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Wednesday, September 08 2021

Contributor: Martins Olubiyi

INTRODUCTION
Last week we studied about the “Faith of the Patriarchs”. We learnt that faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8; Acts.16:30, 31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20). Faith sees the invisible and believes the impossible. In today’s study, we want to learn the motive behind the faith of the Patriarchs.

Verse 13: Motive That Transcends the Ephemeral.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

This verse might appear to express tragedy. For instance, Abraham and those with him spent their whole lives longing for things they were promised, longing to have a land of their own. They trusted God for this and believed the promises He gave them, yet they died without having received them. What a travesty of tragedy! What an appalling commendation for the faith they professed and represented! If this is what our faith is about, dying with only unfulfilled hopes, then we are, as Paul said “of all men most miserable” (1Cor. 15:19). One thing this tell us is that Christianity is not a religion focused on the mundane and this present life. Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

Dying in faith: Writing about “These”- “Saints” Spurgeon made this startling remark in his devotional from Morning and Evening- “In faith they lived-it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song. Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past - They believed the promise and assurance of their sins forgiven and blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present - These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed His love and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future - They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely and He would on the last day appear upon the earth, they would rise from their grave to behold Him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state”.

Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). This run contrary to a view that that is prevalent in our time: a packaged version of Christianity that offers mainly temporal benefits. Such as, if you trust Jesus, you will get this; you will have that. Of course, Christianity does give us spiritual resources that transform this present life. Resources like righteousness, peace and joy. But we are quick to forget that to be a Christian means to be persecuted in this world. Our blessings are
spiritual rather than material (Eph. 1:3). To be a Christian means: living as an alien and a pilgrim; it means not being able to fit in with others who are slaves to sin; it means denying yourself and picking up your cross; it means a life of struggle and fellowship in the suffering of Christ. The Christian life means, peace with God, but war with the flesh, the world, and the devil. The primary blessings Christianity offers do not lie in this life at all, but in the life to come, in the resurrection from the dead. Indeed, even our present blessings, abundant and wonderful as they are, are located in heaven, and are accessed by the exercise of faith.

The Vision of Faith: The characteristic of those living by faith is that they have a “Visionary Faith” in other words; they see the promises from afar off. Through our vision with eyes of faith, we get a proper perspective on this short time on earth versus the time forever in the future. It is obvious that the Patriarchs have eternal perspective in their expectation of God’s promises. Their perspective informed what they see with the eyes of faith. Their perspective informed their persuasion. It informed their acceptance (embrace). It informed their confession. It also helped them to know who they are and where they were. We could learn and gain from Job’s encounters on God’s eternal perspective on death and judgement. Read Job. 1:21. Job kept eternal perspective in a temporal world. He speaks of three profound realities: (i). “Naked”- he knew material blessings are temporary. (ii). “My mother’s womb”- he knew life is brief. (iii). “I will depart”- he believed in heaven.

Verse 14 & 15: The Patriarchs Were Goal Getters:
"For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."

When Abraham came to Haran, he could have turned around and journey back into Babylon. But with the eyes of faith, he obeyed unquestionably the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant that his seed would inherit the land. Recall, Col. 3: 2: “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Similarly, in Luke 9:62, Jesus said “No man who puts his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Verse 16: Desire That Births Expectation
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.
It takes grace and desire to obey God. As we step out by faith, then our expectation will be on God’s promises. Here the ultimate promise is heaven.

Things to Do:
We Must See God’s Promises - Before we can believe in God’s promises, we must see them. Before we can see them, God must open our spiritually blinded eyes (Mat 13:11-15; 2Cor 4:4, 6)

We Must Welcome God’s Promises - Having seen God’s promises, the Patriarchs welcome them. They greeted God’s promises with open arms.

We Can Only See and Welcome the Promises from a Distance - This means that the patriarchs did not receive the total fulfilment of God’s promises in this life. They only received a taste of them. The same is true of all believers. God Has promised us eternal life and yet, like the Patriarchs, we all die. The only exceptions are those who will be alive when the Lord returns.

Seeing And Welcoming God’s Promises Alienates Us from This World - The reason that Abraham left his homeland and migrated to Canaan was because he had seen and welcomed God’s promises. When he left his family and friends, he then lived as an alien in the land of promise, casting down shame and reproach because of eternal reward of a prepared city.

CONCLUSION
As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travellers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but Pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light”, not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven. Christians must centre their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. (D.C. Egner).

