Through faith, we receive God’s salvation. In Hebrews 11:4 we see that, by faith, Abel offered up a sacrifice. For a definition of faith, see Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
“Forsaking all, I take Him.”
Living without faith is like driving in a fog. I cannot explain the wind, but I can hoist a sail. Faith’s answer to the question, “How?” is one word: “God.” Faith sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and touches the intangible. Faith is a grain of mustard seed (see Luke 17:6 and Matthew 17:20). Without faith it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is the substance of things hoped for; faith is being sure of the things we hope for. The evidence of things not seen makes us certain of realities we do not see. By faith, the patriarchs won God’s approval, and their story was put on record. Before reaching the importance of faith, we must contrast the works of Cain with the faith of Abel. Consider Cain and Abel’s approach. They are representative men.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “By grace are ye saved through faith.”
Romans 8:1 “Being justified by faith…”
Romans 10:7 “Faith cometh by hearing.”
[To believers who have brought their friends, quote Luke 5:20 - “And when He saw their faith, he said unto him, ‘man, thy sins are forgiven thee.’”]
[Contrast “professing faith” with “true faith.”] See James 2:14-16. False faith is exemplified in Steve Angy and Bonnie MacNab. “Professing faith” is exemplified in Acts 8 with Simon the sorcerer, the devil’s counterfeit. [Quote Matthew 7 and illustrate with Matthew 25, showing the “wise” and “foolish” virgins.]
[Illustrate the parable of the tares and wheat in Matthew 13.] The sower is the Lord and the field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom, while the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy is the devil. The harvest is the “end of the age” or “the Rapture,” and the reapers are the angels (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The tares are gathered in bundles and cast into a furnace of fire. The eternal bliss of the “wheat” is “the children of the kingdom” (see Matthew 13:43).
True faith is illustrated by two Old Testament characters: Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God and called out, asking that God would give him a son. He then gave his son as an offering, trusting God to resurrect him again. Rahab believed the spies and hung out the scarlet chord and was saved.
Gideon was also a man of faith (see Judges 5, 6, and 7). The story shows that 22,000 returned and 300 lapped the water. 10,000 remained and the rest bowed down. What kind of faith do you have? Some say, “I believe in God,” but the devils also believe and tremble. It is not “head knowledge” then, but “heart knowledge” that matters most. After all, Judas believed. [Explain the term, “let Jesus come into your heart.” Discuss the term “believe” - emotion, intellect, and will. Apply concepts to Christian young people.] Good works must accompany salvation. We must bear fruit (see John 15 in regard to fruit bearing).
Faith is the power to live a God-honoring, Christ-exalting life.
Consider Enoch (Hebrews 11:5 and Genesis 5:21-24). He was characterized by outstanding devotion (use the story of the slippers - “I have got all of Daddy. Daddy has got all of me.”) Great men of God were always characterized by devotion. Consider Daniel (he would not bow to the wishes of the king or the crowd), the three Hebrew children (they were cast into the fiery furnace) and Gideon. The expression, “walked with God” (see Genesis 5:24) is used only of Enoch and Noah (see Genesis 6:19).
Jacob spent a night with God. He lived 365 years, or rather, “walked with God” for that length of time. He and Elijah are the only two men whom God took up into heaven without dying first. The writer to the Hebrews attributes his translation to his outstanding faith.
Galatians 2:20 “Is your life God honoring and Christ exalting?”
“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Ye are not your own. Therefore, glorify God [...]”
For the Christian, life is a continual battle. In light of this, considering the following verses:
1 Timothy 6:12 - “fight the good fight of faith. Flee the youthful lusts. Follow righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness.”
Ephesians 6:16 - “Taking the shield of faith…”
1 John 5:4 - “This is the victory that overcometh (flesh, devil) the world even our faith.”
Paul instructs us on how to live to a God honoring life:
Ephesians 2:2 - Ye once walked according to the lusts of the flesh.
Ephesians 4:1 - Walk worthy of your calling as a child of the King of kings.
Ephesians 4:17 - Walk not as other Gentiles walk.
Ephesians 5:2 - Walk in the love of Christ.
Ephesians 5:8 - Walk as children of the light not as children of the darkness.
Ephesians 5:15 - Walk circumspectly.
The God-honoring and Christ-exalting life is only possible as we: (1) Put off the old nature which is corrupt (lying, anger, stealing, evil thoughts and evil actions), and (2) Put on the new nature, which is kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.
The Holy Spirit - The Spirit is God’s greatest gift to the believer (see Galatians 3:7-14, Galatians 4:6, and Galatians 5:16-26). Every child of God is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (see John 3). Every child of God is baptized into the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). This means then that every believer is the temple or dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. [Quote 1 Corinthians 6:19-20] This should govern our walk both with God and before men. The Holy Spirit seals us (see Ephesians 1:13). This takes care of our eternal security and is the guarantee of our eternal inheritance (see Ephesians 1:14).
