By Faith Abel

By Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

How faith is essential to give shape and substance to our worship of God.

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
Hebrews 11:4 ESV
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Connecting Faith and Life

What is this thing we call worship?
It is mocked and misunderstood. It is that thing that divides us: what music to sing, how long the service should be; do we try to accommodate to the world, and if we don’t, how will they hear?
Hebrews 11 is about a faith that endures in troubling times.
This chapter does more than just give a glimpse of the Hall of Faith, it shows us how faith shapes us and informs everything we do in life. The story of Abel: Faith that produced authentic Worship.

The Problem of Worship East of Eden.

What is worship? Stop and think about the story:

Adam and Eve lived in Eden, in the presence of God. They enjoyed fellowship, communion, with their creator. They were taught by him, they sang his praises, the enjoyed and delighted in the presence of God.
Isn’t that what it means to worship?
After the fall, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, out of God’s gracious presence.
Worship is our experience of what was lost in the garden, coming near to the presence of God.

How did they worship?

We see in chapter 4 that Cain and Abel brought sacrifices. But why?
Remember the story:
God sent them east from the garden, and placed a Cherubim (a winged angel) with a flaming sword at the entrance of the garden. How do you get past the angel and back into fellowship with God in worship? You must come under the sword.
God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if they disobeyed his command, if they sinned, they would die.
The wages of sin is death, and the only way to get back into the presence of God is to come past the sword, to come through death, to pay the wage of our sin.
You can imagine Cain and Abel, making their offerings, and in the distance, there is the cherubim, blocking their way to God.
This is an enduring image, the crisis of worship
In the design of the Tabernacle and Temple, separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the meeting place was a curtain, on that curtain were two cherubim, guarding the access to God.
The Ark of the Covenant, in the holy of holies, on the top, there were cherubim. This is where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the day of atonement, the place where sinful man met with their holy God, but only through the blood of sacrifice.
The question persists, how can a sinful people worship and have fellowship with a Holy God?

Here’s the Wonder: Abel’s Worship was Received by God

The age old question, what set their offerings apart?
Cain brought grain, the best of the field, the sweat of his brow, the first-fruit. But his offering, as good as it was, wasn’t received by God.
Abel brought the first born lamb, and he was received.
What’s the difference?

The difference between them was that Abel worshiped according to faith.

As we saw last week, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
What did Abel hope for? Was it mere conjecture, a blind trust that bringing a bloody sacrifice would gain him access to God? Or was there something more?
Romans 10:17 tells us “Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
This was Abel’s hope: Gen 3:15 - A son is promised who would bruise the serpents head, though his own heel would be bruised - one who would open the way to God through his own sacrifice.
To Adam and Eve, God promised a savior, the Christ. Adam and Eve would have proclaimed this gospel to their sons.

Cain and Abel both heard the gospel, but they reacted differently.

While Cain was a religious man, believing in God and doing his duty, his worship showed a disregard for the very promise and pattern God gave. He brought grain, the harvest from cursed ground, and thought it would be pleasing to God.
In contrast, Abel’s offering demonstrated his faith, trusting in the promise of God, of one who would restore our fellowship with God. Abel was looking not to his own work, but forward to the promise of Christ.
John - He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
Matthew - At his death, the curtain in the Temple was torn from the top down
In Hebrews 9:19-20, we enter in through the curtain that is open in his flesh…
Abel’s worship was received because he worshiped Christ in faith, according to God’s word

Abel’s worship was Christ centered

He looked to the lamb that was slain to cover Adam and Eve - the Lamb who would take away, once and for all the sins of the world, the Lamb standing as though slain - he looked to Jesus, and worshiped in Him.

Abel worshiped according to God’s Word

He saw how God had made atonement, and his worship rehearsed God’s work of salvation. He didn’t have scripture to follow, but he had God’s revelation, and he worshiped accordingly.

Abel worshiped by faith.

He trusted not in his own efforts, but in the blood of a substitute, to make atonement with God. He worshiped in faith, and was counted righteous for it.

Abel still teaches us today

Trust the Word of God in Worship

I was asked once, if I could have things my way, how we’d worship here at Ebenezer. The more I think about it, the question itself is fundamentally wrong. It’s not about what we want worship to be like, but what is in accord with God’s word.
We gather around the word, we sing the word, we listen to the word and meditate upon it, we confess how we’ve failed to live according to the word, and we are reminded of God’s word of pardon and forgiveness, we are fed by the word.
We worship according to the Word, because it is only through the word that we grow in faith

Trust the Power of Christ in Worship

We worship, trusting not in what we bring, but in the saving and life giving work of Christ
Every generation’s attempt to make worship “relevant” is really just a distrust of God’s Word and way.
I saw advertising for a church in Sioux Falls that is having “Football Themed” worship, with over $1,000 in giveaways.
Will we be like Cain, resting in the efforts of our own labors, or will we be like Abel, trusting God’s promises, and resting in the mighty power of another.
This doesn’t excuse us from laboring in the fields. Able was a shepherd - he still had to tend the flock.
We come, bringing our best in worship, but never trusting in that for our access to God. We come empty handed, resting only in the perfect sacrifice of Christ for us.

Trust in the living Christ to make our worship something that is pleasing before God.

Trust the better witness of our worship. We worship with an enduring testimony, even better than Abel’s. The content, the message, the faith - is a far better witness.
Abel peered into the hazy future, uncertain, but holding to faith. We look back to the completed work of Christ.
Abel saw an angel and sword, judgment and wrath when he looked to God in worship. We see that judgment and wrath poured out upon Christ at the cross, and we see there God’s love on full display.
Abel’s blood spoke from the ground, a cry for justice. By the better witness of Christ, we proclaim that justice and mercy have met at the cross. That righteousness and love are fully displayed. That there is forgiveness, grace, redemption, and peace for sinners before a holy God.

Let us worship in Faith

Let us worship; drawing near to the throne of God - coming not like Cain in our own works, resting not in our own righteousness, but like Abel, worshiping in faith, looking to our redeemer, that our worship may be genuine and acceptable to God.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more