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2010 09 15 Lessons of Faith From the Faithful

2010 09 15 Lessons of Faith From the Faithful

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Published by Tony Locke
This sermon was preached on the one year anniversary of the passing of Reverend John Little as a tribute to His life and ministry.

One year ago this week the Reverend John Little passed. He is one of our heroes in the faith. There are lessons still to be learned by his example. His influence is still felt in this congregation. Don’t feel disconnected. The saints are not lost to God. It is a temporary separation.
This sermon was preached on the one year anniversary of the passing of Reverend John Little as a tribute to His life and ministry.

One year ago this week the Reverend John Little passed. He is one of our heroes in the faith. There are lessons still to be learned by his example. His influence is still felt in this congregation. Don’t feel disconnected. The saints are not lost to God. It is a temporary separation.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Tony Locke on Apr 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Lessons of Faith from the Faithful
Reverend Anthony R. LockeAugust 29
th
, 2010
 
www
.
FirstPresTucker 
.org
 at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker 
 
Hebrews 11:1 - 12:3
Communion of Faith
 English Standard Version
1
 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2
For by it the people of old received their commendation.
3
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things thatare visible.
4
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, Godcommending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
5
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before hewas taken he was commended as having pleased God.
6
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that herewards those who seek him.
7
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of hishousehold. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, notknowing where he was going.
9
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of thesame promise.
10
For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
11
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
12
Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as theinnumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and havingacknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
14
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
15
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
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 for them a city.
17
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up hisonly son,
18
of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
19
He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
20
By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
21
By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
22
By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
23
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful,
and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24
By faith Moses, when he was grown u
 p, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
25
choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
26
He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
27
By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
28
By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
29
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
30
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
31
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to thespies.
32
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets
 — 
 
33
who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34
quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, putforeign armies to flight.
35
Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again toa better life.
36
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
 
37
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats,destitute, afflicted, mistreated
 — 
 
38
of whom the world was not worthy
 — 
wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
40
since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings soclosely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising theshame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
1
 
We are united together into Jesus Christ by a common faith. We share in the sufferings and thevictories of the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him enduredthe cross, despised the shame, and is now glorified at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.Faith in Christ unites us into this brotherhood, or sisterhood, better yet the family of God. Andthe inner witness by the Spirit that our faith in Christ is rightly placed is more convincing than anarcheologist who finds biblical places or a scientist who proves the Divine design within theCreation. Our faith is so real in our souls that
it is
the evidence of things unseen.And if you witness publicly to this faith and allow your life to be transformed by the life of Jesus, then you will find yourself at odds with a world that is hostile to the claims of Christ.As the passage in Hebrews explains, people who bear witness to the message of Jesus will not be embraced by the world, but they will be embraced by God and fellow believers.Furthermore, God takes notice of those who with word and deed proclaim Jesus in this world.Jesus said in
Matthew 10:32
that,everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also willacknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.Professing Jesus before the world is a mark of being a true believer. We should be nervous if we don't confess Jesus before the world. Maybe our faith isn't genuine. Too many people staysilent about their faith. They shield themselves from the wrath of the world by keeping their mouth shut at inconvenient moments, but do they shield themselves from God's wrath?It reminds me of the Columbine shooter who asked Cassie Bernall if she was a Christian. She
answered, “Yes, I believe.” She died for her ill timed confession of faith.
How did she find the strength to stand for Christ in that moment? Sheconsidered him whoendured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that she did not grow weary or fainthearted. Jesus is our inspiration. Plus, eternal rewards await the believer who is willing tosuffer for Jesus' sake.
Hebrews 11:2
says that there are commendations from God the Father Almighty if we give a faithful witness.What witness does God expect? Simple things. Like verse
3.
 Now don't blame ministers for making a big deal about this. This is not a rightwing conspiracy. More than once God points outthat this part of our confession is difficult. God knows it is hard to profess verse
3
. It is hard for any generation to tell a secular world that there is a God at the center of all things. God places thistruth at the front of His list.
 A faithful witnesses for God will profess to a hostile world that God created all things.
God expects believers to profess that He made the whole creation out of nothing. There wasnothing . . . God spoke . . . and there was something. Many Christians are not willing to suffer for their faith and confess that God started the sciences by designing and creating all things.
1 
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version.
2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 
Let me be clear. We cannot claim to be believers and also claim to believe in evolution. Godmade Adam and Eve just like He said. God knows that saying this out loud as part of our confession will mark us as fools in the eyes of the world. We have to make a decision. Do wewant a commendation from the world or God? Previous generations of believers chose to havetheir commendation from God. They suffered in this world because of their witness. We need to be willing to do the same.This is the first lesson of faith that we need to learn. A faithful witness speaks God's truth.Second, we need to learn from Abel how to rightly approach God. Abel
didn’t offer the fruit of his own works as an offering. Abel submitted to God’s design for worship and trusted in the
substitutionary death of another to wash away his sins. He worshipped in holy reverence and fear.He trusted God, not himself.Cain exposed his heart as hostile to God's commands. Cain offered the fruit of his own hands.Cain trusted himself when approaching God. God rejected Cain's worship.Cain hated Abel for testifying that there is only one right way to approach God. The worldfeels the same toward us. Abel's obedience testified that we can only approach God through faithin Christ's vicarious death. We would say that "Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. No onecomes to the Father except through Jesus."And here's the lesson we need to know, if we tell the world that there is only one right way toapproach God, then the world will hate us. Our witness to the exclusivity of the Gospel messagewill not be appreciated. We will be called intolerant, bigoted, and stupid fundamentalists. Our testimony to the unique saving power of Jesus will be considered arrogant. Our words will beconsidered incendiary. The world will label our faith as a faith of hate because we don't respectthe other religions in the world. And we will be persecuted for being so dogmatic.Abel was killed by his own brother. Abel's righteous blood still speaks and reminds us that theworld hates those who bear faithful witness that Jesus is the only path to God. But d
on’t feel sad
for Abel. He entered into the sufferings of the Messiah and Abel will be commended by God.The next lesson of faith comes from Enoch. He lived out of sync with the world, but in daily
fellowship with God. The world didn’t embrace hi
m, but God commended him even before hedied. He drew near to God and God drew near to Him. If we will live in fellowship with God thenGod will bring us to Himself. We need to maintain daily fellowship with the Lord.The next lesson of faith comes from Noah. He knew that he had to give an account to God. The people in Noah's time didn't live in fear of God. For 100 years Noah preached that they needed toget ready because God's judgment was coming. The world treated Noah just like the world willtreat us. They treated him like a lunatic and mocked his warnings. We will suffer the same fate if we tell the world that one day we must all give an account before the Lord.There is a second lesson from Noah. You and God make a majority. Side with God. You will be happy you did in the end.The next lesson of faith comes from Abraham. He obeyed God when it made him the laughingstock of his community. Abraham claimed he heard a voice tell him to do some radical things. Helistened to that voice. He left his family, his home and his friends. He trusted God to bless him.Abraham lived like a wandering homeless person. His decisions also affected his family. Thelife of Isaac and Jacob were significantly unsettled due to Abraham's obedience.

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