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Open Your Eyes to What Is Real

(Hebrews 11:1-16)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.
Last week,
We were thinking about some of the things
We might use to motivate ourselves
To share the Gospel with others.
Its one thing to know we need to do it,
And how to do it,
But its another actually to do it.
Usually, the only thing standing
Between what we should do
And what we actually do is motive/desire.
If we dont want to do something, we wont.
If we want to do one thing more than another,
Well do that instead.
But if we really want to do something,
Its difficult to stop ourselves.

So what are some of the things the Lord has given us


To motivate us to evangelize?
We saw there are at least seven:

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This is why He made us and redeemed us
This is the main reason we exist.
This is why were here.

This is the task He has given us


It is our duty,
What we are to do in this world for His glory,
Something that is only for this world,
Before we rest from it forever.
Along these lines,
This is our only opportunity.

If this is what He wants us to do,


And we dont do it,
There is also the matter of discipline
But remember,
It will always be in love,
And for our good.

The Lord promised He would be with us


And give us success
He is the Good Shepherd
Who goes before His sheep
To the end of our lives here.

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He has promised the blessing
Of greater and more immediate answer to prayer
If were willing to give ourselves to this work
He will help us more, if we will yield more.

He has promised greater rewards in heaven,


Where no one can ever take them away from us.

When we consider how great the love is


Which He has shown us
In sending His Son to give His life for us,
To save us from hell,
When we were still His enemies,
How can we not be moved to do what He wants us to do?

And when we consider what will happen to those around us


Our family, our friends, our neighbors
If they should die in their sins
How they will suffer forever in pain and anguish,
When they might be spared through the Gospel
Again, how can we not tell them?

B. Preview.
Tonight, lets consider something else we need
If any of these motives are to do us any good: faith.

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We need to believe these things are true.
We need the conviction, the certainty that they are.
To the degree we have it we will be motivated.
To the degree that we dont
To that degree our desire to do this work
Will be weakened.

II. Sermon.
A. This is what faith is all about
This is why God gave it to us:
So that we could see,
So that it would strengthen our conviction,
Increase our desire,
And move us forward.
The author to the Hebrews writes,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen
(11:1).

We may tend to think


That living for God was easy
For those who lived during Biblical times.
They seemed to live
In full view of the reality
For them, it appears as though seeing was believing.

Sometimes that was true.

When God appeared to Adam and Eve


They didnt have to struggle with whether or not He existed.
When Jesus revealed Himself to His apostles,
When they saw His miracles,
They seemed to have no room for doubt.

On the other hand,


There were many cases
Where seeing wasnt enough.
Cain talked with God,
As Adam and Eve,
But he hated Him and killed his brother.
Judas was included with the twelve
He saw and experienced the same things as the rest of them
And yet he betrayed Jesus.
Many of the religious leaders of Israel saw His miracles
But viewed them as nothing more
Than obstacles to overcome
So they could put Him to death.

This is to say,
That seeing isnt always believing
Even if we could live
With all these things in front of our eyes,

It wouldnt be enough.
We need something more.

Think about the many who didnt see


And yet believed.

God warned Noah about something


He had never seen and wouldnt see
For about another 100 years.
Even though he didnt see it,
He believed God,
Built the ark,
And saved himself and his family.

God promised Abraham


That He would give him and his children
The land of Canaan,
And on the basis of that promise,
He left his relatives and his home
And went out to receive that land,
Even though he had no idea where he was going.

God promised Abraham


That He would multiply his children
As the stars in the heavens,

And as the sand on the seashore,


When he had no children,
And Sarah was barren.
And even though he had to wait
Until he was 100 years old,
And Sarah was 90,
He never doubted
That God would do what He said.

After Isaac was born,


God told Abraham to offer him as a burnt offering
On a mountain in the land of Moriah.
And Abraham was willing to do this
He bound Isaac and laid him on the wood.
He raised his knife and would have killed him,
If the Lord had not stopped him.
He knew Isaac was the answer to his prayers,
And the fulfillment of Gods promise.
He knew that God was intending
To fulfill His promise
Of giving him many children through Isaac.
Gods command to offer him was against everything
He had promised Abraham,

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But Abraham was still willing to carry it out
Because he knew God was faithful.

