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By Faith


"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.By faith 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."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We praise God that He continues to grow our ministry, allowing us to reach even more people! We would therefore, like to encourage all of you to share it with all of your family and friends. And, may God alone receive the glory.
I believe, that it is essential for every believer to understand the nature of enduring faith. As we in our last message,, there is a type of faith that does not endure trials and temptations. The seed sown on the rocky ground, springs up quickly, then withers and dies, when trials strike. The seed that falls on the thorny ground, however, may have last a bit longer, but is eventually strangled by the temptation of worries, riches, and the worldly pleasures of this life. Sadly, neither type of faith brought forth fruit to maturity. Only the seed sown on the good ground bore fruit with perseverance.
Faith is the common denominator between every one alive, as expressed faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising some kind of faith. Unbelievers have faith in the physical world. When you awoke and went into the bathroom this morning you flipped a light switch and you had faith that it would work. When you get in your car you have faith that it will start. When you mail a letter you have faith the postal system will get it to the right person, at the right address. When you go to the pharmacy you have faith that the pharmacist will give you the right medication. Every time you walk into a building you are expressing faith in the architect and the workmen, that it won't collapse on you.  
For those who believe, there is faith that is expressed in the spiritual realm. Each of us regardless of our backgrounds, our educations, our social status or our talents can express faith. The difference between the faith we exercise in our daily routine and our religious faith is the object of that faith. 
Everyone on the planet, places their faith in something or someone, every day. The Muslim puts his faith in the Quran and in Mohammad. The humanist put his faith in himself. The follower of religion, in his own good works. None of these can save the soul, because in each case, the object of faith is all wrong. 
I want you to understand, that your faith is only as good as the object in which you place your faith. The Bible, the Word of God, insists that we personally put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. You need to really understand that.  
In order for you to understand what faith is, we must first get past the misconceptions about faith. The first, is what is commonly called the "prosperity gospel." Which is essentially the belief in ones ability to manipulate God. This is the approach of the "health and wealth" prosperity gospel. This approach only sees faith as having one aim, one fruit, and a life of ease and blessing. The prosperity gospel is a modern, neoliberal variation of Pentecostalism, that is premised on the belief that a Biblical covenant between the individual believer and God, which guarantees that believer blessings of health and wealth, provided he demonstrates adequate faith. In other words, spiritual economics, selling salvation.
The second misconception, is that faith is the adherence to a set of beliefs . You must believe the right doctrine. The Apostle Paul says in II Timothy 1:12, "I know whom I have believed." If your beliefs are not founded on the right object, the right person, it does not matter what else you believe. If we do whatever we do out of a sense of obligation or fear, we are mere slaves to our expectations. When there is fear in a religion, it casts out love.
The third misconception, is that faith is a blind leap into the dark. To many unbelievers faith is the anti-thesis of science. Saying most of them, "you just have to have faith," is the same as saying "just have to act and think contrary to everything that you believe you know and trust that it will all work out for the best."
Lastly, that faith is simply devotion to whatever god one happens to believe in. Unfortunately, none of these is true picture of real faith. In our text, Hebrews chapter eleven, we find an accurate portrait of what real biblical faith looks like.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, 
Father, we again thank You for Your Word. As we begin our study of this portion of Your Word, as we explore the concept of faith, the essence of faith, the power of faith, help us to understand, that it all really begins with Yo, we do not need to wonder, because Your Word can be trusted. Thank You for blessing us with the Holy Scriptures, the revelation that is true, trustworthy, tested for centuries.
We have before us, the great evidence of Your power revealed in this temporal physical creation as evidence of Your power to create that eternal spiritual creation in the glory of the heaven that is to come.
Lord, we pray that You would grant that kind of supernatural saving faith to those among us, who have not yet received Christ, that today, they will embrace the Savior, and live with the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not yet seen. 
