God Has Planned Something Better for Us
This is the first class in a series of lessons on living a full life in Christ. And Barry has organized this series of classes, titles, so on and so forth. And we're going to have many of our elders teaching this be a different teacher every week. So it's the same theme. But we're going to mix the teachers up. And since my time is running short, they've given me the first lesson tonight.
Now, the passage that I have been assigned, which is Hebrews 11:40, and the title that has been drawn from that verse, which is God actually in your sheets, it says God has planned something better for us. But in the passage of Scripture, the passage says God had planned something better for us. And you'll see that there's a significance difference between those two in a moment. Chapter 11 of Hebrews comes at a pivotal time in this particular epistle. And the last verse is like a diamond point, it's just it's like the hinge that a whole series of ideas turn on this one verse here.
But in order to understand the meaning and the application of Hebrews 11:40, we have to first examine the background, the purpose of the Hebrew letter, and where this particular verse fits into the context of the chapter and how the chapter fits into the context of the whole book. Otherwise, just saying God had planned something better for us, we can't just figure out what that means just from that particular verse. So the passage makes a lot more sense to us today, if we realize that in the first century when this letter was written, most Christians were Jewish. That's not the case today, is it? Most Christians are not of the Jewish culture today, but in the first century, when this was written, most Christians were Jewish.
Early on, when the church was first established, a person could actually be a Christian on one hand and have communion, for example, on the Lord's Day, and then still go to the synagogue and practice all the Jewish traditions. There was like an an overlap time there where a person of the Jewish culture, Jewish heritage, Jewish religion who had been converted to Jesus Christ, kind of had one foot in the old ways and one foot in the new.
Many of these people did not see a contradiction or even a problem with this because Jesus was a Jew and all the apostles were Jews. So they didn't see a problem with maintaining many of their, actually all of their traditions and festivals and so on and so forth, while professing to be believers and disciples of Jesus Christ.
Well, with time, however, there began to be hostility from the Jewish community towards Christianity. The non-Christian part of the Jews, of course, began to be hostile towards Christianity, especially as Paul began his mission work. And there was also a start of persecution by Rome against all non-legal religions, including Christianity. A lot of times it's incorrect to say that Rome persecuted just Christians.
They persecuted all religions that were not legal and Christianity was not legal. It was not a legally recognized religion. Judaism was that's why the Jews weren't persecuted. But Christianity was not. So this attitude and this persecution began to put pressure on these Jewish Christians to make a choice. They couldn't straddle the fence anymore. They either had to follow Christ openly and apart from Judaism, that was the pinch. They had to follow Jesus and declare their faith in him openly and apart from Judaism or return to their former Jewish religion.
Now, the Book of Hebrews was written with these particular problems in mind, and it was addressed to a specific group of Jewish Christians around the year 65 A.D. Now, the point of the whole letter was to encourage them to be faithful to Jesus Christ, despite the persecution that they faced and the fact that returning to their former Jewish religion seemed like a pretty attractive and reasonable option at the time. I mean, let's face it, here you've got the Jews, they've got the temple, they've got the priests in the garments, they've got the sacrifices. They're there. You know, they've got the 100,000 people gone to Jerusalem for Passover. They've got respectability. They're mainstream. And Christianity, those people, well, they've got nothing. They've got no buildings. They're meeting in homes and in caves. They're not accepted. The the religion is not legal. It's certainly not mainstream. So especially on the feast days when the Jewish Christians are watching their relatives and their friends, openly practice this very sophisticated, very ornate, very elaborate religion. And here they are breaking a little piece of bread and sharing a cup of wine, hiding out in a room somewhere, and someone is saying, oh, yeah, well, like, which one is the true religion, huh? Us or you? And so the temptation is, is really growing strong to say, this Christianity thing, I don't know. I'm not sure. Judaism started to look a whole lot better to me now, especially now that the pressure is on, not just culturally from my family and friends, but now the pressure is on politically and socially from the government not to belong to this sect called Christianity.
