The Family of God
Here is what faith looks like. It endures, it perseveres. All faith, the faith of the people mentioned in chapter 11. Your faith has within itself an enduring hope. This is a part of God’s grace and provision to each of us. And what that’s there for in our lives, is to give us hope. No matter your circumstance this morning, in terms of how it relates to your faith, there is a persevering faith in life that is going on. It has a purposeful direction, to Jesus. So all of the suffering, all of the tribulation, all of the trials that you go through, all of the ridicule, whatever it might be in life, for your belief in Jesus Christ, are there by God’s design to strengthen your faith and bring you to its intended end. The intended end that the individuals mentioned in chapter 11 are going to have. Jesus is your king. He is your master. He is your ruler. He created you. He has summoned the church, us who believe in Jesus, to an enduring faith. Before we dip into the text, I want you to understand this, because a lot of people get this confused, over what is the perseverance of the saints and in particular, what is discipline (which we won’t get into until the Fall). Our faith, your faith personal, is not perfect. On your best day, doing the most spiritual thing, you are not perfect, you are tainted still by your sin. So even now, you sit back and you think am I experiencing some of these other things? I feel like I am alone, the people of the church don’t experience that. That’s not true, we all experiencing it. Over various things, that’s why he will say later, lay aside the weight and the sin that easily besets us. So we are all engaged in this upward, enduring, and faith arduous journey, so we wouldn’t look at each other in some judgemental way. Because everyone of our faith here, to one degree or another is weak. It is stumbled, it is sinned.
Now it is not that we want to subject ourselves and say this is “just who I am”, no we want to grow in our faith! Peter will talk about, no we want to grow in the strength and the power of his grace. We want to grow, we want our faith to become stronger for the battles we will engage in, as a result of our faith. But let’s not forget that! That our faith may become weak, and some of us may fall into sin, even a grievous sin, to be deep. But ultimately, this is what enduring faith is, we will continue to follow Jesus. Because Jesus is the one who brings us satisfaction in our souls. So he will bring us back up on the road along the way.
Hebrews 11, as we have looked at that, it lists all these people. Notice with me in verse 39 he says, and all of these. Its that whole group of people that have walked together, slowly, patiently, by design. As Pastor Alex and I talked about this series, they are worth noting. There was a bunch of rich truth there that the pastor writes, knowing his church, he was calling upon them, “Hey remember these people.” This is what their faith looked like. This morning we find ourselves here, that their stories were fitting into a bigger picture of God’s story, which was Christ. So now, we are going to look at this in two ways, we are going to look at being commended by faith (which they were) and then ultimately as we look in verse 40, the consummation of faith.
Holiday weekends are always enjoyable for all of us. This is of course as we mention, Memorial Day. There's Mother's Day celebrated, there's Father's Day, there's 4 July, of course Labor Day weekend. Many of you throughout the summer will go to very family reunions that some even this morning at mention to me about. Usually at all of those gatherings, you look forward to it. You look forward to it for a lot of reasons, to see family members and whatnot, and to enjoy a time spent together. It always seemed to me, at the family reunions I went to, that there was always a reflection that it wasn’t just completely perfect because someone was missing that couldn’t make it. Maybe you’ve experienced that as well at your family reunions. As I thought back to the family reunions of the McGuire family, and you know this my family is from the south, the best family reunion that I remember going to was early in our marriage at Kentucky Lake. It was by far, in my opinion, the best family reunion we ever did. It was on the 4th of July weekend and as I recall, as you know it can be sweltering and oppressively hot, it wasn’t terribly that was but it was very warm. It was on Kentucky Lake and many of you have been to Kentucky Lake, and if you haven’t been to Kentucky Lake it’s a great lake and it’s a great place to have a picnic. And as I recall, it was the most people ever at the McGuire family reunion. Valerie got to see all of my family, and for whatever reason on that particular day I remember how happy my dad was. We got to spend some time on the lake, we had these paddle boats and honestly it was the best McGuire family reunion ever.
