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The Reality of Faith and Hope

Heb. 11:13-16




The reality and genuineness of the faith of our Faith Hall of Famers is shown and described here in our texts today. These people were not perfect. They committed mistakes clearly written but were no longer mentioned in this chapter. They fully believed God and trusted His promises given to them until they died. Though they never fully realized God’s promises, their hope and faith did not waver. We too must stay strong in faith; we can trust the Lord that He will fulfil His promises to us written in the Bible.


Illustration/Application: Faith

Relying on what God has done rather than on one’s own efforts. In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ’s dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30-31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal. 2:20; cf. Heb. 11:1). The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton, IL; 1984), p. 350


I. They Died in Faith

A. These all died in faith, not having received the promises… (Heb. 11:13). These Old Testament believers not only took God at His Word, but they also proved their faith by living a Godly life until the day they died giving us an example to follow. God’s promises were never realized or materialized in their lifetime. They endured God’s delays. Despite of all the difficulties, they kept trusting till the end that the Lord will fulfil His promises. Their confidence on Him never faltered, they held on and persevered.


II. Their unwavering faith

A. … but having seen them afar off. (Heb. 11:13). God’s promises did not materialize here on earth. These heroes weren’t able to set foot on the wonderful city they were looking for to dwell. They lived in tents till they died. But that is not the end of it. They know that the place they were longing for were in the future, heavenly not earthly.


III. Their Persuaded Faith

A. … and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, (Heb. 11:13). The word persuaded comes from the Greek “peitho” and carries the idea of “having full assurance and confidence.” They didn’t falter in their faith because they had confidence in the One who had promised. The Bible says of Abraham that, He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Rom. 4:20-21). Abraham was fully persuaded. There was no trace, no sign of doubt or unbelief. He was fully persuaded that God was able also to do as He says. God is truly trustworthy; truthful to His Words, He never lies. He has the power and the ability to do what He has promised. We can rely on Him at all time.


IV. Their Separated and Pilgrim Walk.

A. … and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (Heb. 11:13-14). The word confessed in Greek is homologeo which means “to profess, to acknowledge.” True faith must be shown on how we live. These Bible heroes though they live in the midst of wicked and perverse generation, they were never part of them. They live Godly lives. We must show our faith by our good works. That is why James says Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17).

B. What did they profess? That they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Lots of people nowadays are professing to be Christians but you won’t see it in their lives. They were worldly. John wrote, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 Jn. 2:15) Worldliness will always be a sin. You can’t be a worldly Christian. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2). These Old Testament saints stood up, clearly confessed their God and declared that this world was not their home. Many God’s people know that we are strangers, foreigners not permanent citizen in this world.


V. Their Hope

A. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. (Heb. 11:15) The word mindful in Greek is “mnemoneuo” which means “to exercise the memory, to recollect, to remember.” This is where believers get in trouble. They always remember their sinful past. Some always remember the good old days and wants to go back, just like the Israelites who wants to go back to Egypt, but is Egypt really good? Some cannot forgive themselves for what they have done in the past despite knowing the truth that Christ has already forgiven them. The devil uses this to steal away their joy and prevent them from being fruitful Christian. These Old Testament heroes is the opposite! Their mind is fixed in eternity. For them no turning back, no turning back. But now they desire a better country, that is, heavenly… (Heb. 11:16). Their desire was not to go back, but to go forward. They fixed their hearts and mind in the city whose builder and maker are God. This is what we Christians should all be. We can refuse the sinful pleasures of this world because we look forward for the best city to come, a place beyond our minds and expectations. The place where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ dwells together with the angels and saints.

1. It is called “the city of the living God” (Heb. 12:22).

2. It is called “paradise” (Lk. 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7). This refers to an Eden-like place.

3. It is a place of mansions (Jn. 14:2). 4. The New Jerusalem is described in some detail in Revelation 21-22. It is a real city with gates and streets and rivers and trees, though splendid beyond our present comprehension.


Illustration/Application: Hearts Set on Heaven

In his classic devotional book titled The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, English Puritan pastor and author Richard Baxter (1615-1691) wrote: “Why are not our hearts continually set on heaven? Why dwell we not there in constant contemplation? Bend thy soul to study eternity, busy thyself about the life to come, habituate thyself to such contemplations, and let not those thoughts be seldom and cursory, but bathe thyself in heaven’s delights.” Our Daily Bread, July 28, 1997


VI. They Pleased God

A. … wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:16). We can only say that these Old Testament Saints “pleased” God, that a very strong statement was written for them. “wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God”. What a declaration! The Immortal, Invisible, God only wise, the Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, etc., is not ashamed to identify Himself with those who believe Him and continually trust Him. This is the kind of believer we ought to be!


VII. Conclusion:

These Old Testament heroes stand on their ground believing the promises of God till the day they died. The promise they are looking and waiting for did not materialize here for it is not earthly but heavenly. Truly the city not made by hands is heavenly. These people lived a separated and holy life and they “pleased” God, that is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. How about you my friend, would you do the same so that the Lord Jesus Christ will not be ashamed to be called your God?

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