Sermons & Sunday Schools

At All Costs, “By Faith”, Endure to the End

Full Transcript:

That which completes the whole will not sound forth until we stand before the throne of God and the Lamb in our glorified bodies. That becomes a very important theme here for us because God is not done with you until you stand in glory. That is why we need to deliberately grow in faith. Remember, if you want your faith in God to increase, you must increase in your knowledge of God.

When you grow in the knowledge of God, you will know that the object of your faith can be continually obeyed and trusted, you will trust that He will continually be with you and not leave or forsake you, you will know that He can be absolutely relied upon and He can be emphatically shouted about and praised because what God says is true. His faithfulness is unending and His mercies are new every day for us. But it is a fight between now and glory. Do you understand that yet? We may be on the mountaintop once in a while, but most of the time in the valley.

Paul reminded the young pastor Timothy to fight the fight of faith. He says in 2 Timothy 4:7:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

We are to have these convictions in which we are grounded in Scripture and firmly connected and therefore our faith will become impregnable and unbreakable. We all must fight the fight of faith as sojourners.

It was John Piper who said, “Our ministries ought to have a wartime flavor. It should have a strange mixture of tenderness and toughness that keeps people a little bit off balance, a pervasive summons to something more, something hazardous, something wonderful, a saltiness and a brightness about your life and about your church — something like Jesus.”

We are to be salt and light with the joyful embrace of suffering. That is what the world is looking for, people who are living their faith. Hopefully we can still find these people on the honor roll of faith, though they may be hard to come across. Young men and women who will hold their lives cheap, be faithful until death, and who will lose their lives for Christ. They will live wisely yet dangerously. Because the walk of faith is a dangerous walk.

We are walking on the precipice, and we can fall over easily because of our weaknesses and frailty but God keeps us. Our faith helps us to keep our eyes on Him. We are a bit reckless in our service, but in this time we are trying to find men in prayer. These are men who count God’s Word more important than their daily food. Men like Moses who commune with Him face to face, both God’s men and God’s women.

The people of the Church ought to never be like the world around them. John Piper continues on to say, “They are not impressed with us. Prosperous, wealthy, safe, middle class, do-what-everybody-else-does people. Don’t build a church like that. Don’t go there. Don’t spend your life like that. It will be wasted. You will have lived it.

“My desire and prayer for you is that your life would have a radical flavor — some extraordinary love, something risky, some crazy sacrifice that nobody can understand.”

What is the reward, or the prize at the end that creates this risk-taking? The reward is coming, and it should be everything to the believer. The reward is the incomparable glory that waits. It is for all who are faithful to the end. Paul says in Romans 8:18:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

It is also the imperishable inheritance prepared for God’s redeemed people. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:4:

To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

This is of course the crown of righteousness which will be bestowed on all who love His appearing. Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:8:

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

There is a reward waiting for us and we cannot get that reward here. Those who live by faith treasure their future reward vastly more than they treasure this world, their wives, husbands, children, wealth, comfort, security, exercise, books, music, sex, leisure, vacation, houses, jobs, success, friendships, and much more. That is what it is about. We are to treasure our future reward a million times more than we treasure anything in or of this world.

Christ. He is the one precious and the one most glorious and He is our reward. If you abandon the struggle, you abandon the prize. I think one of the chief characteristics of true conversion is that you keep going no matter what and nothing can stop you. You may slow down, but you cannot stop.

That is a fruit of conversion that you will persevere until the end. But there is still going to be a struggle. Followers of Christ are to run the race in order to reach the goal in order to receive the reward. In the present we are looking at Hebrews 10:36, which says:

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

The word means to persevere under misfortunes and trials. It means to hold fast to one’s faith in Jesus Christ no matter what happens. We will find out in this next passage that Biblical faith actually does something, it rocks the boat. Biblical faith has a flavor about it that is risky and radical. When those around you catch a glimpse of that kind of faith, it stupefies them. It astounds those who are in the world looking on to those who actually live by faith.

They feel uncomfortable living around those who live by faith, but at the same time they often admire them too. Otherwise, they ignored those who live by faith or they take out their weapons and they try to make those who live by faith look ashamed and ridiculous.

And of course, that leads to downright hatred which of course leads to other things. So now the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:32 comes and touches on this wide range of of incidence down through the centuries of Israel’s history. And this is how he started off in Hebrews 11:32:

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.

In other words he is saying that he can go on and on, explaining to people of faith about people who actually live this way radically and riskily. And that is what he does. But he does it in very rapid-fire succession now until the end of the chapter. So he brings people in from the entry into the promised land a group of people there and then through the times of the Kings, and then through the times of Exile and return, which are in other words the times of the prophets. And then he goes into the period of the Old Testament and New Testament, which are the intertestamental period, and finally he comes into the New Testament period.

He just picks out people and usually starts with the most important person within that category of time and he begins to lay it out before us and remind us that these people have gone before us and endured some real real heavy stuff and did not quit. They did not stop but continued to endure; this section is about endurance.