What this this text is about, is a reunion. It’s a reunion that is yet to take place. But my friends, it is going to take place. The pastor writer here, is identifying that this reunion is a reunion of the family of God. They are the people of God because they have been identified by their faith in Jesus. I want us to look at this first of all that they are commended by their faith. Stay in chapter 11 and look back with me earlier in the chapter to verse 6. Friends, this is what pleases God. You want to please God in your life, this is beginning place. He was defining faith to them and then he gave them, as we looked at for however long we went through those, the people of faith. It is impossible on our part to please God apart from faith. Faith is the only way we gain access to God, and genuine faith seeks God. That is why you are here this morning, because you want to seek from and hear from the words of God and participate in the strengthening graces that build the Christian life of faith. The writer here says that that faith must be diligent and that that diligence is to pursue Jesus. So to please God you must demonstrate a faith in Jesus that has this enduring quality, that no matter your life circumstance you just keep pursuing after and looking for Christ. Its diligent, it pursues Jesus. It persists, no matter the difficulty. It may go weak, it may happen in life circumstances of difficulty, yet nonetheless it endures. Because it endures, this is how we know it’s real, it’s genuine. That person is a follower of Christ. They have faith in Jesus.
There is a lot that is talked about faith today. Most often, what you hear about faith in this day and age, you get on the TV right? It usually comes from athletes. That faith though, is really described as faith in faith. I believe I can do it and because I believe, it’s going to happen. They will use bible verses, yanked out of context, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, to accomplish what they want. That is not the faith that the pastor writer is describing to us. He is describing to us a faith that pursues Jesus. That is why he is going to say, a few verses later that he is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, that is what he is going to say about it. This is what we know to be true because genuine faith centers on Jesus. It centers on the merits of Jesus. What I mean by merits, I am talking about Jesus’ works. I am talking about Jesus’ sinless life, I am talking about what we read from Matthew 27, him giving his life a sacrifice for sin. I am talking about Jesus resurrection. I am talking about Jesus’ ascension and now kingly, priestly reign that he refers to often in the book of Hebrews. Faith, dear church, centers on Jesus. That faith is a belief that Jesus is the fulfillment of what God has promised. When it’s genuine, it perseveres. When it’s genuine it endures. These saints that we have looked at together went through a great deal of difficulty, yet they held to the promises of God and they held to hope that they were anticipating.
They were filled with expectancy. They were waiting for the promise to come. Jesus, of course, was the promise of the Old Testament and we know the pastor writer is trying to point them to those things that they are trying to hold back to, Jesus has fulfilled. What was spoken of by Moses under the old covenant was promised Jesus, Jesus was the fulfillment of. Of course as we have watched and looked at and gleaned together, he has done so in an incredibly rich way. But notice this with me, the Old Testament saints did not see the promise (verse 39). Jesus hadn’t come. They waited so, with great anticipation. They did. Abel was waiting for it. He heard the gospel from his mom and dad and he was waiting. He demonstrated that faith, didn’t he, by bringing a blood sacrifice for sin in demonstration of the one who would come and would crush the head of the serpent. On and on this goes in chapter 11, where we have watched this together. Jesus is pictured as the better priest. Jesus is pictured, not only as the better priest, but as the better sacrifice. That Jesus himself is the better temple. This a singular sermon written with the symbols of the priesthood, the sacrifices and the temple to cause our imagination to run back to what was the greater reality of what is. That Christ is the one who fulfilled all of it. He fulfilled every last bit of it. He is trying to emphasize for them, please don’t miss the main point. The main point is Christ. Don’t get sidetracked with details. Jesus is the promised reality.
