I’m currently doing a Sunday morning verse by verse series entitled, “Gotta have faith.” This is a verse by verse series from Hebrews 11:1-12:2. This is the sermon for December 2nd 2007. Please excuse any typos.
GOTTA HAVE FAITH PART 2
The spiritual power of faith
INTRO: Last week we started a new series entitled, “Gotta have faith.” We are looking at Hebrews 11:1-12:2. Last week we looked at “defining faith.” We saw that the greatest enemy that we face is self-doubt. Self-doubt usually happens when God begins calling or speaking to us, and we get our focus off of Him and start looking out our inabilities to do what God has called us to do.
This week we are going to look at the spiritual power of faith. Remember, this is a heroic poem and we are going to look at two heroes of the faith this morning.
As Pastor of this church, it is my prayer that each person who calls this church home would plug into this one fact, that there is spiritual power in faith. For me, this realization often comes not when I’m at my strongest, but when I’m at some weak point in my life, and feeling sorry for myself. If I stay in that position, I will be spiritually weak, but when I cry out to God, He always reveals Himself to me during those times, even if I’m not aware of it. When I call to Him, His strength helps me carry on, and it isn’t until I’m over the difficulty that I realize that I’ve been, “plugged in” to the spiritual power of faith.
Illustration: A number of years ago Henry Drummond wrote a classic sermon titled “The Greatest Thing in the World.” He concluded his sermon by suggesting that if you put a piece of iron in the presence of an electrified field, that piece of iron itself will become electrified. And in the presence of that electrical field, it is changed into a magnet. As long as it remains in contact with that field of power, it will continue to attract other pieces to itself.
We are like that piece of iron. In the presence of Christ, we experience his love and strength and are electrified by the Holy Spirit to carry on in His gifts, callings, and through the struggles and trails we face.
Let’s look at our Scripture text this morning, and see what God would say to us.
Hebrews 11:4-5 ISV – By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did, and by it he was declared to be righteous, since God himself accepted his offerings. And by faith he continues to speak, even though he is dead. (5) By faith Enoch was taken away without experiencing death. He could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he won approval as one who pleased God.
1. The faith of Abel: The power to be counted righteous.
Verse 4 ISV – By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did, and by it he was declared to be righteous, since God himself accepted his offerings. And by faith he continues to speak, even though he is dead.
Let’s look at the story of Cain and Abel for a few moments.
Genesis 4:1-10 ESV – 1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
Cain is a farmer and there are a few things we can learn from him here in this story: He didn’t bring a sin offering to God, but an offering of his own labor. You see, a sin offering required the shedding of blood, and I believe Cain new this from the story of God Himself shedding the blood of a lamb and using the flesh to cover His parents. Yet, in pride, He brought an offering of his won labor. He became angry with God and jealous of his brother, Abel. He murders Abel. After murdering Abel, He lies to God.
Notice the progression of sin here, and it starts with two things, refusing to take a sin offering to God and pride in his own labor. Scripture truly is right when it says, “Pride goes before a fall.”
Abel tended sheep. Here is what we know about Him: He brought a sin offering, the firstborn of his flock – which pointed prophetically to God’s ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, His first-born. By bringing a lamb for sacrifice, he was going outside his own works. He didn’t give up or earn anything, the sacrifice was in his place and pointed toward Christ. Therefore he is declared righteous. It is interesting that Jesus Himself declares Abel righteous and innocent.
Matthew 23:35 ISV – As a result, you will be held accountable for all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
What is the spiritual power of faith here? That through Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, we are declared righteous.
Which is something that we could never do for ourselves.
2. The faith of Enoch: The power to walk with God and please Him.
Hebrews 11:5 ISV – By faith Enoch was taken away without experiencing death. He could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he won approval as one who pleased God.
Genesis 5:21-24 ESV – 21When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
To walk with God means to please God. The same Hebrew word means both. It also can mean, “to bring God glory and honor by our lifestyle, and conversation.” It is a New Testament principle, found within these of oldest of stories.
Romans 12:1-2 ISV – 1I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship. , 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.
Because Enoch’s life pleased God – he was taken and didn’t die.
What can we learn from this?
1. Like Enoch, all believers should have a passion that is to walk with God and please Him.
2. We too have victory over death, even if we die.
John 11:25-26 ISV – I am the resurrection and the life. The person who believes in me, even though he dies, will live. (26) Indeed, everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Romans 14:8 ISV – If we live, we live to honor the Lord; and if we die, we die to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 ISV – We know that if the earthly tent we live in is torn down, we have a building in heaven that comes from God, an eternal house not built by human hands. (2) For in this one we sigh, since we long to put on our heavenly dwelling. (3) Of course, if we do put it on, we will not be found without a body. (4) So while we are still in this tent, we sigh under our burdens, because we do not want to put it off but to put it on, so that our dying bodies may be swallowed up by life. (5) God has prepared us for this and has given us his Spirit as a guarantee. (6) Therefore, we are always confident, and we know that as long as we are at home in this body we are away from the Lord. (7) For we live by faith, not by sight. (8) We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from this body and to live with the Lord. (9) So whether we are at home or away from home, our goal is to be pleasing to him.
3. How steps do we take to please God?
The first step is to pray. In prayer admit your inadequacies and the fact that you know that in and of yourself you can’t please Him.
Ask God to give you the desire to walk with Him and please Him.
Look at the heroes of the faith: both in the bible and throughout history. Write down the steps they took to walk with God and live a life pleasing to Him, and then imitate that lifestyle.
Finally, take the step of faith. We are never going to please God without getting up and walking. So begin by faith.
Are you satisfied in your walk with God, or do you see that there are areas that you haven’t totally surrendered to Him. Maybe you sense God calling you to some type of ministry, but you look at yourself and see all your weaknesses. Remember, there is supernatural power in faith. The power that declares us righteous before God, and the power to walk a walk that pleases Him.
Swing for the fences, dare to believe God, and step out in faith.
We will never experience that spiritual power until we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and do things for Him.
Next time we will look at the necessary beliefs of faith.