Hebrews 10:32 - 11:3 - Faith Is The Substance Of Things Hoped For
Call To Worship: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Our text this morning is going to be Hebrews 10:32 – 11:3,
32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Our passage this morning is talking about Christians who had at one time considered their eternal inheritance and it gave them great confidence and hope. Because of their hope in these promises they endured great struggles, sufferings, reproaches, afflictions and significant personal losses. Their faith grabbed onto the promise of these eternal things and they had joy, confidence and love for God and His people despite these circumstances.
As I considered these things I wondered how I would do under these sort of trials? Would I be like them when they were just enlightened or am I like they had had become over time when they were tempted to throw away their confidence?
We are told that these believers had been taught from the very beginning that they had a better possession in heaven. They were taught that they were now citizens of a stable and abiding kingdom. They accepted these things by faith and they accepted with joy the plundering of their possessions. Even as new believers they endured hard struggles and difficult sufferings. They were young in the Lord but they displayed a strong faith which enabled them to endure public reproach and affliction.
Over time, however, they began to shrink back from these things and distance themselves from Christ and His church. Because of this the author of Hebrews tells them that they are not to throw away their confidence (35). He tells them that they have need of endurance so that they can receive what has been promised?
As I considered these things I had to conclude that I would probably need to be exhorted to endure and not throw away my confidence. I came to this conclusion as I asked myself some questions. How often do I consider the promise of heaven? How often do I consider the inheritance that I have through Christ? How often do I think about Christ’s return and the eternal hope that I have in Christ? Do these promises play a decisive role in regulating my thoughts and actions while under duress? Do these promises direct my affections, my actions and my emotions when I am confronted with temptations, trials and tribulations?
As I began to consider these things I wondered if there were Christians in other generations who did a better job at doing this than I am? If there have been, why were they able to do this better?
An answer to these questions came this week as I rode around with my son in the car. At one point he put on some music that seemed familiar to me. I asked him about it and he told me that it was music that he had heard through Mindy. Ian and his mother both share a love for music. I took this opportunity to ask Ian if he ever listens much to the music that I like? For example, I wanted to know if my love for hymns had any special place in his heart. I expected what the answer to this question would be an emphatic, ‘No’! I was surprised when Ian pulled up these hymns on his phone and started playing them.
As the music played I noticed that these old hymns possessed something that so many of our contemporary songs may lack. Those hymns spoke a great deal about eternity and our heavenly inheritance. They often spoke of the future hope that they have in Christ. Within a short time we heard songs like: ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, ‘When We All Get To Heaven’, ‘We Will Understand It Better By And By’, and ‘When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There’.
As we arrived home we were listening to the hymn ‘We’re Marching To Zion’. All of the stanza’s in this hymn are good but consider the third stanza because these words will help to express what is in our text this morning. It says, “The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets before we reach the heavenly fields, before we reach the heavenly fields, Or walk the golden streets, or walk the golden streets.”
Don’t you love the word ‘before’ in that stanza? The Hill of Mount Zion, the King in heaven, gives a thousand sacred sweets before we ever reach the heavenly fields or before we ever walk on streets of gold.
These words capture the heart of the text that we are reading this morning. Our faith in the promises of the gospel, the Good News concerning Jesus Christ and His resurrection, provides us with everything that we will need in this life and in the life to come. Our hope and faith in these promises gives us the confidence and endurance that we need on our journey towards our heavenly home.
When I told Mindy about the hymns that we had listened too. She told me something that I did not know. She said that typically the last stanza in every hymn speaks of heaven and our eternal home. Did you know that?
These old hymns that we don’t here much of anymore contain great reminders of these important promises that every believers needs to know! They remind believers that they are promised a better possession than the things of this world. Through faith in these promises every Christian is assured that these possessions are assured and they are abiding.
Let’s say, however, that we never sing another hymn. Let’s say that we never play another hymn that would remind us of the future hope that we have in Christ. Where would we turn to for this encouragement, confidence and hope? We would turn to the very Scriptures that have inspired such songs!1
Last week as I thought about these things I read through many of the New Testament books and I was surprised by how often the scriptures speak of our heavenly inheritance and of the eternal hope that we have in Christ. There are to many passages to mention here but let’s look at one that will compliment our text and it will be able to encourage your faith and give you encouragement.
Turn with me to Matthew 5. As you begin to read Matthew’s gospel you find that he records Jesus’ first sermon. This sermon was given when a large crowd had gathered around Him to hear Him speak. From the very beginning of this sermon Jesus lays the groundwork for so much of what our text refers to this morning in Hebrews. In this sermon Jesus makes it clear that He wants His people to continually think about His eternal kingdom. Jesus wants His disciples to be willing to endure sufferings on account of Him and His Kingdom and He promises that they will be richly blessed if they do. In Matthew 5:2-12 we read,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
At the end of this sermon we are told how the people responded to Jesus’ teaching. In Matthew 7:28-29 we read, “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
We have been told that these Christians in the book of Hebrews had been enlightened and they had been walking by faith. They may have heard of this sermon by Jesus through the teachings of his apostles.
They were poor in spirit, they believed that theirs was the kingdom of heaven.
They mourned, they believed that one day they would be comforted.
They were meek, they believed that they would one day inherit the earth.
They hungered and thirsted for righteousness, they believed that they would be satisfied.
They were merciful, they believed they would be shown mercy.
They were pure in heart, they believed Jesus that they would one day see God.
They were peacemakers, they believed that they would be called sons of God.