In Christ's precious name we pray
Today's Message: By Faith
There are so many Christians, both old and new, who need to understand the foundations of our faith. Faith in God is at the foundation of a relationship with Him. True faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of our circumstances or the consequences. Faith is described in a two-fold way. It is the "substance of things hoped for," and "the evidence of things not seen."
Let's face it, some of the things that God says in His Word, are not easy to accept. Like when God confronts our unbelief and sin. How He always relates to us in love. When He sends difficult trials into our lives, whether persecution, the loss of our health, or even the loss of a loved one, we have to trust Him, believing that He is acting in love to form Christ in us. 
However, if Satan, can get us to doubt God’s love, His promises in a time of trials, we will draw away from God and disobey His Word of truth. In understanding these basic principles trust is essential for close personal relationships; truth is the basis for trust; and, truth must be expressed in love, meaning to seek the greater good of the other person. Therefore, it should be easy to see why faith and trust is at the heart of a relationship with God.
Open your Bibles with me to the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. In our continuing study of this  marvelous portion of God's Word, I want for us to embrace this chapter, to embrace it in your thinking and in your in your spiritual experience because it is so very foundational to our life as believers. Perhaps that's why, its often called "The Faith Chapter." So, in developing the theme of our message on enduring faith, our author’s first point is that faith is the means of realizing spiritual reality.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read, to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts, for what the Spirit is saying to us. Listen for a Word from our Lord.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith 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."
A simple study of the gospels, causes us to realize that the Judaism of the first century, was not the supernatural system that had been given by God in the beginning, it was a system that had been manipulated into a works based system. Then, they added legalism to the real system that God gave, which was a faith system. In fact, it was nothing more that a religious cult built on ethics. It had lost its concept of true faith in God. It taught salvation by works. This world often ridicules and despises the person who lives by faith.
The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, "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."
God never justified a man on the basis of his works. Faith is the key, not works. Salvation is always a matter of faith. So, if salvation is by faith, then it’s important that we understand what faith is.  And so in chapter 11, he lists all the heroes throughout the history of Israel and starts out every one of them by saying this, "By faith." By faith, by faith, by faith, over and over again, and he goes right down the line, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, right on down, Moses, Joshua, Jacob, all of them lived by faith. The only way to understand the new covenant is by faith, but that’s nothing new, because that’s the way you understand God in the old covenant. 
We need to understand that faith is not a praiseworthy work that we do to gain rewards from God. In fact, that would conflict with the entire teaching of the New Testament, faith is simply the channel through which God’s blessings flow. 
The nature of faith, the testimony of faith we find here in verse 1, where He says "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Notice, there are two aspects of faith, here there that are so closely interwoven, that it’s almost impossible to divide them. In fact, these phrases are almost identical. "The substance of things hoped for" and "the evidence of things not seen."
To be clear, that is not really, in the purest sense, the definition of faith, it is actually more of a sharing of some of the characteristics of faith. It’s more a view of what faith is like, rather than an explicit theological definition. In the Greek, the word "faith" is a simple word, "pistisit" which is from the verb "peithó," meaning "to have confidence." Sadly, there are many who see Christianity, as a confining tradition, one in which people are constricted and reigned in, required to obey lots of rules to please God with the objective of making it into heaven and escaping hell.
He says faith, first of all, is the substance of things hoped for. That’s the first thing he says about the nature of faith. It is the substance of things hoped for. These are not things just hoped for without substance, because our faith makes them real. In other words, what we believe in is what we hope for and faith gives them a present substance. Its the the promises of God. 
As this chapter shows, in Old Testament times there were many men and women who had nothing but the promises of God to rest on. For example, God said there’s coming a Messiah. There’s coming One who will finally take away sin. God also said there’s coming a day when Israel will have its own kingdom, when Messiah shall reign, and when the land shall be restored to Israel. God promised all of that and they never saw any of that come to pass. But yet, they hoped for it. They hoped for the restoration of Jerusalem. Today, they’re hoping for greater freedom and liberty in Israel, even when Israel is being bombarded by all of the outside pressure of the Arab world. Yet, they're still living in that hope. That is what faith is, faith is living in a hope that is so real it gives substance to the hope in the present tense. That is faith, it defies everything that is normal.
