Sermon #55                                    Hebrews Notes


          Title:            Abel’s Faith

          Text:            Hebrews 11:4

          Readings:     David Burge – Larry Brown

          Subject:       The Sacrifice of Abel’s Faith

          Date:            Tuesday Evening – May 29, 2000

          Tape #         W-44a



          Our text tonight is Hebrews 11:4. Here the Holy Spirit sets before us the great example of Abel’s Faith. May God give us the faith that he gave to Abel and grant us the grace to follow the example here set before us.


Proposition: Because he believed God Abel brought the sacrifice God required of him, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ alone for righteousness, redemption and acceptance with the holy Lord God.


[Hebrews 11:4]  "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."


          The Amplified Bible gives us the sense of the text in  this very good paraphrase: -- “[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous – [that is,] that he was upright and in right standing with God – and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.”


          This declaration of Abel’s faith in Christ arises from that which is recorded in Genesis 4:1-10.


[Genesis 4:1-10]  "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: [5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [6] And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? [7] If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. [8] And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. [9] And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? [10] And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."


Divisions: Our text tells us three things about Abel and his faith.


·        By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.

·        He obtained witness that he was righteous.

·        He being dead yet speaketh.


I. First, we read, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”


          We must not presume, as many have, that since Adam and Eve are not mentioned in this chapter as examples of faith they must have been unbelievers. There are many men and women of true, saving faith who are not mentioned in this chapter. It appears to me that this inspired list of the great examples of faith begins with Abel because Abel was the first man mentioned after the fall who exemplified true faith in the worship of God; and that he is here honored as the first person martyred because he believed God.


A. Abel’s sacrifice was superior to Cain’s because Abel’s sacrifice was a sacrifice of faith looking to Christ.


Abel’s sacrifice is here declared to be more excellent than Cain’s both because he offered the kind of sacrifice God required and because he offered his blood sacrifice upon the altar of God as an act of faith.


1. Abel looked through his sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ. -- Cain, in his sacrifice, looked only to himself and his works.


2. Abel’s sacrifice was a lamb, a type of Christ, the Lamb of God.


3. Abel offered the Lord a firstling of the flock, a picture of Christ who is the firstborn of every creature.


4. He also offered the fat of the lamb, or one of the fattest of his flock, which speaks of the excellency of Christ.


5. His sacrifice was offered up, “in the process of time” (at the end of days), as Christ came “in due time,” “when the fulness of time was come,” in the end of the world, “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.


6. The Lord God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, “had respect” to it, and rejected Cain’s sacrifice.


B. Abel’s sacrifice of faith was the response of his heart to the Word of God.


          Faith in Christ presupposes divine revelation. Remember, I said, we must not infer, because Adam is not mentioned in this chapter, that he was an unbeliever. There are many reasons for believing otherwise. One reason is this: “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).


          Abel learned the gospel from someone. He did not come up with the idea of blood atonement by a whim of his mind. Abel learned how to worship God from his father. The Word of God is always operative in the conversion of sinners, in the worship of God, and in faith. Faith is the response of the heart to the Word of God.


[Romans 1:15-17]  "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. [16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [17] For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."


[1 Corinthians 1:21-23]  "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. [22] For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;"


[Hebrews 4:12]  "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."


[James 1:18]  "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."


[1 Peter 1:23-25]  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. [24] For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: [25] But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."


          I am not guessing about this. The Lord God revealed specific things to Adam and Eve in the garden that are clearly manifest in Abel’s worship (Gen. 3:15-21).


[Genesis 3:15-21]  "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [17] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; [19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. [20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. [21] Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."


God’s word and actions recorded in Genesis three tell us four things.


1. In order for a sinner to stand accepted before the thrice holy God, he must have a covering. – The Righteousness of Christ!


2. That which was of human manufacture is worthless before the Lord. – The Fig Leaves!


3. God himself must provide the requisite covering (righteousness) for us.


4. The covering which God requires can only be obtained by death. -- By Blood-Shedding. – The Blood Of An Innocent Victim!


“In Genesis 3:15 and 21 we have the first Gospel sermon which was ever preached on this earth, and that, by the Lord Himself. Life must come out of death. Cain and Abel, and the whole human race, sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12, 18, 19), and the wages of sin is death, penal death. Either I must be paid those wages and suffer that death, or another — an innocent one, on whom death has no claim — must be paid those wages in my stead. And in order to my receiving the benefit of that substitute’s compassion, there must be a link of contact between me and him. Faith it is which unites to Christ. Saving faith, then, in its simplest form, is the placing of a Substitute between my guilty self and a sin-hating God.” – (A. W. Pink)


C. What was wrong with Cain’s sacrifice?


In Genesis 4:3 we read, “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” Cain was not an infidel. He acknowledged the existence of God He was not irreligious. He came before God as a worshipper; but he refused to conform to the Word of God. Clearly, four things were amiss in his sacrifice.