And so into this situation, the writer makes an appeal in this letter by comparing Jesus Christ to the specific aspects of the Jewish religion in order to demonstrate Christ's superior position. And so in this whole letter, you see the writer of the Book of Hebrews put Christ on one side and measure him against the Jewish religions history, against the Jewish religions prophets, angels, leaders, priesthood.
And he demonstrates how all of these were only servants and previews serving God's ultimate plan to bring the fulfillment of all of these things to Earth in Jesus Christ. In other words, he's saying you think the Jewish religion is great. You think you know the priests with their dress and the and the sacrificial system in the festivals and you think, this is great. Let me show you how this things measure up when they're compared directly to Jesus Christ. And that's what he does in the Book of Hebrews.
He argues that Christ's superiority over all of these things and all of these people that the Jews hold in high esteem should encourage these Jewish Christians to remain faithful to Christ and not go back to the religion whose purpose was only to set the stage for the coming of the Christ. The Jewish religion and everything contained in it was simply a historical stage upon which God would set the Christ. And so he's saying, Don't do that. Don't, don't go back to the shadow. Don't go back to the preview when you've got the real thing.
Now, the letter he writes to these people is broken down into two main parts.
The first part is where he demonstrates the glory of Jesus Christ in relationship to the Jewish religion, which they are tempted to return to. That's the first part of the book, roughly ten and a half chapters. The rest of the book describes the glory of the church that they now belong to and are contemplating abandoning. But he doesn't talk about buildings and ceremonies. He talks about the church, the body, how glorious it is, how wonderful it is to belong to it. And so in the first ten chapters, the author focuses on Jesus and how he is the fulfillment and the superior choice over the Judaism that has rejected him. In Chapter 11.
Now we're getting to Chapter 11, where our verse is found. The writer begins to make a transition in his thought by encouraging his readers not to be afraid of going forward with Christ. Despite the obstacles and persecutions and doubts that they may be encountering as Jewish Christians. And so Chapter 11 of Hebrews sees the author giving his readers a kind of a short history of the Jewish people.
And in this history, he emphasizes those individuals who like them today, despite their difficulties and their persecutions and their doubts, continue to believe and serve God faithfully. In other words, he's saying, Look, you Jews, look, look back in your own history and look at all the great Jewish heroes of faith that when they were confronted with persecution and doubt, managed to remain faithful and to persevere. I want you to be like those great hero, because you know what? There were no Christian heroes yet. You know Jesus. Yes. But other than that, there were no you know, Peter was alive and Paul, there were no Christian heroes yet to point to. So he points to the Jewish heroes of the past. And the thing that they have in common with them is this idea of being faithful in the time of persecution.
The writer goes through this kind of spiritual pep talk to demonstrate two things to them and to all those who would read his words in the future. And that includes ourselves.
He does it to show, first of all, that faith has always been the key response that God has desired from His people. Not ceremony. Not eloquence. Not performance. Faith.
Faith is always been the thing that God is developing. Yes. Ceremony is there to teach us things to enable us to worship properly. Yes, of course. Eloquence and performance and all these things. The things we do. Of course, they're part of our life. They're part of working out of our faith. But the thing that all of these things was were serving was the building of faith in the individual.
Isn't it the thing that God has always wanted in people? I made my my witness on Sunday night. Remember, I talked about my testimony on Sunday night about giving up, you know, stopping to just hang on to the thing and having faith that God would work it out one way or another, whether it be good for me or not good for me. It wasn't the issue. The issue was that I would have faith in him and just keep on going. And 24 hours later, the house sold. 24 hours later, bang, it sold just like that. God wants faith in us. That's what He wants. You know, you always wonder, why is my life like this? Why am I having a prayer? Why is this? You know, why am I? But in my head, you know, what do you want God for me? And the answer is always faith. More faith. But haven't I got enough faith? No, not yet.
