The Bible presents many examples of people who lived by faith in God.
This lesson uses practical examples to address the themes of faith, hardship, and living by the new covenant. It is always needful to see how biblical truth is to be applied. Often, this can be done most effectively through examples from the lives of those who have demonstrated the truths being taught. In the concluding lesson of this unit, the writer of Hebrews provides just such practical examples with a twofold purpose in mind. First, he wanted to ensure his readers fully understood what he had been attempting to teach them. And second, he wanted to provide one last encouragement for them to remain faithful to Christ amid the trials they were facing.
GOLDEN TEXT: Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
1. LEARN FROM EXAMPLES OF FAITH
A. Faith Defined
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
…….Faith in itself is a seed of the grace of God. Through the conversion working relationship with Him, the Spirit is able to plant the seed of faith that can and will grow in the life of the believer. At the point of salvation something changed inside of me that was so evident. Because of that supernatural transformation, we received a hope and a knowing that there was something working in us greater than we could comprehend, something that we could not see, but something that could not be denied! That’s the way faith works. Even though we cannot see an outcome being what God knows it to be, we believe that it will happen according to His desire. It is that “substance”, even though invisible but something so tangible as if you could hold it in your hand.
11:2 For by it (faith that is) the elders obtained a good report.
…….Out of a genuine faith, the believers in God that have lived before us have been made statues of strength and spiritual prosperity for all people to later look upon. Through your life in faith, God will establish you and make you a pillar in this present world for His Purpose.
B. Faith Demonstrated
11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
…….Gideon, had faith in the Lord and was visited by an angel and encouraged to go into battle with the Midianites, even after his army was reduced from 32,000 men to 10,000, and then from 10,000 to 300!
…….Barak being a soldier had the faith to lead an army after being visited by the prophetess Deborah, against Jabin the king of Canaan, who had oppressed Gods people for 20 years.
…….Jephthae, the son of a harlot, was rejected by his brethren and left his own home. He was later asked to be the captain over God’s army and came against the enemy with the testimonies of what God had already done! Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. Judges 11:31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. (Giving God total praise for victory before it even comes!) Jusges 11:33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
We already Know so much and could testify for days about the faith of King David and of the prophet Samuel.
11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
…….Though all of these who were testified about suffered such violence, and even at the time of death they still did not live to see the coming of Christ, they still kept the faith in God and fulfilled the purpose! How much more faith should we all have after receiving this salvation of the Lord and being baptized in His Spirit!
2. EDURE HARDSHIP
A. Follow Examples of Faith
12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
…….Because we have been saved and protected by God’s marvelous grace, and there have been so many examples who have gone on before us that testify of their faith in God, it should be that much easier to run this race without sin!
12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
…….When we think we can’t endure much longer, look at how far Christ went so that we could have a greater faith! Not only did Jesus suffer verbal persecution by the ones He healed, but after being hit and spit on by slaves, after being scourged to near death, He still took the walk all the way to Calvary to declare, “it is finished”! What was finished? A life of bondage in sin!!!
B. Accept God’s Loving Discipline
12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening (disciplinary correction) of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
…….God does not chasten us to separate us. He chastens is to correct our faults in order to continue a relationship with Him!
12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
…….How many times over the years have you thought on how your parents corrected you, and how at that very moment you though they were wrong, but now that you have reached adulthood you reflect on how right they are. Our spiritual walk with God and receiving his correction is the same way. Though sometimes we agree immediately, there are times that our eyes don’t open to the truth of the matter until days later. But when we do come to the realization that we were wrong, we must give God the praise for the attention He took to keep us in His plan!
12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
…….Don’t let your chastening turn to sorrow, it praise the Lord that His eyes are upon you even in your times of waywardness!
12:13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
3. SERVE GOD WITH ALL REVERENCE
A. The Believer’s Existence
12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
…….We are not come back to the days of Moses, when he would strive up that mountain to hear direction from the Lord. Our salvation is in the most simple verbal communication we can offer.
12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
12:20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
12:21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
…….This New Covenant with Christ is still and will always be much greater than that of the Old! The old covenant could not change the heart, the New Covenant lives in the heart! The writer of Hebrews kept emphasizing this great truth to his audience, because he wanted them to appreciate the fact that the old covenant had nothing to offer them that would justify their defecting from faith in Christ.
B. The Believer’s Response to God
12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
…….Those who do not take reverence to His word will result just as the ones who rejected Him in the beginning!
12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
…….Those who receive God’s word and out of faith obey will not be shaken.
12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
…….This kingdom that cannot be moves lives through the life of every believer!
12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
…….Every person that has already and that ever will walk the face of this earth will be consumed by God, either in wrath or in Love! Chose you this day who you will serve!
Through all of the examples the Bible gives us about individuals who kept the faith and were made victorious through God, it gives us much more encouragement that we can not only make it in this world but can come through with extreme victory because of His Spirit living in us!