Tithes and Offerings
By faith let us stand firm to the end
Hebrews 11:35-40 (Pastor Heo)
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Let us trust God fully and wholly in this time. God bless his church in this time.
This is the last part of this great chapter on faith, but we will see the conclusion of this chapter next time in the first part of chp 12. Let’s open our Bibles and read together.
Faith, what is faith? Being sure of what we hope for – assurance, conviction, confidence in the unseen. By faith we are saved, justified, being sanctified, and one day we will be glorified. By faith we please God, give glory to God, overcome the world. Today, according to the text, let me share some characteristics of real faith.
Faith has the power of balance.
Faith is unconditional.
Relative faith is not faith. Conditional faith is not faith. What does it mean, “Faith has the power of balance”?
Last time: By faith, they experienced wonderful victory in war, marvelous deliverance and escape from lions and fury of fire, experienced the rising of the dead. This is the power of great faith.
Today, the story looks the opposite.
By the same faith, some experienced empowerment to persevere, endure in suffering to the end even to the point of death – without losing their hope of the better and eternal resurrection.
Faith provides empowerment.
To persevere and endure in suffering.
Something true can be proved as true. This can be proven as true only by enduring to the end.
If we have “true” faith in Christ, how can we prove it? We can reveal it as true only by remaining faithful to Christ to the end.
Jesus “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Something that is revealed, exposed as not true in the end was not true from the beginning.
So, steadfast faith in Christ does not guarantee a problemless life in this world. Actually true faith almost always guarantees some form of abuse in this world.
“36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated–“
From the world’s view, they are miserable losers – terrible losers. From the temporary and material, they lost everything. But in God’s view, they are great winners and great victors. From the eternal values, they gained everything.
What is faith? The power to see something from God’s view, not from the world’s view – from an eternal value, not a temporary value.
Sometimes to endure and persevere takes more faith than to escape. If God is glorified by delivering his people, yes, he will do that – deliver them from suffering, from difficulties, from any hardships. God is almighty God.
But if it is better to suffer and persevere for some time even to the end (from his eternal perspective) then God will allow us to suffer. But he will provide us with power to endure and persevere.
So, do not conclude that the absence of immediate deliverance is a lack of love for his children.
Faith looks to the future – to eternity
For that is where the greatest rewards are found. Faith empowers us to turn from the approval of this world and seek the approval of God.
Some baby Christians may think that pain and suffering are an exception in the Christian life. So when this happens, they may ask, “Why me?” and they may feel that God deserted them – and is not as dependable as they thought.
But mature Christians ask, “Why NOT me?” If we expect pain or suffering, we will not be surprised when suffering comes.
John 16:33 “In this world, you will have troubles, but take heart: I have overcome the world.”
We can overcome the world, any kinds of suffering, pain, difficulty, hardship, by faith in Christ.
“38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”
The world was not worthy of them…
This sentence is very short, but VERY powerful.
It means this world was not worthy of those who live by faith. The evaluation of this world and that of God are totally different.
Paul: a good illustration of this.
- The world evaluated Paul: “You are out of your mind! You are insane! Not fit to live!”
- God said, “You are my chosen vessel, my chosen instrument – for my purpose.”
This is very different. If you live by faith in Christ, God will be very proud to be called your father. If you live by faith in Christ, this world does not deserve to contain you as its own possession.
A container + a thing
If the container is so dirty, but the thing is so pure and clean and precious, then this container is not worthy of this thing.
Like this, the world is sinful and selfish and only material, temporary.
If we are really people of faith, it means we are fighting the good fight against sin and selfishness.
Yes, we are a body, but also spirit and made to live eternally with God in heaven. Thus, this world does not deserve to contain us as its own possession.
1 John 2:17 “This world and its desires and passions pass away, but the man who does the will of God [lives by faith] lives forever.”
Even though we live in this world, remember, the world is not worthy of us because we are living by faith in Christ.
“39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
For several times we have studied this great chapter of faith. Do you remember the opening verse?
v 39 and v 2 are similar:
- v 39 “These were all commended for their faith, “
- v 2 “This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Those who persevered in suffering were commended for their faith. It means that God never forgets those who love him and serve him.
v 39 “yet none of them received what had been promised.”
This means: God had planned something better for you and me.
Hebrews is the book of better:
- Better hope,
- better sacrifice,
- and so on.
God has planned “something better” – what is it? A new and better covenant, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The faithful of OT times died before the Messiah appeared, so they entered heaven by faith – with the Promise unfulfilled. Only IN Jesus Christ (the new covenant), their salvation, our salvation, and the salvation of future believers – will be made perfect and complete.
One day, all the OT believers, NT believers, and future believers will share the promised blessing in Jesus Christ.
Faith is personal, individual, and private.
We know that faith is personal, individual, and private. I’m saved by MY faith – not my parents’. This means it is personal, individual and private. At the same time, faith involves the entire community of all believers. So how can we get connected? To the local church, through a small group, sharing with each other. To the Christian overseas, through the support of missions.
Also, all believers in Christ are connected vertically and horizontally – with one Savior, one Father, one hope.
Faith is also social.
Our salvation / faith is personal, but also social. It concerns the whole children and family of God.
As I mentioned, all believers are called a “family of God” with one hope, one Savior, one Father.
God is in control of everything. He is so faithful in keeping his word and fulfilling his promise. The Bible encourages us: “Do not be afraid, do not fear, do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus’ saying looks likes opposites.
- He says, “In this world you will have trouble.”
- and also, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
If we have faith, we can live without fear.
Q: Is Jesus really your Lord and Savior? If that is true, that is enough. Jesus encourages us and promises “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me shall never die.” Do you believe this?
Jesus challenges us in this.
Promise: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted [to suffer] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor 10:13 – Jesus himself suffered for us, and is now sitting in heaven and interceding for us.
Hebrews “Because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Romans 8:38 “In all things, [including what is happening all around us today], God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Amen
Let us stand firm to the end by faith. Let us love God and Christ more and more with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength because he is working for our good, for our benefit from an eternal perspective.