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Hebrews 11:1 (Pastor Heo)
11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Two men met on a bridge, one said, “Let me take 5 min to say why life is worth living.” The other “Let me take 5 min to say why life is NOT worth living.”
10 min later…
They held hands and jumped off together.
This is humor, but a negative story. But it gives us a challenge as Christians in this world. As a child of God, are you encouraging this world? Or are you discouraged by this world?
- Are you affecting the world positively?
- Or being affected by it negatively?
The key to this question = faith.
1 John 5:4-5 “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world. Who is it who overcomes the world? Only he who has faith in Jesus Christ, who believes in his heart that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Faith Story #1
Matthew 8 – a centurion came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, help, my servant is suffering with a paralyzing sickness.” “Ok, I will go.” “No, Lord, I don’t deserve your coming under my roof.” (humility) Jesus said, “Wow! You have great faith! I have not found such a great faith like this in Israel.”
Faith Story #2
Matt – A Canaanite woman came to Jesus and said, “Lord, help me, my daughter is suffering harshly with a demon.” Jesus answered harshly, “I’m sent to the Israelites! You are a Gentile.” “Yes, but please help me.” “It is not right to take bread from the children at the table and give it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord, but even dogs eat the crumbs from the table.” (patience, perseverance) Jesus said, “You have great faith.”
Faith Story #3
Mark 2 – 4 friends brought their sick, paralyzed friend on the mat. They couldn’t approach Jesus because of the crowd, so they climbed up to the roof and made a hole to lower their friend to Jesus. (friendship, effort) Jesus saw their faith, “Son, your sins are forgiven. Get up and walk.” Immediately he got up and walked home.
Faith Story #4
Mark 10 – Blind Batthemus? – on the side of the road, “Help me Lord, have mercy on me!” They rebuked him but he didn’t stop shouting. He shouted louder and louder, “Have mercy on me!” He jumped up and approached Jesus. “What do you want? What’s your desire? What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see.” (honesty, eagerness) Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.”
What is the similarity in these 4 cases? FAITH
From these stories we can learn what real faith brings – all things are brought by faith. Faith also produces hope.
Today’s title = FAITH (one word)
Faith = we are so familiar with it. We are believers. Believers = “those with faith.” But what is saving faith? What is faith? It is not easy to formulate a simple definition.
But “faith” is turning our souls to God by confessing and believing in Jesus as Lord. Faith is also an action of the heart. It involves at least our intellectual, emotional, and volitional (voluntary) change.
Three elements of real faith:
Belief in God, and the Scriptures – as well as man’s sinfulness, God’s redemptive work through Christ, and God’s promised blessings to those who believe.
This is intellectual – but this is not all, not enough.
Even demons have this kind of intellectual faith. James 1:2? “You believe in one God? Good! But even demons believe, and tremble.”
Intellectual agreement is not enough for saving faith.
Awakening of our soul to his personal nature, and the personal application of what Jesus has done for us.
Of course, we need emotional reaction to the word of God, but even this emotional reaction is not enough to have saving faith.
“Some hear the word of God and receive it at once with joy” (emotional reaction) “but since they have no root, when trouble or hardship or persecution comes, he quickly falls away.”
Even emotional elements is not enough.
3. Volitional response and commitment
This is the logical outgrowth of the intellectual and emotional.
Imagine, if we accept the revelation of God as true and come to accept this truth as applicable to ourselves personally, we must go on to appropriate it to ourselves.
Saving faith = total surrender of our hearts to God, total commitment of our hearts to Jesus as Savior and Lord. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and take my yoke and learn from me.”
Jesus says, “If someone comes to me and does not HATE his father, brother, mother, sisters, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who comes to me and does not carry his own cross cannot be my disciple.”
Saving faith = TOTAL, whole commitment of our lives and hearts to Christ.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” (it’s so short)
If you believe in your heart… and confess with your mouth… you will be saved.
But, we cannot acknowledge him as Lord and Savior until we ABDICATE (give up) our own rights.
Do you call Jesus, “Lord?” Is this difficult?