And then the other reason he writes this is to show that his readers are the recipients of the blessings that all of their predecessors were faithfully waiting for, but did not see or receive. And he does this with one of the most eloquent and inspiring chapters in the entire Bible. This chapter has been called the Faith Hall of Fame because it describes in theory and in practice and in promise what faith is and what faith produces for the believer.
So let's go to Hebrews Chapter 11, verse one, and see what the author means when he talks about something better for us. So we begin with a description of faith in verse one.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
- Hebrews 1:1
Now the first verse is more a description of faith than a definition. Faith in the Old Testament meant confidence in God and perseverance. And the vision of the unseen faith in the New Testament was more elaborate, more specific. It meant believing as true the claims of Christ. It meant personal commitment to Him as Lord. It meant obedience to the teachings of Jesus. It meant trusting in Jesus specifically. And the specific promises of Jesus, which were very clear on it, was a more elevated idea, clear concept in the New Testament.
Well, the author says that faith is two things. First of all, he says it's assurance. Now, the Greek word here meant a substructure or the foundation of a building. That's what the word in English assurance meant in the Greek, a substructure, a foundation. And then when he says conviction, the Greek words, there was a legal term referring to evidence upon which a case was built.
And then he talked about hope of things not seen, referring to the blessings and the promises made by God through Christ. Things like forgiveness and resurrection and eternal life. That's what He talks about when he means the promises. So based on the understanding of these words, the author is saying that faith, what it was in the Old Testament and fully realized in the New Testament, serves as a basis from which people gained the ability to stake their lives on unseen things.
The foundation that permits hope the eyes that allow us to see the things of the invisible world. And so he goes on in chapter 11, verse 2 to 5, and he makes a comment.
2For by it the men of old gained approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
- Hebrews 11:2-5
And so the author makes one of four comments concerning the faith in this passage. He states that it is by faith. In other words, confidence in things that are not seen. Every time I say faith, think confidence and things that are not seen. Okay, he states that it is by faith that men, their Jewish ancestors, gained approval from God, and he reaffirms this has always been the basis by which God approves of men, whether they have faith or not. This is not a new idea.
He's going to go on to give numerous examples of people who were spoken well of by God, on account of their faith. And so he begins with creation before going on to specific people to confirm his statement. He uses the fact of creation as a universal example of faith, as the basis for understanding. We can only grasp the fact of creation by faith, since it cannot be supported by scientific evidence.
No one was there to see it. The only way you can grasp it is through faith. However, if we believe God's word on the matter, the reason nature and purpose for creation becomes clear to us. And so then he goes on and talks about Cain and Abel. The author continues by citing examples and results of faith. This time, as exhibited in people Abel's sacrifice was acceptable because it was offered in faith.
Because of this, there's a certain result, he says. Abel was considered righteous, meaning acceptable by God. Why? Because he offered his sacrifice in faith. His example of faith still speaks. In other words, his example still is referred to in Scripture. And so examples of faith are powerful witnesses that extend beyond our lifetimes. That's the point that he's making. Faith has always been the thing that God has looked for all the way back, even creation, he says that's the beginning point. The creation you have to accept by faith the creation of the of the world. He talks about Enoch. Enoch's faith was pleasing to God and in some way I'm not going to spend time figuring out how this happened. We don't know. It doesn't tell us. But in some way Enoch was translated into the spiritual dimension without conventional dying process. That's what it says. Someone says, Well, how did that happen? Well, I don't know how that happened. The key is not the mysterious way he went to heaven, but the fact that his faith was something that was pleasing to God.
So the author begins his examples from earliest of history to show that faith was always what God looked for in men. Even his first act in natural history required faith to be apprehended. He makes another comment on faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- Hebrews 11:6
So now he makes a second comment concerning faith, which elaborates his earlier statement. Not only does faith please God, he says, he also adds that it's impossible to please him without it. No amount of good works, separate from faith, are pleasing to God. God rewards those who have faith. He rewarded Enoch, for example. It is the nature of faith to live in hope and to look towards things not seen. And in the next series of verses, the author talks about people who demonstrated this vision based on faith.
