Search BIBLE IN SONG
Hear the Bible COME ALIVE IN SONG!
Search BIBLE IN SONG
By Brian Pepper
Today we are living in an age that could be rightly called the faithless age. Satan has been outstandingly successful in undermining confidence in God and in the Bible. He has overthrown the principles of righteousness and almost everything that stands for that which is right. Jesus looking into the future from His day prophesied that in the last days things would be bad, especially as far as faith in God was concerned.
Luke 18:8 (latter half) says, “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth." In other words lack of faith will be a characteristic of the last days.
Bible Definition of Faith The Evidence of things not seen
Bible Definition of FaithIn this materialistic age there is so little evidence of faith. We have almost forgotten what faith really is. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Now isn’t that a wonderful description of faith. I doubt that you will find a better one anywhere else in the Bible. It says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for." St Paul defines faith in Hebrews chapter 11 and writes about those who have attained to righteousness by faith. This chapter has been called the righteousness by faith chapter, and St Paul gives a wonderful description of faith and of those who lived by faith.
The Evidence of things not seen"The evidence of things not seen." It is very easy to believe in the things that we can see. There is an old saying “seeing is believing". It is easy to believe in what you see. But it is much harder to believe in the unseen and what are some of these unseen things?
There is a very good example in 2 Kings 6:17. "And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray Thee open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw and, behold, the mountains was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." When the LORD opened the young man's eyes he was able to see the unseen. There are many such instances in the Scriptures.
Creation as basis for BeliefNow I want you to notice Hebrews 11:6. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Belief in God is fundamental and St Paul uses a very sound argument for the existence of God; he points to creation as the basis of this belief.
Hebrews 11:3 says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." The evidence of God’s existence is clearly seen in his handywork; from the distant stars that twinkle in the sky to the dainty flowers in the garden. Could you imagine it? Creation without intelligence; order without arrangement? Of course it did not just happen. As the scientists have probed into the mysteries of the universe the mechanism has proved far more complex than was ever imagined.
God is a RewarderEven here on earth many of us have experienced some of the rewards That God has in our lifetime bestowed on us. But that is not the reward that St Paul is speaking of. It is the reward that we read of later on in this chapter. Hebrews 11:10 says, "For he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.”
Abel - Hero of FaithAnd now I want you to notice Hebrews 11:4, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts and by it he being dead yet speaketh." It is rather interesting that Paul in selecting the great men of faith began with Abel and he ends with Jesus.
Abel called RighteousThere are several things we notice about Abel. I would say the most important is the fact that he is called righteous. He is one of the first of God’s men to obtain righteousness by faith. The text makes it clear that he did not attain to righteousness by any personal merits. It was purely and simply through complete and wholehearted faith in God. It says that Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice. The Holy Scriptures makes it very clear that righteousness by faith does not come by works. But you will notice that they are so closely associated as to be inseparable. “…a more excellent sacrifice." As I thought on those words I must confess that I felt a little uneasy. Could God say this about me? It certainly made me reflect on what I had done or had failed to do for the LORD.
Now I am quite aware of the fact that Abel’s "more excellent sacrifice” was in the nature of that offering. It meant something for it pointed to the “Lamb slain from the foundation of this world.” Abel did not depend on his own merits. He looked forward to the Cross of Calvary. I only wish that we were told more of Abel. I am sure it would be a thrilling story. There is one thing certain; as long as time lasts his sacrifice will speak to us telling of his faith and loyalty to God.
Enoch - Hero of FaithNow turn to Hebrews 11:5. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God." Now isn’t that a wonderful statement? Enoch pleased God so much that He took him home. Enoch never saw death is still living today; the only man to be so honoured in the age of Adam and the Patriarchs.
Please turn to Genesis 5:24. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not: for God took him."
It is very interesting to read this chapter through for it is a chapter of death. It would have been better for the human race if this chapter had never been written. Eight times the words “and he died” is used. This would be a terrible chapter without verse 24. For out of the death chapter there steps one of the most remarkable men of all time; A man who did not die because he was too good to die. A man who pleased God in an age of men who defied him.
Enoch Walked with GodEnoch walked with God. To walk with God means to keep in step with Him. There was perfect agreement between them. He was a man who spent a lot of time in prayer. He was like Noah; a preacher of righteousness; a fearless reprove of sin; preaching against the wickedness and moral depravity of his day.
The godly character of this prophet must be ours; we who are soon to be redeemed from this earth. For as Enoch was translated, so this will be the experience of those of us who will be alive at Christ’s return.
Noah - Hero of FaithNow we move on to another of the wonderful men of God; one who attained to the highest order that God can bestow upon mortal men and women. Righteousness by faith. Hebrews 11:7. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the of the righteousness which is by faith."
Noah stands out as one of the most remarkable personalities of the Bible. Here was a man of great faith, and whose works testified of that faith. Righteousness by faith. You just cannot get away from it. It is faith backed by works. St Peter calls him "… a preacher of righteousness”, and at the same time one of the greatest boat builders of all time. Building that boat was just as much an act of faith as preaching about the coming flood. Noah put all that he possessed into the Ark; all his savings; every cent that he had.
Noah was a Just and Perfect ManIn Genesis 6:9 it says, " These are the generation of Noah: Noah was a lust man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." It is said of Noah that he was a just man; he was perfect in his generations and he walked with God. This is the commendation of heaven. Great honour is placed upon this man. God knew His man, He knew that Noah was well qualified for leadership; that he would not be easily discouraged. Noah was given one of the most difficult tasks that has ever been given to man.
Genesis 6:5. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Noah was commissioned to carry out the very difficult task of trying to warn folk who refused to be warned.
