On all our American currency we still find these words: “In God We Trust”
The generation of American’s that caused those words to be on our currency is fast being replaced by another generation that does not believe them to be true. Jesus once said to His disciples, “When the Son of man comes will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Matthew 24:12 records Jesus saying: “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”
It goes without saying that where faith and love are diminished, hope grows weak as well.
When we turn away from God, there is nothing to sustain faith, hope and love. Turning to God supplies all of these. God is love. His word is faithful and true. Hope in His promises is sure.
As a Christian on the way to heaven, God never promises that you will enjoy the ride, but He does promise that you will forever be thrilled with the destination!
As we have discovered in the New Testament reading we recently finished, God has a great vision for His people. That vision is for us to be like Christ. God’s mission is to accomplish that work in us by His word, through His Spirit in and with His people. He extends that mission to us!
Our mission involves:
Seeking in hope
Saving by faith
Serving with love
These lessons in May are to prepare us for our “ready, aim, fire” Summer Series, where, Lord willing, our Wednesday evenings, Sunday mornings and group ministry will work together helping us march in sync with one another in God’s mission. I’ve been sharing with you how hope, faith and love are connected to seeking, saving and serving.
First, seeking in hope. Two weeks ago in the Old Testament, from Adam to Abraham, we saw how the word of God and promises of God inspire hope that motivates us toward seeking God. Seeking God’s kingdom, seeking His face, seeking to please Him. As we saw in Abraham’s relationship with God how this seeking in hope combined with faith and love became so strong Abraham was even willing to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, to please God. Now that’s a seeking hope! We also noticed how turning our hopes away from God to any other source besides God is like spiritual suicide and it ends in utter hopelessness and evil.
Last Sunday we saw Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 that our eyes may be opened to know: “What is the hope of our calling?” We saw that this seeking hope, is also a saving hope, and it is a mystery revealed through the gospel. That mystery is: Christ in you, the hope of glory. What a great hope this is! That hope of glory involves receiving the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for those who believe. God’s best gifts are eternal!
Today, we turn our attention to saving faith, which is biblical, obedient trust in God. Hebrews 11 provides our Old Testament survey of characters whose faith motivated their decisions, actions and ultimately, their lives.
Look with me at Hebrews 11:1-2.
What is faith? The writer here says faith is two fold. First, the Greek word is “hypostasis”. This is a noun. Faith is the substance, or assurance, or confidence of things hoped for. This word can even mean the foundation. It has the ability to hold up the life that rests upon it.
Second, is the Greek word: “elenchos” , another noun, which carries the ideas of proof or evidence along with conviction and convinced. It is often translated as a testimony or evidence that rebukes someone who has done something wrong. Faith is the evidence and conviction of things not seen. Faith runs deeper than knowledge. It reaches into areas we can’t see or fully explain. Those who have to know all the answers mock at faith. Those who have faith enjoy the benefits of salvation, hope and love in Christ.
Faith, saving faith, has these powerful qualities. These qualities move the faithful to action that is in line with their source. Hope is key here as well, did you notice? I put my hope in God and am seeking His kingdom first, I put my faith in God and enter His saving grace, I walk by faith in God and share His saving grace with others. My faith is the substance and assurance of my hope in Him and His promises, it is the evidence and conviction of eternal glory, unseen, but real to me because of my faith.
What you truly, firmly believe, you will act on, you will walk by. Faith, defined by this in Hebrews 11:1 is not based on wild speculation or myths. It is not founded on anything less than Jesus Christ, crucified, buried and risen.
All these Hebrews 11 characters in the Old Testament walked by faith. They did not receive what was promised during their lives. They believed God is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Look at verses 13-16.
Where was their hope? In whom was their faith?
How strong is your faith? Some people have a very weak faith. It is riddled with doubts and diluted by confusing questions. Christian faith is becoming more and more unpopular these days. The winds of change are growing stronger against those that walk by faith. Will you be among those that are faithful unto death and receive the crown of life?
Hebrews has several warnings in it to stir us to deeper faith. It has many promises in it to encourage us to faithfulness. It speaks of the amazing rewards to those that remain faithful and it clearly exhorts us not to turn from our faith.
Tonights lesson will be a look into this book’s admonitions to strengthen our faith. Lord willing, we will dive in much deeper into this word of exhortation than we can this morning.
To give you a preview, let me share five warnings from Hebrews that I hope we can dig into tonight.
Hebrews 2:1-4, 3:7-14, 6:1-6, 10:22-31, 12:18-29.
I close with this: Jesus said, “4“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
God deserves all my fears and all my love. I fear His holy wrath and I love His gracious heart.