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April 15, 2021 4:00 am
Hebrews chapter 11, Michael portrait Gallery of men and women from different times in different places.
Who all had one thing in common.
They all exercised extraordinary faith and were used by God to make a difference in their generation today on Truth for Life Alastair Bragg begins a new series and tells the remarkable stories to encourage us if the writer of this letter had gone from the 59th verse of chapter 10 to the second half of the first verse of chapter 12, it wouldn't of been surprising.
We are not those who shrink back and are destroyed but where those who believe and are saved. Therefore, let us throw everything off everything that hinders and run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.
It would have been logical and obvious transition but he doesn't do that. Instead, he pauses to take his readers through his head where the portrait Gallery of some of the ancient folks whose lives were commanded on account of their faith, and his pause is purposeful because he wants his initial readers to derive strength and encouragement by reflecting upon the way in which God had helped and honored his servants so that they in turn and we, as later readers might also become men and women of faith, and indeed he says in verse two. These ancient people where commended on account of their faith.
Of all the things that were true of them. Of all the things that might've been written on them. The one unifying characteristic which finds them in this portrait Gallery is the fact of their faith and trust in the living God. These individuals had nothing to go on except God's promises. They took God at his word and they regulated their lives.
Accordingly, they regarded as verse one tells us future as if it were present and they viewed that which was invisible as if it were actually visible to their gaze. They believed what God said and they live their lives. Accordingly, and by doing so they made a radical impact in their day and we want to make sure that we do not miss the wood for the trees and pause for a second and say the same is true in our generation whenever an individual, couple, family, church, community is prepared to take God at his word and do what God says that individual, family, group, community church will make an impact in their generation and for this reason we want to pay careful attention to what they were doing so that we might emulate the pattern that they've established fonts. The historical sequence which is here in these verses runs all the way through into chapter 12 leading up to the one who is described as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Recognizing that in the unfolding plan of God. All of this was moving, so that although God had spoken as he says in the opening verses of chapter 1 in all kinds of different ways. As of old in these last days he has spoken to us in his son, and all these individuals who were welcomed by God through faith were brought into the company of the redeemed in prospect of the sacrifice which Christ would make for sin and we who look back upon Calvary are brought into the company of the redeemed on the very same basis on the basis of what the Lord Jesus has accomplished by his atoning death.
Now one of the possibilities in coming to this kind of ancient material is that individuals would be saying to themselves, at least under their breath or what is this possibly got to do with me after all these folks lived a long time ago they lived a long way away from here and I've got to go back to the office in the morning I have to get out of town tomorrow. I need to return to school and facing new challenges and changes in my life.
What is this possibly have to do and say to me well in verse three he makes it clear that he is answering that question. He says I have defined faith to some degree.
In verse one. I am reminding you that the ancients whose names and lives are about to appear before is where commended on the basis of their faith and he says it is by faith that we understand present tense that our present expedience of who God is and what he is done is impacted by the truth, which I now convey. In other words, this lesson from history carries with it a sense of practical immediacy. It has relevant application to the life of the agnostic you are saying. I'm not sure that there is a God.
It has immediate application to the life of the fearful are saying. I'm not sure that I can continue along this journey much further. It has application to every dime mentioned all of our lives and he says it is by faith.
Verse three that we recognize that it was by God's power are at God's command that the universe was formed. I believe that Genesis 11 gives to is the origin of the universe. In the beginning God created the heavens and their why do I believe that I believe it by faith because God's word says it, I recognize that another number of options which I may choose to believe is a relatively rational man, but I by faith choose to believe this. If you course want to roam the universe looking for another explanation. Then spend your time wisely. The probability of life originating from an accidental explosion somewhere comparable to the notion that your unabridged Oxford dictionary resulted from an explosion in the print factory just so happen to form up alphabetically and with all day, various bits and pieces necessary. U enjoy Shakespeare plays as if you do, and have learned from time to time some of those soliloquies. I have also read the history which says was a really a man called Shakespeare who did all this, but no is in any question that there was someone who did all this stuff. Unless of course you choose to believe that somebody went up and in a small single engine plane carrying millions and millions and millions of pieces of the alphabet and they had them all in big bags and went over a flat part of the Sahara desert that is not to tautology and drop drop them all out all of bunch agencies and bees consonants involves and just flip them out at about four or 5000 feet. Then they went down and landed the airplane started to walk through look down and give the one section and incentive music be the food of love play on my mind.
So that's where we got 12 knife from his turn further on the corner and is said to be or not to be that is the question say that's totally ridiculous why you even wasting your time with that it is any more ridiculous than the idea that your children and your grandchildren all enlarged as a result of two pieces of sludge introducing themselves to one another in some slimy pool somewhere in a primordial experience DNA woke up and found itself 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 now. This is the background to the trip through the gallery and what were going to do is take a look at some of the portraits that are hanging there in the first one has the name able about it now. You should turn to Genesis chapter 4 to get the context for the appearance of evil in this portrait Gallery what was going on while Adam and Eve got together we had some children can enable and in Genesis chapter 4 and verse two were told that Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil and in the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord and God had clearly instructed that there should be these offerings brought and Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock and the Lord looked with favor on able and is offering but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, why are you angry, where is your face downcast. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted.