11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (memorize)
As we know, we are studying the book Hebrews. The theme? “Superiority of Christ”
There are three parts:
- Chp 1-6 : Jesus is a Superior Person
- Chp 7-10 : Jesus exercised a Superior Priesthood
- Chp 11-13 : Superior Principle (FAITH)
That is why last Sunday we heard “the righteous will live by faith.” (Habakkuk, Romans, Galatians, Hebrews)
Our lives are controlled by faith, affected by what we believe. Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
Faith is to Christians what the ground is to this building. (Is there ground under this building?) Just like, without the ground, this building will collapse, so also we, without faith, will collapse in this world.
This verse is NOT a definition of faith, but a description of HOW it works. Faith makes us be “sure” and “certain” (convicted) of what we do not see.
Hope and faith cannot be separated. Hope = future. Faith = Past, present, future.
Real faith produces hope, hope produces joy, expectation, patience (not passive, negative patience, but active, positive patience based on the promise of God). We hope for Jesus’ return. We hope for our resurrection body someday soon, and we hope to reign with Jesus Christ someday in the future.
Our hope is not like the world’s hope. “I hope so…” (not like this). “I hope I will … in 2020.” No, our hope is not uncertain for the future. But it is CERTAIN – based on the promise he gave to us.
What is Christian hope?
v. 1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
2 Cor 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal.”
3 Characteristics of our Christian hope
1. Belief in God, in Christ, against this world
Ex: Sometimes, in this world, if we follow…
Challenging question: “Are you following the standard of this world (comfort?) or the standard of Christ?”
If we follow the standards of this world – we may have comfort, prosperity, success. But if we follow the standards of God, we may have pain, suffering, loss.
But our conviction is that, it is better to suffer with God than prosper with this world.
Daniel’s friends – Shadrach, Mishach, Abednego – they were confronted with a choice: Worship the idol and enjoy a comfortable, easy life. OR Refuse, and be thrown into the fire.
What will happen with each standard? They knew very clearly. But they chose God over the world – because they had faith, hope, assurance, conviction that GOD is in control of everything. They could see far beyond what was seen. They could see eternity beyond this world. This is the power of faith.
As long as we live in this world, we must choose one from these choices. This is the point.
2. Belief in our spirit against our senses
We have the 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell
The senses (and the world) tell us all the time “Grip the things of the moment! Take! Touch! Do! See! Eat! Smell!” But our spirits tell us much more – we believe in our spirits.
3. Certain of the future against the present
We must know that what looks miserable at that moment can be praiseworthy and joyful in the long run. What looks wonderful and joyful now can be miserable in the long run. What looks meek and meager can turn out strong in the long run.
We know we will study about Abel – the first person who lived by faith in Genesis 4. Cain killed Abel. Cain looked strong, like a winner. Abel looked weak and a loser. But in the long run, the opposite was true. In the long run, by faith…
Also Pilate judged Jesus – he was in the chair of authority and power. Jesus was hanging on the tree. But in the long run, Jesus is the judge of him.
In history, Nero condemned Paul and looked victorious and powerful, and Paul looked shameful. But in the long run, Nero became a symbol of shame and Paul became a good example that Christians should follow. Even today, many Christians call their sons “Paul” and some people call their dogs “Nero.”
We cannot over emphasize the importance of faith.
By faith prayer is answered, we can please God, we can see God, we can grow in faith, we can be constant blessings to others.
- If faith is so important, what is the source of the faith?
- If you have faith, can you boast of your faith?
Two sides: God vs. Man
Faith is a gift – that’s why chp 12 says, “Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith – so let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
“Faith is a gift of God.”
If we have saving faith, we are so blessed, but have nothing to boast of.
Eph “It is by grace, through faith you have been saved, not of yourselves, … so that no one can boast.”
The main source of faith is the written / spoken word of God. Do you hear / see it every day?
Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message of Christ.”
The word of God is the main source of faith. Also prayer is a source of faith. That’s why we need to pray,
“Lord! Increase my faith!”
The apostles and disciples and some men in the gospels asked, “Lord, increase my faith” and “Lord, help my unbelief.” Ask honestly to Jesus because he is the author and perfecter of our faith. “Lord, help me with my unbelief.”
Also, by the practice of faith, our faith grows. (“… from faith to faith we grow… “)
- Exercise: bodybuilding builds your body
- Faith: exercise your faith to grow in faith.
God bless us with this verse and message today.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”