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True Faith Produces Authentic Worship (Hebrews 11:1-4)

Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

True Faith Produces Authentic Worship (Hebrews 11:1-4)

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True Faith produces Authentic Worship

Hebrews 11:1-4 (Pastor Heo)

1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

  • v. 1 – Faith’s character
  • v. 2 – Faith’s activism
  • v. 3 – Faith understanding
  • v. 4 – Faith reality / truth

v. 1 Future / visible certainty (Faith’s character)

v 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

This is a dynamic certainty about what God has promised. Faith is not just a feeling, not just optimism / positive thinking, but it is a solid conviction / certainty, resting on the Word of God which makes the future present and invisible visible. This makes up the objective contents of our Christian hope. It gives the force of present realities. It enables us / empowers us to enjoy the full conviction / certainty that these realities will be experienced.

If we live an earthly life on earth and a heavenly life in heaven, that is normal. But by faith, we can live the life of heaven on earth, in advance (by faith).

Gen 28 shows the story of Jacob and how he fled from his brother Esau on that terrible night – sad, forlorn, he laid his weary head on a rock to sleep. He had a dream and saw a stairway to heaven – angels ascending and descending. He saw what had been around him all along. When he woke, he said, “Surely, God is here. I didn’t know that. How awesome is this place?” He built an altar and worshiped God there, naming it Bethel (“the house of God”).

Faith helps us under and empowers us to do what others cannot do. So v.1 = strong character of faith

v. 2 Faith’s activism

Faith makes us do something very powerful and active. Do you have faith in Christ? Faith makes us take action against Satan and for the glory of God.

v. 2 “1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.”

Even ancients praised God and received a good reputation because they put their trust in God. People with faith please God very much – but this is not something we must do to earn salvation. If it were, then faith would be just another merit / deed. But we are human beings. Actually, God gives us faith – in his mercy and grace. Because he saves us, he gives us faith. Yet faith is what saves us. This is a paradox.

By faith we are saved.

But we are not saved by OUR OWN faith.

If you believe you are saved by your own faith, then you do not have saving faith.

But if you believe you are saved only by God’s grace through the death and resurrection of Christ on the cross for our sins, then you have saving faith.

  • I think, “My faith saves me.” (not faith)
  • I think, “God’s grace saves me.” (saving faith)

Last Sunday, we saw the story of Daniel – Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego. The King of Babylon said to them, “If you fall down and worship the image I made, you will be saved. If you do not, you will be thrown into the blazing furnace.”

They knew the results very clearly, yet they declared to the king of the greatest country of that time, “Oh, Babylon, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this manner. God is able to rescue us from your hand. And even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will never serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you’ve set up.”

“Even if” does not mean their faith is 90% and doubt is 10%. No, this means their faith is ABSOLUTE trust in God. It doesn’t depend on outward, visible things. They had absolute faith / belief in God. Even today, if we have saving faith, that saving faith makes us a witness of Jesus Christ.

So, Nebuchadnezzar became very angry and ordered the furnace 7 times hotter than usual. They tied up the men and threw them into the fire (even the guards holding them died from the heat). Yet, a while later, he saw 4 men in the fire, “Wait! We threw in 3 men! But there are 4 now, unbound and unharmed! The 4th looks like a son of the gods.” (Jesus? angel? we don’t know).

He shouted, “Come out you three! You are servants of the most high God!”

So, their faith made an unbeliever declare, “You are servants of the most high God.” This is the power of faith in our lives. And “this is what the ancients were commended for.”

v. 3 Faith’s understanding

“1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

What is seen is from what is unseen. Do you know that? Not only in the spiritual world, but also the physical world. Practical faith is to see what is unseen behind or beyond what is seen.

Illustration: Faith allows us to understand that God created the whole universe from nothing with his creative word alone. v. 3 reminds us that all of Creation was NEW at that time (not made from pre-existing materials). God called the universe into being out of nothing. If anything existed before that, that material would be eternal and at the same level as God. But God called all things out of nothing. Simply, “Let there be…” and what he wanted came into being. How can we know that? By faith, not by science nor scientific evidence. Not because we saw it happen, but because we understand what we read in the Scriptures and what we understand of our loving father. We are part of that purpose.

Gen 1 = Creation chapter

Amazingly, almost in every verse, the subject is God. “God said, God called, God blessed…”

  1. God created
  2. The Spirit of God was hovering
  3. God said
  4. God saw
  5. God called
  6. God said
  7. God made
  8. God called
  9. God said
  10. God called
  11. God said
  12. God saw
  13. God said
  14. God made
  15. God set
  16. God saw
  17. God said,
  18. God created
  19. God blessed
  20. God said
  21. God made
  22. God said
  23. God created
  24. God blessed
  25. God said
  26. God gave (“I give”)
  27. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

We are Christians and the main subject in Christianity are all invisible. God, spirit, Holy Spirit, angels, Satan, demons, heaven, hell. All of them are invisible.

Imagine, if there is visible God, sitting here to receive worship from us. If we could see him, there would be much different change in our actions and attitude. v. 28 “Moses saw God who is unseen. Because he was able to see him who is unseen, he could persevere and do everything he had to do.”