Now notice this with me, because you can kind of miss this (verse 40). He says this as we read this, for us and apart from us. The pastor writer here, again think about this, he is writing to this Hebrew church full of Christians and believers, they had received the promise. Jesus had come, Jesus had died, Jesus had resurrected, not long ago even. He was pointing to them that Jesus was the reality. They, along with those pictured in chapter 11 the Old Testament saints, would both be received together at Jesus’ return, then perfection would be obtained through resurrection. See there is an element to this faith that has not yet been completed in this sense. They were looking forward. They were looking forward with this persevering, and this enduring quality of faith. Abel was killed for his faith, his own blood brother. Enoch walked alone, and I believe that represents he probably lived a lot in isolation. There weren’t a lot of believers around. Then God just took him. He had some difficulty. Noah, think about the message Noah represented of promise. It’s going to rain. It’s going to do, what? It’s going to rain. it ‘s not just going to rain, it is going to rain so bad that it is going to flood the earth. It’s going to do what? Are you crazy, old man? And he preaches righteousness to them while this ark is being built. Imagine the difficulty and trial of this man’s life as he is ostracized in society for his faith. Think of Abraham. Abraham is called out of the Err of Chaldees. He leaves, saved out of idolatry, to go to a city that he has no idea where it is. My friends, that’s faith. That is faith in the promise of God. It continues doesn’t it? Sarah is told in her elder years, she is going to have a child. It causes her to laugh. Isaac comes along and he is not the promised Messiah. Jacob then comes along and he is not the promised Messiah. Yet within the context of his life, he proclaims through the inspiration, of course, that a scepter will rise as the king. Moses’ parents, they suffered, the felt the suffering of having to give away a child, trusting in the promise of God. Great separation and suffering because they trusted in the promise of God. Moses could have lived in the king’s palace all of his life, but he chose to suffer and identify with the people of God. And on it goes. Rahab is converted to the desired Messiah. Samson, think of Samson. Samson repented, having suffered over his own sin. This is a trial of enduring faith. He really, went through suffering for his sin, but in suffering for his sin he got right, which proved he had an enduring and persevering faith. David, Samuel, the prophets, all the great heroes, Abraham, Moses, and David. Listen to this, don’t miss this, what we find is in their story of how they are redeemed by their faith in the promise, there is a greater story that is being told. The greater story is Jesus.
To that we can make great application. Listen to this church. Do you desire enduring faith? Is there a motive at work within you, that you are going to stick to and follow after Christ, no matter what anybody else does? That’s the quality of genuine belief. Do you desire Jesus with a joy filled manner? Are you captivated? Even as Pastor Alex shared, the reading of what chapter 27 did to him. Are you captivated by what Christ has done for you? Are you shaping your life around that, so that when the difficulty of life or perhaps the persecution of faith comes, it preserves, it endures. Are you losing your story to the greater story? Or are you kind of just living life? That is what he is trying to define for them. Everyone of them endured the trial and difficulty of life. The perseverance that is needed over faith in Jesus. Verse 40 again. What is that? That is the consummation of faith. That is the gathering of believers. The Old Testament saints, they knew what was promised but they hadn’t yet received it. Jesus had come, the pastor writer is preaching that Jesus has fulfilled what is necessary under the old covenant. Both of course pointing to Jesus and they, this early church along with the Old Testament saints, along with you and I and everyone else that’s being saved across the globe, represent the one eternal family. God is going to hold a reunion for. Look at this. There is something better for us, that apart from us, see it was incomplete yet, the story of redemption is still unfolding. It has been secured, don’t get that wrong, it is completely secured. But the truth of the matter is, people are getting saved. They are getting saved all across the globe. I have a friend who just got back from 2 weeks in Africa and he is with 30 church planters. There are people getting saved over there like crazy. It’s awesome! The story has not been told yet. The consummation of faith, the perfection of faith is not yet here. God’s eternal family is still expanding. It’s still growing. The promise made to Abraham that in your seed all the nations of the earth will be bless, is still our reality. We are living it out.
Dear friends, one day this will be completed. It happens at the consummation of Jesus’ second coming. Flip back with me to chapter 9, verse 27. See he came the first time to be that sacrifice for sin, he will appear the second time in his second coming, not to deal with sin but he is coming to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. That is enduring faith, that has a hope in front of it, an expectancy, an anticipation that Jesus will return. That is running around in your inner man, because you know Christ. It is causing you and leading you along the way. This author, this finisher of our faith. Jesus will return. When he returns he will judge the living and the dead, and he will gather and save his people. His one eternal final family. You and I will be connected, yes, even back to Abel. It’s the consummation of faith.
