A Faith that Pleases God Darrell Hurley
Hebrews 11:1-7 Box # 781
Image… Eric Liddell
Need… When was the last time you thought “is my life pleasing to God?
Subject… Today I’ll tell you how you can obtain a life of faith that pleases God
Text… Our text today is Hebrews 11:1-7
Preview… In out text we are going to discover how a faith that pleases God is defined, what it looks like lived out, and how can we have this kind of faith that pleases God.
I. The Definition of a faith that pleases God
A. It is a confidence of things hoped for.
B. It is a conviction of things unseen.
II. The Demonstration of a faith that pleases God
A. The Testimony of Abel- Faith Worshipping.
B. The Testimony of Enoch- Faith Walking.
C. The Testimony of Noah- Faith Working.
III. Determine to daily live a life of faith that pleases God (HP)
A. Read and meditate on the scriptures every day.
B. Practice praying without ceasing every day.
C. Live in obedience every day.
A Faith that Pleases God
In 1981, one of the tops movies of the year was Chariots of Fire which portrayed the life of a man who was preparing to run in the 1924 Olympics in Paris France. His name was Eric Liddell and he was from Scotland. Most of the movie portrays the events that led up to the Olympic Games. It showed Liddell winning one event after another in order to qualify for the Games.
But one could see from early on that Liddell was a different kind of man. He was not solely focused on running in the Olympics. His vision was to compete in the Olympics and then give his life to serving God on the mission field in China. But his sister couldn’t understand why he would take time out of his life to compete in the games, when he could be presently serving on the mission field now. He told his sister that he felt God had gifted him with the talent and the ability to run, so when he ran, he ran for God’s glory; he ran for God’s pleasure.
Liddell qualified for the Olympics and found out just before the games began that his best event, the 100 meters was going to be staged on Sunday. He made it known to the Olympic committee that he would not run on the Sabbath, so he ended up competing in the 200 meter in which he won the bronze and the 400 meter in which he won the gold. The movie ends with Liddell being fully satisfied in what he had accomplished and then moving on with his life serving as a missionary in China.
This movie portrays a need for us in that some people in the world know how to live for God’s pleasure and are quite satisfied in life. But there are a lot of people who don’t. So let me ask you, when was the last time you gave thought to how your life pleases God? This is going to be the subject for our talk today. How you can live a life that pleases God? We will find the answer to this question in Hebrews 11:1-7. In this text we will discover that it is faith that pleases God. We will define what faith is and how it is evidenced in our lives and how we can obtain this kind of faith.
I. The Definition of a faith that pleases God vv. 1-3
Just mention the word faith in different circles today and it will conjure up many different thoughts among people today. We use the word to represent religious systems like the faith Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity. We use it to speak of fidelity to one’s promises like: I take your statement on faith. We use it to show loyalty in a person like: I believe in you – you can do it. Others use it to speak of strong personal convictions as in the case with someone saying, the faith of our fathers. But the question for us today is, What does the Bible mean when it comes to the faith it speaks of? Well I know of no better place to look than Hebrews 11.
Read verse 1-3
We see in v. 1 that a faith that pleases God is a faith that is confident in things hoped for. The Greek word that is translated “being sure” or “confident” is ὑπόστασις . This word is a compound of hupo meaning under and stasis which means to stand. So faith gives a sure foundation to Hope. Faith is the bedrock for Hope in that it looks into the future and sees the reality of things that are awaiting it. It is by faith that we can look into the future and see what is awaiting us. We have many promises from God that there is a better day coming. Paul speaks of the blessed hope of the believer. Paul tells us in Titus 2:11-13 that,
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; (Tit 2:11-13 NAS)
The blessed hope of the believer is that this life is not all there is. There will be a day when Christ returns that those who have died will be resurrected and those that are alive will be raptured to forever be with the Lord for eternity. It is by our faith that we can see into the future and see this as an awaiting reality for us, and this helps us to persevere and live lives pleasing unto God. So is not only confidence in the future, but it is a conviction that what God promises are true. It is a conviction of things unseen.
Read verses 2-3
The second aspect in the definition of faith in vv. 1-3 is that a faith that pleases God is a conviction or certainty of things unseen. We all came into this world as infants. At that time, we were not aware of all the things that were taking place around us. But as we grew in our physical development, we began to comprehend things through our senses. In other words, we began to understand the world we lived in through our senses. Our sense of touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell began to help us understand what was taking place around. In the same way, when we were born into God’s family and began to grow in our develpoment as a believer, we began to comprehend the things of the Spirit that we never had in the past. The most important of these unseen realities is the existence of our creator God and how everything that we comprehend both physically and spiritually was a part of His creation. We now came to understand that God is the first cause of everything. This is the same type of faith that our fathers of the faith demonstrated as is noted in v. 2 and the rest this chapter.
Now that we have seen the definition of a faith that pleases God, I will move on to my second point and we will see the demonstration of a faith that pleases God.
II. The Demonstration of a faith that pleases God vv. 4-5, 7
Read v. 4
In v. 4, we have the writer of Hebrews account of Abel and his faith. Here we see Abel pleased God in that he demonstrated a worshipping faith. Now there is a lot of ambiguity in this account and the one in Genesis.
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD." 2 And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. 4 And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. (Gen 4:1-5 NAS)
We don’t know exactly what Cain and Abel knew and what kind of sacrifice was asked for by God. But we do know that Abel’s sacrifice was commended as pleasing to God and Cain’s was not. The text suggests that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith and Cain did not. In other words, Cain was going through a ritual but Abel was offering his in faith to God.
