By Faith: Faith Defined and Demonstrated

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Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

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Hebrews 10:32-39 - “we are not those that shrink back… no. We are those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

Why were some shrinking back?

After they had come to faith they faced hard struggles, sufferings, public reproach and affliction. Hebrews reminds us: the righteous shall live by faith!
Hebrews 11 begins by defining that faith, and then walking through the pages of the Old Testament, an overview of ancient Biblical history; showing us what that faith looks like, and how it shaped the lives of God’s people.
You have early history - before the flood. Abraham and his children. Moses and the people of the Exodus.

Why am I preaching this?

We stand at a crossroads in the Church and Culture today. More and more the Church faces the reproach and rejection of the world around us, and the temptation for many is to shrink back - to change their message, or to walk away altogether.
This chapter of Hebrews, and our time of studying it together, is meant to call us to a renewed faith, that we may stand in times of trouble, being rooted in God’s Word, assured of who God is and what He has promised.

Faith Defined

Assurance and Conviction
Hyperstasis: under-stand; foundation, sometimes translated as “substance.” It paints the picture of that underlying, foundational truth upon which everything else is built.
Faith is the foundation of our hope in God.
Elenchos - conviction, the proving out of an idea.
The Socratic method - A teaching technique in which a teacher does not give information directly but in asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.
Faith is not bare conjecture, a blind leap. But taking what God has done, what God has said, faith is an intelligent persuasion of the truth, wisdom, and beauty of God’s Word.
Hope in the Unseen
Seeing with Eyes of Faith
That I am counted righteous in Christ, forgiven of my sins, even though I still struggle with sin
That I am adopted as the child of God, an heir to a glorious inheritance, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places, even though I struggle to find my place in this world.
That God has promised good to me, even though I struggle with sickness, hunger, and poverty.
That Christ has come that our joy may be complete, even though we struggle with sorrow and loss.
Faith is saying, “I may not see it with my own eyes, but I believe it.” Faith is being convinced and assured that we can take God as His Word, living each day in the light of His promises. Faith lays hold of what is promised by God and therefore hoped for, as something real and solid, though as yet unseen.
Seeing the stars in detail for the first time, seeing the depth and dimension of space Faith is the telescope, bringing the truth home
Commended by God
What it means to be commended by God: to receive a good report. All through the NT, Christ’s disciples are called to be his witnesses, to give a report of what they have seen and experienced in Him. Here, amazingly, we are told that the faithful receive their commendation - from whom? From God!
Matt 25:21 “Well done good and faithful servant”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remain steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promise to those who love him.”
Isn’t this what each of us longs for, hearing that we are approved, acknowledged, accepted
All through the coming chapter, men and women receive their commendation by God; not because of their gifts, or their accomplishments, or their beauty, strength or popularity, but because of their faith. Salvation, our acceptance by God is by grace alone through faith.

Faith Demonstrated: Creation

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
This is first in a long list of examples of faith, because it is the first thing we are told of God It is something that is received by faith -
We weren’t there, but God was, and He has given an account of it. God has told us how He spoke all things into being, so we put our faith in Him.
The nature of the universe, its origin, cannot be explained by the evidence that is available to our eyes. Without faith, we cannot begin to explain the world in which we live.
Big Bang, Evolution - all other theories, if honest, are a matter of faith too.
Dallas Willard wrote, “The bang has stepped into a traditional role of God… ruling out questions regarding its origin. But the Christian finds his answer not in scientific mysticism, but in the word of God.”

Our faith in our Creator God will shape and transform us

God is creator, we are creature.
This is liberating: I am not God!
God is sovereign over all He has made, and all things were made for His glory and His perfect plan.
Those times when I’m freaking out, it’s because I’ve taken my eyes off of God, and maybe thought I had to do His job. Wasn’t this the very first temptation? The serpent said to Eve, “you’ll become like God.” The temptation for us is to step into the center of creation, to think that we are in control, that the world revolves around us.
God is meant to be at the center of all things, because only God can hold all things together. Our understanding that God is creator is first and foremost allowing God to be God, and ordering out lives around Him.
God created Us In His Image
Male and Female in relationship
These are the only 2 categories God gave us. God created Male and Female, God has designed and defined us; to argue for anything else is to argue with our creator; neither safe nor wise. Husband and Wife, Mother and Father, Marriage and Family - all of these are wrapped up in God’s creation.
The rhythm and order of life
Day and night, the seasons, the week, 6 days for work, 1 day for rest
We abuse and distort God’s created order at our own peril; working too much and never resting; not working enough, allowing the world and it’s pleasures to crowd into the Lord’s Day.
God created by His Word
Man was given a command and promise
All things were created to hear and respond in obedience
The curse of the fall - rebellion from his word
The same word that created, became the word incarnate, the Word that saves.
The unseen word became flesh, we have seen him, so that we might dwell with him
If we are to stand and not fall in times of trouble, we must have a faith that is rooted in God’s word believing His promises, and living according to that faith.
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