Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 November 27, 2004

Heaven’s Heroes: Abraham                                                                         

Hebrews 11:8-11:10


The subject of today’s lesson is: THE LIFE OF FAITH IS THE ONLY LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD.

What is faith?  


It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. And it is the evidence of things we cannot see, according to Hebrews 11:1.

Abraham OBEYED a GOD he had never seen.

Abraham PATIENTLY WAITED for a CITY he had never seen.

He walked by FAITH, not by SIGHT.

Scripture calls Abraham “the father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:12).

As Abraham’s spiritual descendants, we are expected to walk as he did: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

I have never witnessed the glory of God as Moses did.

 

I have never seen the nail wounds in Jesus’ hands like Thomas did.

 

I have never seen the Spirit descending like a dove as the disciples did.

 

I have never received a vision of heaven like John did.

 

And yet, I live by believing all of these things, by faith.

 

I have banked my earthly life and my earthly destiny on these things which I have never seen.

However, there’s nothing unusual about my faith, since THE PEOPLE OF GOD HAVE ALWAYS LIVED BY FAITH.

 

There are two things I want to say about Abraham’s faith, that’s found in Hebrews 11.

I. BY FAITH ABRAHAM OBEYED THE CALL OF GOD (v. 8).


II. BY FAITH ABRAHAM WAITED PATIENTLY FOR THE PROMISE OF GOD (vv. 9-10).


Verse 8 says, “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.”

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 shew thee.”

The land that God would show Abraham was the land of Canaan: “a place which he would later receive for an inheritance.”

God told Abraham to leave everything and Abraham obeyed.


He obeyed an invisible God’s command to go to an unknown place.

FAITH AND OBEDIENCE CAN NEVER BE SEVERED. OBEDIENCE IS FAITH’S DAUGHTER.


That is to say, obedience grows out of faith.

Others in the Bible received a similar call:

• Matthew—“. . . [Jesus] went forth and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him” (Luke 5:27-28).

• Zacchaeus—“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully” (Luke 19:5-6).

• Saul of Tarsus“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. . . . And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus” (Acts 9:6, 8).

Abraham, Matthew, Zacchaeus, and Saul all had one thing in common: they left their old way of life to embrace a new one with God.

Joshua proclaimed to the children of Israel that before God called Abraham, he “served other gods” (Joshua 24:2).

John MacArthur writes, “When anyone comes to Jesus Christ, God demands of him a pilgrimage from his old pattern of living into a new kind of life, just as Abraham’s faith separated him from paganism and unbelief and started him toward a new land and a new kind of life”

John 10:27—“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Vance Havner once said, “You have not really learned a commandment until you have obeyed it. . . . The church suffers today from Christians who know volumes more than they practice”.

The opposite of obedience is REBELLION.

 

Rebellion is wanting to do what I want to do.

 

This really is the real meaning of sin.

Sin is doing what I want to do even though it offends God, even though it may hurt others, and even though it may hurt myself in the end.

We were all born into this world as rebels.

 

No one has to teach a child how to be selfish.

2 Corinthians 5:17“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Romans 12:2—“Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

God has called His people to be holy.


The root meaning of holiness is separation, being set apart for God.

That’s the message of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

Jesus once said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).

What did Lot’s wife do?


She looked back.

Luke 9:62—“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 1:4—“Our Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world. . . .”

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If I had a brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I . . . daily consorted with the assassin who drove the dagger into my brother’s heart; surely I too must be an accomplice in the crime. Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it?”

1 John 2:15—“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.”

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.”

So, you see, God knew it would be necessary for Abraham to separate himself from his family, therefore He told him to leave home and go to a strange land.


AND BY FAITH ABRAHAM OBEYED THE CALL OF GOD (v. 8).


That’s the first point and the second is--


II. BY FAITH ABRAHAM WAITED PATIENTLY FOR THE PROMISE OF GOD (vv. 9-10).

Verses 9 and 10 tell us; “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: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, but he never actually possessed it.

The only property he owned in Canaan was the burial plot for his wife Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20).

The word “sojourned” means to migrate.

Abraham confessed to the sons of Heth, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you” (Genesis 23:4).

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived in tents.

 

Tents are temporary residences.

Christians are also sojourners like our father Abraham.


King David declared, “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace” (1 Chronicles 29:15, NLT).

The apostle Peter described Christians as “strangers and pilgrims” in the world (1 Peter 2:11).

Abraham was content with living as a sojourner because his eyes were focused on something better.

“. . . he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

The city Abraham patiently waited for was the heavenly city.

Abraham left his tent behind and today dwells in the city of God.

Abraham’s ultimate Promised Land was heaven, just as ours is.

Colossians 3:2—“Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Hebrews 13:14“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

E. M. Bounds said, “Earth is but a pilgrim’s stay, a pilgrim’s journey, a pilgrim’s tent. Heaven is a city, permanent, God-planned, God-built, whose foundations are as stable as God’s throne”

The apostle Paul said, “Our [citizenship] is in heaven. . . .” (Philippians 3:20).

If you are a Christian, you’re real home is in heaven.

Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Hebrews 11:16“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

C. S. Lewis said, “I find in myself a desire for which no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We can only dream of what this other world must be like.

A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father.


Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed: “Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!”

John wrote this about the heavenly city in Revelation 21:1-4:

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
3 and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”


We tend to think of the heavenly city in terms of what won’t be there: no death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain.

But I like how the prophet Ezekiels describes it: “THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezekiel 48:35).

The famous blind hymnist Fanny Crosby attended a mid-week prayer meeting service in 1891 at which Dr. Howard Crosby spoke from the Twenty-third Psalm.


Later that week, Fanny was stunned when Dr. Crosby suddenly died.


Pondering the suddenness of death, she asked herself, “I wonder what my first impression of heaven will be.”


A moment later she answered her own question with sudden insight: “Why, my eyes will be opened and I will see my Savior face to face.”


A few days later, she wrote one of her most famous hymns:

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But oh, the joy when I shall wake
Within the palace of the King!

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace;
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story—Saved by grace.

There is no greater cure for discouragement, fatigue, or self-pity than to think of being in the presence of the Lord one day and of living forever with Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18—“For this cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Two men were dying across town from one another.

One was a very wealthy man who had amassed and enjoyed a fortune.

His Victorian house was lavishly furnished with antiques and expensive paintings

A stylish car sat outside the door, and a boat was on the nearby lake.

The second man had never flourished financially, but he had loved the Lord and worked faithfully in the village church.

The first, as he died, moaned, “I’m leaving home. . . . I’m leaving home.”

The second died with a glow on his face, saying, “I’m going home. I’m going home”

CONCLUSION

Abraham’s faith expressed itself in OBEDIENCE and PATIENCE.

He left everything to follow a God he had never seen.

He waited patiently to enter a city he had never seen.

George Guthrie writes,

How would you and I live today if we believed absolutely that God existed and loved us completely and had a destination for us that made all the world pale by just one square foot of its turf

How would we live if we believed that God cared about our every action and every concern and wished to reward us [generously] for our faith?

How would you and I live in the face of opposition if we believed in God, really believed as if our whole lives depended on him and his?

 You say, “But I do; I do believe absolutely.

I believe with all I am and all I have.”

Then how would you live differently if you did not believe?

Would there be much difference?

This is a critical question.

If all I am and have and do differs little from my unbelieving neighbor, then I have embraced his world and his values and fool myself by saying I am living for another world. . . .”

A. W. Pink—“The more our hearts are attracted to heaven, the less will the poor things of this world appeal to us.”                                            


Amen.

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