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
- Hebrews 11:7
So Noah believed God and His word about an unseen and highly unlikely event. That the world would be flooded in the middle of the desert. He had a build a boat. Even if he built it, how would he get it to water? And yet, confidence in unseen. What was the unseen thing? Not a reward. The unseen thing was the warning of what was to come.
He didn't see it, but faith said he had confidence that it would happen and that confidence propelled him to build the boat. He preached to others for over a hundred years, but they disbelieved. And because of their disbelief, expressed in disobedience, they were lost. And you know what? Their disbelief was absolutely normal and natural and logical. Absolutely it was but it was wrong.
8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
- Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham was called to an unknown land, which God said would be his and yet he wandered all over it and never owned any part of it except the place where he buried his wife. Abraham lived in tents, and yet in faith, he waited patiently for his eternal and permanent resting place and home, promised to him, by God. And how did he do it? By faith.
11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
- Hebrews 11:1-12
So he's promised a great posterity and people after him and yet his wife bore him one son long after childbearing years, despite evidence to the contrary. Abraham never wavered in his belief that he that God would make good on his promise. He couldn't see how it would happen, but he believed that it would. Faith, confidence in things not seen.
Now in the world. It's okay, they don't have faith. But in the church, when we propose things and we say we're going to do things and so on and so forth, that we don't see how it's going to happen should never be the thing that kills the idea, never.
In the middle of his discussion about Abraham's faith, the writer makes a third comment about those which he has been speaking of in verses 13 to 19. So he introduces his idea by here is what faith is, confidence and thing unseen and then he makes comments about that.
13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
- Hebrews 11:13-16
So the also says that these people saw by faith the things that were promised, the spiritual realities. But they died before these promises were actually in hand. The better country and all that are just ways of saying heaven. Just euphemisms for heaven. Because however they saw through faith, they were willing to bear the difficulties brought about by their vision and never considered once turning back to their original homeland, dying in the foreign lands where they wandered all of their lives. Why? Because they were there based on faith.
They did so because they believed and because of this, God was not ashamed to be associated with them. In the Bible, it says, think about it now. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Wouldn't it be nice if it was the God of Bob and Mike and Ken and Joe and Betty and Sue and Jane. If your name was printed there because Abraham was a man, and yet it says the God of Abraham, God was not ashamed to have his only name associated for all eternity with the name of Abraham, a sinful man. Why? Because he was a good guy. Because he did everything right? Well, we know the story. Of course not. Because Abraham had faith such as the reward for those who believe in the things that are not seen.
Now, the suggestion for the readers here is very clear that returning to Judaism, let's go back to what Hebrews is about here, that returning to Judaism would be to abandon the vision, a demonstration of a loss of faith and a rejection by God. Also, the idea that Christians are like pilgrims who are not only passing through on their way to a better place expressed here.
17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18it was he to whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants shall be called." 19He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
- Hebrews 11:17-19
Interesting. We could spend a lot of time just on this. The author refers back to Abraham one last time. Abraham responded to God's call and promise with faith and now the author describes how Abraham responded with faith to God's test. There's a call. There's a test.
He asked him to sacrifice his only son. Abraham's faith was such that it obeyed God beyond understanding. Well, how do you want me to kill my own son off from my own son? Wait a minute. You promised that you would give me. Generation upon generation of posterity and now you want me to kill the very the kid who's going to give it to me? It didn't make sense.
He was in the process of offering up the only son through which God said his descendants would eventually come. But what was the difference? He believed. He didn't believe that God would prevent him from doing it. That's not what he believed. He believed that God could resurrect Isaac if necessary, in order to fulfill his promise. That's what he believed. In effect, that's what's happened. Because Isaac was as good as dead. The minute Abraham said, Come with me, we go to the mountain. I mean, Isaac was as good as dead because you knew Abraham was going to go through with what he had said. Abraham just demonstrated the kind of faith that restores one from death so that all of his descendants have an example of how faith overcomes everything, even death.
