Real Faith that "Pleases God"

February 9, 2008 Hebrews 12:1

 

Introduction: Did you have the chance to watch the Super-bowl last Sunday. What a great game and terrific finish - what great anticipation leading up to the game.

INPUT: Suppose you were in Phoenix last week and had the opportunity to interview Eli Manning or any of the NY Giants before the big event. What do you suppose would have been their answer to this question, “What is your goal today - What is your “aim”

Did you know that the bible compares living life to that of a sporting event – to a race?

In Hebrews 12:1 the writer says,

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

INPUT: What is the goal or aim of Christian living?  What should we be “aiming” for each day we live life? What should have the greatest influence on our priorities, on what we do and what we don’t do? What is it that should be top of mind when we interact with people and interpret the circumstances that God brings into our lives? What should be our goal in all of this?

ANSWER: To be pleasing to God. - Look at what Paul’s said in II Cor 5:9-10

Therefore we make it our aim,whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

We hear a lot about that around here. But is that true for you? Do you want to be pleasing to God? Did you know that the Bible says that it is impossible to please Him if we don’t have this one all important item.  (1st point in the outline).

I.  What must I have in order to please Him? Look at Hebrews 11:6

But 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 diligently seek Him.

God says that without faith it is impossible to please Him. That is a huge warning sign as we run this marathon of life. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”.

If pleasing God is impossible without having faith then we need to ask ourselves a few more questions before we leave this morning.

  • What is faith?
  • Where does faith come from?
  • Faith in what?
  • What pleases God?

II. What is Faith?

  1. Believe
  2. The answer may seem obvious – but we live in a Christian culture (not unlike James) that has dummied down faith to only mean “believe”. Many churches today teach that you simply have to “believe” that Jesus was the son of God, and that He died and rose on the 3rd day proves you have real bible faith. James dealt with that same thinking in James 2.
  3. What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your] works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

There is sarcasm in James response. His point is that faith is way bigger then just “believe”. Think about it – the demons believe in Christ.  They know He is the Son of God. They believe in the resurrection. Yet their faith is a “demon faith” not real faith. So what are we saying? We’re saying that “faith alone saves but that the faith that saves is never alone”. (I think John MacArthur said that). Only agreeing with a bunch of historical facts is not real faith. If an individuals faith is nothing more then an agreement with a bunch of historical facts then perhaps they are possessing only “demon faith”.

Please understand, “believe” is important. Real faith is birthed out of “believe” but it always is accompanied by a number of companions.

So what are the other elements included in real faith – in biblical faith?

  1. TRUST, HOPE, DEPEND, RELIANCE, & OBEDIENCE

The scriptures reveal that biblical faith includes BELIEVE but also, TRUST, HOPE, DEPENDENCE, RELIANCE, & OBEDIENCE/ACTION. The scriptures are packed full of examples and pictures of real faith. Hebrews 11 provides a quick one-stop shop of examples. While we won’t have time to explore each one individually – please note that each example in Hebrews 11:1-40 includes all of these elements (Believe, trust, hope, depend, rely & obey).

MAIN POINT: Biblical faith - real faith is much bigger then just “believe”. The “works” that James talks about in chapter 2 and that we read about in Galatians 5, and that we see demonstrated in Hebrews 11 is the “substance & evidence” (NKJV & KJV) of Hebrews 11:1 and what we refer to as “FRUIT”.

Now that we have a better idea of what faith is let’s move to our next question……

III. Where Does Faith Come From?

Where have God’s people always received their faith from? Where did the examples in Hebrews 11 receive their faith from?

  1. Faith comes from God and His word. It has always been that way and always will be. Consider Romans 10:17.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Think about it – real biblical faith (believe, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience) comes from God and His word. That was true for Adam, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, the prophets and all of the “sons of God” from the beginning of time. It is also true today…..it is a gift …..Ephesians 2:8-9 say’s it this way….

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

MAIN POINT: If we are to be GROWING in our faith (believe, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience) we need to be in constant contact (hearing, reading and memorizing) with God and His word. Should we think it odd when our faith (trusting, hoping, depending, relying, & obeying) is weak? Is it any wonder when we have allowed the distractions of life to interfere with this priority? ……..Without faith it is impossible to please God!!

