Sermon #57                               Hebrews Notes


     Title:                The Life of Faith

Exemplified in Abraham

     Text:       Hebrews 11:8-10

     Readings:     Bob Duff – Bobbie Estes

     Subject:  Abraham’s Faith

     Date:       Tuesday Evening – June 12, 2000

     Tape #    W-46a



I have a message for you tonight by which the Lord has graciously spoken to my own heart. I trust that he will be pleased to speak to you by it as well. I want to talk to you tonight about The Life of Faith Exemplified in Abraham. Our text will be Hebrews 11:8-10. Let me first give you a summarization of these three verses. Then, I will give you the message.


[Hebrews 11:8]  "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."


     God's grace was set upon Abraham from eternity (Rom. 8:28-30). He was the object of God’s everlasting love, chosen to salvation before the world began. Therefore, at the appointed time of love “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” came to Abraham while he was in Ur of the Chaldees, a land of idolatry (Gen. 12:1-4; Josh. 24:2,3). While Abraham was yet in the darkness, death, and degradation of sin and unbelief, the Lord God called him to life and faith in Christ.


[Genesis 12:1-4]  "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. [4] So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran."


[Joshua 24:2-3]  "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. [3] And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac."


     Because the Lord called him, Abraham believed God and journeyed to a land he had not seen. The Lord changed his name from Abram (a father) to Abraham (a great father, or a father of great multitudes) fifteen years after he left Ur (Gen. 17:1-5).


[Genesis 17:1-5]  "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. [2] And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. [3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. [5] Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."


     God leads his people in the way he has determined, in ways known only to him. We know not the way we should take; and we know not the way we shall take. That is determined by our God. Faith follows his direction when it knows not where it shall go, how, or why (Acts. 27:21-25).


“God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform.

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, --

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace.

Behind the frowning providence,

He hides a smiling face.”


[Acts 27:21-25]  "But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. [22] And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. [23] For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, [24] Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. [25] Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."


     Read verses 9 and 10.


[Hebrews 11:9-10]  "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: [10] For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."


     Abraham lived in Canaan, the land of promise, by faith. He lived in that land for a little more than seventy-five years. He believed that God would give this land to his seed though he never had an inheritance in it (Acts. 7:4,5).


[Acts 7:4-5]  "Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. [5] And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child."


     Abraham died when Isaac was seventy-five years old, Jacob was fifteen. All that time they dwelled in tents. Israel later possessed the land (Jos. 23:14). But God’s promise and Abraham’s faith looked far beyond the physical land of Canaan. Abraham looked for a permanent home with Christ in heaven. His hopes and expectations were upon the world to come. He lived in this world with the eyes of his heart fixed upon another world.


Proposition: It was this faith, faith in the Lord God who revealed himself to him in Mesopotamia, which moved Abraham to obey the Word of God and enabled him to do and suffer that God required (Rom. 8:17,18).


     These things were not written in the Scriptures merely to give us a biographical account of a great man, or merely to inspire us with admiration for Abraham. They are recorded by divine Inspiration to teach us what faith is and how we must live by faith while we live in this world.


     Abraham is not merely the physical father of the Jewish race, he is the spiritual and exemplary father of all God’s elect, the father of all true believers, the true Israel of God.[1]


[Romans 4:11]  "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:"


[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,"


[Galatians 3:6-9]  "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. [7] Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. [8] And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. [9] So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."


[Galatians 3:13-14]  "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: [14] That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."


[Galatians 3:16]  "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."


[Galatians 3:29]  "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."


Divisions: Let’s go back to Hebrews 11:8-10. I want to show you three things in these three verses about the life of faith.

1. The Call of God

2. The Obedience of Faith

3. The Hope of Glory


I. First, in verse 8 we see that the life of faith begins with the call of God.


[Hebrews 11:8]  "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."


     Salvation does not begin with man, but with God. It is not in any sense of the word caused by man. It is not to any degree or at any point dependent upon man. Salvation is God’s work, and God’s work alone. “Salvation is of the Lord.” Abraham was not seeking the Lord. The Lord sought him. Abraham was not looking for God. God was looking for him. Abraham did not come to God. God came to him. Abraham’s faith was not the cause of God’s grace to him, but the result. Faith in Christ is the gift of God bestowed upon, wrought in, and given to sinners who otherwise could not and would not believe God.–


·        According to God’s Election (Eph. 1:3-4)

·        As the Result of Christ’s Atonement (Heb. 9:12)

·        By the Power and Grace of the Spirit’s Effectual, Irresistible Call (Eph. 2:1-10)


"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."

