Sermon #78                                                       Hebrews Notes


     Title:            FEATS OF FAITH

     Text:            Hebrews 11:33-34

     Readings:     Wes Rozeboom – Bob Poncer

     Subject:       The Achievements of Faith

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – March 19,2002

     Tape #         W-92b



The title of my message tonight is Feats of Faith. Our text will be Hebrews 11:33-34. Read with me, beginning at verse 32.


(Hebrews 11:32-34)  "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."


Living Principle


Though faith in Christ is the gift of God, the operation of his grace in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is not a passive thing. Faith is not merely something God does for us. It is a grace given by which we live. It is an active, living principle of grace. It is something we exercise, not passively but actively, purposefully, intentionally.


Let me see if I can illustrate what I am saying. Our lungs are God’s creation and God’s gift. They function by God’s power. The air we breathe is God’s creation and gift. It sustains us in life by the operation of God. Yet, the lungs are ours. We exercise them. They take in the air by which we live through activity on our part.


So it is with faith. It is God’s gift. God’s operation, and operates by God’s power. Yet it is our faith. It is that which we must exercise. In other words, we live in this world by faith, ever looking to God our Savior, resting in him, following him, serving him, and seeking to honor him.


The exercise of faith is as prominent and essential in spiritual life as the beating of your heart is in natural life. Where faith is absent, grace is absent and life is absent. I do not suggest and the Scriptures do not teach that faith must be perfect or even strong. But where there is no faith toward God there is no life from God.


Without question, all who born of God err greatly in many things and in many directions. This we know by painful experience, as well as by Divine Revelation. Still, if you have faith in Christ, even faith that is no more than “a grain of mustard seed” the mountain of your sin has been cast into the ocean of God’s forgetfulness by the blood of Christ; “and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). If you have faith in Christ, you are born of God. You have passed from death into life by God’s almighty grace.


Divinely Given


Your faith in Christ is the gift of God. Faith is the heart’s persuasion that God is true, the hearts persuasion of God’s Truth (Christ). It is produced in us by the omnipotent power and grace of God the Holy Spirit by the preaching of the gospel.


(James 1:17-18)  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 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."


Divinely Sustained


Not only do we believe by the gift of God, we continue to believe by the constant supply of God’s grace. Grace gave us faith; and grace keeps us in faith. Faith depends entirely upon God. Faith lives upon Christ by the unfailing supply of grace from the throne of grace, flowing to us through the blood of Christ.


Divinely Activated


This faith, given and sustained by God is activated and energized by him, too. Our Savior said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5); and we know it! If we turn to him, he must turn us! If we run after him, he must draw us! If we open to him, he must put his hand in our hearts and open the door himself! “Faith worketh.” – “Faith worketh by love.” – But all the work of faith is God working in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.


Divinely Increased


It is God alone who causes our faith to grow and increase. Therefore, we pray, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). – “Help, thou, mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).


·        By the Instruction of the Word

·        By the Discipline of Grace

·        By the Experience of Providence


Divinely Focused


As it is God who gives us faith, keeps us in faith, activates our faith, and causes our faith to grow, so it is God alone who focuses our faith on Christ and keeps it focused on Christ. In all things, the Lord God commands, “Look unto me!” And, blessed be his name, if we are his, he graciously forces us to look to him for grace.


·        Saving Grace

·        Sustaining Grace


Here, in Hebrews 11:33-34, the Holy Spirit directs our attention to nine specific feats of faith. In these nine examples of faith meeting great obstacles and overcoming them, we are taught that…


Proposition: Faith, leaning upon the arm of Omnipotence, accomplishes that which would otherwise be impossible.


Indeed, as we read the things here declared, one might think, “Faith appears to be omnipotent.” How else can these things be explained? How else can we believe this record? Well, the fact is, our Lord declares that if we have faith in him, even as a grain of mustard seed, “Nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). How can that be? The answer is just this—The strength of faith is the omnipotent arm of our God!