And, if we follow the standards of the unseen God, a God whom we’ve never seen, a God whose audible voice we have never heard, a Christ whose face we’ve never seen, a Christ whose body we’ve never touched, but if we follow Him we may have pain, we may have loss, we may have suffering, we may have unpopularity, we may get persecuted, and we may even lose our lives, yet, we do it anyway because that for which we hope is given substance in the present tense because of the intensity of our faith. That is the essence of faith, you see, because faith says that it’s better to suffer with God now, knowing what will be, than to prosper with the world now. That's faith!
And, I'm sure that you will recall in the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who are confronted with the choice of obeying Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar is alive, and he’s powerful, and he’s tangible. Or they could obey God, whom they’ve never seen, who is invisible. If they don’t obey the king, they get thrown in the fire. Now, the world today says I buy what I see, I’ll bow down to the king and forget the fire. But, the man of God who has faith says I’ll obey God though I cannot see Him, I'll take the fire. That’s faith against the system. Faith is believing in God against the world! That's what faith is.
While the world says take what you want, take what you can touch,taste and smell. Grab whatever you can grab that meets the need of your senses. Grab what you can that brings you instant gratification, that satisfies your urges, that brings you pleasure. Faith says don’t believe in all that, don't your senses, don't trust what you can see now, believe God, who can only be touched by faith, the God who can be trusted. Believe God!
The Christian is not some masochist, someone who just enjoys suffering, its quite the contrary. The Christian is living for ultimate pleasure. The Christian says I would rather suffer a little while in this world and be forever glorified in the next. Besides, its not really suffering anyway because it’s all in the presence of the Lord, who’s never departs from me. It’s not some wistful longing, it’s a certainty!
It's enjoying all things by faith! We've all done that. We enjoy the day of our wedding, before the day has arrived, we've enjoyed it even while the preparation and planning is still taking place. We've enjoyed the house and family we don't yet have. We've enjoyed playing with our children, before they are born. Even as children, we have enjoyed Christmas morning before it ever happened. We enjoyed the presents, that we had faith would be under the tree when we came downstairs on Christmas morning, and we've enjoyed unwrapping those present before they were ever under the tree. We've all done that. So, by faith you’re already enjoying in a present substance what is a future reality.
I’ve never been to heaven, but I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I’ve spent walking the golden streets, how I have enjoyed seeing my loved ones who I miss terribly, I've enjoyed that glorious reunion. Even though that’s a future reality, however, it has present substance by faith. And, I'm sure many of you have done the same, right? We long for that day, we hope for it, because we are believing that it will one day happen. Faith is the ability to take what is in the future and give it present substance.
Now, the word substance is rather an interesting word, its "hupostasis," in the Greek. It only appears two other times in Hebrews. Once it is used in chapter 1, verse 3, to speak of Christ as the very essence of the Father, the express image, substance, or essence. And, it occurs another time in chapter 3, verse 14, it speaks of a guarantee of assurance, a title deed. That’s exactly what substance is, it’s essence and it’s assurance, that’s how the word is used. Faith, then, provides the firm ground on which I now stand, waiting for the assurance of the fulfillment of the essence of God’s promise. So, faith not only believes God, it banks on it. Faith is counting on God's promises to be true, because God has proven, time and time again, that He can be trusted. And, if you really believe that the future that God’s promised is for real, then you won't worry about it, you will simply patiently wait for it.
Faith is Romans 8:24, which says "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?"
Then, he says that faith is "the evidence of things not seen." As I previously stated, this is very closely related to the first statement, allow me see if I can give it a little different meaning. The word evidence is the word elegchos, which means conviction. Faith is the conviction that the unseen exists. That’s what he’s saying. Let's try to take this a little bit further, because this implies action. This is banking your life on your hope. Faith is living in the present, on the basis of things not yet been seen.