A. Whenever we talk about the life of faith, we must begin with the call of God.

The first and most important thing in this verse is the call of God by which Abraham was brought to faith in Christ. Genesis 12:1 (cf Acts 7:2-3) gives us the historical account of that to which the Holy Spirit here alludes. This, then must be our starting-point. Faith is the gift of God.


[Genesis 12:1]  "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:"


[Acts 7:2-3]  "And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, [3] And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee."

"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

There are two distinct of calls from God set forth in Holy Scripture:

·        A General Call and A Particular Call

·        An Outward Call and An Inward Call

·        A Call that Men Resist and Reject and An Effectual, Irresistible, Almighty, Saving Call of Omnipotent Grace.

1. The general, external call is given to all who hear the Gospel, or come under the sound of the Word.

"Unto you, O men, I call; My voice is to the sons of man" (Pro. 8:4); "For many be called, but few chosen" (Matt. 20:16); "And sent His servant at suppertime to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse" (Luke 14:17, 18); "Because I have called, and ye refuse; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded" (Pro. 1:24-28). All men and women, without exception, stoutly resist this general call.

2. The special, inward, and efficacious call of God comes only to His elect.

This call is always effectual. It is always saving. It always results in faith. It always brings the chosen, redeemed sinner into the arms of his omnipotent Savior! It is written…

"The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). -- "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice... and other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice" (John 10:3, 4, 16). -- "Whom He called, them He also justified" (Rom. 8:30). -- "Ye see your calling, brethren...Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Cor. 1:26-27).

·        Matthew (Luke 5:27, 28)

·        Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5, 6)

·        Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:4, 5).

The invincible call of God is an act of sovereign grace, accompanied by all-mighty, irresistible power, giving life men and women who are dead in trespasses and sins. It brings life, eternal, spiritual life. It brings us "out of darkness into God’s marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9).

B. Like all others, Abraham was a lost man, dead in trespasses and in sins, when the Lord God called him by his grace.

[Joshua 24:2]  "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.”

Abraham belonged to a heathen family He lived as an idolater in the midst of idolaters until he was seventy years old. Then God called him!

Until God stepped into his life, Abraham lived just like everyone else in that massive, pagan land. — content with the husks of this world upon which the swine feed, without God, without Christ, without hope, without life! Thus it is with each of God’s elect until they are called by irresistible grace.


[Ephesians 2:1-4]  "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. [4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us."

C. This effectual call of God comes with the revelation of Christ.

[Acts 7:2]  "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran."


[Zechariah 12:10]  "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."


[Galatians 1:15-16]  "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"

What marvelous grace! The God of glory condescends to draw near and reveal Himself lost sinners, immersed in idolatry, having no concern for his honor! There was nothing in Abraham to deserve God’s notice, still less to merit His esteem. Yet, God called him!

D. This call is a work of God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace.

Grace singled out one man from the midst of all his fellows. God says in Isaiah 51:2, "I called him alone, and blessed him." Why did God call Abraham but not his father and kinsmen? No answer can be given but this: God has mercy on whom He will have mercy (Rom. 9:18). He called Isaac and refused Ishmael. He loved Jacob and hated Esau. He accepted Abel and rejected Cain. Why? Because He would.


[Romans 9:16]  "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."


"The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts 7:2). I do not know all that is included in those words; but of two things we may be certain: for the first time in Abraham’s life God became a living Reality to him; and Abraham beheld him in his glory as God his Savior. Sooner or later, this is what God does for every chosen, redeemed sinner. In the midst of their worldliness, self-serving, self-seeking and self-pleasing rebellion and death, God steps in and makes himself known! Then, they say with Job, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee."

Do you know anything about this call? Has God become a living Reality to your soul? Has He drawn near to you and drawn you to himself? Or do you know no more about Him than what others say of Him?

This is how God saves sinners. He "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). The chosen, redeemed sinner in whom this miracle of grace is wrought, is brought by the power and grace of God out of darkness, bondage and death into the light and glorious liberty of the sons of God!


[1 John 3:1-3]  "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."


II. Second, verses 8 and 9 display the obedience of faith.


     The life of faith begins with the call of God; and it is a life which is characterized by obedience to God.


[Hebrews 11:8-9]  "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. [9] By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."


     I said that true faith is characterized by obedience; but neither our faith in Christ nor our obedience to him is perfect.


Far from it! Our faith is ever mingled with unbelief and our best obedience with disobedience. This, too, is evident in Abraham.