(Hebrews 11:33-34)  "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."


Let’s look briefly at these nine feats of faith. As we do, I will say little about the historical events to which they refer because it is obviously the intent of the Holy Spirit to move our minds and hearts above the carnal to the spiritual, to move our thoughts about the historical events themselves to those things represented by them.


Perhaps you are thinking, “Bro. Don, How can we be certain of that?” – Look at the passage. The Holy Spirit does not specify whether Joshua or David subduing kingdoms, -- Samuel or David working righteousness, -- Abraham or Joshua obtaining the promises, -- Samson or Daniel stopping the mouths of lions. He does not specify the historical event because he wants us to apply each of these feats of faith to ourselves, because he would have us apply them to our own lives, because he would have us accomplish the same things by faith.


In Galatians 5:22-23[1] the Holy Spirit speaks of the fruit of the Spirit (the fruit of faith) as being nine fold. In these two verses, he speaks of the feats of faith as being nine fold. I cannot avoid thinking there must be a deliberate correlation.


I.       Who through faith subdued kingdoms!”


The word here translated “subdued’ has the idea of fighting to subdue, or contending like warriors on the battlefield to take a place.


We are not told whether this refers to Joshua subduing Canaan or David subduing the kingdoms around Israel. The important point is this—The kingdoms subdued were those kingdoms that sought to keep Israel from obtaining that which God had promised them. Joshua subdued no kingdom or David that did not stand in the way of and oppose Israel’s taking possession of the land God had given them.


The lesson is obvious. The Lord God has promised us an inheritance of everlasting salvation and glory in Christ. And there are two great, warring kingdoms standing in the way of us obtaining the inheritance God has promised us in Christ.


A. The Flesh—The Kingdom Within!


(Romans 8:13)  "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."


(1 Corinthians 9:27)  "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."


B. The World—The Kingdom Without!


(Song of Songs 8:5)  "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee."


(James 4:4)  "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."


(1 John 2:15-17)  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."


(1 John 5:4)  "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."


II.    wrought righteousness!”


These words, in their strict sense, refer to the exercise of judicial righteousness, the enforcement of law.


·        Joshua Executing the Inhabitants and King of Hazor (Joshua 11)

·        David Executing Judgment and Justice in Israel (2 Sam. 8:15)

·        Elijah Executing the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)




In this context, the passage is intended primarily to tell us that faith is that by which the believer is experimentally justified before God. Just as God gave the land of Canaan to Israel before any who entered it were born, so the Lord God justified us in Christ long before we came into this world.


Still, Israel had to take possession of the land by the execution of justice. So, too, the believer must be justified by faith experimentally, justified before God by the execution of law and justice—Trusting the crucified Substitute, by whose blood justice is satisfied.


(Psalms 15:1-2)  "LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart."




Certainly, this working of righteousness also refers to the believer’s behavior, his way of life in this world. God’s people, men and women who believe God live by the right standard. We live by, and our lives are regulated by, the Word of God.


·        At Home

·        In Business

·        In the Community


III. “obtained promises!”


Abraham got Isaac. Jacob got the birthright. Moses delivered Israel. Joshua conquered Canaan. Gideon defeated the Midianites. David got the throne. They all obtained what God had promised, and that “against all odds,” as we say, by faith.


So, too, you and I shall obtain every covenant promise of our God, all those promises of God in Christ Jesus, by faith in him. All the promises of God are in Christ and in him they are yea and amen, sure and certain!


·        Eternal Life!

·        Eternal Security!

·        Eternal Glory!


IV. “Stopped the mouths of lions!”


·        Samson

·        Daniel


Satan roars against us. Oh, how the lion of hell roars! But faith stops the lion’s mouth!


(1 Peter 5:8)  "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"


(Romans 8:31-39)  "What shall we then say to these things? 1If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, 2how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 3Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 4Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 5Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


V. “Quenched the violence of fire!”


Paul probably had in mind those three Hebrews who were cast into the fiery furnace. But the promise of God is to us! – “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2).