Material culled from www.precetaustin.org/Hebrews_1113-16

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 01 2021

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
Last week we started on the topic of faith where faith was unveiled and the first two patriarchs of faith; Abel and Enoch were mentioned as well as the testimonies of their faith. Today’s study is a continuation of the faith of the patriarchs, and we will continue with the next three patriarch’s. But first the Apostle Paul interrupts the flow with an amazing interjection in verse 6 . This interjection was deliberate! If the Jews believed that the patriarch’s pleased God, then they should know that it was by faith because “without faith it is impossible to please God”

VERSE 6: FAITH IS INDISPENSABLE
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” KJV 

If it is impossible to please God without faith. The opposite is also true; faith is what pleases God. Faith is a must, it is the entrance point to a relationship with God. He interacts with us based on His grace, we respond in faith. Faith is a key element for life. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commented on people’s faith because it was important to Him, He looked for it and responded to it everywhere He went. (Matthew 8:26, “O ye of little faith”), (Matthew 8:10, “I have not seen such great faith,” (Mark 5:34 "your faith has healed you”), (Luke 18:8, “But, when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the Earth?”

So the underlying truth to draw from is that God responds to faith. It pleases Him, it moves Him to act and it is essential in the life of the believer because whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

There are two parts to faith in this verse which show why it pleases God. First, the Apostle says that faith believes that God exists. Second, he says that faith believes that God is the rewarder of those who seek Him. In other words, we please God by being expectant.

VERSE 7: NOAH’S FAITH
"By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God." (MSG)

What Noah Did By Faith:
• He built a ship in the middle of dry land (Genesis 6:13–22)
We need to understand the optics to appreciate how the command to build an ark would have been received by Noah and everyone else – building a ship in the middle of dry land. How in the world are you going to move it to the sea?

No mention is made of rain on the earth until the Flood (Gen. 7:4,12). The original earth and the Garden of Eden were watered by streams, rivers, and mist instead of by rain (Genesis 2:5,6,10). So, the faith of Noah described in this verse was very strong. Noah was warned about things not seen, if it had rained before then the Bible would not have referred to the warning as of something not seen implying that rain was not part of humanity's early experience. That is why God made a covenant with the rainbow so humanity is not afraid whenever it threatens to rain. Genesis 9:8-17

If the earth did not experience rain before the Flood, then Noah's ark-building must have appeared especially foolish to his critics. Just imagine the ridicule!

How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By acting on what he was told; even though it was something he hadn’t seen before

What Noah Gained By His Faith:
• His family was saved. (Genesis 7:7)
• His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world.
• He became intimate with God. (Genesis 9:8-17)

VERSE 8-10: ABRAHAM’S FAITH
"By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God." (MSG)

What Abraham Did By Faith:
• He said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. (Genesis 12:1-5)
• He lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. (Genesis 13:18)
• He passed the same belief to his children and grandchildren (Genesis 18:19)

How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

What Abraham Gained By His Faith:
• He became father of many nations (Genesis 17:5)
• His offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)

VERSE 11-12: SARAH’S FAITH
"By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions." (MSG)

What Sarah Did By Faith:
• She was able to become pregnant in her old age against all odds.
Just imagine the pressure today people of child bearing age face when they are trying to conceive. It's not uncommon for such people to become depressed.

How Did She Exercise Her Faith?
• By believing the One who made a promise would do what He said.

What Sarah Gained By Her Faith:
• She helped Abraham become father of many nations and by that mother of many nations too! (Genesis 17:5)
• Her offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)

CONCLUSION
Faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. For the Christian Jews, who were being accused and persecuted by family members and their rabbis that they were abandoning their heritage, it was important that they knew that a life of faith is a mark of their Hebrew heritage and not a departure from it. so the apostle wrote this chapter to link them to this heritage. In verse 2 of this chapter he said that it is by faith that the elders obtained a good report.
Having this faith we have discussed today means nothing without works. The faith these patriarchs exhibited was not by the words they said but by their actions. The ultimate practicality of faith is that the way we live is consistent with what we believe.
James 2:14 says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”
And in verse 26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

• Noah believed and built the ark without seeing
• Abraham believed and moved from his home without knowing
• Sarah received strength to have a baby when it was humanly impossible

You and I can learn from this patriarchs and please God by our “active” faith. Believing He exists and being expectant that He will come through

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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