Lesson 27: "By Faith Noah. . ." (Hebrews 11:7)
Hebrews chapter 11 continued
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome! Thanks for coming! This is lesson #27. We are working on what is sometimes called the faith chapter of the Bible... Heb. ch. eleven. Please get it tuned-in. We said, v.1 is a definition o*f "faith." Faith has substance to it. Faith is the substance of "things hoped for." Now, if you don't want it and you don't desire it...and you don't hope for it, then it is not faith...whatever it might be, it's not faith. Bible faith must be hoped for! Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). You can't get it by transcendental meditation. You might fill you mind with something...a lot of something... and you might spend your time on it; but, you don't get any faith that way...not Bible faith...that faith that God requires (Heb. 11:6, look at it close!). God does not require just a big mass of something stored up in your brain... however proud you may be of that information, it's not faith, it's not Bible faith, it's not saving faith, unless it comes from God's word.
Back in the 1840's there was a. man in New England named Ralph Waldo Emerson, a very learned man, that had gone to Harvard. He came from a long line of so-called clergy. Emerson ultimately had much influence upon the American mind through what he termed "transcendentalism." That big word means to think beyond the ordinary... transcending ordinary thought. In my encyclopedia, it says (and I quote): "In the so-called 'Divinity School Address1 (1838), Emerson attacked 'historical Christianity.' He favored a new religion founded in nature and fulfilled by direct, mystical intuition of God, and opposed formal Christianity's emphasis on ritual" (unquote). Emerson's first book was entitled Nature and it would seem Emerson believed one can just think their way to heaven... more or less. And, like I said, this garbage has been spewing out of our colleges ever since. Emerson's philosophy is pure humanism. Humanism is atheism...it teaches man is the highest being in the universe. It teaches man is his own God. This philosophy (call it a religion if you like), this philosophy is taking America down that broad road that Jesus described (in Matt. 7:13), that leads to [Jesus said]: "destruction." The humanist poke fun at Bible faith. But, Bible faith has substance and Bible faith comes through evidence. Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures" (John 5:39) and Jesus went on to say in that verse, the Scriptures "testify of me." Jesus said as he spoke to the Heavenly Father: "thy word is truth" (John 17:17). That same verse infers we can be "sanctified" (i.e. set a part, separated, or made holy by truth). Jesus said, it is truth that will make us free (John 8:32). Truth means, that's the way it is...truth is reality. The Bible reveals the way it is. Transcendental meditation is fantasy. That's not the way it is...it is not reality. There is a God of heaven. We are not our own god. You cannot merely think your way to happy supernal bliss. God made the world and God made man. God gave us (by the Scriptures) all we need to know (II-Tim. 3:16-17) with reference to good works, i.e. spiritual things. "The way of man is not in himself" (Jer. 10:23).
God requires "faith"...Bible faith (Heb. 11:6). Our writer illustrates this with Cain and Abel (v.4). Cain knew what God required...Abel knew what God required...a blood sacrifice (Gen. 4:7). This had been communicated to both of them someway... they did not learn this by inner mental meditation on their own. Thus, the substance of what God expected resided within them. They had evidence as to God's expectation. Thus, they both understood by faith. Abel desired to please God (Heb. 11:6); where as, Cain chose to defy God. Thus, as James pointed out: true faith, Bible faith, requires action(s), appropriate actions, NOT just having a heap of information up in your noodle that pleases you...right or wrong...it doesn't work that way. As we have said, Bible faith is based on truth. Bible faith shields us, protects us, helps us to understand where we are, why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going on our spiritual journey. That understanding (if the appropriate action is applied...now), keeps us on the right course. The apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesians, told them to think of faith as the shield of a Roman soldier. Our faith can protect us from the fiery darts of the wicked hurled by our enemies (Eph. 6:16). Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Our writer is suddenly seized by this thought. The just shall live by faith. Within the framework of this thought (when you analyze it) is the thrust of our writer's message to his brethren in and around Jerusalem. Grace is on God's part. Faith is on man's part. Works are nothing more than obedience, i.e. doing our part to make man's part conform to God's requirements. Our Lord is the Master, we are his servants. This metaphor is used over and over in the Bible. If we don't understand it by pure academic definition; then, surely we can understand it by illustration as our writer lays it out in this chapter. We understand through faith (v.3). Abel understood by faith, took the appropriate actions and was thus counted righteous (v.4). His brother, Cain, on the other hand understood by faith also that he was to offer a blood sacrifice; however, he decided to defy God and offer what he wanted instead of what God wanted. Sound familiar? Cain was thus rejected. Now, what's the message to us? Enoch pleased God (end of v.5). What's the message to us? That message is stated in the form of a principle in v.6, "without faith it is impossible to please God." Here's the reason why (middle v.6), "FOR he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." You've got to put something into it. Oh! Yes! But, Bro. Horsley, he a good old boy! He's a little wild and a little belligerent; but, he a good old boy. Cain was a. good old boy! Cain didn't refuse to offer a sacrifice to God. Cain was a tiller of the ground (Gen. 4:2), i.e. he spent his time raising crops. That's commendable! He could have been a bum. In Cain's opinion, he was undoubtedly offering the very best that he produced. Just one problem, he substituted what HE WANTED for what God WANTED. He did not diligently seek God on God's terms. He sought God on his own terms! Have you got it? Thinking of that kind leads to evil. The apostle John in his letter (that we call I-John) said: "this is the message that we heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (I-John 3:11-12). One of the most up-setting and most disturbing thoughts you can give to most people is to even suggest that they are not following God's word. Instead of examining the why, they become belligerent. One woman told me, God wants me to do it my way. Now, think on that one just a minute. Even if what she was doing was right, and the way I am doing it is wrong, her attitude was wrong. The principle here (Heb. 11:6) is that we must diligently seek to please God...not ourselves. There is a GREAT lesson here. If we could just correct this attitude in me, in you, and in everybody; it would change the world. Think about it!
