10/28/16

Keep the Faith
 
Hebrews 11:30-40.

Hebrews has made it abundantly clear that faith is much more than simply believing facts as recorded in Scripture.

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Especially this chapter of Hebrews clearly tells us that mere faith that might be worked up by human means is less that worthless before God; it leads to false assumptions and finally eternal death. I have met more than a few who had this false faith worked up by human means, and that faith failed. The result was that they turned from "Christianity", believing that faith does not work.

God's gift of faith is revealed in trust. Hebrews 11 shows us that God's faith is unshakable; it requires no physical evidence nor assurance of God's care, for it rests wholly upon his word.

The first example of faith is the walls of Jericho falling down after they were compassion about for seven days. (Joshua 6) God promised to deliver Jericho into the hands of his people, but he did not tell them how he would do it. Joshua was told to take the men of war and the Ark around the city, but not to make any sound until Joshua told them to shout. They were not told what the shout would do, but by faith they did as they were commanded. We can only imagine what took place in the minds of the army as they marched around that city. They only knew that God had promised to deliver Jericho to them, and they simply obeyed the command-word of the Lord, and the walls fell.

(I remember seeing a movie some years ago of the people taking Jericho. The Hollywood version had the army stamping its feet to set up a vibration that brought the walls down. That was clearly a foolish humanistic explanation for God's divine act.)

It was God who brought down the walls of Jericho, and the people had no idea how God would accomplish the task: the Lord of Host (Capitan of God's Army) made the promise, told Joshua what to do, by faith Joshua believe, the people obeyed, and the walls came down.

Next, Rahab: I have heard more than a few preachers try to make a simple innkeeper out of Rahab, but we are clearly told that she was a harlot. She believed, and was greatly rewarded for her faith. Matthew 5 identifies her in the line of David and of Christ.

The list continues with some surprising names on it.

Gideon, who was thrashing wheat in secret out of fear of Midianites. Then after the great victory, he made an ephod that "all Israel went thigher a whoring after it, and it became a snare." (Jud 6, 8)
Barak, who was fearful to go against the enemy unless Debrah went with him. (Jud 4)
Samson, who chased after various pagan women. (Jud 14)
Jephthae, who did to his daughter as he had vowed. (Jud 11:30, 31)
David, who loved many women.
Samuel, who failed to train his sons in the way of the Lord. (1 Sam 8)

Note the order of mention is not chronological.

1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

God ordained that his kingdom would be expanded over the whole earth, and that his kingdom work would be carried out by foolish and weak sinners. Throughout history, God has used the weak things of the world to accomplish his kingdom work.

V. 33, There are various kinds of faith spoken of in Scripture: there is a dead faith, a demon faith, a fancied and forced faith, a creature and presumptuous faith, none of which come from above as required by Ephesians 2:8 & James 1:17. The faith held by the majority of pastors and of professing Christians is the same as offered by the world without God. It is a deceptive, self-ability faith which is worked up by making one feel good about himself. They know nothing about saving and keeping faith that is available only through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I reproduced an article some time ago in the Examiner that told of the "Christians" who were turning from Christianity to Mohamedism. From the article, it was obvious they had not experienced the faith and grace of God. Rather, they had been offered and convinced of a man-made humanistic faith, and that humanistic faith had failed them. Thus they became "anti-Christian", because the "Christian faith" they were offered had not the grace to make them a new creature in Christ.

The major theme today, even among Christians, is, "follow your heart". That is a useless, self-sustaining, deceiving and destructive faith.

Alas, alas the "faith" of the vast majority of professing Christians, instead of being of this self-helpless nature, fills them with a deceiving self-ability. (Pink)

1Co 4:8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

Full and rich, but without the Spirit of God is the Laodicean church throughout the ages. (Rev. 3:14ff.) The heart of man is determined to ignore our Lord's words, and many have "followed their heart". The "faith" of "self-esteem" has failed miserably, as everyone has become his own god. (1 Th 5:13)

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Divine faith causes his people to cast themselves upon his grace and mercy

Hebrews then tells us that there are too many past men of faith to mention. But a few are mentioned in passing by name from the era of the Judges to David and then the prophets. Kingdoms were subdued, justice embraced, men gained promises, and stopped the mouths of lions, i.e., Daniel. (6:22) All kinds of amazing deliverances occurred, the violence of fire was quenched, i.e., the three Hebrews . (Daniel 3:25) Men escaped death by the sword, e.g., David (Ps 57:1). The weak were made strong in battle, e.g., David, and invading armies were put to flight, e.g., "they arose and fled in the twilight..." (2 Kings 7:9)

V. 35, Women received their dead raised to life again.” The widow of Sarepta, (1 Kings 17:22) and the son of the Shunamite woman. (2 Kings 4:36)

Vv. 29-35 describe what could easily describe a man-inspired faith that offers deliverance and wealth, a faith that religious leaders like to promote. They offer an imitation, man-made faith that promises to deliver the "believers" from the want, trials and daily cares.

