Forward in Faith #39
Hebrews 11:10-16; 20-21
Faith a Shared Experience part 3
Faith That Worships
Next week we will begin our yearly look at our call to stewardship. As we begin THAT study, we will take a final look at some verses from Hebrews 13. But THIS week, is officially our final message in this study on the life of faith. But faith in and of itself is meaningless. The value of faith is found in the object of faith. The object of our faith is what gives it substance. I can have great faith, deep sincerity, but if my faith is in the “Cat in the Hat”,
I’ve got problems. Don’t get me wrong, the “cat in the hat” is a fine children’s book. But I won’t base my life on it. I can’t bet my eternity on the “Cat in the Hat” because it is a storybook character.
But we know that Biblical faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. So, MY faith is in Jesus Christ because He is God, the Son, 2nd person of the Trinity. He is from everlasting to everlasting God. Before we had ever sinned, he had been slain for our salvation in the mind and plan of God. He had already known and called me. While I was still a sinner he died for me to satisfy what justice demanded for my sin. I have faith in Jesus because he is eternally God, Creator of all, He left Heaven and came to earth, He lived a perfect life, and died an innocent death. He has loved me with an everlasting love and he knows the plans he has for me and thus having set me free from sin, he will present me blameless before God.
My faith is in Jesus Christ my Lord!
So, our writer has taught us about Jesus and his Salvation which is the only place worthy of our faith. Now at the end of our letter, he teaches us how to worship by faith.
Look with me again at Hebrews 13, verses 10-16; 20-21.
So, first, Faith that worships … worships …
1. At the Altar
There are all kinds of worship. Worship is expressing adoration to the object of our affection.
You can worship teams, food, people, pleasures, or religious icons.
V9 warns us not to get carried away into false doctrine and false expressions of worship. Worship is not about ceremony or pomp and circumstance it is about the object of our affection. And worshipping useless things is a useless practice with no value for us.
So, our writer teaches, if we are going to worship, we need an altar.
And he writes, “we have an altar.”
We have a place to worship
Thysiasterioan -thoo-see-as-tay-ree-on- altar of slaying burning of victims, altar of incense, place of worship through sacrifice or offering
And We "HAVE it" – echo – possess, hold on to, wear
When you have Jesus you possess an altar of substance, He is a solid rock. All other ground is sinking sand, it is faith in the “Cat in the Hat.”
But we have an altar, present tense, active tense, indicative tense … that means that in Christ we Have RIGHT NOW, and Always Right Now, we have and are holding on to a Real and Active place to worship God, a place to put our faith
What is the altar YOU kneel before?
In the early church, the accusation from Judaism and even from pagans was, that the Christians didn’t have an altar like they did. There was not an instrument for offering a blood sacrifice.
But our teacher tells us not to be deceived, we may not have a bloody table at the front of the worship center … but we Have JESUS
We have a personal altar
We have a perfect altar
We have a perpetual altar
But most importantly, the altar that is Christ is an exclusive altar you can’t worship Christ and worship anything else.
The altar that these Hebrews knew before Jesus was designed to point them to Jesus Christ
The priests when offering the sacrifice of atonement would kill the innocent animal on the brazen altar and then they would take the blood of the sacrifice into the Holy of Holies and place it on the altar that is the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant.
Then, the sacrifice was taken outside the camp, before the Temple, and outside the city, when they had the temple.
So, Jesus Christ was beaten inside the city of Jerusalem.
But then he was taken outside the city and his death consummated on a hill called Golgatha, known by its appearance as the place of the skull.
And so, our writer says we can’t keep going to insufficient altars inside the city. We have to go outside the insufficient and go to the all sufficient Christ.
We can’t stay inside the walls of insufficiency and worship Christ.
If you hear nothing else I say today hear me for just a few minutes.
We must come to Jesus Christ. He alone is sufficient
What are some insufficient altars at which we worship?
Religious Exercise, good deeds, education, career, marriage and family, pleasure, and sincerity are insufficient objects of worship
How can you tell if it is a place of worship in your life?
If it consumes your plans, is the priority of your material giving, if it is the focus of your time, if it is the primary place of your talents and efforts, then it is an object of worship.
You can’t worship through Jesus AND those insufficient things.