Do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.
It desires to have you but you must master it. So were told three things you turn back to chapter 11 in verse four were told three things concerning this fellow Abel and his sacrifice number one that he offered by faith a better sacrifice than his brother. That's the first sentence in verse four, number two that by faith he was commended as a righteous man in this righteousness was somehow related to this better sacrifice the offered and thirdly that he still speaks by faith. Even though he is dead. The very fact that we are here all these centuries later. Considering this individual K Abel is a recognition of the fact that he still speaks, even from his death. Now one of the things that emerges from the study of this verse, especially when you get in home Bible studies is the rambling off into the mists of speculative theory concerning why it was that God accepted Abel's sacrifice and didn't accept Cain second and if your mind immediately goes that way, which is justifiable way for your mind to go and you're hoping that I'm going to wander through some of the labyrinths with you this morning prepared for a minor disappointment because it's not within the sphere of reference of what the writer is doing here in Hebrews 11 he is addressing the issue is stating facts and there are certain assumptions which are there and I want to go with that this morning when we do Genesis 1 to 11 then I can guarantee you will pause and will deal with that stuff. But for the time being. Feel free to get a commentary are a number of countries and read it for yourself every good teacher does not provide his students or horse students simply with a series of pat answers to Pat questions those are just adequate teachers leave, they prepare you for the going through certain hoops to last you aim when ask you a answer be the ICC answer D, and so on.
That's easy as not teaching the good teachers do not allow you to grasp under their instruction.
The totality of all that is there, but they create within you, passionate longing to grow and expand your own horizons by your own further study. I hope in some small measure to be that kind of teacher of the Bible so you don't come here and you get pat answers to Pat questions that you can write in a little notebook and go away press button, a press button be, but rather the Yukon and your own heart and mind is stimulating Sam would become a student I want to go.
I want to find I'm going to emulate my teachers in my Sunday school class in my Bible study, whatever it might be from the pulpit. I'm going to become a student of and select the very question which is raised here be a stimulus for those who have ears to hear.
Suffice it to say that in the very heart of what we are told this fact is unequivocal. The sacrifice that is acceptable to God is acceptable, not on account of its material content but is acceptable insofar as it is the outward expression of a devoted and obedient heart.
I think the issue is, and it is the issue that runs through all of the Old Testament into the new that when it comes to offering sacrifices to God.
God is not concerned first about material content.
But he is concerned that what is done regular to lay and externally will be the expression of a devoted and obedient heart. John Calvin says the same thing and therefore I find myself to be in good companies is able sacrifice was prepared to his brothers for no other reason than that it was sanctified by faith. For surely the fact of brute animals did not smell so sweetly that it could by its older pacified God now is, God was not jazzed as aware as a result of the fact that it was that the smell of burning bacon. The Scripture shows plainly why God accepted his sacrifice that is here in verse four spoke well of his offerings is therefore obviously to be concluded that his sacrifice was accepted because he himself was graciously accepted but how did he obtain this acceptance see that his heart was purified by faith.
The distinction was not in the sacrifices offered.
The distinction was between the sacral Pfizer's. And God has to say to Cain. If you do what is right one you be accepted, but if you don't do what is right and sin is crouching at your door as opposed to Abel, who clearly wasn't doing what is right. So in other words, able sacrifice was the outward expression of his own personal obedience and faith and it is therefore in concurrence with what, for example, God says to the prophets in the Old Testament is as you know, your sacrifices are a stench to my nostril. I'm not interested in all that, the bleating of the cobs and the goats and the lines. This is of no interest to me. I don't desire this I desire obedience more than sacrifice. If you want to rely on these works as a means of making yourself acceptable to me.
I want you to know it will never happen because it is without it.
Without faith it is impossible to please God and so we know that if able, please God and his sacrifice he did it from the perspective of faith and not from the perspective of offering it somehow is a mean no right work can proceed from ours until we are justified before God, because without faith it is impossible to please God.
Now here's another rabbit trail to go down on your own. I think this gives us something of a key to answering the question that is raised in the sermon on the mount where Jesus says let your light so shine before men, the basic may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven are Christians the only one capable of.
Once capable of good deeds, not pagans do good deeds. They some of them do very very good deeds saw them some of them do a lot better.
Good deeds then Christians do good deeds, while men are pagans accepted by God on the basis of their good deeds. So what is it that makes deeds glorifying God as opposed to deeds that don't glorify it is that those deeds which glorify God are offered from the hands and lives and lips and be of those who have been justified by faith and their deeds are an expression of their acceptance rather than a means to acceptance.
