Jesus Is Worthy of Your Faith

Steve Viars March 14, 2009 Hebrews 11:1-40

- let’s begin this morning with a fill in the blank question that will be the easiest test you have all week…

- fill in the blank – the proof is in the __________ (pudding)…

- in other words, don’t talk about doing something, do it…

- let’s not discuss the recipe, let’s sample the product…

- now let me ask you this – are there ways in which that is true in biblical Christianity?...

- at some point, is it not something that we just talk about, but something that we do?...

- of course…that premise is fairly easy to prove…

- James 1:22, 25 - But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves…But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

- in the very next chapter James will say…James 2:14-17 - What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

- so there is no question that in that sense, the proof is in the pudding – if a person says he/she is a Christian…there ought to be evidence…there ought to be fruit…you ought to be able to tell…

- however, there are at least two potential problems with that position unless it is not carefully clarified…

- for one thing, we’re certainly not suggesting that the “pudding” is what saves a person, or is the means to having a personal relationship with God…

- sometimes people make that mistake…of believing they work their way to God by their own effort…or they have to clean up their life by themselves first and then they come to Him…

- so it’s like – try to make some pudding by yourself and then bring it to God and see if He’ll be pleased…

- that’s not the way it is -- Christianity begins by coming to God with open hands…

- admitting that in and of yourself, your sin has separated you from a holy God…

- and there is no pudding you could make on your own that would solve that problem…

- therefore you come to God first in repentance, admitting your need of forgiveness and grace…and they you trust/believe/exercise faith in what Christ did on the cross as your only hope of being reconciled to God…

- that’s what it means to be born again, that’s what it means to be saved, or redeemed…or to begin a personal relationship with God through the shed blood of His Son…

- so what does that then have to do with pudding…with proof…with works?...

- the answer is – one of the ways you demonstrate the genuineness of your faith in Christ is by a lifestyle of works of faith…not in order to earn something from God but to prove that you have genuinely  received forgiveness from God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone…

- and you see that interplay in many places in the Scripture…

- one of them is Ephesians 2:8-10 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

- the sequence there is clear – one’s relationship with God begins by faith, and if that has truly occurred, there will be evidence, fruit, good works…

- so in that sense we can say, yes, the proof is in the pudding…

- and for a person who has no evidence, no works, no pudding…they have every reason to question whether they truly know Christ…would we all agree with that?...

- now, here’s the other complicating factor…it’s possible for a person to be doing all sorts of things supposedly for God…they would appear to have a lot of pudding…

- but they don’t really have a relationship with Him…

- didn’t Jesus specifically discuss that very issue?...sure He did…

- Matthew 7:21-22 - Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?

- so how does that affect our answer to the original question?

-  not all pudding is the real thing…

- it is possible to do works that are good for reasons that are bad…

‑ that means it is extremely important to get the sequence right…

- to help us do that, please turn in your Bible to Hebrews chapter 11…this is one of the best known chapters of the book, often called the “faith hall of fame” or “the heroes of faith…”

- it is important to think about how this chapter fits into the overall argument of the book…

- this was written to a group of Jewish persons who had formed a small church less than 40 years after Jesus had been resurrected from the dead…

- some of these persons had trusted Christ as Savior and Lord, but the newness is wearing off and they are starting to think back to the Jewish temple…where in many cases their extended families still were, and where things were more familiar, and because of the increasing persecution of the church…back in the temple things were more comfortable and safe…

- then there were those who had never truly trusted Christ but enjoyed the social relationships in the group – so they were part of the church physically but not spiritually…

- you could view this group like this…let’s say that the throne of God is right in the center of a big room…a throne that had been described earlier in this book as “the throne of grace…”

- and seated right next to the Heavenly Father was the crucified/risen Lord Jesus Christ…

- the great High Priest who made one offering for our sin, by dying Himself on the cross in our place, and then because the price was completely paid forever, He was able to sit down at the Father’s right hand and intercede on our behalf…

- inside the room is a group of people who have just barely crossed the threshold…the idea of having direct and personal access to the very throne of God was somewhat foreign to them…it was a new covenant…

- then there were even some people outside the door…they hadn’t even crossed the threshold yet…

- the first group was those who had trusted Christ but had not advanced very far in their relationship with Him…

- and the second group was those who had still not yet become Christians…they hadn’t even crossed the threshold yet…

- in both cases, what they really needed was a greater understanding of the superiority of Christ…

- we all have ideas and people and philosophies and ways of thinking about things that we have deemed to be superior – worthy of our trust and our allegiance…that’s where we find our joy…that’s where we place our hope…

- and the argument of this book is – Jesus Christ deserves that position…He’s better than the prophets, and He’s better than the angels, and He’s better than the OT sacrificial system, He’s better than Moses, and He’s better thanthe Levitical priests in the temple…

- that’s why we’ve titled this series…Finding Hope in Our Sufficient Savior.

- and the message to them, and the message to us…was encapsulated in the three commands found in the middle of chapter 10…

1. Hebrews 10:22 - let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…

- in other words, come closer to the throne…get in here…

- if you’ve not yet trusted Christ, what more evidence would you need to be convinced that He is a worthy Savior, redeemer, and King?