I'm sure you remember, in John 20:29 Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Faith, then, in the first phrase of verse 1, it actualizes a future truth. And, in the second phrase, it commits a life to it. It is the conviction of things not seen. That's true faith!

Faith is Noah believing God when He said it was going to rain, and trusting in God to the point he built the Ark. Noah did that because he believed God, it had substance. I kind of imagine Noah, just sitting around, thinking to himself, "Water is going to falling out of the sky, I wonder how that is going to work.." I imagine him thinking, what rain would be like. It was the substance of things hoped for in his mind. But Noah didn’t stop there, he built the Ark. Because conviction that takes it the next step further.
It was one thing to sit around and dream about what that rain might be like, it was something else to bank his life on it and for the better part of a hundred and twenty years build an Ark in the desert while every one around him said, "Look, Noah has lost his mind! He’s over there building a ship in the middle of the desert."
That's the faith we are going to see all through chapter 11, to believe and then to act, to believe something and to move out on it. Every one who is alive today, believes in a lot of things. They believe that if they work all week, they're going to receive a paycheck. They believe that by working, they'll receive a vacation, in fact, many people even book their vacation in advance, because they believe that they're going to get it. As Christians, we believe God to the point where we bank our life on it. But you know, to the unbelieving world, to be able to bank your life on some invisible, spiritual future looks like the most preposterous thing imaginable. Yet, they are doing the exact same thing! Because they have faith, the difference is, however, the object of their faith. Our faith is not in this fallen world, our faith is in God! It's that faith, that allows me to go around saying "This world is not my home!"
Spiritual faith is a gift of God, natural faith comes with being born. So, verse 2, brings us to the testimony of faith. "For by it the men of old gained approval." This is referring to Old Testament saints, the fathers of Israel, the greats that he later names in this chapter. It means that they lived by faith and, God approved of them. God approves those who operate on faith. I believe that every man who lives by spiritual faith in God has within his own heart the knowledge of the approval of God. We sense God's approval, I believe that. The man who tries to live in this world without faith lives a hopeless existence, believing in a world that doesn't have any answers!
Abel believed God regarding sacrifice, did it by faith, and God approved of his sacrifice.Enoch believed God that he wouldn’t die, and he didn’t. God was pleased, He approved. Noah believed God that it would rain, and he inherited righteousness for believing God. God approved. Abraham and Sarah believed God for a child, and God approved of their faith, and they received a child. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Amram, Jochebed, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all those listed in chapter 11, they all believed God, they trusted in what they could not see and God said, "It is good, I approve." That's why the Bible says without faith, it is impossible to please God.

For years and years, man has had what scientists call a unified field of knowledge; that is, man understood God, history, science, everything within one frame of reference. Then, a philosophy known as German rationalism came along and said, "We’ve got to get rid of all this God stuff." So, they began to attack religion, and there were men like Graff, Wellhausen, Bauer, Strauss, Renan, and these men began to attack all supernatural things, their first attack, since they were in Europe, was the Bible. 
Then, some guy came up with 26 inspired verses, but they wiped out everything that had any hint of miracle. It was wiped out. In other words, what I see, I believe. I'll believe nothing outside of my own brain. Then, man began to scratch his head, saying I must believe in something. So, men like Kierkegaard came along and he split the field of knowledge and on the top he put faith. And everyone was relieved, because now, they could believe in something. Guess what he put up here, "Faith No Content." You could believe in anything, just believe in believing. So, believe in anything or anybody you want. Just believe in something. You know, that's one of the secrets of philosophy is you never have to tell anybody, it’s not communicated. This is existential contentlessness, non-rational and illogical. "I only believe in what’s reasonable except when I leap into what’s irrational?" That’s what man has done today. That’s what happens to the man who cannot have a content, oriented, substantial faith in God.