The Holy Spirit’s work in the believer includes: The conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. His work to the believer includes the following: guiding into all truth; he shall not speak of Himself; He will show you things to come; He shall glorify Me. Each believer is instructed to be filled with the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 5:18). The results of this are that: (1) we will become more like Christ, (2) our prayer life will deepen, (3) we will worship more intelligently, and (4) our service will be fruitful.
Note the difference among the early disciples after Pentecost. Also consider the difference between baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can give us victory in our lives. Romans 8 shows us that He frees us from condemnation, quickens us for service, leads our life, and helps us in our weaknesses. Romans 12:1 speaks of the renewing of one’s mind and commands us to present our body to the Spirit. [Give the illustration here.]
In Galatians 5:16 we are urged to walk in the Spirit and so defeat the lusts of the flesh. The struggle for supremacy takes place between the old and new natures. Galatians 5:19-21 speaks of the works of the old nature, while Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. “See then that ye walk circumspectly. Redeem the time knowing that the days are evil.” “I’ve got all of daddy – daddy has got all of me.” Galatians 6:7-8 speaks of sowing to one’s flesh versus sowing to the Spirit.
Noah’s life of faith led to action (Hebrews 11:7). Being warned of God, he built an ark in order to save his household. Consider the antediluvian civilization 1,700 years ago.
Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that his imaginations and thoughts were evil continually.”
In the verse that follows, Genesis 6:6, God is sorry that He had ever made man. He says, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” Then, man began to multiply and there was an explosion in the population. They took wives unto themselves and later divorced. The earth was corrupt and lacked morals. The earth was filled with violence - there were riots.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, as he was good and righteous. Genesis 6:13 reveals God’s warning as He states, “The end of all flesh is before me. I will destroy them.” In the next verse He says to Noah, “Make thee an ark.” Noah made the ark and spent 120 years preaching while he built it. No one believed him. [Describe the coming of the flood] Everything outside the ark perished, but Noah and his family believed God and were saved.
The Lord said, “As it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:26-28 says that they ate, they drank, they married wives (had sex), they bought and sold (engaged in commercialism), they planted (agriculture), and they built (engaged in construction). Here, too, there was a population explosion, divorce, morals, and riots. It was an age of abundance, appetite, gluttony and drunkenness. It was an age of ungodliness. “As it was – so shall it be.” [Compare these conditions with present day conditions.]
Noah was warned of God in these conditions and told to build an ark. God is warning you today. Will faith lead to action? How near is this event? When will Christ return? No man knoweth the day nor the hour, but He is coming. [Describe the Rapture]
Proverbs 27:1 “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
Proverbs 29:1 “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
Proverbs 30:25-26 “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags.”
Abraham - The life of faith leads to separation, sojourning, and sacrifice.
Separation – [Describe Abraham. Describe God’s call and it’s uncertainty, according to human terms]. Abraham “OBEYED” and ‘went out,’ not even knowing where he was going. He went, trusting God implicitly. 1 John 2:15 says, “Love not the world.” [Define the term world] Faith sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and touches the intangible. Here, we have faith’s answers to the questions, “How?” and “Where?” The answer is “God.” [Describe this separation and what it meant to Abraham - apply this to our own lives]
See 1 Corinthians 6, which speaks of evil, idolatry, and godlessness. [Furthermore, address anything that might hinder our spiritual lives - like swearing, smoking, wild parties, immorality with the other sex, bad guys, etc.]. The expulsive power of a new affection is shown in James 3 (fountain, trees, Demas).
Sojourning - By faith Abraham lived in the land of promise. His lapse of faith nearly cost him his life and because of this lapse, he brought Hagar from Egypt to whom was born Ishmael, from whom came the Arabs, from whom came the Muslim religion and the present day circumstances in the Middle East.
[Stress the Pilgrim character of Abraham: he dwelt in a tent] Is anything too hard for the Lord? He had no settled home, he looked for a city whose builder and maker was God. Think of Philippians 3:20, which says, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord who shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto our Savior’s body of glory.”
Sacrifice - The supreme test of Abraham’s faith is seen in the sacrifice of Isaac. Read Genesis 22. To love God and obey Him were the first principles of Abraham’s life. It is better to obey than to sacrifice. Moses sacrificed the wealth and pleasures of Egypt because he had respect for the recompense of the reward. It cost Paul, Peter, John, David Livingston, Mary Slessor, David Brainard, Margaret and Mary Wilson and the early Christians.
Abraham’s faith prevailed and he believed the impossible. He was willing to sacrifice Isaac, believing that God would fulfill His promises, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead.
O that our faith might increase!