I look over the years at my ministry and I think of all the things that I thought that I would be able to influence towards correction, how often I fail. It's enough to make you want to give up, except keep your eyes on the Lord. Do what you're told and do it as best you can and let Him work it out through there so that I could stand before Him and hear those wonderful words, well done. That's what I'm after.
I don't always get it well done, but I always talk to Him about it. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Hebrews.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Now, here's Pastor Rick in Hebrews chapter 11 with a brand new study called Battlefield Faith. We are in the letter to the Hebrews chapter 11. We'll only take three intense verses. So Hebrews chapter 11, beginning at verse 30, By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say, for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets. The battlefield of faith, that is the main theme that's coming out of this section.
We're considering from Joshua to the prophets. And as we're looking at these servants of faith mentioned by the writer, each one was forced to face death and violence. They didn't have much of a say so in the matter. These were days of war in their lives.
And how would they confront them? That is what is of interest to us. This was physical war, and it was spiritual war also. And they were put into a situation where they trust God or not. That was their choice. That is our choice whenever we're faced with something as intense as war, violence, or anything else. In fact, one of Satan's great tools on churches and Christians in those churches in this country, I cannot speak for other countries.
I don't live there, but I live here. And I can see it on the internet. I see it in churches. I see it when I speak with colleagues of the faith.
It's not something that's intense. It's usually a flea or speck — something that lands on our tender feelings and upsets our faith. And we feel so justified in falling apart. These lessons in the Scripture are here to help us not be that way. What is wrong with the church? What is wrong with us? Why do we have such thin skins? Why are we spiritually hemophiliacs?
Just a little dip and you're bleeding all over the place. My feelings were hurt. I don't have to ask Jesus about anything at that point.
I go with my feelings. Well, I'm not saying these things to beat the flock or beat the sheep. I would hope all Christians would want to hear what I'm saying.
I would hope Christians would say, Amen, Pastor. We need to be stronger. These people, they not only faced life and death in the face of violence and war, but they faced all the junk in between also. It's by faith that we are to face these things or not. That is the story of Hebrews chapter 11.
And we're only taking a small section of them this morning. We have more in the days to come. It was their faith in God that brought victories and I want that.
I want that for me and I want that for everyone else also. I look over the years at my ministry and I think of all the things that I thought that I would be able to influence towards correction and how often I fail. It's enough to make you want to give up. Except keep your eyes on the Lord. Do what you're told and do it as best you can and let him work it out through there so that I could stand before him and hear those wonderful words. Well done.
That's what I'm after. I don't always get it well done, but I always talk to him about it. Whether I do or not, I'm always on my knees in one form or another driving a car, mowing the lawn, ignoring other people.
Whatever I may be doing, I want to do it right and you do too. Well, let's now look at this 30th verse. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Now most of you know the story and I don't want to take up too much of our time filling it in, but there was Jericho, this fortified city impregnable by every standard of men. So the writer now goes from Moses in the previous paragraph, that section we had last week, to Joshua.
Of the outstanding men in the scripture, three, three stand out to me, exemplary in their faith. There was Joseph, Joseph the son of Jacob. I mean, what could you charge him with? Maybe that moment where dad, father Jacob, got it wrong according to Joseph on blessing the two sons? Ah, that's a minor one. Then there's Daniel. What could you charge Daniel with? Being too strong in the faith?
Not feeding lions? The man was amazing. Then there's Joshua, the bypassed one. Who thinks of Joshua when you think of great men of the scripture because he's always in the shadow of Moses. But he was a dynamo in the faith and that's who is being brought up now.
In fact, he's not even named by the writer here. He says, by faith the walls of Jericho fell. Yeah, at the leadership of Joshua, God's appointed man. Did not argue the methods of God.
I do. I think about how God does and does not do a thing and I argue with him. Does it have to be this way?
Could you not have, like Rotevia, would it upset some great plan if I were a wealthy man? Joshua doesn't argue. He simply chooses to believe and he acts upon the choice, something we fail at. So often we come, we sing praises and then do we live as though we really praise? Do we live as though we really, when we say, I love you Lord, thank you. Do we act upon the love and thanks that we give to him? Or do we crouch around our thin skin as the week goes on? Something to think about.
What do I do when pressure comes my way? Well, it was time to enter the promised land. God told them they could have this land by sword, but he said it's going to be yours. But they're waiting for them. The entrance to the promised land was Jericho.
Satan has his obstacles to hinder every spiritual progress that we set out to achieve in Christ. He always has his fortifications right there at the entrance. And when they're not at the entrance, they're later on, they're waiting for us, as it was in Iwo Jima. They hit the beaches that really wasn't the opposition they anticipated, but it was there.
They found out about it later. To the Jews, this city was invincible. To Roman legions, it would have been quite a challenge. And yet, it had to go down, this passage into the promise of God.
