The “SURE THINGS” Series #4
"A SURE FAITH!"
TEXTS: Heb. 10:32-39; 11:1-2ff; James 2:14-26; Jude 3-4
INTRO: While it is true that not all men and women live by faith in God ... all men and women live by faith in something! It is not difficult to know who/what people believe in or where they put their faith ... just look at their life and see where their greatest priorities are placed, this will tell you what they believe in.
For some; their faith is in:
a. The stock market -- they live for their investments! (Money)
b. Careers -- they live for their jobs!
c. Themselves -- they live to please only their own life
d. Knowing the right people -- they spend countless hours and money getting to know the "right" people!
e. Pleasure seeking -- they go from thrill to thrill ... always looking for something more pleasurable in the next thrill!
f. Acquisitions ... acquiring more and more of this world's stuff ... they live to get more!
PROP.SENT: There really is one thing worth having faith in ... it is a sure thing; it is called FAITH IN GOD!
I. CONFIDENCE Heb. 10:32-39
A. Perspective Heb. 10:32-34
1. Remember when faith was new and fresh ... the passion of faith's strength within us!
a. We could easily withstand trials ... great contests of faith versus reality would strike us square in the face and we held up gladly ... new faith is often vibrant and resistant to failure!
b. Remember those who poked fun at you for your new found faith ... perhaps you even felt awkward at the beginning because you didn't know enough of God's Word to defend your faith against reason ... but you clung to that faith anyways!
ILLUS: To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. -- Franz Werfel (1890-1945) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 608.
c. A whole new perspective yielded a new type of lifestyle ... a new value system embraced.
2. This fresh perspective was sharp and clean ... so we would put everything in its proper perspective ... material things were just that ... nothing but "STUFF."
3. The decrease value we gave to these material things only helped us appreciate the eternal values of God's kingdom and the sure hope faith gave, one day we would exist within these eternal principles in full expression.
4. This new perspective gave great confidence of faith ... we were sure of what we believed!
B. Patience Heb. 10:35-39
1. But now time has gone by, perhaps a great deal of time ... and we grow tired of the trials and the harassment of being a Christian and keeping our FAITH up!
2. The constant battles start to wear down the saints: perhaps even has them wondering, "Is it really worth it all?"
a. God recognizes the weakness of our human constitution ... hence a word is added here for encouragement:
b. "Don't throw away your confidence" ... "IT WILL BE RICHLY REWARDED!"
3. This is the hardest part about faith ... all rewards do not necessarily come in this lifetime ... but they WILL COME!
4. The purpose of the trials is so we can gain perseverance or develop patience!
a. Think about it ... there is no quick way to become a patient person!
b. The man or woman who becomes IMPATIENT can do great harm to their witness for Christ or for the development of the kind of deep faith they really want in their lives ... shortcuts don't always make the trip quicker:
ILLUS: A doctor was called one night to come to another hospital about 50 miles away ... he was called because a young boy was dying with an odd infection, and this doctor who lived 50 miles away was the only expert on that infection. He quickly agreed to come right away ... as he was traveling out of town he had gotten as close as the last stoplight ... suddenly the door opened and a man with a brown jacket and rumpled hat pulled him out shouting, "I am sorry but I have to steal your car!" The doctor tried to explain who he was and his mission of life and death but it was no use ... the man was off with his car right away! 2 hours later the doctor via a bus arrives at the hospital. Coming down the hall was the other doctor who had called him 2 hours earlier. He explained his dilemma of arriving 2 hours late only to hear the hospital doctor say, "I too am sorry ... the boy died just 10 minutes ago ... if only you would have been here on time. Would you be as kind as to explain to the parents the reason for their son's death, they are here in the other room." Walking in the room the doctor tried to brace himself for some logic or answer that might soften the blow ... as he walked in there sat a man in a brown jacket and rumpled hat! That man's lack of patience and panic had stolen the very car of the man who could have saved his only son! – Source Unknown
5. The promise to those who will be patient is "in just a very little while" God will come and with Him there will be a reward for those who keep faith in God!
a. The Greek translated here: "a little while" means a "VERY, VERY, LITTLE while..." the idea of imminence or shortness of time
b. Perhaps this shortness of time is meant to compare the few years of faith now compared to the span of eternity!