TRANSITION: We have looked at the elements of faith, considered the source of faith but what (or who) should our faith be in.

IV. Faith (believe, trust, hope, depend, rely and obey) in what?

What is it that our belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience should be in?

INPUT: What are some things that people put their belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance in…?

            …for eternal life?

            …for joy and happiness

            …for answers and help with problems?

It is interesting that as we go back and examine the individuals in Hebrews 11 that faith has always been in GOD and HIS WORD.

In the garden it was faith in the “spoken word”. As the redemptive storyline of scripture continues to unfold we see that it is also in the “written word” of God. As we arrive to the NT we are introduced to the “INCARNATE WORD” –JESUS CHRIST. Look at John 1:1-2, 14.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

It has ALWAYS been about faith in God and His word. That has not changed in 6000 years…it has not changed from the garden….what was true for Adam, Moses, Abraham David and the prophets is true for us today and that is that our belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience needs to be in God and His Word.

MAIN POINT: Faith has always been about belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience in God and His word. Look at Hebrews 11 or James 2 or Romans 4 – you can’t get away from that reality. The great news is that we have a greater insight into that reality. We have a greater understanding of that reality then any of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 – Is that cool or what? We have the ultimate revelation of God and His word in the revelation and person of Jesus!!

TRANSITION: We know that real faith is belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience in God and His word and that faith comes from God and His word so we end this morning back where we began and that leads us to our final question…..

V. What do I need to do to please God?

The scriptures are packed full of what pleases God. We could say that belief, trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience in Him and His word would be pleasing - and we would be correct. This is an important question to ask and answer because real faith always results in ACTION. You can’t escape the reality (Go back to Hebrews 11) that action is always tied to obedience.

To find our answer we need to return to the INCARNATE WORD of John 1 for our answer. The answer is found in Jesus Christ. The answer is to become imitators (copycats) of the One who gave Himself so that we might live eternally and have an example of how to live and function during our short time on earth. Paul says it this way in I Cor. 11:1….

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

Consider what God’s heart is towards His Son…..

Matthew 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 12:18 “ Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Mark 1:11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

II Peter 1:17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

MAIN POINT: Here is the point. If we are going to be pleasing to God – then we must be committed to being imitators / copycats of our Savior. That is an act of faith – That is what “putting off” and “putting on” is all about. It is what Luke 9:23 is all about

Luke 9:23 - Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

It is what the Christian life is all about. It is about being imitators of Christ. It’s not about changing out bad external behaviors with good biblical behaviors. It is about becoming like our Savior.

It is about His priorities becoming our priorities and His agenda becoming our agenda. It’s about being “redemptive” in our relationships because He is all about being redemptive. It is all about Christ and His righteousness and His example and His obedience. Because it is only in and through Christ that God is pleased.

So let’s connect the dots.

REVIEW FINAL CHART / TRIANGLE

If our goal or aim in life is to be pleasing to God (top of triangle) then we must have faith (bottom left of triangle) because without faith it is impossible to please God. Real faith is way more then just believe, it is birthed out of believe but is accompanied by trust, hope, dependence, reliance and obedience. Real faith is a gift that comes from God and His word and is grown by exposure and obedience (ACTION) to the Word (bottom right of triangle). Real faith has always been about believing, trusting, hoping, depending, relying and obeying God and His word – not in anything or anyone else. We must become imitators of Christ if we are to have hope in pleasing God (right side of triangle) because it is only in Christ that God is pleased.

Let’s conclude by asking 3 questions…

  1. Who or what are you (or people you know) believing, trusting, hoping, depending and relying on for salvation from God’s wrath from your sin? Are you trusting in a prayer you prayed, or a date you prayed it? Are you trusting in something you have done or are going to do?
  1. Who or what are you (or people you know) believing, trusting, hoping, depending and relying on for lasting joy and happiness in this life?
  1. Who or what are you (or people you know) believing, trusting, hoping, depending and relying on for answers and help with life’s problems?