Truth For Life E72 | Faith In Action Part 1, Abel, Enoch & Noah Hebrews 11:4-7

Faith in Action part 1
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Welcome back to our study of the book of Hebrews, we’ll continue with chapter 11 today as we zero in Hebrews 11:4-7, faith in action. We’ve already introduced the concept of faith in our last session. The writer to the Hebrews introduced faith in chapter 10 in order to help his readers combat wavering and shrinking back to certain practices of the old system, commonly known as Judaism. He told them that they had need of faith, and in chapter 11 he began describing what faith was like. Faith as we saw was the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Faith isn’t wishful thinking, the object of our faith is God, who has given His people His word with an oath as a way to give them security about His promises. This faith that the writer is talking about comes from the word of God that works in the believer to will and act according to the plan of God. And this is why without faith, it is impossible to please God. Now in today’s presentation, we’ll see the exemplary faith of Abel, Enoch and Noah in order to get a proper understanding of how the faith the writer is discussing, works.

Faith In Action Hebrews 11:4-7

The Passage

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that HE exists and that HE rewards those who seek Him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Notes

  • Verse 4

Abel was the first believer to die for his faith. His account is recorded for us in the book of Genesis 4: 1-11. Cain killed his brother Abel because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. That’s what 1 John 3:12 tells us. Basically God had prescribed how to be worshiped according to the text of Genesis, let’s go to verse 6:  The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?[b] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”

Based on the Scripture, we can make a strong inference. The Lord had prescribed what the offering was to consist of ( firstborn of the flock and fat portions). But Cain didn’t obey the instructions of the Lord. It would have required him to go to his brother Abel to ask for a sheep, and he didn’t want to do that because his pride was standing in the way. We also learn from these Scriptures that Cain wasn’t in talking terms with his brother. In verse 8, we read that Cain spoke to Abel his brother. The French version communicates this well, it says that Cain finally addressed his brother, which implies that he wasn’t talking with him. So what does this have to do with verse 4 of Hebrews 11? Abel was commended as righteous before God because He obeyed the instructions of the Lord by faith. Jesus said that man ought not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Abel heard the instructions and it generated an action in him, that is to offer the firstborn of his flock, in accordance with the word of God. And as a result, he was commended by God as being righteous and died for his faith. Through this faith, though he died, he still speaks. How? He informs us that trusting in God doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer ( even when we’re doing what is right). That’s consistent with 2 Timothy 3:12,

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Abel still speaks to us today about this, faith in God doesn’t mean exemption from trials, sufferings and persecution and the readers needed to hear that. Even Peter reminds us of this in 1 Peter 4:12,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you

This must have resonated with the folks that were reading it. Abel’s account showed them that even though Abel was worshipping correctly, he was persecuted and killed for it. Cain insisted on his own way of worship and was rejected by God. In the case of the Jewish believers the writer was addressing, they were being persecuted for their profession of faith in Jesus by the Judaizers who insisted on pursuing  the old testament rituals and practices that were obsolete. In some ways they represented Cain while the ones that were being persecuted represented Abel. The writer made his point clear to his readers by bringing up the account of Abel.

  • Verse 5-6

While Abel died for his faith, Enoch didn’t experience death, he was translated into heaven by God just like the prophet Elijah. The writer tells us that before he was taken up, God gave the following testimony about Enoch- he pleased God. And the writer reminds his readers and us that the only reason why Enoch pleased God is because he ( Enoch ) lived by faith. And we defined how faith is birthed- faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Enoch was called by God and believed God and walked with God and sought God in everything that he did. Scripture tells us that whether we eat, or we drink , or whatever we do , we ought to do it for the glory of the Lord. Paul reminds us that whatever is not from faith is Sin. In other word, every action that we pose must be a result of consulting God, or time spent in God’s presence. He must be behind everything we do, because man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. God also reserve the right to do anything He desires, and everything HE does is just. Abel died for his faith, but Enoch’s physical life was preserved and he never tasted death. But they equally were commended for being righteous. So God has a different plan for each one who trusts in Him. I believe the writer was trying to encourage his readers by giving them two diametrically opposed outcome of faith in God.

  • Verse 7

This is another exceptional example of faith in action. In Noah’s time, they had never experienced a flood or even a rainstorm. What made Noah stand out of the crowd ( the rest of the inhabitants)? Verse 8 of Genesis 6 gives us the answer to this question.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

God is the one who chose Noah, and this election resulted in faith in Noah’s heart. God prompted his heart by giving him a warning about the flood, and Noah received the word in reverent fear. He began to build an ark and based on the scriptures, it took about 120 years to finish the project. In the meantime, his contemporaries were ridiculing him, displaying unbelief. Noah just like the rest of the people had never seen a flood before but he believed the word of God and acted upon it. Noah’s faith condemned the whole world, because it revealed their unbelief. The flood proved that Noah was right. Jesus used the account of Noah to warn people about his return in Matthew 24:36-42.

The writer is using this very valid argument as a way to strengthen his readers and us. Just like Noah, we haven’t yet experienced the return of Christ but based on the evidence of Scriptures and the word of God prompting our hearts, we believe in Jesus’ words and live in light of His second coming. I’m sure there were times when Noah had his shares of doubts but nonetheless the Spirit of God continued to work in him to will and act according to the word of God. In the same way the writer to the Hebrews is encouraging his readers to continue to trust in the promises and word of God because God’s word never fails. These were people that were growing weary but I’m sure these God given exhortations to them and to us today would change their and our perspective. And we all need to be reassured and encouraged in times of trials.

So what do we learn from these three examples of faith? One, faith in God doesn’t always mean that we won’t suffer or even die. Long suffering and endurance is a fruit of the Spirit and all believers will experience suffering, it isn’t if it will happen but rather when it happens. Second, God has a different plan for everyone who trusts in Him. While Abel died for his faith, Enoch never tasted death. Not all believers will experience the same levels of trials and sufferings. Scripture tells us that God is faithful and won’t let us be tempted( tried ) beyond our abilities to bear but with every temptation, He will make a way of escape that we might be able to bear it. And finally, from Noah we learn that though it might take a long time to come to fruition, God’s word never fails. We may not see it materialize just yet but that doesn’t mean that God has forgotten, in due time He will act.

The question also is- is this pattern of faith recognizable in your life?

PS: I started Tayibs.com for the sole purpose of exploring difficult questions about the Christian faith that most of us shy away from. All the content generated on this website is thoroughly analyzed prior to being shared. And the site is run solely by myself, your generous support is very much appreciated

 

 

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