What do you think is going to overcome your death? In my death? Medicine? Surgery? Freezing the body? No, faith. We believe the things not seen. The things not seen yet are our glorified bodies. We believe.
So now, in verse 20, all the way to the end of the chapter almost, we have what's called a final parade. In shorter sequences, the author parades an entire series of Old Testament characters who face the variety of trials in life but never wavered in their faith. Some were prostitutes. Some messed up in life. We have various degrees, men and women, various degrees of success and holy living and getting it right and getting it wrong. And the only thread that holds this entire parade together is that all of them had the same faith.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
- Hebrews 11:20
The idea is that he passed on the blessing to his sons that had been given to him by his father, even though he saw the weaknesses and the imperfections of his sons. He looked at his sons and he said, How can these two bird brains carry on the thing that is so important? But he did it anyways. He passed on the blessing.
By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
- Hebrews 11:21
Think now. He passed on the blessing to his grandsons and he refused to be buried in Egypt, giving instructions that his bones ultimately be returned to the land originally promised. How could that be? They were with the king. There was a famine in their land. They had sold themselves basically to the king's service. How could it be? And he passed on the blessing to them. And we know what a great track record the Sons of Jacob had. Whoa! Trying to kill each other and so on. But yet he believed he passed it on.
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
- Hebrews 11:22
He also refused to be buried in Egypt, even though he lived most of his life there and had a high position. Why? Because he believed.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
- Hebrews 11:23-29
In recounting the life of Moses, the author shows how faith was present from the beginning to the end of his life. He was hidden by birth based on the faith of his parents. He refused to deny his Jewish birth in the face of his foster parents of royal bearing. He chose to be associated with his people and he suffered because of it. He led the people out of Egypt despite of danger. He kept the Passover, which saved the Jews. He crossed the Red Sea. All of these high points were recalled to show that Moses was a man of faith, and faith enabled him to see God's promises, and this vision enabled him to respond to all of the challenges of his life and ministry with courage.
Because every one of these challenges were like was 1000 to 1 odds. How did these how did these Jews think they could hide this little kid from the king's army? And yet they did it anyway. And how did Moses ever think he would survive? Rejecting to be called the Pharaoh son, saying, no, I'd rather be with the slaves. Where did he get the idea that he would survive such a move and that he went to the Pharaoh, to demand the release of his people? He had no power. How did he think? For a moment that would work? Well, because of faith, because he believed in the things unseen.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
- Hebrews 11:30
They don't mention the name of Joshua, but Joshua's great faith is alluded to in this in this event, because he was the one leading the people.
By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
- Hebrews 11:31
The prostitute who risked her life in order to hide the Jewish spies. Courage prompted what? By a good life? In certain countries today, prostitutes are forming unions. And so that they get shot, you know, in the AIDS testing and they get minimum wage. Oh, my. You know, I mean, we're talking about the lowest of the low rung of society here. She had nothing to gain. Everything to lose. Why did she do it? Faith. Faith in what she knew but couldn't see.
32And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
- Hebrews 11:32-38
Here the author kind of speeds up his procession, not giving individual testimonies, but highlights of stories that he is sure that his audience is familiar with. He has no time or space to list all the things that faith produces men and women, courage and deliverance from death, victory, ability to persevere in severe trial, as well as rejection and scorn from the world. But then he makes a final comment. And in the final comment, the writer includes the verse upon which this entire lesson is based.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
- Hebrews 11:39
So in verse 39, he summarizes that the one common thread running through all of these stories of faith is that the ultimate promise of their faith was not received. Oh, individual promises about land and abundance and protection those things were received. But the ultimate fulfillment of what their collective faith pointed to was still out of reach. And even though all of these mentions were approved and blessed by God, they did not receive the final promise upon which their faith rested and that was perfection. The more you see your sins the more you hunger and thirst for perfection. If you're not hungry for perfection don't look at perfection. Look at your sins that will give you a hunger for perfection.