I receive all kinds of strange notices. Here is one that tries to offer a faith as described in vv. 29-35:

Dear beloved Christ,
 Greetings in Jesus name !
“ Whatever may be your problem, you too pray on this dayРJesus Christ will do a miracle for you”.
When we Pray with faith and expectationРthe Lord will do a miracle for You !
Receive your MIRACLES !
R U in Ill health ?Р
Torment?Р
Family Problem ?Р
Any Struggle ?Р
You r in need of a miracle !Р
We are glad to inform to you that our FASTING PRAYERР“ will be heldРon 22.10.2016 (Tomorrow), 9.00 A.M. to 3.00 P.M at “Bethel Hall”, Vellore.
During this time ......
Please try to join with our Prayers
 (With your Prayer request)
– Where you areРavailableР.
If you have any Prayer request, kindly forward it immediately. We are ready to Pray for your Prayer Request - during this Fasting
Prayer.
YOU WILL SEE WONDERS”
In His Vineyard,Р
D.Shantha

Multitudes of "Christians" will be persuaded that the above is a legitimate call to faith. The false prophets speak fair and pleasant words as they offer the above "delivering and prospering" kind of faith in order to please "his people" who gather to be encouraged from God's word. (Jer 5:31, Mic 3:11, &c. They gather to be fed milk and meat. They hunger for false encouragement, not for serious, hard and true instruction from His Law-Word.) Though their empty faith is full of lies, the people love it, and will give good sums of money to be able to continue to hear the fair and pleasant words of false assurance. There is big money to be obtained by these profiting prophets, as people will respond to offers such as Shantha's sure to come pleas for donations.

Vv. 29-35, true faith continues to be defined. Others, who by God's grace through faith, endured,

1) cruel mockings, 2) scourgings, 3) bonds, 4) imprisonment, 5) stoning, 6) sawn asunder-tradition identifies Isaiah by Manasseh, 7) tempted-offered riches to renounce the faith, while others commentators say roasted alive for not renouncing their faith, 8) slain with the sword, 8) wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, 9) destitute, 10) afflicted, 11) tormented, 12) wandered in deserts, and in mountains, 13) and lived in dens and caves.

The 13 points above were not only common for the Saints of Old, but were common in the Apostles' day, and continues today. See our Lord’s words as recorded in Matthew 23:34-39.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Few of the saints were shown what they would have to endure, as Saul was shown.

Trials

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Note that it is the trial of our faith not our faith that is much more precious than that of gold... So by faith the manifold temptations are to be welcomed with rejoicing as they increase our faith and knowledge of our Lord. (2 Pet 3:18. My flesh certainly does not like this doctrine of trials to mature us in Christ anymore then yours does, but it is the word of God that we must accept "by faith".)

Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is not an entitlement to “miracles”, nor to supernatural, miraculous deliverances from fearful death, but faith does promise a better resurrection. Their faith caused them to looked for that everlasting "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”, heaven. Faith promises and looks ahead to that better resurrection.

Noticed the promise to the New Testament gospel church:

2Ti 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

I am afraid that this promise is about to be literally fulfilled upon our modern day Laodicean church! It will certainly be a trial of our faith.

Trials of cruel mockings:

The book of Job has always fascinated me, and I hope to do a serious study of it in the near future. We must remember that the parties in this debate knew nothing whatever of what had taken place in heaven between God and Satan.

Job is held up as an example of faith though he was sorely tried, even to the point that cursed the day he was born, and wished to die. Satan's goal was to get Job in the midst of his terrible distress to "curse God and die"; that is give up on his faith, and deny God.

Though Job had many hard words to say to God, he never departed from his faith in the God of his redemption:

Job's challenge to God was heard, and "The Almighty answers Job out of the whirlwind, and overwhelms him with question after question designed to bring home to him the impossibility of his arguing with God, or understanding the whole scheme of Divine Providence. The result is that Job is completely humbled and abases himself before God. ‘I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eyes seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Chapter 42 shows that Job did not lose his very close and personal relationship with the Lord.)

The strict Orthodox theology of Job's day was that suffering always led to retribution: "suffering was penal: it was the consequence of sin." "A notable suffer, men said, must be a notable sinner". Job also held to that doctrine, but in his suffering, he abandoned that doctrine, for he knew he was not the sinner his friends made him out to be.

(Edgar Gibson, The Book of Job, Methuen and Company, 1899. Klock and Klock, 1978)

Though Job is not mentioned in Hebrews 11, James holds him up as an example of patience in the midst of trials and cruel mockings. The account of Job shows that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Jas 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (Eze 14:14, 20, God gives a testimony of Job’s godly character.)

Job, who lived during the time of the Patriarchs, said in the very midst of the trial of his faith professed his unwavering faith in his redeemer.