There were those in Scripture


Who seem never to have heard the Lords voice audibly,
And yet, because they had heard it in His Word,
And knew what He wanted,
Were willing to pay the ultimate price to obey Him.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego


Were threatened with being burned alive
If they didnt bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzars statue;
They refused to obey the King
Even though they didnt have
A specific promise from God
That He would save them from that furnace.
But He did deliver them
Because they honored Him.

Why did the early Christians


Choose to be eaten alive by lions
Rather than offer a pinch of incense to Caesar and call him Lord?
Why was Luther willing to face
The church and government authorities of his day
At the risk of his life?

What moved Calvin, Whitefield, Wesley,


Edwards, Spurgeon, Ryle and many others
To make the sacrifices they did to serve the Lord,
When they could have had a comfortable living
And made a name for themselves in this world?

Its because they had a stronger faith.


They could see what was ahead more clearly
The glory they would receive from God in heaven
And because thats what they wanted.
They felt the call of God on their lives more keenly,
And had the assurance that Christ was with them more powerfully.
They could see heaven and hell opened before them
And they wanted to bring as many as they could to God,
And spare as many as they could from falling into the pit.

Faith is what kept them from being crippled by this world,


And moved them to push forward to what was ahead.
Thomas Manton summarizes this point in his sermon series on Hebrews 11,
We should have such a faith to substantiate our hopes and to check sensuality, for
we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. Though the
pleasures of sin be short and inconsiderable, yet, because they are near at hand,
they have more influence than the joys of heaven, which are future and absent.
We wonder at the folly of Esau to sell his birthright for a morsel of meat, (Heb.
12:16). When lust is up and eager for fulfilment, all considerations of eternal
glory and blessedness are laid aside to give it satisfaction.

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A little pleasure, a little gain, a little happiness in the world will make men part
with all that is honest and sacred. A man would wonder at their folly, but the
great reason is, they live by sense: Demas, in love with this present world, has
deserted me (2 Tim. 4:10). Here lies the bait, these things are present; we can
taste the delights of the world, and feel the pleasures of the flesh; but the
happiness of the world to come is a thing unseen and unknown. Let us eat and
drink, for tomorrow we die (1 Cor. 15:32).
This is the language of every carnal heart. Present advantages and vanities, though
they are small and but trifles, have more power to pervert us than good things at
a distance, and the promises of God, even, to allure and draw in our hearts to
God. Here lies the root and strength of all temptations; the inconveniences of
strictness in religion are present, and they may have present distaste and present
trouble to the flesh, and our rewards are yet future.
So, how can we check this living by sense that is so natural to us? Why, faith,
substantiating our hopes provides a remedy. Faith makes things to become as
real as if they were already enjoyed. Where faith is alive and strong, and is the
conviction of things not seen, it baffles and defeats all temptations.
Edwards said this is the reason unbelievers
Arent as alarmed as they should be about hell:
To them it seems a long way off,
And so doesnt appear as threatening,
While the things that tempt them are near.

The same can be true with us:


Heaven seems a long way off,
And so doesnt move us to pursue it as we should.
Hell seems a long way off for the unbeliever
And so doesnt move us to reach out to them as we should.
We need a faith that brings these things near,
That shows us how things really are,
And how short a time it will be

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Before our time to do anything about it is over.

So how can we strengthen our faith?


This is what I want us to consider next time.
But so that were not left entirely without help,
Let me just preview a couple of things:

Gods Spirit is the Author of faith


He creates it,
And He strengthens it.
He is the One who takes what God has said
And shows us just how real these things are.
And so whatever we can do
To strengthen His work in our souls
Will at the same time strengthen our faith
And our ability to see as near
What now seems far away.
Two things we can do
To strengthen His influence
Is to read the Word
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ *Rom. 10:17)
And to pray.
The more we do these things,
The stronger our faith will be.

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So lets recommit ourselves


To seek the Lord in this way
And day by day grow in faith
So that the things He tells us are real
Will really influence our lives as they should. Amen.
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