- and if you trusted Him, don’t just barely enter the room…get in here…come closer to the throne…

- and the promise of Scripture is that James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

2. Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…

- we shouldn’t find our ultimate hope in the approval of friends or family…or in what appears to be safe or culturally acceptable…

3. Hebrews 10:24 - and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

- see, if you really concluded that Jesus is superior…draw near, hold fast, and consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…

- that’s the beauty of the new covenant…no more of this standing in the outer court having to let someone else approach God on your behalf…

- now you can draw near…and find Him to be the real thing…and in so doing, let him change you into becoming the real thing…

- and when that is happening – the proof will be in the pudding…

- or a more biblical way to say that is – the evidence is that you will continue to walk by faith…

- to find out what that means and what that looks like…we need to read chapter 11…

- read Hebrews 11:1-40…

- this morning we’re talking about how Jesus is Worthy of Your Faith…and please don’t let this proposition scare you – but with the time we have left, let’s think about Nine principles to help you live by faith.

I. Faith Requires an Accurate Definition.

- Verse 1 is critical to what we’re talking about this morning…

- Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

- Assurance – hupostasis – already used twice in Hebrews

- 1:3 – being, exact representation (used objectively – what it is)

- 3:14 – confidence (used subjectively – how it affects)

- The term refers to the essence, the real content, the reality, as opposed to mere appearance. Faith, then, provides the firm ground on which we stand, waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Far from being nebulous and uncertain, faith is the most solid possible conviction. Faith is the present essence of a future reality. – John MacArthur – Commentary on Hebrews

- Kent Hughes translated this verse like this– Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

- and that’s the core issue here – biblical faith always possesses a level of certitude in what God has promised…

- now let’s add this…

II. Faith Must Have a Proper Basis.

- please notice that verse 3 raises the issues of how God created the world…because…

A. People who walk in faith are convinced about the power of God’s Word.

- Hebrews 11:3 - …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.
 

B. Our faith is always connected to what God has objectively revealed in Scripture.

- Romans 10:17 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

- a couple of people sent me a message this week from a certain Christian writer who is predicting an imminent, earth shattering calamity centered in New York City that will spread to major urban areas across the country and around the world – part of what he sees as a judgment from God.

- I appreciate it when folks send me illustrations like that because it helps me know what people are saying and thinking and talking about…

- but this man says the Holy Spirit has revealed this to him and that he is duty bound to send out the warning…

- the reason we would not buy into that is because it is not specifically taught in the word of God…

- so if you tie these two ideas together…faith has a level of certitude to it…living as if what God’s Word says will certainly come to pass, but it is always based specifically and exclusively in Scripture…

- now, let’s just push the pause button on that and think about what all of this looks like in real time…

- let’s say that a person took us up on the implication of Hebrews 10 that we studied last week…the blessing and importance of drawing near unto God…

- so he’s trusted Christ and Savior and Lord but he didn’t want to be just over the threshold…

- so his prayer life was more intimate…and his study of Scripture was more authentic…

- and God kept His promise…as this person drew near unto God, God drew near unto him…

- and this week, perhaps more than ever before, this person was convinced that Jesus Christ really is superior…and is a wonderful source of joy and hope…

- then a temptation came to be involved in some sort of sexual sin…

- perhaps it regarded internet pornography – which was screaming that the pleasure involved in that sin is a superior source of joy…

- or perhaps it related to sexual activity with another person – a temptation screaming that the thrill and excitement and acceptance that would come from that was the best choice to make…

- but because this person had drawn near to God…it wasn’t only that he was more convinced that Jesus was the real thing…but he was also allowing Christ to make him the real thing…

- so he quickly asked – what does God’s Word say about sexual sin and how can I allow my obedience to that draw me closer to God instead of driving me away from the throne?...

- and perhaps he thinks of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

- and because he has deemed Jesus Christ to be superior, he walks away from that sinful temptation and chooses to obey God and His Word…

- every person here was tempted to sin in some way, shape, or form in this past week…

- and if you responded the way we just described because you are more convinced than ever about the superiority of Christ…then, welcome to the faith hall of fame…

- welcome to the pudding factory…

- that’s what just happened…you chose to walk by faith…as if what God has revealed in His Word carries a level of certainty in your heart and life…

- and by the way, it is highly likely, that it will actually be a bit easier for you to do right next time because you have allowed this particular sequence to draw you that much closer to the throne of God’s sufficient grace…

- now, let’s get back to the text…

III. Faith is the Central Component of Pleasing God.

- verse 6 is another critical verse in this passage…

- Hebrews 11:6 - 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.

- now, where does that start?...this is what we alluded to in the introduction…it begins with..

