Mid-Week Messages: Two Sermons on Faith

Because I’m training for a marathon, I’ve had lots of time to listen to sermons while on long runs. Last week, I listened to two sermons on faith, which were stirring challenges to live by faith:

“Come to the Table by Faith,” preached by Bob Bixby on 1/29/2012

“Analysis of Faith,” preached by Bob Bixby on 2/12/2012.

Towards the end of the first sermon, “Come to the Table by Faith,” Pastor Bixby spoke about the promise of faith and how Abraham and Sarah and other Israelites looked toward a heavenly home and never received the promise of faith on this earth.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Some Old Testament believers endured torture and death for their faith–and never received the promise of faith on this earth! They lived out the very definition of faith–“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34  quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)

But as verse 40 explains, God provided something better–He provided His Son Jesus Christ as the Savior for all who will believe on Him. We still have to believe in faith that Jesus will save us from our sins, but we have so much more on which we can base our faith–the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ’s death and  resurrection, His written word, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

We tend to read the Bible in chapters, forgetting that one chapter’s flow of thought leads to the next. Hebrews 12 continues the idea that “God provided something better for us.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Sometimes we don’t know why we are in a particular trial (for example, Job), but we can trust that God is sovereign and perfectly in control.

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