Maybe God's promised you something and you set out to cross into it, there's Jericho. It has to go down. If it does not, it will attack you from the rear.
It will take you out. And so as we discussed Moses with the Passover, he kept it by faith, trusting in God. That led them out of slavery, of Egypt's bondage. And then by faith, he led them through the wilderness and all of the scary and deadly things there that could have consumed the people, the Amalekites, the Edomites, starvation, thirst. So we see faith taking them through, taking them out of Egypt, taking them through the wilderness. And now by faith, we see Joshua taking them into the promised land. By sword this time, they would have to work for it. Archaeologists cannot deny that something catastrophic happened to Jericho and it was instant.
It wasn't slow and drawn out. They found that the houses still had much grain, much food. Something suddenly happened to that place. It was Joshua.
That's what happened to that place. The hand of God using his servant Joshua was the catastrophic event for that which opposed God's people. So easy to preach about this stuff.
It's so easy to listen to this stuff. It is imperative to listen. It's imperative to preach on it because without that, there'll be no forward progress of the church and it has worked in the church for centuries in spite of our difficulties and shortcomings. It must have broken the heart of Paul when he had to write to the Philippians, to two women that just weren't getting along. Can't you two get this right? Can you not resolve this?
You do not have to have birthday parties for each other, but can you live like you believe in what you say you believe? And so there they were sitting in the pew that morning the Philippian letter was read and their names are singled out in front of everybody. Try that today. You might have a lawsuit. The faith that we belong to, it is well packaged.
What are we going to do with the receipt of this package? In contrast to the generation that could not cross into the promised land because of faithlessness, the writer brings up Jericho and he says this was a different group. This was a different generation. In fact, their leader, he too, was once a slave. With this group coming in, they're trusting God. You see, Israel wandered and wandered for 40 years as judgment from God because of their faithlessness, because faithfulness matters.
Do we believe that? Do we believe that when faith is absent from any event going on in our lives, the outcome is less than victorious, it is less than pleasing, it is less than right? And so the writer says by faith the walls of Jericho fell down and they were encircled for seven days. It was brought down by an extraordinary and a miraculous event. Not one cannon, not one shot was fired to bring those walls down.
It was the act of God. And so he is telling his audience again who is tinkering with the idea of leaving Christianity to go back to Judaism, he says remember what faith does. Don't quit. Don't give up.
You belong to the winning side. Verse 31, if you look with me at verse 31, by faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace. Well, there was preparation work going on before the armies arrived. Yes, the spies had to go on this reconnaissance mission.
It was very dangerous. They survived by the hand of God. But not just the obedient march contributed to the loss of the city and the victory of the Jews. Not only would there be lives lost in Jericho, there would be lives saved. The difference would come down to faith. So Rahab appears early in the story in the conquest of Canaan at the threshold of the conquest of Canaan.
Jericho again would be lost but the family of a harlot and the harlot herself, they would be saved. Ephesians 2 8, we all know this verse, those of us who love the scripture, by grace you have been saved through faith. It goes on, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God. There's something God says here.
You did not earn it. It is something that God is just giving. It is his goodness. And she is the picture of that and we're going to open this up a little bit because it merits our consideration in detail. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe. A harlot. That word strikes us right between the eyes.
It stands out. A harlot but good enough to travel with Joshua. That's how the story plays out and that's not the whole story either. There's a whole lot more surrounding this woman and it is all good from this point on. Her life changes. It blossoms. It becomes what she failed to be without the people of God. Once the people of God showed up, everything changed because she submitted by faith.
Yeah, we got that. That name Joshua. How would you say, it's a Hebrew name, Moses tailored it for the man, Joshua gave him the name. It means Yahweh is salvation.
But how would you say it in the English language? Jesus. Jesus. Is the translation of Joshua, the Hebrew word from the Greek into the English, Jesus, a harlot, but good enough to travel with Jesus. That has been the story since the days of Christ. How many of such characters and worse walk with Jesus? What did the Pharisee say? He sits and he eats with sinners. Thank you, Lord. He still does it and we acted out every communion table we take.
We acted out. The Bible does not for a moment applaud her behavior. It applauds the one she turned to by faith, the right God. She opted out of being judged and dying with those under judgment, those who did not believe.
Oh, there's a whole lot of applications coming out of that little point. If God saved this woman who believed, he could have saved anyone in Jericho except for one thing, faithlessness. She knew the story.
The story had been over 40 years old. The caravans had brought news of what God was doing in Egypt when Moses was doing it. It spread throughout the ancient world. Everyone in Jericho knew the story. They knew the story of what was happening in the wilderness with Sihon and Og, those kings, how they fell at the sword of the Jews. They had no reason to not believe. They chose not to believe anyway.
They died in their unbelief. She did not. She could have said to the spies, are you kidding me? This little ragtag of wilderness wanderers are going to come in here with rakes and pitchforks, spears and swords that you got from the dying army of the Pharaoh? You think you're going to come in here and take these walls down?