There are at least three things that we should at least consider when it comes to endurance, especially the endurance of our faith.

Here is the first thing to consider. When times are “a-changin,” endure by faith unto the end. We are always moving through a day and a time of change. When times are “a-changin,” it seems that people are backsliding from God and there is a bunch of apostasy, with people leaving the faith and not following God. When you live during a time like that, the answer to the question of whether it is impossible to endure is no.

What time am I talking about? Well take take your Bibles and turn back to the book of Judges. Judges 2:10 is definitely a time of backsliding and apostasy. Notice how the author packages it, because of course Judges was a horrible time in Israel’s history.

This is the reason why in Judges 2:10-11, it says:

All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord.

Then look in Judges 17:6:

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

Now when that happens, when there is no knowledge passed down to the next generation and everybody does what they think is right in their own eyes, what do you think living during that time looks like? How is that going to stretch your faith or my faith? We are kind of in that world situation today, it is not as bad as then but it is still like that somewhat.

Did anybody live by faith? Well, the first example that the writer of Hebrews gives in Hebrews 11:32 where he says:

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.

He lumps them all together now and that is a large time frame in Scripture. Let us look at Gideon in Judges 6:15-16 who had a phenomenal victory over the Midianites. By God’s command, he reduced his troops from 32,000 to 10,000, and then from 10,000 to 300. Look at what it says in Judges 6:15-16:

He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”

Now look over to Judges 7:12:

Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

So here is Gideon going up against two mighty armies. He is clearly outnumbered when God Himself reduces his troops down to 300, armed with nothing but trumpets. And what did he do? God said blow the trumpets and smash the lanterns. Now the lights were exposed to the Midianites and they took off. God did that. Gidian had faith in God that if God reduces the troops to almost nothing, God will win for them. See they are totally out numbered and God wins. He was a in a sense, an army of one because he trusted God. That is what faith does.

There is also Barack who is in the book of Judges 4:9 in the middle of the verse. Let me just give you something about Barack. He was with only 10,000 men and came against the great army of Sisera with its 900 chariots of iron and myriads of troops. He had to trust God to also fight for him. Look at what it says in Judges 4:9 in the middle of the verse:

The Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.

So how is God going to deliver to Barack Sisera? He is going to do it through a woman. I thought we had all these troops. What does a woman have to do with it? Well look at Judges 4:13-14:

Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. Deborah said to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the Lord has gone out before you.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.

In other words, he got out of his chariot and booked it. He figured that was a dangerous place to be. Look at Judges 4:17-21:

Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’” But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

That is pretty horrible stuff isn’t it? That is what happens when people do things in their own understanding and in their own sighT without knowledge of the Lord.

Then Judges 4:22-23 says:

And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel.

So what’s happening? Barak trusted God. How does God deliver him? Through a woman. That’s pretty humbling when you come to soldiers like this.

It was a time of backsliding an apostasy, but there’s a next section here. When people live in times when people do that, which is right in their own eyes, then that’s how it looks and now the next part of Scripture where it talks about Samson in Hebrews.

That was a time of foolishness. If you are going through the Bible now you should be reading through the sections of Scripture that talk about Samson about now.

And Samson is is kind of like a jerky kind of individual even though he’s really strong and powerful. Some of the things that are going on in that that book is the picture of foolishness and that was definitely wrapped up in the life of of Samson.

Yet he knew God, who made him a judge of Israel, and gave him great strength and power because he was the one that was going to deliver Israel from the Philistines.

He ended up of course being blinded and and regain his strength and an even his spiritual perspective. And the last act of his life of faith was when he pulled down the pillars of the temple of Dagon, who was the false idol that the Philistines worshiped. He pulled down the houses the temple upon them and thousands got killed in one instance.

And in fact, the Bible says listen, he killed more at his death than those he killed during his life. He was a judge, but he trusted God in the last minute.

After losing his eyesight and after really blowing it in some instances now delivered Israel by pulling down the pillars and the temple. Again, this was a time of foolishness. But who has faith? A guy named Samson has faith and trusted God and God delivered him. God is doing this all on behalf of his people. Why? There is no rule, there is no law, there are no kings. You just have these judges that God raised up with all their frailty, with all their weakness and God uses them as examples of faith.

And then there’s another one in this era of foolishness, that’s Jephthah. You probably haven’t heard much about Jephthah, but he was an illegitimate son and outcast. He was also a judge of Israel and he saved Israel in Judges 11. He conquered because of his faith in God and it says in the word of God in Judges 11:30-31:

Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.

That seems like a noble gesture before God to offer to the Lord, whatever comes out of his door when he comes back from a victory. He did have the victory because God gave him the victory. But look what it says in Judges 11:34-36:

When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” So she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the Lord; do to me as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.”

Then look at Judges 11:39:

At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel

So again at time of foolishness God delivered the Ammonites into his hand and yet because of this crazy vow he made, he had to sacrifice his daughter.