This is an area that we all fall victim to at one time or another. This is why we need to evaluate ourselves on a constant basis. There are a lot of people in this world that think if they perform some religious ritual, then God will be pleased. They think that if they deny the flesh then will please God. They are the “believers” who are more known for the evil they don’t do more so than the good they do. You know these as the ones “who don’t drink, smoke, or chew or go with women who do.” Then there are those who think that they are basically good. They go to church on Easter and Christmas and have never committed any serious crime, so God should be pleased with their life.
But in Biblical reality, a life that pleases God is one that demonstrates a worshipping lifestyle. Two concepts that cannot be separated from worship are obedience and sacrifice. We see this with Abel and Cain. Abel was conscious of offering what God required and was willing to sacrifice his best to God. Cain was obedient also to an extent. He brought a sacrifice, but it was not offered in faith. He offered his sacrifice in a flippant manner without giving much consideration to it.
Read V. 5
8 And Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch.
19 Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.
21 And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.
22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.
23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years
(Gen 5:18-23 NAS)
Then in v. 5, we have the account of Enoch. The text says that Enoch was commended as one who pleased God, so much so that God took him without experiencing death. In Enoch, we the have the account from writer of Hebrews of Enoch as one who had a walking faith. Today we hear a lot about having a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. I believe this is what the writer is communicating to us here. The Biblical account of Enoch’s life informs us that from the birth of his son Methuselah, Enoch walked with God. In other words, Enoch had a personal relationship with God in which he experienced God’s presence with Him throughout his life and was in communion with Him.
There was a time in my life that I thought I was a Christian. I was raised in an independent Baptist church. I heard a lot of sermons on hell and the second coming of Christ. I went forward many times at the time of invitation out of fear that I was going to hell. I would invariably be counseled by the pastor or deacon and pray to receive Christ, but the only problem was that my life never changed. During my teen years, I would curse like a sailor and party with my friends. I wouldn’t give God any recognition whatsoever in front of my friends. I never had this day by day walk with the Lord that Enoch had. This all changed in 1988, when God opened my eyes to my lost condition and I was born again. It was not until that time, that I began living a life of faith and knew what it was like to please God by walking with Him day by day.
Read v. 7
Then in v. 7, we have the writer’s account of Noah who was commended by God. In Noah we see a faith that pleases God as a working faith. By faith, Noah accepted the fact of God’s warning of impending judgment so that he built an ark to save his family. It was through his working faith that he condemned the world and became an heir of righteousness. Now we all will agree that our works do not save us, but as one wise Biblical sage put it, “faith without works is useless. You say you have faith and I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you faith by what I do.” Works do not obtain salvation for us but they do demonstrate that we have that kind faith that pleases God. From the examples of these "antediluvian" saints we learn that faith is a strong conviction that "worships" God properly, "walks" with Him in life, and "works" as He directs.
So we have seen that The definition of a faith that pleases God, the demonstration of a faith that pleases God.
Read v. 6
In v. 6, the text informs us why this is so important. It tells us that without having this kind of faith, we cannot please God. Whatever we do in life, if we do not have a faith that worships, walks with, and works for God, then we are not expressing a biblical faith that pleases God. I don’t know about you, but I know sometimes I feel like I could use one of those Something for Dummies books. The one I need is “Faith for Dummies.” I mean I catch myself doing things for the wrong reasons. I find myself reading the Bible to only get answers for the questions I’ll have to answer on a test. I find myself where I go through most of the day without acknowledging God in my life. Have you been there? Have you gotten caught up with the activities of church and seminary that you find yourself going through the motions instead of acting in faith? I mean I go to the Sunday worship service at my church without ever entering into God’s presence. So what do we do with all this? How can we insure that we are living a biblical faith that pleases God?
III. Determine to daily live a life of faith that pleases God (HP)
You may ask, how we can live this life of faith that pleases God? I’m going to point out three things we must do. First, we must determine to discipline ourselves to seek God in a daily time of Bible reading and meditation. It is through this discipline that we learn about God and what pleases Him. It is a discipline because we don’t always feel like doing it, but it is necessary. It helps if you set aside the same time every day, because if you do it at different times, it becomes easier to skip it without notice. You can do this by having a plan to read through the Bible in a year or utilize some devotional material like the Daily Bread.
The second thing we need to do in seeking God is to determine to discipline yourself to pray without ceasing every day. Brother Lawrence called this practicing the presence of God. It would be helpful if you can tie this into your Bible reading and meditation. You can also use prayer guides that are available. I personally use the ACTS model for prayer. This is an acrostic that stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. These two things are important to your spiritual life because how can you please God without diligently seeking him through bible study and prayer.
This leads me to my third point of application. Determine to please God by being obedient. If by the Spirit He leads to share your testimony with your neighbor, then be obedient and do so. Is he leads you to confess a sin, do so in obedience. If he leads you to help a homeless person out by buying him a meal, then do so. All of these things: Bible study, prayer, and obedience are necessary if we are going to live a life of faith that pleases God.
In conclusion, we have discussed the definition of a faith that pleases God, the demonstration of a faith that pleases God, and how we should determine to live a life that pleases God. Do you remember my story about Eric Liddell, how he told his sister that he believed that God had made him fast, so when he ran, he could feel the pleasure of God. You know when you watch sports today and see an athlete in competition make some great play and they point to heaven to give God the recognition. Liddell did the same thing. Except his way of showing that he was running for God’s glory and pleasure was that when he got to the last lap, he would through his head back as a sign that he was doing what pleased God. Many of you here today have been given some unique talents and abilities from God. One such thing is a great seminary education. When we think about all that God has given us, we should throw our heads back metaphorically speaking and run the race of faith for His pleasure. If we do this, then serving Him will never become drudgery, it will be a pleasure for us.