6. The declaration of the one who will be rewarded ... who will be triumphant is those "WHO WILL LIVE BY FAITH!"
a. We must not shrink back!
b. The world offers nothing to believe in ... only temporary pleasure and life without significant meaning ... you live some ... you die; you're dust and forgotten!
c. Though it may be hard and difficult at times ... we must not give up on faith!
II. COMMENDATION Heb. 11:1-2ff
A. Persuaded Heb. 11:1-2
1. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for ... it is the evidence of things not seen!"
a. Lest this sound too crazy ... all men and women do this to some degree or another with temporal objects not nearly as wonderful as God Himself!
b. For instance: most has faith in the invisible air around them ... their evidence is seen in the fact that they leave their homes without oxygen masks on!
c. Hardly anybody here had second thoughts about sitting down on the chair under them ... they believed and had faith in the ability of the chair to support them ... the evidence of this faith was proven by the fact that they sat without inspecting the chair!
2. If sinners can have faith in such material things ... these things will only last for a short period of time, then why is it foolish to them for Christians who have faith in God ... a being of eternal life and great power ... at least we aim high! !
3. Now faith is carefully defined here: It is evident by the individual's certainty and sureness via the lifestyle and actions ... acting out confidence though lacking absolute proof!
a. But acting as if proven! Faith is not just about believing, it is about behavior!
ILLUS: Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps. -- David Lloyd George (1863-1945) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3650.
b. Our absolute proof is coming though ... the future will bear this out!
c. The big different between "sinners" and "saints" ... all sinners have their past catching up with them; believers however, always have their futures catching up with them! This is a huge difference when we are facing life and this world, as well as eternity!
B. Pleasing! Heb. 11:3ff
1. Notice the long list of characters commended here for their faith!
2. What is also interesting about these names is that there were moments of failure in their faith too ... but they recovered from those moments to complete a lifestyle evidencing their faith in God!
3. Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans to travel to a land he had never seen but had been promised to by God - his action to travel and go there without ever seeing it was proof of his faith in God!
a. Evidence of his faith was his willingness to travel and leave behind the idolatry of the city he grew up in!
b. Faith doesn't just move mountains ... it does something even more incredible; IT MOVES US!
4. Enoch simply disappeared ... never saw death ... direct route to heaven because he lived HIS FAITH OPENLY!
5. In fact the heart of these examples is found in verses 5-6. "... THEY PLEASED GOD, AND WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD!"
6. We must do 2 things to have real faith: (Heb. 11:6)
a. Believe that He exists!
b. Believe that He rewards us in the future for trusting Him now!
c. This trust is evidence by the very way in which we live!
ILLUS: A bold unbeliever was lecturing a group on the folly of religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular. At the close of the presentation the speaker invited people to propound any questions they might have. In the audience was the town drunkard, who had been converted to Christ. In response to the invitation the converted alcoholic came up front, took out an orange, peeled it, and ate it without comment.
The speaker asked if he had a question for him. After downing the last segment of orange the convert turned to the infidel and asked, "Was the orange I just ate sweet or sour?" Angrily, the speaker replied, "You idiot, how can I know whether it was sweet or sour when I never tasted it?" To this the converted drunkard retorted, "And how can you know anything about Christ if you have not tried Him?" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 190.
7. NOAH built an ark believing that God was going to do what he had never seen before ... RAIN, and lots of it!
a. His faith was rewarded in the saving of his life and many of the life forms of earth!
b. It took Noah 120 years to build that ark, as proof of his faith ... and preached all those years to warn the sinners ... no others outside his family obeyed or lived to tell about it!
8. Notice verse 13. All these were living by faith when they died ... they didn't receive everything promised them in this first lifetime ... but God hasn't forgotten, at the right time we will join them and be given our rewards ... if we are faithful now!