     There is no indication that Abraham hesitated. And yet there is an indication that Abraham, the father of all who believe, did not comply completely.


     When the Lord God called Abraham, he specifically told him to leave his country, his people, and his father's household. But, what do we notice after this call? He leaves his country, he leaves his people, but he does not leave his father's household.


Remember, Terah was Abraham's father. God came to Abraham, not Terah. God told Abraham to leave all ties in Ur. God gave Abraham the promises, not Terah. But we read in Genesis 11:31-32.


[Genesis 11:31-32]  "And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. [32] And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran."


It is Terah who leads the way. It is Terah who binds himself to Abraham's promise and it is Terah who settles his family in Haran.

A.W. Pink makes the comment: (Abraham) "left Chaldea, but instead of separating from his kindred, he suffered his nephew Lot to accompany him; instead of forsaking his father's house, Terah was permitted to take the lead; and instead of entering Canaan, Abraham stopped short and settled in Haran. He yielded to the affections of the flesh...Though Abraham had settled down in Haran, God would not allow him to continue there indefinitely. The Lord had purposed that he should enter Canaan, and no purpose of His can fail. God therefore tumbled him out of the nest which he had made for himself (Deu.32:11), and very solemn is it to observe the means which He used: "And Terah died in Haran (Gen.11:32; Acts 7:4) -- death had to come in before Abraham left Halfway House. He never started across the wilderness until death severed that tie of the flesh which held him back."


     I point out the weakness of Abraham’s faith because I want us ever to understand that God’s goodness, grace and mercy, his faithfulness, does not at all depend upon ours. “If we believe not, he abideth faithful.It is not our imperfect faith that is imputed to us for righteousness, but the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Object of our faith.


     I want you to understand this, too: -- that “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.God did not forsake Abraham. (Remember Mark 16:7!)


     And I want us to ever remember that our heavenly father will see that all his children obey him, even if it means he must take from us those who are dearest to us (Heb. 12:5-11). The Lord God says, “My so, give me thine heart.” And he means to have it. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.


[1 Corinthians 1:8-9]  "Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."


     Because God is faithful even when we are not, because he will not forsake his own even when we forsake him, because he is true even when we are not, because he who gave Abraham faith kept him in faith, we are told that…


A. Abraham went out of Ur.


B. He sojourned in the land of promise as a pilgrim in a strange land.


C. All the days of his pilgrimage, he lived among men and women who had no regard for God, but he made his dwelling with those who were heirs with him of the same promise.

·        Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived like they did, believing God, because they had his Word of promise for the basis of their faith.

·        The promise was and is a promise of grace.

·        Isaac and Jacob were heirs with him of the same promise because they, too, believed God.


D. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelled in tents because they were pilgrims.


III. Third, in verse 10, we see that the life of faith is a life of hope, the hope of glory.


[Hebrews 11:10]  "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."


     Faith lives in expectation of eternity, looking for that which God has promised. Abraham sojourned here; but he lived for eternity. That keeps things in perspective!


     “Heaven hath foundations, earth hath none, but is hanged upon nothing, as Job speaketh. Hence things are said to be on earth, but in heaven.”

                                                                             John Trapp


     The spies who went in to spy out the land with Joshua and Caleb saw nothing but giants in the land. They were terrified by what they saw. Abraham looked not at the giants but at the promise of God and fully expected God to fulfill his promise in spite of the giants. He believed God. He saw the same thing John saw, -- The New Jerusalem, -- and walked with it ever before him, seeing it as a City that hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God!


     What are the foundations of that City?


·        The Everlasting Love of God

·        The Covenant of Grace

·        Divine Election

·        The Word of God

·        The Blood of the Lamb


Application:    This is my final word to you tonight, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Ever keep the city in sight! Don’t look at the giants in this land, but set your heart on things above.


[Colossians 3:1-5]  "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. [5] Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"


[Colossians 3:15-17]  "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. [17] And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."



[1] The word “father” conveys much more than the physical head of a family. It is often used to speak of the first of a specific class (George Washington is called “The father of our nation” because he was our first President. Thomas Jefferson is called “the father of democracy” because he was a very dominant influence in the development of our democratic government. Abraham is called “the father” of all who believe not because we get our faith from him or by connection with him, but because he is the first man mentioned in the Bible as one who believed God (Gen. 15:6), -- because he so greatly exemplified what it is to believe God, -- and because the Lord Jesus Christ in and by whom we are saved is Abraham’s Seed.