Hebrews 11 is considered by many to be the “faith chapter” of the Bible, for in this faith chapter we have multiple examples of people throughout biblical history who, by faith in the Lord, followed our Lord in obedience and made an impact on this world and on people’s lives for the glory of God. So, I am going to share just a few of these examples and I will talk about them briefly. For we have many people these days, at least here in America, claiming that all they have to do is “believe,” as though belief in Jesus Christ requires no action on their part at all. But true faith = obedience.
“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).
Adam and Eve’s first two children were Cain and Abel. Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a cultivator of the ground. In time, Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground. Abel brought an offering, too, only his was from the firstborn of his flock. And the Lord approved Abel’s offering, but he did not approve Cain’s offering, and so Cain was angry. So the Lord spoke to Cain about his anger, but Cain didn’t listen to God, but in his anger he killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because his own deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous.
[see: 1 John 3:11-12; Genesis 4:1-16]
“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, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Now, in chapters 6 thru 9 of Genesis we read the story of Noah who was called of God to build an ark of enormous proportions. For the Lord saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. But Noah was a righteous man who walked with God. So God decided to destroy the earth and the people on the earth, but to save Noah and his family and two of every kind of living creature on the earth. So Noah built the ark as God had directed, and humanity was saved for future generations.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he left, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a stranger in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore even from one man, and one who was as good as dead at that, there were born descendants who were just as the stars of heaven in number, and as the innumerable grains of sand along the seashore” (Hebrews 11:8-12).
Are you noticing a trend here? By faith these people did what was pleasing to God in his sight and/or they obeyed his specific instructions to them. And their obedience was evidence that true faith in God existed within them. But what if they didn’t obey? Noah and his family would have perished along with all the rest of the people on the earth and Abraham would not have been the father of many generations of the people of God, and Jesus Christ would not have come from the seed of Abraham. And all history would have been altered. So do you see the importance of obedience to the Lord?
“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 temporary pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” (Hebrews 11:24-29).
And then look at Moses. Although he was a reluctant servant of the Lord, at first, he obeyed the Lord, and by his obedience many people’s lives were saved. But they weren’t all saved, because many of them, of their own accord, refused to obey the Lord and so they were killed in the wilderness due to their disobedience, and they did not enter into God’s eternal rest because of their unbelief (for disobedience = unbelief). But most of those who believed God and obeyed him entered into the Promised Land, and all who believed and obeyed the Lord entered into God’s eternal rest.
[see: 1 Corinthians 10:1-22; Hebrews 3:1-19; Hebrews 4:1-13]
“And others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:35-38).
When we walk by faith, and we obey our Lord, we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Other people will hate us and will do evil against us because of our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Some of the abuse may be more emotional and/or psychological, while some may be more physical in nature. But if we are truly walking by faith, and not in sin, and if we are obeying our Lord in what he directs us to do, we will be opposed and fought against, even by family members, and even by others professing faith in Jesus Christ, for not everyone has genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
But the important lesson here is to know that faith = obedience. If we do not obey the Lord, we do not have genuine faith in Jesus Christ. For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin and live to his righteousness, then we will have eternal life in him. For not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who obey God the Father.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Hymn lyrics by Anonymous/Unknown
Music by American Melody
“For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you” (2 Co. 13:4 NASB).
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
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