Do You believe IN God -or- Do You BELIEVE God

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Synopsis of Do You Believe in God, or, Do You Believe God

We’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from: Hebrews Chapter Eleven. I’ll begin with Verse 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Last week my message was about “hope.” In these times I believe we need to have hope. But where is hope without faith? Oh, I believe anyone who proclaims to believe in God will tell you that they do have faith. But, I am led this morning to ask: Do You Believe IN God – or – do you BELIEVE God?   There is a heap of difference.

I believe it was George Bernard Shaw that said: We have not lost faith, but we have transferred from God to the medical profession. Now let me say this. With a serious health problem causing me to be in the hospital five time in five months and have received a total of nine units of blood transfusion. I have thanked God for the doctors, nurses, etc. But, let me hurriedly add, it was a laying on of hands of a Christian with the healing gift that prayed over me and I received an immediate ceasing of hemorrhaging. “Nuf said ‘bout dat.

George Bernard Shaw’s statement is more theological than many sermons heard today. It is a day in which the church’s faith has become man-centered and, consequently, the average church member has very little grasp of genuine faith. Jesus said to the church in, Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the salt of the earth.” But if the salt loses it’s savor, it is: “good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

I want to show, today, that the same principle is an encouragement to accept the possibility to have the same faith that motivated and upheld these remarkable men in this Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews, known as the “faith chapter.” But, if we are to have their faith we must know their God. Not know of, but know God in a personal relationship.

The writer of the epistle (letter) to these Hebrew Christians; whom we might consider as the second generation Christians, wanted to explain that they must wait for God. What God has promised he will do. He refers to faith being the substance of things hoped for.
Earlier, in chapter 10, verse 37 He wrote to them For a little while, and that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”

These Hebrew Christians were experiencing a long series of discouragement, and they were perplexed. Similarly we have been living on a mountain top for such a long time in America that we may find ourselves perplexed if what is predicted to happen does happen.

If you recall, my messages for the last months has been seeing the development of God is warnings turning to anger. Earlier this year I spoke messages on the topic of “The Mystery of the Shemitah.” The Shemitah is the seventieth–year of the seven-year agricultural mandate of the Torah for the Land of Israel, which is still observed in contemporary Judaism. God’s timing is all in cycles of seven. Seven days in a week. A cycle of seven weeks pointing to the 50th called Pentecost. The Hebrew people count and observe 7-year cycles. Every cycle would fulfill a “Sabbatical-Year,” known as a “Shemitah.”

Several of these messages were a wake-up call to God’s warnings or “harbingers.” And there were many such “harbingers.” I said then, and I want to reiterate now that my purpose was not only to be the “watchman on the wall,” but to at the same time remind us all that in such dire times predicted, we true Christians have hope. Even just last week’s message was on hope. So, what am I teaching on today… right out of the chapter known as the Bible’s chapter on faith.

To some, I know this message can be difficult to swallow. Remember… this message was difficult for the Jews to accept. They thought that their religion was the best religion, with the commandments, the rituals, and the worship and devotion to God.

All of this from only the first verse: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

So, now, let’s proceed to Verse 2 “For by it (it being faith) the elders obtained a good report.” This is the shortest verse and yet the most important. The principle is this: Faith can do extraordinary things because it liberates or sets free man’s will to do what he previously could not do. How, Bro. Dick? Well, this was established earlier in chapter 10, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” In other words, it has great payment of incentive. As I see it, it is just an extra effect of believing God.

What is this new function of faith? To believe God as opposed to believing in God we find great possibilities that may be emerging right here on earth. The Israelites of Moses’ day illustrate a problem facing many who fill our churches today. They know a great deal about Christ, but they do now know Him personally.

God often allows us to be much-admired for our actions – honored for doing merely what we ought to have done. One writer tells us the “elders,” ( being Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, etc. ) received these commendations, that is, the men themselves. It is not merely the faith that receives the “good report,” but the men themselves Verse 2 “For by it (it being faith) the elders obtained a good report.”

The Third Verse certainly brings up a burning issue of this generation; creation vs. evolution. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. I am amazed of so many who want to believe in God and enjoy the adventure of faith, but prefer not to have to believe in the Genesis account of creation. This stigma causes them to side-step the topic all together.

The writer of this Epistle will not let us do that. In the beginning of the chapter he makes us face the question of creation by God with the Greek word “ex nihilo” meaning “out of nothing.”