Believers are redeemed in resurrection. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15. I am going to give you two passages which are the goal of our faith. Two strong motivations to live in pursuing Jesus, because this is our reality. Verse 51. Listen to me, all those people died in the Old Testament. They died, all those people in the early church, all those apostles, they are dead. Perhaps if Jesus doesn’t return, perhaps everyone in this room are going to die. But this is going to be your reality. Death is swallowed in victory! Oh death, where is your victory, oh death where is your sting. The sting of death is sin. Oh it is going to bring you some harm, but it is going to be short lived. The power of sin, is the law. The law brings us the reality that we are sinners. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Because this is true, because there is this hope, that is filled with Jesus, it brings us expectancy and anticipation. It’s a win-win. Now, he talks about resurrection here, right? All this is really a part of verses 39 and 40 of Hebrews 11. Turn to Revelation 21. I know this is how we start the year, but this is a great gospel end game. It is a great motivation to keep before you, so that you will abound in the work of the Lord. So you will see that your life is not about building just a great business, becoming an engineer, becoming this or that. Now those are good things, they are worthwhile. God gave us work. Your life should be built upon a faith in Jesus, that is pursuing Jesus. I am going to obtain a body of resurrection, because in Jesus I am going to live with him forever in that resurrected body. There will be no more death, there will be no more mourning, there will be no more crying, there will be no more pain. Because the former things, the things we understand about this life are going to be put behind. Gone. You see, now when I have a family reunion, mom and dad ain’t there. I’d be lying to you if I told you, seven years ago my dad about 5 ½ my mom. It’s almost weird at times. Val and I were driving home Friday night, and it kind of hit us that way. Because I didn’t live by them regularly. The reality that they are gone doesn’t always hit me. I didn’t see them in a day to day way. Our family reunions now, they are not perfect. That pastor writer is saying this, it’s not yet perfect, I’m bringing more in. When I bring more in, when that last one comes in, man it’s secure. Then we are all going to come to the reunion. Jesus is going to return. He is going to save his people.
Now, let’s be honest, at least I am going to be honest. I didn’t want to go to every McGuire reunion. I didn’t, that’s the truth. As a kid, man they had outhouses. Stuck all day at a park yesterday with porta-johns, made me think of my childhood. I couldn’t stand to go to Tennessee and my mom and dad would just, we would hit that thing in August. We would hit 75 and they would be excited to get there, and all I thought about was the Wampus cat that wasn’t real and the reality that I had to go back about 100 yards off the house to the outhouse. Are you kidding me? Do people live like this?
You know why faith endures? God gives it hope. It is a grace gift. Something is going on in your inner man, in your mind. There is hope, there is hope, there is hope, there is a greater day coming. It is with that grace gift that God gives us, I want you to know, that is what he wanting you to understand about this text. There is a hope, because that hope is real, because that hope is true, because that hope will be your reality, you want to live now, you know want to have a faith that perseveres. You want to pursue Jesus. You want to build it into your marriage, you want to build it into your marriage. You want to be gathered with the people of God, shoulder to shoulder, fulfilling out the great commission, because your life isn’t about this life. I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me, isn’t so I can make major league baseball. God wants you to understand this passage, to provide for you this beautiful picture and give you a powerful faith-filled endurance. You know what he is about to tell them? Run your race man. Run your race! The prize is not just rewards, the rewards are Jesus! It fills you to run this race with expectancy, with anticipation. Aren’t you glad that God provided hope as a part of faith? We need hope. There are so many people that we rub shoulders with that have no hope. Everything they tie to hope has to do with this life. Many of them that I meet up with that are lost, are too retirement, and often times I ask them, what’s after retirement? Your busy to retire, to do what? To die?
The Old Testament believer did not receive the promise. Jesus had not yet come, so that apart from us, the church’s completion, which is still being built, dear friends it is going to be secured, because when God saves that last person, Jesus is going to come. And all of the family of the people of God will be gathered. Not in a singular day of the marriage supper, no, in an eternal supper. Let me tell you something, I know a little something about supper, being raised in a Southern home. There ain’t nothing better than supper. Southern people know how to cook. You want to know what you are going to be eating, read Isaiah 25:6-8. Jesus himself is going to prepare it. Your family reunion is secured. It is going to take place, listen to this, I thought of that day when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it wasn’t that hot, the glory of that family reunion is going to be Christ himself. All of the redeemed together, not one missing. All will enjoy Christ forever. Hope realized. Dear friends, dear church, be true to Jesus.