Parallel between Noah's Day and Our DayThere is a very close parallel between Noah’s day and our day; for it says in Luke 17:26, 27. "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of God.” Back in Noah’s day neither the marriage relationship nor the rights of property were respected. Violence filled the whole earth. Men’s thoughts were continually evil. I doubt that any one of us can fully imagine just how bad things were.
Great Faith of NoahBut Noah, that faithful man of God, was able to see the things “not seen as yet”. He was like Abel. His spiritual perception penetrated the mists of the present and looked beyond. There was no evidence of the things God was telling him about. No one had seen rain. No one had seen anything that even suggested the tremendous forces of nature that would soon be let loose and cause the ruin of the face of the earth.
For 120 years Noah preached that warning message. Multitudes of people came from every direction to see this immense boat being built on dry ground. Furthermore many listened to the preaching of Noah and were convicted that it was the truth. But because of ridicule they rejected the warning message. 2 Peter 2:5 says, "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eight person, as preacher of righteousness bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” All were swept away. That is with the exception of Noah and his family. Noah stood firm because he had faith; not a blind hopeful faith, but a faith that was prepared to work with God as well as to walk with God. Noah did not go unrewarded for he was given heaven’s greatest honour to mortal men: righteousness by faith.
Abraham - Hero of FaithAnd now we come to the one who has been called the father of the faithful. Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for as inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
Abraham stands out in human history as one of the greatest personalities who has ever lived. He is honoured and revered by Mohammedanism, Judaism and by Christianity. Someone has taken the trouble to go through the Koran and has found that Abraham is mentioned no less than 188 times.
Friend of GodJames 2:23 says, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and was called the friend of God.” The Friend of God. No other man has been honoured in such a way. Of Moses it is said that he talked with God as a friend. But the divine testimony regarding Abraham says he was the Friend of God. You will notice that St Paul devotes more time to Abraham than any other great men though they may have been, but even then it is a condensed story.
Abraham Obeyed and Left AllI think the greatness of Abraham is summed up quite simply in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith, Abraham, when he was called obeyed." The call was given to Abraham to leave his close relatives, his friends, his own home; everything that was dear to him and to set out on the unknown. Few of us realize what this call meant to Abraham. Archaeological discoveries have revealed that Ur of the Chaldees had a very high order of civilization. He was asked to leave the highly civilized world in which he lived to live the life of a nomad, a dweller in tents.
Genesis 12:4 says, "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abraham was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran." He did not know where he was going but he did know that God had a plan and purpose for him and that was enough.
Hebrews 11:9 says, "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." He had the real missionary spirit. He left the comforts of the two story mansion with every modern convenience to live in draughty old tents. For almost 100 years he was a wanderer and when he was finally laid to rest all that he possessed was a cave Machpelah the burying place of Sarah.
Abraham Looked for a CityHebrews 11:10 says, "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Abraham realized that one day the cities of this world would crumble and fade away. He set his eyes on the Eternal City, the City of God; the home of God’s redeemed people.
Asked to Offer Up IsaacHebrews 11:17 says, “By faith, Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promise, offered up his only begotten son." Abraham had waited very patiently for Isaac. The promised child Isaac was no ordinary child; he was a miracle child born to very aged parents, a special gift from God. Abraham and Sarah had seen him grow up they had grown to love him very dearly, and now God was asking them to offer him up as a sacrifice.
Abraham must have thought to himself "this is not the right thing for God to ask. He knows how much Sarah and I love him and how we depend on him in our old age." It was a fearful thing that God was asking of him to slay his own son. Abraham was well aware that the commandment said “Thou shalt not kill”. He also remembered that God had promised that his seed should be as innumerable as the stars. If this promise was to be fulfilled through Isaac then how could it come about? He dare not tell Sarah for Isaac was her pride and joy, it would break her heart.
Abraham Severely TestedNotice these words in Hebrews 11:17 (first half), "By faith, Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…” When he was tried. I doubt that any man has been tried to the extent that Abraham was tried. We will never know the mental anguish that Abraham must have suffered. Abraham did not offer up Isaac blindly. He knew what he was doing even though it tore his heart out. After all faith is not just blind belief. Faith works by reason. Abraham had clung to the comforting thought that though God demanded the death of his son, that He was well able to raise him up again.
By faith Abraham offered up his only son. No greater sacrifice could he make than this. Abraham was tested to the very limit of what could be expected of the faith of a human being. So it is no wonder that he has been honoured above all others in being called the friend of God.
Very clearly it is faith and obedience or righteousness by faith. We need to remember that Abraham was human. He was no different to any of us living today. He had the same feelings; the same deep family attachments; but he did not allow his personal desires to stand between him and the carrying out of God’s wishes.
Why was Abraham Put to Such a Test?I used to wonder, why did God put Abraham to such a test; for nothing could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his only son. In the offering of Isaac God gave Abraham a picture of what it would mean to Him in offering of His only Son. It had been difficult for the angels in heaven to understand how that Jesus Christ, the One they loved and served would carry out the plan of Salvation. Intensely they watched the working out of Abraham’s great test.
God will Provide a LambWhen Isaac asked the question "…where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God will provide Himself a lamb.” As they saw Abraham’s hand stayed as he was about to slay his son, and they saw the ram which God bad provided in place of Isaac, then they understood a little more clearly the wonderful provision that God had made for man’s salvation.
When the time came for God to give up His own Son to a death of agony and shame the angels who witnessed the scene were not allowed to interpose. They were restrained from rescuing the Saviour. There was no cry of “it is enough”. In order to save the fallen race the King of Glory yielded up His life. The Lamb of God died on Calvary for you and for me.
The question that faces every individual is have we accepted the Lamb? Did the Lamb of God die on that cruel cross in vain? He did if we do not accept Him as our personal Saviour. If we have not done this, do not delay any longer. Accept Him right now.