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Do You Believe in God,   -or-    Do You Believe God

Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:  Hebrews Chapter Eleven. I’ll begin with Verse 1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

Last week my message was about “hope.” In these times I believe we need to have hope. But where is hope without faith? Oh, I believe anyone who proclaims to believe in God will tell you that they do have faith. But, I am led this morning to ask:  Do you believe in God  –  or do you believe God?  In fact, that is the title of today’s message: Do  You  Believe  in  God,  or  Do  You  Believe  God.  There is a heap of difference.

So, let’s look at just what is faith?? Surely, there is no better time than now to not only have hope but to be sure of our faith. Do you believe God?  I believe it was George Bernard Shaw that said: We have not lost faith, but we have transferred from God to the medical profession.  Now let me say this. With a serious health problem causing me to be in the hospital five time in five months and have received a total of nine units of blood transfusion. I have thanked God for the doctors, nurses, etc. But, let me hurriedly add, it was a laying on of hands of a Christian with the healing gift that prayed over me and I received an immediate ceasing of hemorrhaging. “Nuf said ‘bout dat

George Bernard Shaw’s statement is more theological than many sermons heard today. It is a day in which the church’s faith has become man-centered and, consequently, the average church member has very little grasp of genuine faith. Jesus said to the church in, Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the salt of the earth.”  But if the salt loses it’s savor, it is:  “good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

I want to show, today, that the same principle is an encouragement to accept the possibility to have the same faith that motivated and upheld these remarkable men in this Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews, known as the “faith chapter.” But, if we are to have their faith we must know their God. Not know of, but know God in a personal relationship.

The writer of the epistle (letter) to these Hebrew Christians; whom we might consider as the second generation Christians, wanted to explain that they must wait for God. What God has promised he will do. He refers to faith being the substance of things hoped for.

Earlier, in chapter 10, verse 37 He wrote to them For a little while, and that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”

These Hebrew Christians were experiencing a long series of discouragement, and they were perplexed. Similarly we have been living on a mountain top for such a long time in America that we may find ourselves perplexed if what is predicted to happen does happen.

 

If you recall, my messages for the last months has been seeing the development of God is warnings turning to anger. Earlier this year I spoke messages on the topic of “The Mystery of the Shemitah.”  The Shemitah being the seventieth4–year of the seven-year agricultural mandate of the Torah for the Land of Israel, which is still observed in contemporary Judaism. God’s timing is all in cycles of seven. Seven days in a week. A cycle of seven weeks pointing to the 50th called Pentecost. The Hebrew people count and observe 7-year cycles. Every cycle would fulfill a “Sabbatical-Year,” known as a “Shemitah.”

 

Several of these messages were a wake-up call to God’s warnings or “harbingers.” And there were many such “harbingers.” I said then, and I want to reiterate now that my purpose was not only to be the “watchman on the wall,” but to at the same time remind us all that in such dire times predicted, we true Christians have hope. Even just last week’s message was on hope. So, what am I teaching on today… right out of the chapter known as the Bible’s chapter on faith.

 

To some, I know this message can be difficult to swallow. Remember… this message was difficult for the Jews to accept. They thought that their religion was the best religion, with the commandments, the rituals, and the worship and devotion to God.

 

All of this from only the first verse: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

So, now, let’s proceed to Verse 2 “For by it (it being faith) the elders obtained a good report.”  This is the shortest verse and yet the most important. The principle is this: Faith can do extraordinary things because it liberates or sets free man’s will to do what he previously could not do. How, Bro. Dick? Well, this was established earlier in chapter 10, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”  In other words, it has great payment of incentive. As I see it, it is just an extra effect of believing God.

 

What is this new function of faith?  To believe God as opposed to believing in God we find great possibilities that may be emerging right here on earth. The Israelites of Moses’ day illustrate a problem facing many who fill our churches today. They know a great deal about Christ, but they do now know Him personally.

 

The commendation, or approval, is ultimately the consequences of dazzling the world, leaving them without any ground to condemn us. God often allows us to be much-admired for our actions – honored for doing merely what we ought to have done. One writer tells us the “elders,”  ( being Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, etc. ) received these commendations, that is, the men themselves. It is not merely the faith that receives the “good report,” but the men themselves Verse 2 “For by it (it being faith) the elders obtained a good report.”

