Sermon # 73 Hebrews Notes
Title: Faith is enough!
Text: Hebrews 11:32-40
Readings: Wes Rozeboom – Bob Duff
Subject: The Sufficiency of Faith in Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening – January 15, 2002
Tape # W-80a
The title of my message tonight is – Faith is enough! This seems to be exactly what the Holy Spirit means for us to learn from Hebrews 11. As we come to the end of this chapter Paul, rather than focusing on specific acts of faith (as he has done in the first 31 verses of the chapter), lumps together numerous people who believed God from the time of the Judges onward, and appears to have done so randomly, ignoring any chronological connection. He did this on purpose, by Divine inspiration, to keep us from missing his purpose to teach us that faith is enough.
With that in mind, let’s read the last paragraph of this great chapter together.
(Hebrews 11:32-40) “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Faith in Christ is not what most people think it is and does not bring the results in life that most expect it to bring.
These days people tend to think that faith in Christ is manifest by tangible things. -- “If we have great faith, we have great success, great wealth, great health,” and so on. “Health, wealth, prosperity” preachers have built religious empires by teaching their heresy.
· The God of heaven has been reduced by these religious con artists to nothing more than a dispenser gifts that gratify the basest lusts of men, and a god that can be manipulated by positive thinking.
· People are led to believe that faith in Christ is synonymous with prosperity, and that our failures in business, sicknesses, and earthly troubles are outside the purpose of God and beneath the dignity of true faith.
· Faith is made to be the elusive secret for elitist Christians to further a Hollywood lifestyle.
Such teaching is totally contrary to that which is revealed in Hebrews 11, -- totally contrary to the experience of all believers (past and present), -- and totally contrary to the entire revelation of God in Holy Scripture. In fact, the Scriptures teach and our experience confirms just the opposite.
Faith in Christ is just as active, just as real, and just as powerful when all our earthly circumstances and experiences are distasteful, when we face deep personal loss, when our enemies appear to conquer us, and when all hope of comfort and external peace are gone. Faith takes us through the rivers of woe, through the fiery furnace of adversity, over the hills of difficulty, and through many stormy seas.
· Faith is a conscious dependence upon the infinite character, power, grace, wisdom and goodness of God.
· Faith understands that we are depraved men and women, plagued still with sin, full of personal weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and inadequacies, and horrid unbelief.
· Faith in Christ carries God’s elect through every possible situation, because Christ himself is the Anchor of our souls, because we are more than conquerors (not in ourselves, but) through him that loved us, redeemed us, intercedes for us, holds us, and rules the universe for us!
· The world may look upon us as pathetic, hopeless people, whose lives are marked by tragedy, whose lives are total losses and utter failures. But faith mounts us up on eagles’ wings, carrying us through great loss with peace, joy, and hope in Christ.
(Isa 40:31) "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
We tend to measure far too much by the level of creature comfort we attaint in life. If we can achieve a certain level, (Always measured by the level others achieve or fail to achieve!), we deem ourselves successful.
What short-sighted goals we set! Man, who was made to glorify God and enjoy him forever, thinks himself something if he has a bigger hut than his neighbor and enjoys the transient smiles of fallen mortals! Worms of the earth always feel best when they are buried in a pile of manure!
Faith in Christ has absolutely no connection with those things commonly associated with it. I do not mean to suggest that God’s people do not enjoy earthly comforts. Some do, and some do not. Many of those described in Hebrews 11 were people of great earthly wealth and comfort. But none of them lived for such things. Their lives were not consumed with such base things.
Above Time and Circumstances
Faith in Christ enabled these men and women to do great things because faith in Christ caused them to live above the world, above time, above circumstances, and above their own mundane interests in this world. True faith teaches us, causes and enables us to set our affection on things above while living in the world (Col 3:1-4).
(Col 3:1-4) "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."
(Mat 6:31-33) "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
(Titus 2:11-14) "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Proposition: Faith will see us through. Faith will carry us through every stage and demand of life, and ultimately deliver us into the presence of Christ in heavenly glory.
That is exactly what those early believers, in times of great persecution, needed learn to encourage them to go on believing God. And this is exactly what we need to learn. Faith is enough! Faith in Christ, God given faith will sustain us and carry us through whatever our God is pleased to send our way. May God the Holy Spirit teach us that which he has here written for our learning and edification.
I. Believers are not all the same.
We all have the same faith. We all have the same hope. We all have the same redemption, the same righteousness, the same heaven, and the same promises of grace to sustain us along the way. Still we are not the same. Paul could not have given us six names that more clearly reflect the great diversity there is among God’s people than those given in verse 32.
(Heb 11:32) "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:"
A. This paragraph begins with a question.
“And what more shall I say?” -- Need he add more examples of faith? Need he say anything more to prove the necessity and effectiveness of faith? He admits that he does not have the space or time to do it, “for time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.”
We might wish he had written a several more chapters on faith! But he has made his point without being redundant. Faith in the Christ satisfies believers through the ages, cultures, circumstances, and personalities represented in human history.
B. But to my point – True believers are people of great diversity with varying personalities.
God does not stamp us out with a cookie cutter, making us all look alike.
· Each of us is dealt with personally by the Lord, and individually shaped in the image of Christ.