A. Saving Faith

- if you allow your eyes to glance back to the end of chapter 10 for a moment, that was the point there…Hebrews 10:38 – But my righteous one shall live by faith…

- [that’s a quote from the OT book of…Habakkuk…]

- and that’s what it means to cross over the threshold…to even come into the room by trusting Christ as savior and Lord…

- several people also this week forwarded me a copy of a survey that showed that the number of people is our country who say they are Christians is declining and the number of those who claim to have no religious affiliation is rising…

- that was an interesting study for a number of reasons but when you scratch around on the statistics you learn that the churches that are declining most rapidly are those which are theologically liberal…that’s not an attempt to be needlessly critical, it is just a statement of what those statistics revealed…

- and think about the reason for that…

- many churches have decided that the gospel is too offensive to the sensibilities of the modern man…and so the gospel has been replaced by social efforts alone or at least ignoring aspects of biblical truth that men and women in this day and age don’t like…
 

- so all of a sudden we’re not supposed to talk about the inspiration of the Bible, or the virgin birth of Christ, or the miracles of Christ, or the blood and substitutionary death of Christ, or the resurrection of Christ, or His second coming…

- and the notion was that if you avoided those topics, more people would come to church because they would have less to disagree with…

- what that notion failed to recognize is that that approach simply populated people who were in many cases unbelievers…we saw earlier that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…

- and over time, having a church populated by believe who have never been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb is a recipe for disaster…

- people cannot walk by faith as a way of Life is they have never trusted Christ as a way of salvation…

- one of my concerns with the significant number of people attending here right now is that everyone carefully consider whether you have had a definite time in your life where you have repented and believed…

- all of this starts with saving faith…

- and someone might say – well, I am going o try to please God without that…

- what does verse 6 say – that is impossible…

- that is why the writer of Proverbs would say that…Proverbs 21:4 - …the plowing of the wicked,is sin.

- then there is…

B. Living faith.

- that is what this whole chapter is about…

- show me someone who is really convinced about the superiority of Christ…

- show me someone who is truly drawing near to God…and I’ll show you someone who is please God by the way they walk regularly by faith…the proof is in their pudding…

- now, that leads to an obvious question, doesn’t it?...

- is there evidence in your life that you are walking by faith?...

- are there choices you make that can only be explained by the fact that you function as if what God’s Word says has already come to pass…

- by the way, there’s also…

C. Dying faith.

- 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 - …Death is swallowed up in victory.O death, whereis thy sting? O grave, whereis thy victory?The sting of deathis sin; and the strength of sinis the law.But thanksbe to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- and when and women are even able to face what the world views as the king of terrors, for themselves and those they love, with faith…this passage says that kind of faith pleases God…

- are you walking by faith?...

- now, what can we learn from some of these illustrations that are given in the text of real life heroes of faith?...

IV. Faith Demonstrates a Reverence for God.

A. Consider Noah

- Hebrews 11:7 - By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark…

B. This is the beginning of wisdom for God’s people.

- Proverbs 1:7 - the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

- could there be any Hebrews 11:7 statements made about you?...”Bt faith, ________, because God’s Word said ________, in reverence for Him chose to obey…

- if so, you were choosing to be wise…

C. This characteristic can be achieved by people of all ages and backgrounds.

1. Abraham

- Hebrews 11:12 - Therefore 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.

- it is possible for you to walk by faith regardless of your age…

2. Rahab

- Hebrews 11:31 - By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

- what do you think about a God who would include a hooker in His hall of fame?...

- I’m pretty glad for that, how about you?...

V. Faith Can Have a Tremendous Impact on Your Family.

A. Consider Noah, again.

- Hebrews 11:7 - By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…

- that’s one of the beauties of this concept – not only is walking by faith pleasing to God and a benefit to you…it can be a great blessing to your family…

B. Moses’ parents.

- Hebrews 11:23 - By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents…

- is it any surprise that the next verses talks about the faith of….

C. Moses.

Hebrews 11:24-26 - By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

- see parents, what do your kids need from you the most?...

- more material stuff?...being shuttled around to another activity?...all the latest designer clothes?...

- no, they need to see a mom and a dad walking by faith….

VI. Faith Can Have a Tremendous Impact on Our Community.

A. Consider Noah, one more time.

- Hebrews 11:7 - 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…

- not so much condemned in a negative way – we certainly don’t have any biblical evidence that that was the case…

- the point is – living in such a way that those around you are caused to conclude…maybe I should live that way too…

B. Be ready with an answer.

- 1 Peter 3:15 - but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

VII. Faith is Focused on Our Future Home.

A. Abraham

Hebrews 11:10 - for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

B. All those who died in faith.

Hebrews 11:16 - But 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.

- [this world is not my home, I’m just a passin through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, an angel beckons me from heaven’s golden shore and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore…]

C. Moses

- Hebrews 11:26 – for he was looking to the reward

VIII. Faith Draws Certain Conclusions about God.

- this kind of lifestyle doesn’t just happen…it’s the result of making certain decisions of the heart…

A. Considers God faithful.

Hebrews 11:11 - By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

B. Considers Him able to do powerful things.

Hebrews 11:19 - He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
 

IX. Faith Can Leave a Lasting Legacy

Hebrews 11:4 - By 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.

- think about the people in this church who walked by faith while they were alive, and their impact continues to be felt today…

- that’s a powerful legacy – “though he is dead, he still speaks...”

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video