SERIES: FINDING THE FAITH WE NEED
LESSON: WHEN FAITH MET ENDURANCE
READING: HEBREWS 11:1-12
INTRO: When Jesus called his early disciples he told them he would make them fishers of men and they soon understood that it mean leaving all behind- home, family, friends, the dog, the business. Later, when some men made reasonable excuses, he reminded them that he will not accept second place. They would have to leave all else and be aligned with Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is difficult, demanding and dangerous. For the most part that has escaped us. If we have not experienced any of these, perhaps we need to take inventory since the Bible plainly says, "All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
There is no better place to see the struggles and victories in the Christian life, than in the letter called "Hebrews." It was written by someone whose identity is not known to us, to encourage Jewish Christians particular, but many of the struggles and temptations to quit are ours too.
Try to imagine hearing Jesus say, "My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it" -Luke 8:20,21, when someone informed him that his family had arrived. Some Jewish people heard that message and turned to follow Jesus, committing and submitting their lives to him. Then trouble came. It was not exactly like our situation and can't be. We can easily distinguish between our spiritual and physical family. But theirs had been one of the same since the nation began, going back to Moses with ties reaching to Abraham. Now, when one of them was asked to make a choice, it was nearly impossible to do, but something they must do. Jesus provided a new way to become a child of God and it was through faith in Him (cf. Gal. 3:26,27), thereby eliminating their old way of serving God. This new way was of faith from beginning to end. cf. Rom. 1:17.
Are you there yet? Do you hold the church above your biological family? When decision time comes, is it easy for you to say, "Sorry, I have an appointment today with God's family?"
Faith is found about 40 times in the letter called "Hebrews." Why? They had become discouraged and were in danger of returning to their old religion which was Christless and therefore, worthless. They needed to be reintroduced to that which includes believing in the unseen.
· FAITH IS THE REAL THING IN EVERY WAY (Hebrews 11:1)
- "Faith Is The Assurance Of Things Hoped For, The Conviction Of Things Not Seen."
- Faith allows us to see and believe in what is "unseen"
- Versions differ as to the two controlling words, but all have "unseen"
- More than that, we know the unseen is more to be desired than the tangible (Jesus)
- In another way it is like a 6th sense.
- We determine the identity of things by our 5 senses. cf. smell, sight, sound
- Faith opens up whole new dimension and gives insight into the invisible world.
- It would be in the best interest of each one to have our spiritual eyesight checked.
- The First Controlling Word Is Assurance And Is Connected To Our Hope
- Translators wrestle with this: "substance," "assurance," "being sure of," "reality"
- This suggests that faith is not a subjective feeling, but "reality."
- We gain valuable information from secular papyri.
- In one it seems to mean "that which underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession."
- So, here it could read, "faith is the title-deed of things hoped for."
- ILLUSTRATION: In the 1940s, Samuel Beckett wrote a play called Waiting for Godot, which is now regarded as a classic. Two men stand on an empty stage, hands in their pockets, staring at each other. All they do is stand and stare. There is no action, no plot, they just stand there waiting for Godot to come.
But who is Godot? Is he a person? Does he represent God? Christian ethicist Lewis Smedes suggests, Godot "stands for the pipe dreams that a lot of people hang on to as an escape." As the play ends, those men are still standing on the stage doing nothing, just waiting.
When the 50th anniversary of that play was celebrated, someone asked Beckett, "Now will you tell us who Godot is?" He answered, "How should I know?"
Waiting for Godot is a parable of many people's lives--empty and meaningless, a pointless matter of waiting. And if there's no God of love, grace, and wisdom, then life really is a hopeless waiting for empty time to pass.
How totally different, though, is Christian hope! We're waiting and "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). That hope sustains us--a hope that beyond this world lies a life of indescribable blessing. —Vernon C Grounds
- Our prayer for each other ought to include, "Father, allow their faith to have eyes that see the hope you promised them and the assurance we need to feel at home with this."
- These saints have already demonstrated their ability to see it this way (10:32-39)
- Soon after conversion to Christ persecution came, from several sources:
- "Sometimes" they were "publicly exposed" to "reproach and affliction." The word that is used is for "theatre." It comes from the practice of arraigning and punishing criminals in a crowded theatre. Public humiliation is meant. This is not to be taken literally here, but they were held up to public scorn, abused, sometimes physically.
- "Sometimes" the suffering came as a result of helping fellow Christians in trouble, such as prisoners or those otherwise abused.
- Here are some observations about the behavior of early Christians:
- Aristotle and Cicero indicated, "In their eagerness to save the world, Christians do not shy away from shattering the unity and sanctity of the family, the basic unit of society and thus of the state."
- Tacitus (b.AD 56) called Christianity "a deadly disease," and accused them of "hatred of the human race."
- Minucius Felix, 3rd century apologist, records the complaint, "You do not go out to our shows, you take no part in our processions, you are not present at our public banquets, you shrink in horror from our sacred games."
- More lessons that point out the counter cultural nature of the early church.
- During this period of time(former days) they "joyfully accepted" the loss of earthly possession. Why? They knew with certainty that they had "a better possession and an abiding one."(10:34).
- They "saw" it through the eyes of faith! And it could not be purchased with money.
- Faith is inextricably linked with endurance/patience (10:35-39)
- Now they needed to hold on to the end.
- Brothers and sisters, let's remember that nothing on earth should be the focus of our gaze and that we are only spending a short time here. Real life is in Christ.
- The Second Controlling Word Is Conviction And Is Connected To The World Beyond
- This word used in law courts to refer to cross examination to establish evidence.
- Translated, conviction, evidence, proof and is used only here in New Testament
- Both controlling terms indicate the certainty and stability of faith that gives one the capacity to endure to the end.
- We have been calling 2009 "The Year Of Conviction." Let us all have faith of the type that makes it possible to have a solid conviction and feel sure of our God's activity.
· FAITH MAKES HEROES AND HEROINES OF REGULAR PEOPLE- V. 2
- This Chapter Is Often Referred To As The "Hall of Faith."
- The men and women here had different circumstances and personalities, but they all had one thing in common - faith.
- For their faith they are commended by God and imitated by us.
- The Christians Of This Letter Were Given This List To Encourage Them
- It is easier to know that someone else has walked in the same shoes earlier
- We too become discouraged. "What's the use we ask? Then we look at Heb. 11!
- Through Faith We Can Choose The Proper People For Heroes And Pass It On To Our Kids
· FAITH ACTUALLY ALLOWS US TO KNOW HOW THE UNIVERSE CAME TO BE
- This Is The Only Way Anyone Can Determine This
- Scientists are speechless.......as scientists!
- We were not there, nor was anyone else
- There is absolutely no way to know...except by faith.
- Faith Is Reasonable And Is Not A "Blind Leap"
- But be careful to not treat the reasons as if measurable in a laboratory.
- The reasons must be understood spiritually.
- A scientist who is a Christian said: “Faith extends beyond what we learn from our senses, and the author is saying that it has its reasons. Its tests are not those of the senses, which yield uncertainty.” (Morris)
- Only faith allows us to say "I believe because I have an added lens, that of faith."
- I would encourage you to speak to one person this week about Hebrews 11:1. Say, "By faith I have assurance of my eternal hope and I am convicted of the invisible."
EXERCISES FOR US ALL THIS WEEK
1. Read Hebrews Chapter 11
2. Make a list of the might acts of God
3. Find out how each person named acted out of faith in God
4. Attempt to recall what was said about the two controlling phrases in verse 1:
a. Assurance of hope
b. Conviction of things not seen
5. Try practicing your faith in God in your station in life.