On one occasion I was told by another preacher of a man (I believe it was in the great state of Missouri...the show-me state). This man stated very eloquently what he was taught by his preacher and other spiritual advisors and said this is what he believed. The preacher simply asked the man to open his Bible and read with him a certain passage. The man was very cooperative. He turned to the passage and read very diligently...analyzing every word. When he finished the passage, the preacher simply closed the book and looked the man straight in the eye and said nothing. The man said: you know, they told me wrong! Didn't they? I like that attitude. This man was diligently seeking, he had just been misled. You will find many people in that category ... honest souls...that have been taught wrong. Honest people insist on being convinced; but, they are quick to correct their errors. I love honest hearts. Jesus said, "blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God." Our writer, very knowledgeable of the O.T., selected many examples of honest hearts. The rest of this chapter is simply a catalog of honest hearts, i.e. examples of Bible faith.
Let's read the rest of Heb. ch. 11! Are you ready? Please read with me. Beginning in v.7, we'll read down through v.40, the end of the chapter. Are you ready? "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 righteousness which is by faith. 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. 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. Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises> stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of-weakness was made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turning to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
O.K., I suggest you re-read this on your own at least once more before trying to analyze this section. After having defined "faith," in an academic way, our writer devoted much space to illustrating and demonstrating faith. Perhaps the space devoted to this subject is in itself an indication of the importance our writer deemed this subject worthy of our interest, our concern and our consideration. Our time is short; but, let's work on v.7 for the time we have and pick up with Abraham (v.8) in our next lesson. First off, Noah was warned of God, it says. That is saying there was a revealing of this event in advance, telling Noah what to expect. Now, for Noah to act by faith; there first of all had to be revelation. "Faith [Bible faith] cometh by hearing and by hearing the word of God." Noah did not just have a feeling or some fanatical idea with no evidence. Just how detailed was this revelation to Noah? Well, we know from Gen. ch. 6, that God gave Noah certain details... make an ark of gopher wood. Noah was told to use pitch to calk the ark (Gen. 6:14). Noah was given the size to make it and was told to put a window in it (etc.). Notice, "Noah...moved with fear," i.e. Noah was concerned to try to please God by honoring God's instruction. That fits the principles given (up in v.6). This involved "things not seen as yet" (do you see that?). You see, that's part of the definition of faith. Noah took action, as James says we must have faith (living faith). The action Noah took was "to the saving of his house," i.e. of himself and others. This is another aspect of faith, Bible faith, it will result in our own souls salvation and the salvation of others. It is the process by which we become "heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (end of v.7). Now, what if Noah would have said, God's instructions concerning the size of the boat is just not big enough to get everything in and Noah had tried to build it bigger? What if Noah had said, I don't like to work with gopher wood...I'll use oak, walnut, wild cherry or something else? What if Noah had said, I'll make it of gopher wood; but, I'll trim it in knotty pine. I'll use something better than "pitch" to calk it with, I'm afraid pitch might not hold? If Noah had not followed God's instruction, Noah would not have pleased God...that's part of the principle (up in v.6). Pleasing God is part of faith, don't forget! Can you see how Noah's situation illustrates faith? Bible faith? How does your personal situation illustrate faith? While you are thinking on that, have a good day.