·        The fiery darts of the wicked shall do us no harm, being quenched by the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16).

·        The fiery trials by which God proves us in the furnace of affliction shall only refine the gold of his grace.

·        Nothing shall harm you!


(1 Peter 3:12-13)  "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?"


VI. “escaped the edge of the sword!”


·        David (1 Sam. 18:4)

·        Elijah (1 Kings 18:10)

·        Jeremiah (Jer. 39:15-18)


There is no question, persecuted believers escape the edge of the persecutor’s sword, by the grace of God. Believing God, even when beheaded, they escape the edge of the sword. That which is intended to be the instrument of death is the instrument of life for God’s elect.


But this line in our text, like all those things written in the Book of God, was written for us and about us! How does it apply to us? Turn to Hebrews 4:12, and I will show you.


(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."


The Sword of the Spirit, by which we are brought under the sentence of death, that Sword whose edge slays us in Holy Spirit conviction, that Sword proceeding out of the mouth of the King of kings and Lord of lords, is itself the source of faith by which we escape the edge of the Sword, for it brings us to our knees before the throne of grace, suing for mercy in faith!


(Hebrews 4:12-16)  "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. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."


VII. “out of weakness were made strong!”


·        Samson, in his weakest hour, was out of weakness made strong.

·        Hezekiah was, upon his deathbed, out of weakness made strong and became the father of Josiah, the progenitor of the Christ!


Can this apply to us? You know it does! Notice, the text does not simply say that these were made strong when they were weak. It says, they “out of weakness were made strong!” Here is the great source of strength for faith. When we are weak, then we are strong, for only when we are weak is Christ made to be our Strength and trusted as our Strength (2 Cor. 12:1-10).


(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)  "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."


VIII. “waxed valiant in fight.”


This phrase could refer to any of the Judges, or to David, or any of those kings in Israel who were valiant in war, or to any of those mighty prophets of old. But, again, the purpose of the Holy Spirit in this place is to teach us about faith and to encourage us in faith. This is what he is teaching us. — Poor, weak, helpless, insignificant, insufficient creatures like us, when walking in faith are made strong in Christ and are made to wax valiant in the fight of faith by his omnipotent grace.


·        Faith refuses to be intimidated by opposition.

·        Faith is undaunted by reason.

·        Faith stubbornly refuses to give in to cowardice.


The kingdoms of the flesh and of the world will not stop faith in her path. Roaring lions may make us tremble; but they will be subdued. The violence of fire will not prevent faith from pursuing Christ. The persecutor’s sword will not cause faith to give up Christ. Weakness will not cause faith to give up the fight. Oh, no! Faith waxes most valiant when she most depends upon her omnipotent Savior!


IX. “turned to flight the armies of the aliens!”


·        Did not Joshua put to flight Ai and the five kings of the Amorites (Joshua 10:1-10)?

·        Did not David put to flight the armies of the Philistines at Baal-perazim, smiting them hip and thigh, from Geba to Gazer (2 Sam. 5:17-25)?

·        So it shall be with you who believe, with you who trust the Lord Jesus Christ! — We, too, shall put to flight the armies of the aliens! — Our Sins! — Satan! — The World!


(Exodus 15:11-18)  "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. 18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever."


“Who shall condemn to endless flames

The chosen people of our God,

Since in the Book of Life their names

Are clearly writ in Jesus’ blood?


He, for the sins of His elect,

Hath a complete atonement made:

And justice never can expect

That the same debt should twice be paid!


Not tribulation, nakedness,

The famine, peril, or sword,

Not persecutions, or distress,

Can separate from Christ the Lord!


Nor life, nor death, nor depth, nor height,

Nor powers below, nor powers above,

Nor present things, nor things to come,

Can change His purposes of love!


His sovereign mercy knows no end,

His faithfulness shall still endure:

And those who on His Word depend

Shall find His Word for ever sure!”



[1] (Galatians 5:22-23)  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."