They lived in a time of anticipation of the promise of God. Christians today live a time of fulfillment of the promise. We have something better in relationship to what he has been saying in the first ten chapters of the book about Jesus Christ being superior better than the prophets leaders, religion of the Jews. The author adds one last thing to convince these wavering Jewish Christians. He says, that even the faith experience of the Christian is superior than the Jewish faith heroes experience of the past. Not only is Jesus better, but your faith experience of Him is better than the faith experience of all of these heroes that I've just talked about. And he's included the big guys, Abraham, Moses. Even though God will bless these people and save them for their faith, a Christian's faith experience is superior because it is based on the actual fulfillment of God's promise in Christ Jesus, and not just the anticipation of the fulfillment of that promise. There's a big difference.
They were promised God salvation, and they believed in it from afar. Christians have seen God's salvation worked out in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and this is a much more dynamic basis for faith. If you think you can go through all of that stuff, because you saw something from afar. Imagine what you can do, having seen the promise fulfilled. That's the point.
And so in the end, God blesses and is just to both groups, the ones who anticipated the promise and the ones who witnessed the promise being fulfilled even if one faith experience was better than the other. Here is how God's justice and fairness operates.
Neither group, whether it be the Old Testament heroes of the faith or the Christians. In the New Testament era, neither group received the blessing of the promise which is being made perfect, save, justified. Neither group receive it until Christ completes his work. That's the fairness of God.
because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
- Hebrews 11:40
So the Old Testament heroes of the faith didn't beat us to the punch in the matter of perfection. Both groups received perfection only when Christ completed His work. Both receive that in the same manner through faith. In this way, apart from us, meaning Christians, they, the heroes of the faith, should not be made perfect.
So here are some lesson points that we can take with us based on this passage.
1. Faith always been what God sought in mankind from the very beginning.
This is what pleases Him. You want to please God, faith.
2. Faith is the basis upon which we can see spiritual realities and the key to obeying God, even in difficult circumstances.
The key to obeying God in difficult circumstances, faith.
3. Faith is what unites Old Testament heroes and New Testament Christians in receiving the promise of salvation.
Even if one group saw it from afar and the other group witnessed its completion, both of them received the gift of salvation based on faith and only when the work of Christ is completed.
4. Faith is what we who are living need to maintain if we're to join those who have gone before us in the reward of heaven.
The writer of Hebrews warns the Jewish Christians that if they are unfaithful to Christ, they will not share in the reward that their ancestors anticipated and received because they died in faith. In other words, he said, look at all those heroes of faith they hung in there and they died and they didn't even get what they were waiting for. You, on the other hand, have seen the completion of it, have a much more dynamic basis of faith. But if you don't remain faithful, even with that advantage, you won't even you won't get the reward that they're going to get.
Well, what about us today? We're like them. God has given us better things than those who came before us. He has. We have 2000 years of Christian witness to encourage our lives. We've got Christian heroes to point to. They didn't. We do. We have the recorded scriptures in abundance to guide us and sustain us. We have it. We belong to strong churches that support us and train us for service. And every generation inherits better things to build and keep their faith in Christ.
My purpose, therefore, is to be faithful, because without faith it will be impossible to please God or take advantage of all the blessings that God has provided for me. Our purpose in our generation is to become heroes of the faith that future generations can look to for examples of courage and perseverance. This will be a blessing to them, pleasing to the Lord and a guarantee of our place in the Faith Hall of Fame.
So you ask yourself, Why am I going through this? And this doesn't make any sense in my lifetime and why should it be this way? And it's not fair, and so on and so forth. Remember, sometimes you're not serving yourself, sometimes you're not serving even this generation. Sometimes what you do and what your life is all about will only serve someone that you do not see yet and who does not see you yet. But that God sees both. And both will serve each other in faith.