 

The Third Verse certainly brings up a burning issue of this generation; creation vs. evolution. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

I am amazed of so many who want to believe in God and enjoy the adventure of faith, but prefer not to have to believe in the Genesis account of creation. This stigma causes them to side-step the topic all together.

 

The writer of this Epistle will not let us do that. In the beginning of the chapter he makes us face the question of creation by God with the Greek word “ex nihilo”  meaning “out of nothing.” This seems to today’s common tool of Satan’s attack on historic Christianity; making the Bible subsidiary to the latest scientific theory. Behind this question of creation versus evolution is the very nature of faith itself. Will we believe God as a consequence of what He has said, putting His integrity on line, or will our views be governed by so-called empirical method before we can trust the Lord?

 

The Gospel message says we can know we are accepted because of Jesus Christ and the internal witness of His Holy Spirit. So why should we look to our outward works for our assurance to be firm, then we are not enjoying a salvation by grace alone. What always tickles me is the fact that when teaching our youth on the Theory of Evolution they often seem to fail to tell the students that it is: Only a theory. My friends, Darwinism is yet to be proved. It is partly for this reason that there are actually several theories about evolution. Let’s look at Romans 8:16 For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us we are God’s children. Take note that the writer does not say that by faith we “prove” that the worlds were created by the word of God. There is the error being made by Christians who want to accept evolution. They are wanting to prove certain things to establish faith. If a friend told me that his middle name was Abanathy I would not go to Google to find out if it were so. So why should I go finding proof of something my friend God said to me.

 

Apart from my conviction that God’s Word is faithful and true, if you were to ask why I believe that He created time and space out of nothing, my answer would be: Because  of the power God has displayed in my own life. When I consider what God has done for me, I find Genesis the easiest book on the world to understand. If God can save me, He can save anybody. Through faith, yes I said through faith, we understand that time, space and matter were brought into being by the word, that is the command, of God. Things which are there were put there from nothing by the voice of God.

 

Those who subscribe to theistic evolution take their cue not from Scripture but from nature and “science.” You might say it this way; they believe that the external witness has priority over the internal witness. They think that because there are so many scientist believe in evolution that it must be true. They are taking their cue from nature. Hey… nature is cursed. Genesis 3:17 And He said to Adam, because you listened to your wife and you ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground.

 

Many scientist have sufficient integrity to admit their own inconsistencies. One prominent scientist recently pointed out that evolutionist have continually failed to admit that the theory of evolution flies directly in the face of some of the most established laws in the scientific world.

 

Bro. Dick, you seem to be against science and scientists. No, no, no. I thank God for medical scientist when I came near death recently.

Also, my father-in-law was a renowned Dr. of Organic Chemistry; and I might say that he was a true Christian. Pop, as we called him, spoke often within the circles of scientist; but he also was frequently asked to preach sermons in several churches. In fact, this man is who led me to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Verse 4 of the 11th. chapter of Hebrews is a very thought-provoking verse.  It starts out with it first two words: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts;

And by it he being dead yet speaketh.

 

The writer to the Hebrews not only draws heavily on the Book of Genesis to demonstrate his view that faith is not a New Testament innovation. One of follies of the modern church is that so many want to expound the New Testament without holding to the same convictions concerning the Old Testament to which the New Testament writers were committed. We might be surprised to find Able at the very beginning of the “Hall of Fame of Faith. It is clear that the writer could not have used Adam; he was not a man of faith… he did not believe God. In fact he did believe in God, after all he walked with him every day, but he did not believe God.  What did I say the title of today’s message was: Do You Believe in God,   or,   Do You Believe God.

 

Question… How did Abel know to bring an offering of blood? He was probably taught by his parents. Remember God clothed them in animal skins. This provision required the shedding of blood and it constituted the beginning of the Old Testament sacrificial system. God offered His grace equally to both Cain and Abel. For Abel’s offering was not a leap in the dark; he didn’t consider it a gamble that an offering of blood might please God. Abel did it because he believed God. Cain, on the other hand, may have thought that if his conscience was appeased through nature, he would do even better than what God commanded. Abel believed God. But Cain wanted to do one better and followed the course of nature: he offered the fruit of the cursed ground. We might ask, why did God not accept Cain’s offering. The answer may be found in 1st Samuel 15:22  To obey is better than sacrifice.”  And also in, Leviticus 17:11  “… and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”

