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8-7-22 “By Faith”

“By Faith” (Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16)

David Peterson / General

Faith / Hebrews 11:1–3; Hebrews 11:8–16

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Faith is born in us by an encounter with the word. It is strengthened by our decision to exercise the faith we’ve been given. As we do this our faith is made stronger and so is our witness in the world.

Introduction

1. Key to this passage: “ All these people were still living by faith when they died.” Heb. 11:13a

2. Faith as a choice, faith as a decision, faith as virtue

I. The Genesis of Faith—Faithfulness Revealed (Hebrews 11:11)

1. A Promise Made By a God who Speaks (v. 11)

2. He speaks a word of judgment/truth (Hebrews 4:12

Hebrews 4:12 NIV

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

3. He speaks a word of Promise (Hebrews 4:14

Hebrews 4:14 NIV

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, Volume 3 Theological Perspective

Many come to faith, for example, by “seeing” something compelling in the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus or in the communal life of Jesus’ followers. Faith, then, is the perception that the way of Jesus is the way to become who I most truly am, a creature in the image of God. Faith includes the awareness that the meaning of life is not to be found in the accumulation of wealth, power, and privilege, but in loving God and neighbor. The “way” of Jesus puts one at odds with the dominant social script, which usually does see the meaning of life in the accumulation of worldly goods.

II. The Decision of Faith (Hebrews 11:13)

1. The whole letter has been a call to decide for faith

I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements?. . . What I did not see then— and a good many people do not see still— was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under. In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics.

The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next step is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?

C.S. Lewis

2. Negatively it means rooted out unbelief (Hebrews 3:12

Hebrews 3:12 NIV

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Hebrews 12:15–16 NIV

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

3. Positively it means acting in accordance with what faith sees

a. We do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2

Hebrews 12:2 NIV

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

b. Actively living the Christian life.

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 382 I Believe

I Believe

In a cellar in Cologne, Germany, after World War II were found these words on the wall:

I BELIEVE …

I believe in the sun,

even when it is not shining;

I believe in love,

even when I feel it not;

I believe in God,

even when He is silent.

Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, Volume 3 Theological Perspective

Faith is a multifaceted reality, with strange, even paradoxical, features. Born in a revelatory event, it is at once the gift of God’s unconditional love and a human response of trust and gratitude that issues in deeds of love and justice.

III. The Blessing of Faith (Hebrews 11:1)

1. Substance and Evidence (KJV others), the gift of seeing, which leads to peace

2. A future reward

We can also declare it in our own lives whenever we live utterly for

God. When you do that, you’re saying: “I’m not afraid of what’s in

the world. I’m not afraid of what could happen to me. I’m not

afraid of what they think.”

Look at the case of those four Missionaries of Charity in Yemen

who were killed. There are martyrs all around us, and martyrs make

sense only in light of the Resurrection. What they’re saying is: “I’m

not afraid. I’m not afraid of your guns and your power and your

threats.” That’s the best preaching of the Resurrection you could

find: the martyrs.

Bishop Robert Barron

Conclusion

You’re Always There for Me

When the world comes crashing in

And chaos rules my mind,

I turn my heart to you, Lord,

And pure, sweet peace I find.

You lift me out of trouble

You comfort me in pain;

You nourish, heal and cleanse me,

Like cool, refreshing rain.

In times of joy and bliss,

When things are going right,

You lift me even higher,

And fill me with delight.

You listen to my prayers;

You hear my every plea;

I’m safe because I know

You’re always there for me.

By Joanna Fuchs

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