· Each experiences the providential working of God in his life, tailored to affect every detail to bring the whole of his existence into conformity with Christ and to the glory of God. And it all happens by faith.
“For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.” Four of these men are identified in the book of Judges during a period when “every man did what was right in his own eyes,” and faith appeared to be almost non-existent.
David and Samuel appear in the book of 1 Samuel, with David following in many other portions of Scripture. As I said, Paul picked these names somewhat randomly rather than chronologically. They are paired out of order. His purpose was not to chronicle their acts of faith but to give us a broad display of those who believe God. In doing this, he assures us of the legitimacy of our own faith, though it is housed the weakness of our personalities. The men found in all Judges had defects in their faith.
· Gideon was slow to take up arms. – He did tackle victoriously the massive Midianite army with his 300 men, but was slow to take action.
· Barak hesitated and went forward only when Deborah encouraged him. – He did lead the charge against the army of Sisera the Canaanite commander, but he refused to lead without Deborah the prophetess at his side.
· Samson was enticed by Delilah. – He was a remarkable man and did great things. Yet Samson was a man of great weakness, whose life is shrouded under a cloud of great sin.
· Jephthah made a rash vow. – Jephthah is to be commended for much. He was a man of remarkable character; but his rash vow was terribly costly to him, his daughter, and his family.
“In every saint there is always to be found something reprehensible. Nevertheless although faith may be imperfect and incomplete it does not cease to be approved by God.” – John Calvin
It is not the perfection of our faith that God honors, but the perfection of its Object. God approves faith even when it is displayed through the weakness of flawed personalities, because faith looks to Christ.
If you sometimes imagine that God only flawless believers are true believers, read the Book of God again.
· Paul and Barnabas
II. We trust a God who is without limitation – The Infinite Lord God with whom nothing is impossible!
What does faith do? Faith looks at impossibilities and smiles in light of the power of God!
(Heb 11:33-38) "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
· Joshua conquered Canaan and David conquered numerous kingdoms, by faith. – So do we!
· These men, sinners though they were, “wrought righteousness.” – Me too! – Representatively! – In Life!
· They “obtained promises.” – Me too!
· They “stopped the mouths of lions.” – Daniel and Don!
· Meshach, and Abednego “quenched the violence of fire.” – Us too! (Isa. 43:1-5).
· David “escaped the edge of the sword” wielded by Saul and the Philistines. – Oh, yes, me too!
· “Out of weakness were made strong.” – Me too (2 Cor. 12). -- Faith is the response of all who are conscious of their own weakness and therefore look to God for strength.
· “Waxed valiant in fight.”
· “Turned to flight the armies of aliens!”
Believing God, we own that nothing is impossible. But there is more.
III. Faith turns great loss into great gain and great failure in to great triumph.
We sing, “Faith is the victory;” but we tend to think of mere temporal, earthly, creature comfort as victories achieved by faith. We aim too low! That’s why the rest of the chapter is needful. Read on…
(Heb 11:35-39) "Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:"
Paul does not identify the men and women he refers to in these verses, but they have been numbered in Heaven. Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs or Men of the Covenant or The Reformation in England or The Scots Worthies or By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century or biographies of William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Jim Elliot, and Bill Wallace, and you will discover that throughout history countless brethren have faced great suffering capped by inhumane executions. There were no thoughts of “health, wealth, and prosperity” among them, they pressed on through their trials by faith. Faith did not deliver them from the experience of suffering and death, but faith carried them through triumphantly. And if need be, faith will do so for you.
“They went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” The allurements of this world had nothing for these godly, and often penniless brethren. They lacked all the creature comforts of life but what people of faith! What knowledge of God they experienced in their temporal deprivations! The world was not worthy of them, though the world considered them unworthy. God judges by different standards than the world; loss, deprivation, and poverty are no failures in God’s sight. The only real failure is a failure to believe God!
Illustration: “Three in Ashland and one in the City Foursquare!”
What do all of these brethren through the centuries tell us? – “When you can have it all, faith says Christ is better; and when you lose it all, faith says Christ is better”
IV. Faith unites all God’s elect in Christ.
We have different cultures, come from different races, face different experiences, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ sustains us throughout our days. Faith carries us through good times and bad, through abundant times and lean ones, through prosperity and poverty, through health and sickness, births and bereavements, through peace and war. – Faith unites us in hope, in life, in heart, and in eternity, for faith unites us in Christ.
(Heb 11:39-40) "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
Here Paul links believers from Old and New Testaments together, showing that there is a continuity and unity in our faith. There are not “two faiths,” one old and the other new. They looked to Christ in the shadows through a Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices, we see Christ in all his fullness and sufficiency of his solitary death on the cross. They lived under the old covenant while looking for the fulfillment of the new covenant in Christ. Their faith looked forward. Our faith looks back. Both look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Faith obtains a good report.
· Faith waits for the promise.
· Faith brings all God’s elect into one inheritance of perfection!
 When I say that faith is enough, I am not talking about faith in the idea of having faith in something or someone. I am talking about true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is set forth in Holy Scripture.
1. 1. Faith that is The Gift of God.
2. 2. Faith in The Son of God.
3. 3. Faith that Bows to the Revelation of God.
4. 4. Faith that Surrenders to Christ the Lord.
5. 5. Gospel Faith.