If we could see God, who is unseen, there would be much change / difference in our actions / attitudes / worship. How can we be changed in our actions and attitudes?

v. 4 Faith’s Reality / Truth

“1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”

“by faith” is repeated 3x

The background of Cain and Abel = Genesis chp 4

They were brothers, the first two sons from the same parents Adam and Eve. One was a farmer, one was a shepherd. They had to offer sacrifices – Cain offered fruit, but Abel offered the firstborn lamb from his flock. God accepted Abel’s offering in worship, but not Cain’s. Do you think your offering is also accepted?

“by faith he still speaks even though he is dead”

God accepted Abel’s worship and rejected Cain’s. Cain became very angry and God asked him, “Why is your face darkened? If you do what is right, your worship will be accepted; but if you do not, sin is crouching at your door. Sin wants to have you and master you, but you must master it.”

Cain should have repented. But he took Abel out and killed him.

Again God approached him, “Where is your brother?” “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “What have you done? You are cursed and your brother’s blood is crying out to me against you. You are cursed and will be a restless wanderer on this earth.”

What message is given to us from this story?

  • They worshiped together: same time, same place.
  • But they were totally different in offering, attitude, motive, purpose.
    • Cain offered vegetables and fruits, but Abel offered blood of an animal.

Cain’s offering was natural as a farmer. He may have argued: “My offering is much more beautiful! His is bloody and smelly. Also I worked harder to raise mine. Mine also has a greater market value!” At that time, they didn’t eat animals. So he could argue: “Mine is better.”

But we know in the book of Hebrews that the theme “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” This is a timeless truth. They parents and Adam and Eve knew this.

When they sinned against God, God himself killed an animal to cover their sin and shame. When they made this offering, Cain was 129 years old.

This story in Genesis 4:3 begins with “in the course of time” (at the end of the days) – this indicates the end of a period of days – possibly a time God had designated for regular worship. They must have known already that blood was essential for their forgiveness.

Also, they were totally different in their attitude, motive and purpose. When his worship was rejected, God said to him, “Why is your face darkened?” This was his chance to repent and confess his sin – but he became angry and jealous – then he killed his brother. He missed many chances and opportunities to repent.

Even after the murder, God approached him and asked “where is your brother” – here is a SECOND chance to repent. But he told a lie to God.

This means, his attitude was bad from the first.

From this story, what can we learn to apply to our practical lives?

It is very significant that this chapter begins with worship – because worship is fundamental to everything else we do as Christians. Even in heaven, our worship will be continued (Revelation). There will be no more evangelism there, but there will be worship.

I mentioned last Sunday, at that time Cain looked strong and a winner; Abel looked weak and a loser. But in the long run, Cain became the first murderer and the best example of what we must NOT follow. 1 John “Do not be like Cain…”

In the long run, Abel becomes the first martyr in the history of heaven’s kingdom and still he speaks to us about the kind of worship we must bring to God.

Three points about worship:

Do not forget these in your whole life – remember them.

1. As Christians, we have many activities we must do, but worship is Priority #1

We have Bible study, fellowship, activities, outings, activities. We should do them, but worship is much more important than anything else we are doing as Christians. Remember: Worship must be Priority #1 because our worship will be continued without stop even into heaven.

2. Worship is a kind of meeting God, entering the presence of God.

John 4:24 “God is spirit and looking for true worshipers who will worship in spirit and truth.”

We worship God God’s way, not “my” way. Cain worshiped God “Cain’s way” but Abel worshiped God “God’s way.” We worship God’s way because we worship God.

If I worship Buddha, I must worship Buddha’s way.

If I want to go to Seoul, I must use the Seoul way, not my own “romantic, beautiful, smooth way.” If I use “my way” I cannot approach. John 4:24 “…in spirit and truth.”

“I must worship God God’s way; not my way.”

What is the way to worship God? Jesus Christ.

True worshipers must worship God in spirit and truth. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is the way to worship God, the truth of how we worship God.

Jesus is the way and truth to enter the presence of God.

3. The main spirit of worship is to give, not to receive; to serve, not to be served. That’s why it’s called a “worship service.”

In Korean culture, at the entrance of the church, we say, “Receive much blessing, much grace.” This morning I also received this greeting.

Receiving much grace from worship is good, not bad, but the main spirit of worship is to GIVE, not to receive. To give = first, to receive = second.

“God loves a cheerful giver.”

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to give your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.”

In true worship, I must DO my best to GIVE my best.

In the context of Cain and Abel, Cain gave 2, 3, 4th best quality vegetables. But Abel gave the fat portion from the first born. He willingly gave the best of the best.

God knows our hearts, our unseen motivations, our hidden attitudes and purposes. “God loves a cheerful giver.”

Still today, God longs for those who worship him with complete hearts.

May God bless us all so that every worship may be accepted by God (not by the pastor, nor the congregation). What is important is whether or not God accepts their worship.

We also, like Cain and Abel are worshiping together with the same songs, same sermon, etc. But we must know that our worship is evaluated by God individually, personally.

So, it is possible that some in this room, are having their worship accepted, and others are having their worship rejected.

God bless you to have your worship accepted.

Let’s pray.

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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen
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