When we stand before God, many will say “But Lord, didn’t I worship you with church membership and faithful religious expression?” And God will say “insufficient”.
“But Lord, I showed my love by being socially conscious and giving to the poor, helping my neighbor, being a good person …” “Insufficient” is Heaven’s reply
“But Lord, I was worshipping at the altar of being a husband and father, mother and wife doesn’t that show my love and commitment? They needed my time, energy, and priority.” And again “insufficient”.
“Lord you created me to be happy so I worshipped at the altar of pleasure … besides I was told there was no eternity, so I made the most of each day …” … “Insufficient”.
“Lord I had my own way, I was sincere about it … that was to count for something.” “Insufficient”
The only sufficient means for worshipping God is through Jesus Christ, because he alone is our sacrifice and priest. He has made sacrifice once and for all, so we worship through him alone.
And in coming to Christ, you have to leave worship through insufficient means.
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams, upon securing freedom, would not worship their freedom by returning to King George and his authority.
And so, we the redeemed of God, set free, by the blood of Jesus, must continue to worship through our faith in the grace of God in Christ Jesus. You SHOULD be a good person, you SHOULD be involved in Biblical Religious expression, you SHOULD be a good husband and father, mother or wife, have a good career, or good student, be happy in all you do, but THOSE THINGS should come THROUGH CHRIST and bow to him, He should not take what is leftover.
If you have never settled this issue, would you settle it today? I normally call you to this at the end of my message, but can I stop right now and ask you,
“Have you settled the issue with Christ?”
We are sinners, every one of us. Our sin separates us from God. Every effort we make to bridge the gulf between us and God comes up short of God’s glory. But when we receive the death of Christ as the payment for our sin, we are declared righteous through the sufficiency of Christ. Is there ONE here today who would settle this today? Today is the day of salvation, now is the time. How do we settle it?
1 John 1:9
Right now you need to agree with God that you are a sinner.
Admit that you will never be sufficient on your own.
Receive the sacrifice of Jesus as your own
Responding to him as Leader of your life.
Having that settled … prepare to publically confess that, in obedience to God, today among people who will joyfully receive and celebrate with you.
And so, from this place of settling the issue of Christ … in expressing our worship in their life
Second, we worship by
2. Offering Sacrifices vv15-16
When we are told “go out to Christ” the phrase literally means “let us keep on going out to Christ.”
So, Christ is the source of our relationship with God, and we go to him for salvation … but we must KEEP ON GOING to him as the object of our worship and the means for our worship.
It is by faith from first to last.
It is Jesus FIRST to LAST.
Payne Stewart, the great golfer from Springfield, died tragically in a plane crash in 1999. Just a few months earlier he had won his 2nd U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst North Carolina with a putt on the final hole for victory over Phil Mickelson. Payne had recently given himself to Jesus Christ after a life of doing things his own way. A few days after victory, he was celebrating with family and friends at his home in Orlando. They were watching that famous final round, Payne hadn’t seen it. He was off to the side by himself when his Pastor from FBC Orlando came over to Payne. Payne was trying to take it all in, and he said to his pastor …
“You know, it’s all about Jesus man, it’s all about Jesus.”
So BY him, we worship by
A. Spiritual Means
V15 – “let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise … lips that confess his name”
Do you return any praise that you receive to Jesus?
When you are rewarded / praised at work, do you give God credit in Christ Jesus?
That’s what Payne did that day … “It’s all about Jesus man” … that sums it up doesn’t it?
Hey … be honest, it takes the power of Christ to do this doesn’t it? If you praise me, or I achieve anything … I like credit … but it is all through Christ not through me, so I can’t take the credit for myself.
I can have the power to praise God, to put aside my pride and recognize that ever good and perfect gift is from above from the Father of lights, the Lord of love.
So, we worship him with praise … but spiritually we also worship with our witness.
We confess his name. If you know Jesus it is not just enough to say “praise Jesus”
you also need to ask them “do you know him too?” ask them “will you also admit his place as Lord?”
So, you have praised him but are you witnessing for him as well?
So, through Jesus we worship and witness
But this isn’t just a spiritual exercise, it isn’t just orthodoxy and theory it must also be orthopraxy and material reality.