 

Did Abel know that he was righteous? Yes he did. How? God testified of his gifts. How then, do we know that are accepted? In the same way, God testifies that we are justified and that we are adopted into His family. How? Well what is your gift that you are bringing to God. Are you still striving to gain His favor and acceptance by   what   you   do ?? Are your gifts your tithes, reading the Bible, or your labor at church, and helping lil ole ladies to cross the street? These are not “gifts,” these are your commanded duties. ( ? ) How about the old expression… “Nothing in my hand I bring.   –    Simply to Thy cross I cling.”    So-o-o-o, our gift is John 3:16   It is no small comfort to know that God does not grant us entrance into heaven by what we do in any case.

 

Well, it looks like the fifth verse of chapter 11 brings our attention to another man of faith. His name was Enoch. And by the way, you know all names in the Bible have meanings. Enoch means “dedicated.” Here is verse 5.  By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.  Some Bible versions use the word transmuted. By definition of transmutation is: The change of anything into another substance, or into something of a different nature.

 

Enoch is one of the least spectacular  and yet one of the most godly men in the Old Testament. In fact, there are only six verses in the Bible that speaks of him. Yet what we do know about him is sufficient to set him apart from all others in his own generation. He was the father of Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible, living 969 years. The Bible says that Enoch, “… walked with God   One other thing we know of him… he prophesied of the second coming of Jesus. And, oh yes, Genesis 5:24  said: “Enoch walked with God; and he was not;”   With all of these accolades in so little space in the Bible we come to realize that Enoch was not a very popular or well-though-of man in his day. Chances are that he went un-noticed until his disappearance. His genius was that he “walked with God,” and that “he disappeared.”

 

This leads me to say, and especially to the young people, I know the feeling of wanting to be popular and well liked. That which seems so important to you now will be almost meaningless in a short period of time. I had a lot of that and now I realize that the vast majority of those I no longer have much contact with; but I speak to God every day. What matters is that you “walk with God.”

 

Here is an example of what I am saying. There are two Enoch in the Bible. There was the one we’ve been speaking and in Genesis we find another. He was the son of Cain. Really? Yes. Genesis 4:17  Then Cain’s wife became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Enoch. When Cain founded a city, he named it Enoch after his son.  I don’t believe we ever hear of that Enoch again in the Bible. Wow! I would think that he was well known, and probably respected, because he had a city named after him. But he was not listed as a great man of faith. I’ll bet you didn’t know about this Enoch in the Bible. I didn’t, until I studied to assemble this message. I would imagine that the city of Enoch was the talk of the town, as was the man it was named after by his father. However, the man Enoch in this 5th. verse was, as it seems, not very well known or spoken of in his day.

 

Consider the people you hear and read so much about these days; such as movie stars, best-selling authors, politicians. Will posterity remember, even just 20 years from now. Again, I speak to the young people. That which seems so important to you now will be almost meaningless in a short period of time. I tell you what matters: to walk with God. Learn to say NO. Keep your purity and refuse to give in to what the opposite sex wants. Prove your Christianity by standing tall under the pressures of temptations.

 

Let me tell you about Jabal, Jubal and Tubalcain? They were the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of… Cain. Jabal was the father of the construction business; Jubal was the father of music; and Tubalcain was the father of the hardware business and also sculpturing. These men were blessed with particular gifts and talents. But when the writer of Hebrews spoke of the great men of faith he did not list these men. How many great men could you list that were great men of music composition, inventors, discoverers, national leaders, etc. How about all the famous buried or honored in Westminster Abby. Many men are considered great in this worlds opinions but were they Christians?  Enoch was not so honored but it is said of him that he “… pleased God.”

 

The fifth verse is a   crucial   point the writer makes in this chapter. This verse should have us questioning ourselves as to whether or not we are even a Christian. Enoch was not translated “by works,” but by “faith.” Each of us need to ask ourselves am

I trying to please God by my works.  Bottom line…………… BELIEVE HIM, NOT JUST IN-HIM.

Since in the ending of the fifth verse we recognized that Enoch “…pleased God.” lets begin verse 6 But without faith it is impossible

to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

 

If the fifth verse was a   crucial   point, this sixth verse is the  most  crucial point in the entire epistle. This verse give  a  clear  indication  of

Our  Christianity.

