obey, He will help us to develop
that faith. So faith is what enables us to overcome, to overcome temptations. Fundamental purpose of faith is to keep our
mind focused on God, on His promises, to trust Him and to lead us to obedience. Faith gives
us the assurance, it gives us the confidence, it is the guarantee that God knows what He’s
doing and that He will fulfill that promise. It enables us to do what God wants us to do,
to obey and to please Him. So brethren, if we lack faith, if we know
the source of it, Jesus Christ is the author and the finisher, we go to God, we ask Him
for it and faith is something that we should pray for daily as His people. And God will
give it to us because it is through faith that we will be in His kingdom. So brethren,
let’s make sure that we pray daily – for faith that God will guide us and that He will
help us to endure.

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