This is a sermon I will be preaching on Sunday, November 25th, 2007 at the AM service.

GOTTA HAVE FAITH PART 1
DEFINING FAITH
Hebrews 11:1-3

Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (2) For by it the people of old received their commendation. (3) By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

INTRO: We are starting a new series this morning entitled, “Gotta have faith.” This series is going to be a verse by verse series on Hebrews 11:1-12:2.

Before we get into this series let me read the November 20th devotional reading from Max Lucado’s devotional, “Grace for the Moment Volume 2: “DO YOU DOUBT? James 1:6 – Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. Doubt. He’s a nosy neighbor. He’s an unwanted visitor. He’s as obnoxious guest. He’ll pester you. He’ll irritate you. He’ll criticize your judgment. He’ll kick the stool out from under you and refuse to help you up. He’ll tell you not to believe in the invisible yet offer no answer for the inadequacy of the visible…His aim is not to convince you but to confuse you. He doesn’t offer solutions, he only raises questions. Had any visits from this fellow lately? If you find yourself going to church in order to be saved and not because you are saved, then you’ve been listening to him. If you find yourself doubting God could forgive you again for that, you’ve been sold some snake oil. If you are more cynical about Christians than sincere about Christ, then guess who came to dinner? I suggest you put a lock on your gate. I suggest you post a do not enter sign on your door.”

In my opinion the greatest enemy of individual Christians, is not Satan, nor the world, nor the unbeliever we may come in contact with that likes to persecute us. It is more than just saying the flesh, but I believe it is self-doubt. And this is an enemy I feel we all have to fight and struggle against from time to time. Sometimes the fight is greater than other times.

A few weeks ago, to be honest with you, I was facing this enemy. He hit me very hard, like I had been punched in the stomach and left laying on the ground trying to catch my breath. It was affecting all areas of my life, because I was just consumed my self-doubt. One morning, I was praying in the shower, and I prayed a prayer that I really don’t like to pray much, “Lord, I need a sign.” The very next morning, I was doing my daily Bible reading and the New Testament reading was Hebrews 11. After reading this, plus the next two verses of Hebrews 12, I felt like Bill Engvall. I stopped and said out loud, “Here’s your sign.”

So this series came as a result of this event in my life. From Hebrews 11:1-12:2 is known as an Heroic Poem. The Hebrew Christians of the first century would have picked up on this. During this time Heroic Poems were used not only to tell the stories of great people from the past, but also to give the reader or listener a moral lesson.

So the next few weeks let’s look at this lesson. This morning we are going to be looking at, “Defining faith.”

1. The true meaning of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 ESV – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Let me first start off by saying that faith is not about believing God for blessings. Nor is it about putting our trust in a philosophy, or belief system.

Faith first starts with believing and trusting completely in God and His revealed Character found in His Word.

Romans 10:17 ESV – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It is believing that He is who He says He is. This goes much deeper than believing He will do what He said He will do. When God revealed Himself first to Moses, He didn’t reveal Himself as, “I will do what I will do,” But, “I am who I am.

Exodus 3:1-6 ESV – 1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Exodus 3:13-14 ESV – 13Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God may reveal Himself by what He does, but it is not to show His power so much as it is to reveal Himself personally to us.

Notice the word, “Assurance,” in our text. This assurance is based on God’s character, not His ability.

God is not in the business of showing off, He is in the business of revealing His character.

So our assurance, (in Greek, “to stand under a title deed”) is more than just an object, but I believe I assurance in the person of Jesus Christ Himself.

You need assurance during this life, then read the Gospels, see what Jesus said, what He did, how He handled adversity, and then realize He has given us the very same Spirit that if we will trust Him, He will help us in all of our adversities.

Now let’s look at the phrase in our text, “The conviction of things not scene.” This is talking about an absolute trust and confidence that God will fulfill His promises, even though we don’t physically see the evidence. To be honest with each other, if we have to see the evidence first, then it isn’t faith, we are walking by sight, and not faith, and we are supposed to be doing the reverse.

2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV – for we walk by faith, not by sight.

2. Faith has a reward – God’s approval.

Hebrews 11:2 ESV – For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Hebrews 11:2 MSG – The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

We are going to see later on in this series that faith pleases God. But we need to understand this, faith is not a work obtaining salvation, but a gift that God gives because He is saving us.

Ephesians 2:8 AMP – For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

Now remember, not only is grace a free gift, but also, according to Romans 10:17, Faith is a gift as well, it comes from the Word of God as it is preached or delivered to you. So, in my opinion, and also the opinion of all reformed Scholars, not only is grace freely given by God, but so is faith. So faith is not a work that begins with us, but it is a work of God through us.

As we go on through this series, the author is going to show us that these Biblical heroes of the faith had one thing in common: They had an amazing faith in their amazing God, and God approved them on account of their faith.

To be approved of our faith is again like I said earlier not about works, but it shows our unyielding and complete trust in God, not matter what we are feeling, facing, or even our present condition we find ourselves in.

This is the type of faith that God approves of. And it only comes from Him, it is not manipulated and conjured up by us, but it is freely given by Him through His Word.

3. The first principle of faith.

Hebrews 11:3 ESV- By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

The first principle of faith is that God is the creator of the universe. It wasn’t a big bang, nor was it created by accident, nor was evolution involved, it was God speaking. What is so interesting is that the word in the passage, “created,” in Greek can also mean, “planned out.” So not only was everything crated by Him, but it was planned out by Him as well.

The universe was not created by known materials, but by God’s spoken word. Why is this important to believe? Because God’s written word is just as powerful as His spoken word at creation. Why do I say this? Because I believe they are one and the same – the came from the same being, making them just as powerful.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

CONCL: The goal of this sermon series in found in this one statement, “God is in control, so put your absolute trust, and faith in Him.”

Next week we will look at the spiritual power of faith.

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