V16 “do not forget to DO good SHARE with others”
Folks we do have to get our heads out of the clouds and worship God in material service
If we want to SEE Jesus and Serve Jesus, we can see him in the eyes of the downtrodden and needy. Jesus said “whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to me.” .
We can’t walk this world with our eyes only to the skies. You may notice that I sign the newsletter and my email with “Ears to the ground, eyes to the skies, and heart towards people.” We have to pay attention to the world and have a heart of compassion while we long for the coming of Christ. Otherwise, our worship is empty and insincere
We have to DO good … that requires ACTION
And SHARE with others … the word is koinonia – communion, fellowship, willing contribution
Doing good in the material and sharing our possessions as if it belongs to all is worship pleases God, just like praise, that pleases God.
People ask “what does God want?” “How can I make him smile?” Well, here it is …
These offerings, sacrifices – thysia - thoo-see-ah- sacrificial offering …
are "pleasing" – euaresteo – to God
That is praise, witnessing, doing good and sharing … makes God smile.
And it isn’t easy or everyone would do it, but it is BY Jesus
And so finally we worship by
3. Surrendering to his Lordship vv20-21
This is the bottom line for all of it
Salvation and living life are about recognizing and submitting to the Right of Christ to Rule, guide, and direct our lives.
Why Is He Lord?
A. We are Purchased By His Blood
“Oh the Blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow”
Without the shedding of Blood there is no remission or payment of sin. Why do we need the blood of Jesus? We need it because you can’t give your life for sin and have your life.
You know the phrase “you can’t your cake and eat it too” … that one used to really confuse me … but the point is once you consume it you don’t have it any longer. And so it is with our life. If we decide to pay for our own sins with our own life, we lose it … but if we give up our life to Christ and accept his death we find we have life. When you receive the life of Christ, surrendering to his lordship, you find you have life eternal.
He gave his life for you, can you give your life to him?
Not only does his Lordship save us from slavery to sin, but also Christ
B. Equips Us for Doing Good
The word Equip or Perfect is katartizo - kat-ar-tid-zo - to mend, to make perfect, set, restore …
as I read about that word, this same word but could be used with distinctive differences held special understanding for each group who used it.
According to my reading on this word,
To the Doctor, this word meant “To set a broken bone” …
To the Fisherman, this word means “to mend a torn net”
To the Sailor, this word means “to fit a ship for voyage”
To the Soldier, katartizo means “to prepare for battle”
What is broken in your life in desperate need of the mending of the Lordship of Christ?
He needs to be Lord because we are broken and lame, he can set our brokenness and restore us to walk uprightly.
He can mend your torn net so you can do your job the way you were intended.
He can fit your life for the voyage through this world.
He can prepare you for every battle you face.
He can mend your broken heart, mend your broken marriage, mend your broken dreams, restore your broken spirit.
We can’t do it unless he sets us right.
And finally he needs to be Lord because he
C. Empowers us for Transformation
We can’t become what He wants or even what we want on our own.
But v 21 says “he sets us straight to do his will” but then he doesn’t send us out alone saying “Make your way best you can my child.” …
NO he works IN us so that we can be pleasing to him through Jesus Christ.
“It’s all about Jesus man”
“He Works” poieo – performs
Jesus performs his will and works IN us when we release ourselves to his Lordship and direction
“If I could just be pleasing to God” … you ever say that?
You can if you will surrender, yield, differ to the Leadership, of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
And THEN we are pleasing TO him
We are pleasing THROUGH him
FOR his glory that is to enlarge his reputation for eternity
Can I ask you something as we close?
What is life for you? What is it about?
You hear people say,
“My Job is my life”
“My Kids are my life”
“My spouse …”
“Happiness is …”
Those things can all be PART of life, but they will come and go and if they go … what do you have left?
If you lose your job, when the kids are gone, when your spouse passes, what earthly happiness eludes you, when your health wains … what is left?
I am with Payne Stewart …
“It’s all about Jesus man, it’s all about Jesus”
And that is TRUTH that resonates in your heart. Even if you’ve never embraced it, you long for it. If you have known it but things have gotten out of tune, it still resonates as right, true.
So … what will you do with that truth?
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.