1. It was a bloodless sacrifice; and “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).


2. It was but the fruit of his hands, the product of his work.


3. Cain deliberately ignored the curse of God (Genesis 3:17). -- “Cursed is the ground.”


4. He despised the grace and trampled under his feet the blood of Christ made known in Genesis 3:15-21.


In Cain we see the first hypocrite. He refused to comply with the revealed will of God. Yet, he attempted to cover his rebellion by coming before God as a worshipper. He would not obey the God’s revelation. Yet, he brought an offering to the Lord. He did not believe God. Yet, sought to patronize him. This is the “way of Cain” spoken of by Jude (verse 11). It is the way of self-will, of unbelief, of disobedience, and of religious hypocrisy.


D. There are several important lessons here.


1. Public worship has, from the beginning of time, been a matter of divine institution.


2. The only way sinners can approach and find righteousness with God is by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith in him.


3. There are only two religions in the world. – The Religion of Cain and The Religion of Abel. – Works and Grace. – Carnal and Spiritual.


4. Our acceptance with God precedes our faith in Christ. – Abel did not earn divine approval by bringing his sacrifice of faith. His sacrifice of faith was the witness of his righteousness, not the cause of it.


5. Salvation is by grace alone. – Grace does not flow in blood lines. – Grace does not depend upon works.


[John 1:11-13]  "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. [12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: [13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."


[Romans 4:16]  "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"


[Romans 9:15]  "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."


[Romans 11:16]  "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches."


6. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”


[Romans 14:23]  "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."


7. That which distinguishes one man from another is the grace of God and the grace of God alone. – Electing Grace! – Redeeming Grace! – Regenerating Grace!


[1 Corinthians 4:7]  "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"


          I have deliberately spent the bulk of my time on the first line of our text; but let’s briefly look at the next two things stated in our text. These next two things flow from that which is stated in the opening line of the text.


II. Abel obtained witness that he was righteous.


[Hebrews 11:4]  "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."


Abel was not made righteous by his sacrifice (Heb. 10:1-4). Neither was he made righteous by his faith. He was made righteous in exactly the same way we are, by the righteousness of Christ, which was imputed to him. He looked to Christ and his sacrifice by faith, as he offered up his lamb before God.


“He was not made righteous, he was not justified by his sacrifice, but therein show his faith by his works; and God, by acceptance of his works of obedience, justified him, as Abraham was justified by works, namely, declaratively, He declared him so to be. Our persons must be first justified, before our works of obedience can be accepted with God; for by that acceptance He testifies that we are righteous.” -- (John Owen)


However, it was by his faith that he obtained, or received witness in his own conscience, from God the Holy Spirit that he was righteous. The Holy Spirit sprinkled the blood of Christ on Abel’s heart, testifying that he was justified person.


[Romans 4:25]  "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."


[Romans 5:1-2]  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."


[Romans 5:11]  "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."


Because he believed God, Abel had an outward testimony bore to him in the Scriptures, that he was a righteous person. Therefore he is called righteous Abel,  (Matt 23:35).


[Matthew 23:35]  "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar."


Now, look at the next line of our text. – “God testifying of his gifts.” The Lord God gave testimony of Abel’s gifts, the gifts he offered, his sacrifice (righteousness and atonement). He testified of them by accepting them.


·        Perhaps by Audible Voice.

·        Perhaps by Fire from Heaven.

·        Certainly, by Proclaiming it to Cain.


III. Now, look at out text again. – “He being dead yet speaketh.


[Hebrews 11:4]  "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."


A. The first and most obvious significance of these words is that, by his obedient faith, as recorded in Genesis 4 and Hebrews 11, Abel preaches a very important, needed sermon to us.


There comes to us a voice from the far distant past, from the other side of the flood, saying, “Fallen man can only approach unto God through the death of an innocent Substitute. Yet none save God’s elect will ever know and acknowledge their need of such Substitute, -- none will set aside their own their own righteousness and their own inclinations, bowing to God’s revealed will, and submit to the righteousness of God’s Son, but those chosen sinners called by his grace. Yet, all who do so obtain witness that they are “righteous” (Matthew 13:43), receive divine assurance that they are accepted in the Beloved and that their obedience (imperfect in itself is approved for His sake.”


[Matthew 13:43]  "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."


B. Second, Abel declares that “the offense of the cross” shall never cease, as long as the world stands.


Abel died by the murderous hand of a religious hypocrite who hated him. – His own brother! The seed of the serpent murdered the seed of the woman. “He that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born afterthe Spirit” (Galatians 4:29).


C. Abel’s death was also a pledge and representation of the death of  Christ himself — murdered by the religious world.


D. Those who are approved of God must ever expect to be disproved of men, particularly by those who profess to be believers; but the time is coming when the present situation shall be reversed.


Revelation 6:9-10

In Genesis 4:10 God said to Cain “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Abel’s own blood “speaketh,” crying to God for vengeance. “And by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Though ruthlessly slain by his brother, the soul of Abel lives on in glory and is very vocal. He is among that company of whom the apostle said, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held, and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10).


Thus, Abel is not only a type of the persecution and suffering of the godly, but also a pledge of the certain vengeance God will take in due time upon all who despise and persecute his people in this world. God shall yet avenge his own elect (those in heaven as well as those on earth) who cry unto him day and night for him to avenge them (Luke 18:7, 8).


[Luke 18:7-8]  "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? [8] I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"


 Let us then seek grace to possess our souls in patience, knowing that ere long God will reward the righteous and punish the wicked.