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The Faith of Abel
Hebrews 11:4


As I have mentioned earlier, Chapter 11 is referred to as Faith’s Hall of Fame or the Faith’s Honor Roll. From verse 4 until the end of the chapter, the Apostle Paul tells us about the lives of Old Testament believers to teach us and to show us what true faith is. Faith is more than just believing with our minds. Faith involves acting in our beliefs. God calls us to live it out by trusting him wholeheartedly, obeying Him no matter what the cost.
Adam and Eve must have learned to worship God during those wonderful days in the Garden of Eden before they committed sin. So, we can say that they taught their children about the Lord and the importance of worshiping Him.

I. The Importance of Faith (Heb. 11:4)
A. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Paul takes us back to the beginning to teach us the importance of faith and worship. The offerings of Abel and Cain were compared. It was written that when the time came to approach the Lord, Abel brought a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.
B. Cain’s offering Rejected
“That Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD (Gen. 4:3). Notice that Cain is the first to bring an offering to the Lord. However, the significance is in the faith of the offerer, not the sacrifice itself.
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Gen. 4:3, 5). God rejected Cain’s offering. The word respect comes from the Hebrew “shaah” and means “to inspect, consider, to regard.” Two reasons why Cain’s offering was rejected.
1. It was not the type of sacrifice which Cain and Abel offered which caused the distinction, but the attitude (faith) in which it was given. When we come before God we must come with the right attitude. We must come with a pure heart. Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
2. Many have taught that the reason for God rejecting Cain’s offering because it was a bloodless sacrifice.
C. In later years, the Law of Moses prescribed offerings of grain and fruit (Lev. 2; Deut. 26:1-11), so we have reason to believe that such sacrifices were acceptable from the beginning. But even had Cain brought animal sacrifices and shed their blood, they wouldn’t have been accepted by God because of the state of Cain’s heart. Abel brought the best that he had and truly sought to please God; but Cain didn’t have that attitude of faith. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22; and see Isa. 1:11-13; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-34).
D. The fact that people attend religious meetings and participate in church activities is no proof that they’re true believers. It’s possible to have ” a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: (never experience its saving power) (2 Tim. 3:5). “These
people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoureth Me with their lips, but their hearts is far from Me” (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:8). The costliest sacrifices apart from the submission of the heart can never make the worshiper right before God (Ps. 51:16-17). “The way of Cain” (Jude 11) is the way of self-will and unbelief. (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Illustration/Application: The World Depends on Faith
I didn’t observe any of you come into this room and examine your chair before you sat in it. You just automatically committed yourself by faith to the chair, assuming it would hold you. Most of you got here by car; you slid in the car and turned on the ignition and away you go. You don’t have a clue as to what goes on behind the scene. You can’t explain the process. You just trust it.
The last time you went to a doctor, he wrote out a little prescription. You couldn’t read it. In fact, you wondered if anybody could read the thing! Then you took it to your pharmacist, and you gave it to him. Have you ever discovered when you give a pharmacist a prescription, he always disappears behind the screen? That shakes me up. I often wonder what in the world the guy is doing back there. I wonder if he slept through his course in pharmacy school. But he gives you the little bottle and says, “Take it three times a day,” and by faith you do exactly what he tells you to do. Faith is woven into the system. Howard Hendricks, “Faith in Tough Times,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 140.

II. Abel’s offering Received (Heb. 11:4b)
A. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Notice that Abel’s offering is called a more excellent sacrifice. The superior excellency of Abel’s sacrifice to Cain’s, are:
1. The one was offered heartily to the Lord, the other only in outward appearance.
2. The one was offered in faith, the other not;
B. “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Gen. 4:4). It can clearly be seen here the acceptance and rejection that God made. It has been noted by commentators, both ancient and modern, that God accepted Abel first and then his offering. This is always the order. The problem with Cain was his attitude. God sees everything including the hidden thoughts of our hearts. It is possible that God is showing His sovereignty by loving the younger not the older. This is seen throughout Genesis.
C. “Abel on his part also brought out of the firstlings of his flock” The key seems to be in the term “firstlings”. Cain brought some of his agricultural produce, but Abel brought the best of his flock, which showed an attitude of faith and respect.
D. We can conclude that Abel was a saved man. Jesus called him righteous Abel. (Matt. 23:35). Cain can be said to be of that wicked one. (1 Jn. 3:12) The right kind of faith will cost you something. But so will the wrong kind. Abel’s example shows us that obedience to God often comes with a high price. Abel is willing to obey God, no matter how great the sacrifice. The 12 Apostles except Judas all lost their lives for their faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
E. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (Gen. 4:8) Abel was the first martyr. Because of his faith Cain slew him. However, Cain’s first crime was not the murder of his brother, it was disobedience, rebellion against God. Mixed with anger and jealousy, the first murder was committed.

Illustration/Application: Cain’s Stain Goes On
An Alexander who, in the name of culture, ruthlessly sweeps away whole populations. A Napoleon who can write to Josephine rejoicing in a victory which leaves behind a million murdered men. A Mussolini who bares his head at the singing of a Te Deum to celebrate the studied murder of thousands of hapless Abyssinians. There is not a civilization in the world which is free from the stain of Cain.
—Frederick C. Spurr Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.

Illustration/Application: Satan Teaches Cain Murder
According to an old Moslem legend, the death of Abel was at the direct instigation of Satan. Cain, according to this story, was filled with envy and hatred toward his brother, but did not know how he could destroy his life.
But one day Satan placed himself in Cain’s way as he walked with Abel in the fields and, seizing a stone, shattered therewith the head of an approaching wolf. Cain followed his example, and, with a large stone, struck his brother’s forehead ’til he fell lifeless to the ground. (Genesis 4:8)
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations

III. Speaking Faith (Heb. 11:4c)
A. .. God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Heb. 11:4). Cain murdered Abel, but he didn’t silence his faith. From then on, God has proclaimed to the world that Abel was a faithful and justified man. In context, this is an example of faith that faces death and triumphs over it. The Hebrews were discouraged and their faith is being weakened by persecution. They must be strengthened. Death couldn’t silence his faith. Likewise, may our faith testify of God’s grace and goodness long after we die.

IV. Conclusion:
Abel was a righteous man because of faith (Matt. 23:35). By faith Abel obeyed his parents to worship God. His obedience cost him his life. Cain was not considered righteous a because he did not have the right attitude. He obeyed but half-heartedly. Because of that, his offering was rejected. Abel is considered as the first martyr of the faith.

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