There is a God, and He’s real, and you can put your faith in Him. You don’t need to believe in believing, you can believe in God. Everything is hopeless for man unless there is a God! And so, he winds up jumping around like a man on a proverbial pogo stick from one thing to another, and the issue is, that every one of them is as empty and as futile as the one before. Because, there is only one rational answer and that answer is God. There have been men from the time of Adam who have believed in God, and guess what? When their life ended, they were right! And, while they were yet alive, life for them has been meaningful, and life for them had substance. Believing in God gives us a reason for living. 
And, that brings us to verse 3, which says "By faith 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." To the Jews, He is saying, you must have faith. I'm not asking you to do something you're not already doing, you already have a faith in God that He is and that He made the world and the universe, so you’ve got a beginning of faith. Belief that the visible world and the universe and the ages are created by God is a conviction of faith not sight. Because nobody knows that by sight, that's faith. What we know about the creation of the world, we know by faith.
It is troubling to me that there are some people running around out there, who have very high IQ's,  people who don’t know that God created the universe. The word He uses for worlds is aiōnas, it means ages. It means the whole of creation, the whole thing was formed by the Word, rhēma, the specific utterance of God. God spoke and the universe came into existence. The origin of this universe, is a problem that philosophers cannot solve. Bertrand Russell spent 90 years as a philosopher, some of the most inept arguments against Christianity ever conceivable, were given by him. He thought that he had all the answers about the origin of the universe. And, at the end of his life, he summed it all up, he summed up his life after 90 years a philosopher with these words: "Philosophy has proved a washout to me." He never did find the answer.
In his book, entitled, "Why I Am Not A Christian," he wrote these words, "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. The whole conception of God is derived from ancient Oriental despotism, a conception quite unworthy of free men.” He went on to say, “We must conquer the world by intelligence."  After 90 years, he said that the whole thing’s a washout. He died not knowing anything, absolutely nothing. Because, he didn’t have anything to believe in.
That is why the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:8, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." 
Science can say, "Oh, that is a rock, it is a made of this chemical, or that," but it cannot say where that rock came from or why it came to be, science only knows what it observes. There’s nothing wrong with good science, observable science, but science has no business getting into origins.No amount of test tubes or Bunsen burners can grasp the infinite power of God. A man's puny mind is no match for the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God.
That's why Paul wrote in I Timothy 6, "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith."
However, science and philosophy doesn’t give up, it takes our children, fill their minds with the ideas of men, manipulating them by teaching the theory of evolution, which by the way is based upon the astute principle nobody times nothing equals everything. And even the evolutionists are running around in circles, trying to figure out what they’re saying. 
When I open my Bible to the book of Genesis chapter 1, it says God created the universe, He made it all. God made it all. And, through faith, I understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. That’s something that even the smartest people in our world haven’t figured out yet, and I am not lording it over them, no, I am only trying to show you that these things are ours, they are understood by faith. You can disprove evolution here on earth, let alone evolution in the universe. In fact, the population of the world alone disproves evolution. 
The whole concept of trying to explain everything without God is merely a fool’s effort. Because man cannot know by science or by philosophy the truth of God. His eye has not seen it, it hasn’t entered into his heart.
I Corinthians 2 says "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."
In Closing...
There may be some of you here with us today, who want to believe in something, you're desperately searching for something or someone to believe in, you know that you need to, your heart is crying out for the answers that your mind cannot find.Your soul is longing for the truth.

May I submit to you, that the proof is in, and Jesus Christ is real, He is who He claimed to be, and today, you can come to saving faith, through Christ, and have a personal relationship with God, the Creator of the universe through Him. And, all He asks is that you believe Him. And when you believe in Christ and you believe in all that He has done for you and believe that He is God, your sins will be removed and heaven then becomes your promised home too. Then, and only then, will you have found the true meaning and purpose to life.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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