III. CONNECTION James 2:14-26
A. Practical James 2:14-19
1. Faith is not some far-out concept of great spirituality that has little practical value!
2. Faith evidences itself in frequent everyday types of behaviors!
a. It shows others the nature of Christ that has now impacted our lives!
b. We cannot act like the world and declare then our faith in Christ!
3. There is a NEW reality to the NEW man formed in us by Christ Jesus!
4. Faith makes us like Christ ... we begin living and touching others in a way that Jesus Himself would live if He were physically present on earth; like He did almost 2,000 years ago!
5. Real faith does REAL things!
ILLUS: Napoleon often referred to Marshall Ney as the bravest man he had ever known. Yet Ney's knees trembled so badly one morning before a battle that he had trouble mounting his horse. When he was finally in the saddle he shouted contemptuously, "Shake away, knees, you would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 129-130.
6. Belief in God is NOT ENOUGH ... even the Devil believes in God, so do the DEMONS! But their lives do not express the life of Christ ... hence they may believe but they don't have faith!
a. This is an important point James is making in . He makes it quite clear that "belief" is NOT ENOUGH ... faith is ACTING OUT BELIEF in the RIGHT ways.
b. When someone says they believe in God ... we should follow up the statement with, "Oh yeah, what evidence is there?"
B. Powerful! James 2:20-26
1. Faith also does powerful things ... it finds expression in our lives in ways that defy logic!
2. Faith brings healing, gives unique wisdom in a situation, allows the impossible to occur simply because the God we serve can do the impossible -- so such possibilities are not outside the realm of reality!
3. Things like the sick healed, the dead raised, the cripple made whole ... and a host of other POSSIBLE things can happen when we believe God!
4. This is why we should be careful not to limit the possibilities of God!
5. God can build up a church where none existed before ... even where you live!
6. Deeds & Faith go together ... or as James said it, “Faith without works is no faith!”
ILLUS: For centuries
the islands of
7. Faith cannot be stripped away from the works we do out of faith!
8. IF YOU’VE GOT IT ... IT BETTER SHOW!
IV. CONTENDING Jude 3-4
A. Preserve Jude 3
1. We are to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" ... in other words we are to fight to keep it preserved AND practiced!
2. If any generation grows without the preserved witness of the Gospel and true faith in God we will witness the utter destruction of an entire civilization!
3. The very concept of "contend" means that it is going to be a struggle to maintain the FAITH.
a. We will be challenged!
b. We will be mocked!
c. We will be tried!
d. We will be harassed!
ILLUS: Sweeping across
I believe in the sun--even when it does not shine;
I believe in love--even when it is not shown;
I believe in God--even when he does not speak -- Robert Schuller -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 186.
4. There will be those who will attempt to destroy the faith of believers ... you'll have to tell them, "I'd rather fight than switch!"
5. Preserving the faith of God once delivered to the saints of God is a responsibility that all believers have!
B. Polluted! Jude 4
1. One characteristic of the last days will be the attempts of man to pollute this Gospel ... to change the faith of the saints!
2. There will be cults, but worse than this ... there will be those who will slip in "tickling teaching" ... ideas of human origin in the guise as the gospel! There will be fad doctrines floating around that will glorify man more than God ... a true sign of a counterfeit!
3. Their teaching will take what is "clean" faith and encourage Christians that they can lead lives of a sloppy witness ... okaying all kinds of sinful pleasures and a kind of "feel good" faith that allows any activity.
ILLUS: If you believe
what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the
gospel you believe, but yourself. --
4. These pet doctrines only give license for man to express more and more ungodliness instead of godly behavior!
5. Good Doctrine always lifts up Christ's example in pleasing His Father ... and our call is to do the same!
6. How well is your faith today? Is it without real works? If it is it is gone or isn't true faith!
7. Is your faith expressed by doing whatever you please rather than what God is pleased with ... then it too is not real faith!
CONCLUSION: Faith is not some mindless spiritual exercise ... it is a powerful lifestyle expressing the reality of God in everything we believe and do! It is practical and persuasive ... as we express our certain confidence in God in all of life!