 

Maybe we should stop for just a moment right here and examine… what is the purpose of this whole chapter 11. It is mainly to show a

·       Faith obtains a good report;

·       Faith is believing God without the empirical proof; and

·       Faith is the only guarantee against apostasy.

Keep in mind that the writer of the Book of Hebrews was speaking to a remnant of Hebrew Christians, same as I may be speaking to a vestige of my listeners. So it is both by the writer and by me find it not only a rational for such apostasy, but also a giving an infallible hope that such a defection need not characterize the rest of us. We may therefore know that we will not fall away because we keep our eyes uponthe Mediator, Christ.  Therefore, this is a humbling matter that does indeed tell us whether we are Christians, for if we are trying to please God simply by our own efforts we stand condemned by Hebrews 11:6. Remember what I mentioned earlier… In my hand no price I bring…

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

 

This is where we begin. We are not in a position to repent or to enjoy experiencing the meat of our faith until we not only believe in God, but believe God. God does not reward simply because we believe that He is. Even the devil believes that He is. He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

 

I have said in the past that I feel very uneasy of church self-proclaimed revivals. I particularly dislike having celebrities, or even ministries of great oratory skill lead such. If a person hears such a speaker they might say to themselves, “If  this person of such stature has become a Christian, it might not be so bad if I do.”  If a profession of faith is due to being impressed with the prestige of the speaker it is on a weak foundation. So, the church logs in another number they have converted. Then, they seem to forget that the Lord did not say “go and make converts.” He said, “…go and make disciples,”  Too often that job is then left uncompleted.

 

In questioning whether a person who has “walked the aisle” truly been converted they need to ask themselves, what is their response to the Gospel now ?

 

Verse 7 might be titled “moving with fear.” The writer uses Noah as his example of “move with fear – but move.”

Hebrews 11:7   By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,   moved  with  fear,   prepared an ark to the saving of his honor; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 

Interestingly each of the men of faith in the 11th chapter had something new and different concerning the nature of faith itself emerging in each of them. From the account of Noah we learn primarily that if faith is truly to be an enterprise beyond the level of human capablilty, it will be exercised without the example of an exact precedent or parallel. That which makes faith faith is that one is thrust out under the stars, as it were, with no pattern to follow but the promise of God.

 

Noah lived in a day when there were no architects around who knew about arks. It was a day in which there were no weather forecaster that knew about rain. But God said “Make an ark of gopher wood….”  Noah not only believe  in  God, he “believed God.”

 

Faith is always unique. It is believing God without any prop that one may lean on, whether or not it has been leaned on before.  Also, the impediments to faith are never precisely the same in two individuals or in two different eras. Faith, to be faith, must overcome it’s own impediment, and the uniqueness of faith consists in the fact that no believer has the luxury of choosing what his impediments will be. What will persuade one person of God’s integrity must be independent of what it takes to persuade the next person. When someone says to another, “I’ll become a Christian if you will do so-and-so.”  The conversion of both or either is very doubtful.

 

Back  to Noah. He was unique also in that he stood out in bold contrast to the general atmosphere of his day. Noah lived in a time of violence, unrestrained sexual activity and pleasure. Yet we read in: Genesis 6:5  God saw that the wickedness of man was so great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The writer of verse 7 brings out that uniqueness of Noah’s greatness came from the contrast found in Genesis 6:8, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

 

Well the clock is grinning at me as it thinks I am going to go over my allotted time. But I’m going to fool it.

Needless to say I will not be able to cover all 32 verses of Chapter 11; but I will mention another unique faith involving a story with which we’ve all become very, very familiar. Abraham and Sarah, Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

 

There is not one small man in Hebrews Chapter 11. Faith does not breed smallness. True greatness is to be found when three ingredients coincide – intellect – integrity – crisis. I’d like to speak now to those who are considering stepping out in faith, or have already stepped out in faith with what you feel God’s calling for you is. Perhaps you are fearful of what crisis it might create, or is creating. All I can say is:  count  on  it.

 

May I suggest that you study the remaining verses of Chapter 11 of Hebrews. Notice I did not say “read” but I said “study.” You will find that each of the great men of faith each had all three ingredients.

 

So     until next Sunday        same time               same station

 

Think on Psalm 84:10  I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

 

America Bless God      and      God will bless America.

 

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