By Diane Caston
This morning we are going to be teaching out of Hebrews 11, but first let’s start in Hebrews 10. As we have progressed through the book of Hebrews we have seen the author leading us step by step away from the law and sacrifice, into the rest, to a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, a tabernacle in the heavens. Now he is going to give us the key to that better way – faith!
Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
The Lord is encouraging us especially today, at this time, and with the events surrounding us that we are not to cast off our confidence. No matter how things turn out, the just live by faith. We are encouraged to not get discouraged or throw in the towel. We need to stand in faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. NKJ
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. NIV
This is the key scripture to this chapter, the key to this whole book. We will be diving into the subject of faith in our studies in the new year. Today I want to talk about the results of people who have lived by faith. Chapter 11 has often been referred to as the Hall of Faith. We see the examples of many who have gone before us and who have been an example to us. We are going to pull from this chapter this morning and do a study on the importance of examples.
The author of Hebrews gives us quite a list of examples in this chapter. From the dawn of creation, the scripture highlights those who, as Peter points out, sought a heavenly city - Abel and Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Moses. All of whom had not seen the promise, yet believed - Joshua, Rahab, Samson, David, Samuel also.
Some had amazing triumphs –
Heb 11:33 -38
who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again-
These would be the kind of heroes of the faith we would all want to be, right?! Heroes with outstanding, and amazingly successful (as we would define it) stories.
But others had what we would consider tragic endings –
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, 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 mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
None of us would strive to be this kind of hero, but these men and women were sustained by their faith in the promise to come.
The Race of Faith Now let us look for a minute at the race of faith.
Hebrews 12:1 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.
We are all in a race. Paul likens it to a race of faith. And this race has witnesses.
· I like to look at these witnesses in two different ways. We have witnesses, like the spectators of a track race. People who watch us and hopefully cheer for us as we race. “You’re doing great! You can make it! Just a little farther!”
· We also have witnesses who are witnessing to us. They have run the race before us and are farther along or have already finished their races. They are like coaches. They show us the way to race, how to train; they are a witness or example to us.
Jesus would obviously be the supreme example for us to follow as we just read, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We keep our eyes on Him!
Heb. 12:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
1 Cor 10:1-6 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
He is our rock and strength and our ultimate example. We desire and strive to be like Him through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Now there are others who are examples to us, those who have encouraged us to reach out in faith and pointed us to Jesus and a richer life in Him.
The old testament examples:
My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
Paul the apostle and the early church leaders
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
There are even negative examples showing us what not to do.
1 Corinthians 10:5-11 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come .
We have stories throughout time of believers who have gone before us. Those who are examples to us of how to walk by faith.
If you know me, you know I love missionary stories. I have quite a collection of books on the missionaries of old. Many of them have been such a rich source for growth in faith for me.
A few of my favorites are:
George Mueller – 1805 – 1898 Born in Germany he came to England to care for the orphans and street children. He cared for 10,024 orphans during his lifetime, and provided educational opportunities for the orphans to the point that he was even accused by some of raising the poor above their natural station in British life. He established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000 children. And if that was not enough for a full life of ministry, at the age of 71 and after the death of his first wife, Müller and second wife Susannah began a 17-year period of world-wide missionary travel:
Wow! Now I would say if we did a 10th of what he did, we would be pleased with ourselves!
Hudson Taylor –1832 – 1905 Inspired by Holiness movement in England, Taylor became a missionary to inland China. Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to visit China in the 19th century. No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.
JO Fraser 1886–1938 one of Hudson Taylor’s recruits, He pioneered work among the Lisu, the Karen and the Kachin people of Southwestern China and Northern Burma, in the early part of the 20th century. His work was so successful that the entire Lisu people today consider themselves Christians.
Amy Carmichael – 1867 – 1951 Also inspired by the Holiness movement she went to India as a young woman to save the girls who were offered to idols in the heathen temples. She rescued these children and raised them all as her own.
We have more modern-day examples:
Jim Elliot 1927 – 1956 who died by the spear of an Auca native in South America to whom he had come to preach the gospel.
Elisabeth Elliot, 1926 – 2015 wife of Jim Elliot who returned to the natives that had killed her husband and lived with them to bring them to Christ.
We also have men and women who have scoured the scriptures and given us precious jewels to consider like A.W.Tozer, and Andrew Murry, and R.A. Torrey, Matthew Henry and Ravi Zacharias.
Women also like Edith Schaffer, Elizabeth Elliot, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth
God has given us mentors in our families and friends, pastors & teachers, who have all been examples to us.
When we lived in Newport Beach in 1972 our younger neighbors invited us to dinner. When we came, they had Christian tracts laying all around their coffee table, and a bible out for us to look at while we were waiting for dinner. They shared the gospel with us and shortly after that we became Christians.
Along the way there were many people who encouraged me in my faith. I remember one friend telling me I should think of teaching, because they thought I would be good at it.
Another friend encouraged me to do pray more publicly because they were blessed when I prayed out.
Small things, but it is often the small things that make a huge impression.
These are our examples and our encouragers, those who challenge us to grow in our faith, to make the scary steps of going deeper with the Lord and seeing what He may call us to do. Encouraging us to step out in that faith and see miracles accomplished because we believe.
Example to others
The natural progression of having been nurtured and trained and encouraged by the Lord and through others is to become a witness ourselves.
All of us are examples to others whether we like it or not. As soon as people know we are Christians, we are being observed.
We mentor others by first praying for them!
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,
Next we mentor others by being a godly example to them.
so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
I want to challenge you ladies to consider who your mentors are. Look to godly people and mentors to help you along in your walk. May I add that your mentors should be people you know? It is fine to follow people on social media, but it is not the same as having a personal relationship with someone you can go to and talk to and pray through your trials and concerns with. Find the kind of person you can relate to, who you look up to, and glean from them. Ask them questions. Spend time with them and let them help you look to Jesus.
Then turn around and find someone you can mentor, some one you might even bring to the Lord.
Now this is usually the intimidating part. You do not have to know everything to do this! What you do know can be a blessing to those who are new to the faith.
Look for ways to be that mentor for someone, your own children, a neighbor, or by becoming a Sunday school teacher. Ask the Lord where you can serve him by being an example to others.
Heb 10:23 -25
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
And with certainty, the Day is approaching! We see it all around us. Darkness is crowding in. Let us all remember the key to our success, and finishing the race well, is faith!