I don't think so. That is what she could have said. That would have been human reason without faith. Human reason goes so far without faith.
It needs faith to catapult it to the next level. She got it. She got it right. She trusted in the Lord. In her own words, Joshua chapter two, verse eight, for Yahweh, your God, he is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. That covers everything.
That's the whole thing. It is at the exclusion of all the fake gods. She's not saying, oh, your God is the God and ours are lesser. She's not saying that. She's saying the God of the Jews is God and there is no other.
It's quite a powerful revelation. Facing death she was. Because had she not entered into this agreement, she would have been slain with everyone else. She knew her life was less than what it should have been.
So she changed sides. Something we try to do on behalf of lost souls. We try to convert them from the fruit of sin and unbelief and rebellion against the God of heaven and earth. Convert them to the God of heaven and earth. Come into salvation.
It says here, when she had received the spies with peace. We're not made right with God by the work we do, even if it's for him. But we are made right for good works.
It is grace. It is the goodness of God that brings us to his side and keeps us there. We are supposed to behave as though we obey him.
That we're going to do something now. That we have been saved for a purpose. His purpose.
Not ours. His purpose. Whatever it may entail. We'll get next session about the side of faith that costs blood.
This side here though again, these are the war clouds over the people that they are facing. Ephesians 2 again, it needs to be reread with a little bit more to it. Ephesians 2 verses 8 through 10, for by grace you have been saved through faith. That's trusting God according to his word and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.
Not of works. Not of deeds. Lest anyone should boast bragging about, well I did this for God.
I really helped him out that day. Boy, God is fortunate to have me on his side. That would be the stupidest thing a human being could say. And yet, it is said.
There are those that think that God owes them something that somehow they're going to survive death. It's going to work out for them. It's worked out. They got them this far. We'll carry them the rest of the way. They are drunk with their unbelief. Don't say that as their enemy.
It's just true. Hopefully it will resonate with someone who may be falling for that. It continues in Ephesians 2 in verse 10, for we are his workmanship, his poema, his poetry. We get our English word poetry from that Greek word translated workmanship, poema. Created in Christ Jesus for good works, good deeds, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. So her good deeds did not save her, as said. But we are created to do good deeds. God is expecting that from us. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and the life moves on. Out of what's in the heart come all sorts of wicked things, but if the heart is touched by God, there will be fruitful things to come out.
You know, it's true. You have sat through sermons where the Holy Spirit has convicted you and you have felt yourself resisting. If you've been around Christianity long enough, some pet gripe that you don't want to let go of yet because you feel justified or wounded or whatever it is, you hear the Lord speaking of love and forgiveness and what he did for you and you harden up. It's your heart. Deceitful, desperately wicked above all things.
Who can know it? God, yeah, and then God tells you about it so you can know it too. To do something about it. To shut your mouth and work it out with him instead of justifying yourself. I am no exception, but I work hard to reduce rebukes from the Lord. I try to stay a step ahead of him.
He's fast though. Should we not? What would happen if all Christians were determined to be perfect? You'd fail, but the pursuit of that perfection would take you to an altitude you would otherwise never come to in your own strength.
It does count. Don't be discouraged. Discouragement, again, it's like the silver was in the days of Solomon, like stones on the ground. Discouragement can be picked up anywhere.
It's so cheap. It's on your dashboard, in your car. It's in your left shoe. It's in your right hand. It's everywhere. Anybody can be discouraged.
It takes a child of faith to work through this life, not without discouragement, in spite of discouragement. Yes, so what? I know you're there. I can't get you out of here, but I'm going to do what I got to do. You want to sit there? I'm going to sit there, but I have work to do. That has to be our approach or something like that. Maybe you're a nicer personality and you say, well, okay, you can sit there and you do it in that tone. Me, I choose my tone. You filthy animal, you're going to be there fine.
I wish I could slaughter you. Discouragement, it's there. Where Rahab is a type of the unbeliever converted to belief by the grace of God in the presence of those who refuse to be converted.
Here are some points from the life of Rahab. She needed a regime change. There's a ruler in our life.
You know, that old song, say what you want about the singer or the writer, but it's a fact. You've got to serve somebody. It's either going to be the Lord or the devil. You've got to serve somebody. If it's the devil, you need a regime change.
The leadership needs to change. And she recognized that. Another point is that while she was trapped in sin, she being a harlot, and approaching judgment until the people of God came. That's true with sinners, is it not? They're under the condemnation of Christ, of God, for being sinners. And then the righteous are used by God to bring them into the knowledge of Christ. Even Saul of Tarsus, he was not directly converted by other Christians.
Who is? But without those other Christians in their lives, he never would have been on that road to Damascus where the Lord intercepted him. So we count every one of us. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply log on to crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Hebrews right here on Cross Reference Radio.
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