Seeking the better country

Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. 28* But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me? 29* Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

(Barnes identifies this passage as one of the most valuable of all the testimonials now remaining of the earthly faith on that subject. Matthew Henry: “he that said such things as these declared plainly that he sought the better country, that is, the heavenly;”)

Job:

First, he was no stranger to revealed religion as he was taught by God. Obviously, he did not know the details of the redeemer Christ.

Second, he had no expectation at all of deliverance from his trouble, nor expectation of his return to the prosperous condition he once had in this world. In fact, he had said that his hope had been removed like a tree, and he expected to die. (19:10)

Third, in the midst of his deepest despair, he expected his soul to be released from the power of the grave and received in the glory. He was confident that he would see "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living", and not in this world which is the land of the dying.

Fourth, he was confident that what he was going through was for his good and for the glory of God: 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Fifth, having lost everything, family, wealth, friends, he knew he was not separated from his Redeemer.

Sixth, he was confident that though his body would decay, there would be a bodily resurrection, and with his own eyes would see his Redeemer.

Seventh, in the midst of this most serious trial of his faith, he looked for that city whose builder and maker was God. (Heb 11:13-16)

“Our faith and our perseverance in faith is no entitlement to an earthly reward for us, however much it might serve the kingdom. At the same time Hebrews says of these suffering saints: ‘That the world was not worthy of them.’ In spite of all their sufferings however, these saints did not receive the promise, that is, the kingdom of God.”

Only a few of the many faithful, suffering men are mentioned; many more are passed over in Hebrews 11. In other words, being famous or well-known in the eyes of men counts for nothing in the eyes of God. Faithfulness in the tasks that he has given us is what counts before him and for all eternity. (1 Cor 4:2)

V. 14, Country: “one’s fatherland, one’s own country, a fixed abode or home.”
V. 16, City:
3. The Heavenly Jerusalem. The historical Jerusalem will be destroyed, {#Mr 13:2?} so that hope centres on the heavenly and purified Jerusalem that will come to the new earth with the consummation. {#Re 21:10?} Law-free Christians already belong to this city that is above. {#Ga 4:25-26?} The patriarchs seek it as the only city that will endure. {#Heb 11:10,16?} Glimpsing it only from afar, they live by faith as pilgrims and strangers on earth. {#Heb 11:14,16?} God has built it for them in heaven. {cf. #Heb 12:22ff.?} Christians look ahead to it, having no abiding city here. {#Heb 13:14?} It exists in heaven as the true reality, the city of the fellowship of believers of all ages along with the angelic world. (TDNT, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Online Bible)

Though the saints of old suffered for their hope in the Messiah King, His kingdom was not fully realized in their day. The listed saints are held up as examples for the New Testament saints, particularly for those who were tempted to return to “Judaism” as practiced at the Temple. Though the book is addressed to the ancient Hebrews, the instructions are just as much for us today as they were for them. (All scripture is given for doctrine, reproof and correction and instruction in righteousness.) These things are recounted for us that we might grow in his wisdom, knowledge and strength.

Hebrews spells out the things we are to believe and do as Christians. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer King; He is the King of the whole earth, and we are seated with him in his kingship. (Eph 2) The atonement makes us righteous before God, but it is not license to live after the flesh. Our mandate is not to be able believe and recite a creed, though both are wise to do. Our mandate for true faith is godly action.

As we saw in Hebrews chapters 1 & 10, the faith of Hebrews 11 requires the conquest of all things under the authority of the King of all the earth, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11 conclusion

First, faith is a supernatural gift from God which becomes our life and our new being in Him.

Second, faith means the belief that God is the Creator of all things out of nothing. Belief in creationism is listed as the first mark of faith.

Third, faith means that we must believe that He, God, is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Fourth, faith is not merely an assent to specific articles of faith or reciting a creed; rather, faith is hard work and faithful service to God’s kingdom and the needs of His people.

Sixth, faith is not man centered. The general attitude among Christians today seems to be, "all right Lord, I believe. Now bail me out of this problem." Then when it does not happen, we lose our man-made faith, or when they are out of danger, they forget about any promises made to the Lord.

Seventh, faith is not a human asset, but it is a calling from God to serve him with all of our heart, mind and being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Eighth, genuine faith must be proved by distressing situations, and as it is proved, it is improve.

Faith replaces man as his own god, and center of his universe, and changes his focus to make God the center.

Note the many “worship” songs make man rather than God the center of attention.

We have been told that God's gift of faith is a draft notice: it is a mandate for Christian action, and those who have the Christian faith have no choice but to serve. To see the book of Hebrews as merely a theological treatise on the atonement is to miss the whole point of the book. The atonement is the irresistible motivation toward a new life in Christ, and a New World order subdued to Christ. His is a World Order where Christ is King who issues commands through his law-word; he is the High Priest who mediates and gives the conquering power to his people from his throne on high; he is the lawmaker as well as the just and righteous judge and enforcer of his law.

God the Spirit infuses faith into the inner being, and from within it requires action.