They considered themselves blessed to be persecuted for righteousness sake because they believed theirs was the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:2-11 gives us a portrait of what these Hebrew believers were right after they had been enlightened. After they were ‘enlightened’ they believed the gospel, they walked by faith, and they were persecuted for righteousness sake. They were reviled on account of their identification with Christ; but even as these things happened their faith allowed them to rejoice. The grace of God produced this joy and endurance because they knew that their reward in heaven was great (34).
Notice with me what Jesus does in Matthew 5:12 when He says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Jesus does not stop after He tells the crowd that those who are persecuted for righteousness sake will receive the kingdom of heaven. No, He gives them this promise but then He also gives them examples of faithful men that they should consider. The prophets received the Word of God, they believed it, and they endured persecution because of their faith in God’s word. Faithful believers such as this will surly have a great reward in heaven. We can be assured of this because Jesus Himself promises that those who display such faith will receive a great reward! (12)
These Christians, to whom the letter to the Hebrews had come, had in the past displayed great faith and hope but now they needed to be exhorted to not throw away their confidence. They needed to be reminded that Jesus, the one who spoke these words in Matthew 5, would soon return and when He returns He will either reward those who were walking by faith or He will find no pleasure in those who are not walking by faith (Luke 18:1-8).
We see these things in Hebrews 10:37-39, “For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (cf - 1 John 2:28-29)
As we look at Hebrews 11:1-3the author of Hebrews defines the faith that should be characteristic of all believers who are enduring to the very end. We read in Hebrews 11:1-3,“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
In Matthew 5 Jesus spoke of the faith that could be seen in the Prophets. This is a faith that receives God’s Word, this faith speaks and acts according to the Word, it is a faith that will suffer on account of the Word and endure till the end. This same type of faith, as we will see in the rest of Hebrews 11, is also found in all the Old Testament saints. And now the author of Hebrews says that there should be that same faith, the faith by which the Old Testament saints were commended by God, displayed in a Christians life as well (2 Timothy 1:3).
Every believer is to walk by faith (10:38). Faith ought to be a defining trait in our lives (Galatians 2:20). By faith, as we see in Hebrews 11:3, a Christian believes that God has created all things by His powerful word out of nothing. By His powerful word He made everything that can be seen with our eyes and understood with our minds (1:2; Psalm 19:1-6).
You and I, as people who have been made in the image of God, have been fearfully and wonderfully made. One of the things that God has given to us is the ability to use our senses to understand and relate to the creation that He has made for His own glory. As we use our five senses (taste, touch, see, smell, and hearing) we can observe God’s divine nature and power (Romans 1:20).
However, because of our sin we suppress the truth in unrighteousness and because of this we do not honor God or give thanks to Him. As a result, we are made futile in our thinking and our foolish hearts are darkened. We claim to be wise but we become fools. We exchange the glory of the immortal God for all sorts of idols (Romans 1:18-23).
The five senses that God has given to us are not bad or evil but sin has darkened our understanding (Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:17-19). Sin has effected out ability to think rightly (Romans 8:5-6). However, listen to how our five senses are a reflection in some way of how we are to understand and relate to the God who created us. We read in Psalm 94:8-12these words, “Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who disciplines the nations, does He not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge – the LORD – knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breadth. Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law…”
The senses that God has given to us are great and we enjoy all of them. We see because the God who made us sees. We can hear because the God who made us hears. As great as our senses are to us, they cannot give us the spiritual wisdom and understanding that we need. Sin has effected every part of us. After Adam and Eve sinned and were taken out of the garden we lost the ability to perceive spiritual things rightly. As a result, we need the help of the Holy Spirit and our natures must be regenerated so that we can understand spiritual things. If this does not happen we will remain dull, foolish and lack spiritual understanding when it comes to spiritual and eternal things (Isaiah 6:8-10 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
When someone is enlightened, as had happened to these believers, their slavery to such foolishness and dullness was removed (v.32). In that moment they received a new spiritual sense that enables them to see what they had previously been blind too and respond with faith. They begin to understand the truth of the Gospel and this gave them hope. This hope then produced in them faith and love.
Are you beginning to appreciate the need for a Christian to consider the promises of God that we have in Jesus Christ. Because of what He has done we can have hope. This hope then produces within a believer two things: faith and love. If these Hebrew believers were to cast aside the hope that they had in Christ it would effect them greatly. If they abandon their hope they would struggle to have faith and love.
Consider these things as we read Colossians 1:3-7when Paul says, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.”
At the end of this text Paul mentions a man named Epaphras and how he was the instrument that God used to preach to them the good news. As he did this they began to understand the grace of God and they believed it. As a result, the fruitfulness of their lives was increased as it was doing all over the world.
When we began this sermon I admitted that I had to ask myself two questions. Am I like these Hebrews believers right after they were enlightened? Or am I like these believers when they needed to be exhorted to not cast aside their hope and faith?
The hymns that I heard and the scriptures that I read this week were a great comfort to me as I considered these things. They helped to remind me of the great hope that I have in Jesus and all the wonderful promises that I personally have received because of Him. I am so grateful for this hope and my faith in these things.
Let me leave you with these words by Paul as you consider the blessings that you too have received through Christ. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed in you – so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Is Jesus your hope? Has Jesus enriched your life in every way? Has the testimony about Christ been confirmed in you so that you are not lacking in any gift?
If not, this moment is the time when you should respond to the good-news with faith. Confess your sins and your need for Christ’s saving power.
Is Jesus your hope? If you would say that He is then remember that Jesus Christ will sustain you guiltless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Closing Verse: Titus 3:4-8
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
1An interesting podcast concerning the liberal agenda within Christendom to change the words in hymns and in the bible to suit their agenda. Begins around 15:45. https://albertmohler.com/2023/02/24/briefing-2-24-23