Not all good deeds glorify God and good deeds.
Don't put it in a right relationship with God and therefore able didn't get accepted because his deal was a better deal than his brothers deal, but it was on account of the fight that Abel operated from the principle of me and came clearly did.
Okay, let's move around the gallery a little further and we come to the portray that is Martina and if you want to read about Enoch you need to turn to Genesis chapter 5 you find them in verse 21 of Genesis 5 when Nina could live 65 years he became the father of Methuselah and after he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God.
300 years and had other sons and daughters altogether. Enoch lived 365 years.
Enoch walked with God than he was no more, because God took him away. What is it say about this guy, will it says that he walked with God over a long period of time. In other words, for Enoch faith was no flash in the pan it was no burst of enthusiasm zoom followed by periods of chronic inertia. It was not a little stimulus every so often whereby he got excited about God things and then drifted away from that and continued along the journey of life where regarding it is in the relevancy. Enoch's faith is there is an illustration of the fact that faith brings us into a relationship which is vital and relevant in every circumstance of our lives for Enoch. Faith was both a decisive act and a sustained and teach you and it is clear from Genesis 5 that there was a time in Enoch's life when faith began in fight were told when faith began when Enoch had lived 65 years he became the father of Methuselah and after he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after Methuselah showed up. He started to walk with God not of some significance in this. I'm sure the fact is we are not told just what it is but I think I might know because I've handed in testimony from some of your lips. We hit it with relative frequency in our baptism service couples that like myself were brought up in the 60s and you embrace that God is dead stuff you were convinced that the bells and the smells and the flowers in your hair was what it was all about you and down that journey to freedom and you find that it was a bondage, but you were okay because you are making progress you into Gary's door opener and you are in your in process of getting a second car, and you are beginning to live the American dream you felt a little bit weird about it because as I have. He wants most to believe in it, but now in a hippie in pinstripes, you're actually enjoying I'm still there really was no interest in religious things. Every so often you had a thought to it, but by and large, nothing nine-year there in the hospital and your wife produces a little one yellow one to get up in your arms. You look into the tiny little thing is you and in this come from what we know physically when it came from nowhere did it really come from you just triggered something in your mind. You said you know where that God is dead stuff is true then you listened as they began to form the little words that is began to form the words and began to date in early steps and run around through the little jungle of their own worldview start to look at this town so when I going to tell her I'm going to tell her when she asked me about the big questions of life. In fact, do I have any answer to the big questions of life and then is so as to preserve your own set of sanity and distance from it all. You said you know, although I personally have no interest in faith. Believing in God. Maybe it's important for little Jamil here.
So what will that will go find a church and that we will not really interested in American pusher in one end and bring the other end and you pushed her in one end and you sat down and you began to listen UN in a Sunday school class. You met other couples like yourself you began to open your eyes, your ears began to become install and now when you testify to the change that is been brought about in your life by grace through faith you dated actually almost directly as with Nina from the time that Methuselah was born. Because the responsibilities the privileges the challenges the opportunities were so demanding that you began to look around and said I'm not sure that I have the answer to these questions.
I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to quote in the way that is necessary to be a parent. Children are a gift from God that are silver responsibility. They quickly reveal our inadequacies. The and reveal our need of wisdom and of grace, presumably that's the significance of it. In the case of Methuselah. But one thing we know for sure, there were at least two volumes in his life. Volume 165 years, absent any faith in the living God. Volume 2 faith in the living God. You have two volumes in your life you would say here is 20 years 30 years of my life and I live without faith in God are tall and as of this day, I began to live with faith in God, she faith is a decisive act. It would simply drift into there has to come a time when you start believing in yourself and you start believing in God we stop depending upon yourself and things you can do to make your acceptance to God and you say I can make myself acceptable to God, and therefore I can do anything else other than what the engines did and that is take God at his word and regulate my life, on the basis of its decision. All of the space will we live our faith in God you're listening to Truth for Life and baluster bag with the first message in our study titled fix our eyes on Jesus. This is the third and final volume in the series begins with Chapter 11. The book of Hebrews you'd like to catch up with Alister's previous messages from this study, we put all of the volumes together on a single USB it's a total of 32 messages covering the entire book of Hebrews for only five dollars. Look for it on our website Truth for Life.org/store again. It's called fix our eyes on Jesus, and today is the final day for you to request the book alive of the resurrection of Christ changes everything they've heard me mention this book presents overwhelming evidence that Jesus resurrection is not a myth but an historical reality.
The book alive lays out overwhelming evidence for the resurrection, and it's presented in a way that's easy to understand and easy to explain to others, request your copy when you donate to Truth for Life. Just click the image in the app go to our website Truth for Life.org/donate Bob Lapine. Alister continues his teaching tomorrow with the portrait of Noah, a man who preached a message that has not changed even after all these years. The Bible teaching of Alister big is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living