See when people don’t do what God says, things get crazy. Where do you put stuff like that? There’s really no where even to put it. And then you also have a time of idolatry, worldliness, and rejection. When it’s recorded now in 1 Samuel 8, there comes a time where Samuel becomes the last judge of Israel and Samuel becomes the first prophet of Israel. He has a very unique position and what happens at the end of Judges is that the people finally reject God outright.

So it’s a time of idolatry. They worship the baals. It’s a time of worldliness. It’s the time of rejection of God. And if you want to look at it with me, turn to 1 Samuel 8:4-7, this is what happened:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day– in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods– so they are doing to you also.”

So the prophet feels the rejection of the people rejecting God as king. He feels that rejection too and God comforts Samuel who was a prophet since he was a little boy. His mom gave him over to be a prophet from his birth once he was weaned. So he was faithful right to the end and here the people say they don’t want God to be king.

We want a king like everybody else has around us and so it’s a time of rejection, a time of not wanting God to reign. Saul is not mentioned at all in Hebrews because he was not a man of faith. David that was mentioned and he’s the only king mentioned in Hebrews 11. He is the one, of course, who becomes the deliver. He’s the one who delivers Israel and becomes the good king, even though he is riddled with all kinds of sins. He becomes God’s man and then of course it leads into the time of the prophets.

Back in Hebrews 11:33, you have a time of foolishness, a time of worldliness and rejection, a time of backsliding and apostasy. Those times when people lived were endured by faith and the people went right to the end, and every one of those people mentioned did that.

But there’s also times in which God give his victories, and when it is a good time to live. It’s a prosperous time to live but that has its own dangers to it when it comes to faith, because when you get too comfortable or too lazy, you take for granted of the things of God and forget about what it means to live by faith.

When victories are at hand, we are also to endure by faith to the end. That’s what this next section is in Hebrews 11:33-35:

Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection.

Who by faith conquered kingdoms? Samuel, David, Solomon, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Who obtained promises? Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, and David. Who shut the mouths of lions? Daniel, Samson, and David.

When David was just a young lad, a shepherd boy, he took hold of the jaw of a lion and beat it with his staff. So David killed lions, Samson killed lions, and Bariah killed lions. They did this in the strength of the Lord, not in their own strength.

And when Daniel prayed to God according to his usual custom in the book of Daniel, he was arrested and thrown into the lions den and God miraculously delivered him by sending an angel to close the mouth of the lions.

Remember that Darius the king was all worried about Daniel and he came to him and it says the king arose with the dawn when Daniel was in the lions den all night until the break of day. He didn’t eat anything or have any entertainment and he went in haste into the lion’s den and then he says when he had come near the den to Daniel, the king cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said, “Daniel, Servant of the Living God. Has your God whom you constantly serve been able to deliver you from the lions?

He’s waiting for a response. If you don’t hear anything, he knows it’s over, right? And this is what Daniel said in Daniel 6:21-22:

“O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me.”

See, that’s faith. Who can be in a situation like that without faith Without this risky faith, without this kind of understanding of who God is? And then of course in Hebrews 11 it talks about those who quenched the power of fire. Who did that? Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, right? God can deliver us but if you decide to do it, that’s all right to but we’re not bowing down to your gods.

That’s faith! Your life’s on the line! That’s faith. We need that kind of faith in our little lives that we have. With the little troubles we have, we make our troubles to be bigger than what they are. And therefore it crushes us, it weakens us, and God becomes a little thing instead of who he really is, which is this great God and Savior that we are to worship.

We have to be very very careful that doesn’t happen to us, because that is exactly what Satan wants to do to you. He wants to minimize your understanding of who God is and make him into an idol that you have to carry around, you have to help out, you have to feed, you have to offer things to.

That’s not the God of the bible, sorry. The god of the bible is mighty. And he’ll deliver you if he needs to deliver you, but ultimately in the end we are all delivered. That’s the point! Faith sees the invisible, faith sees what is beyond, faith believes the promise of eternal life. That’s what faith believes.

They escape the edge of the sword. Who did that? Elijah and David and many others. Those from weakness were made strong. Who from weakness was made strong? Sampson, David vs. Goliath. David was a little boy coming against a giant, Goliath, and with one stone flung it from his slingshot. And it sunk in his head and he fell face forward and then David struggled with his gigantic sword and cut his head off. He pulled the head off and brought it to Saul.

See these are real stories about real people. These are not fairy tales or fables. This is about the God whom we worship. When David came before Goliath, he said that “you may come with staffs and swords, but I come in the name of the God of Israel, in whom you defy.” And then it was over, it doesn’t take much for God to do what He has to do if we have faith.

Notice what it says in Hebrews 11:35:

Women received back their dead by resurrection.

Who was that in the Old Testament? That was Elijah when he was ministering to the son of the widow of Zarephath. In 1 Kings 17:21 it says:

O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.

And then the same thing happened with Elisha and the Sunamite woman from 2 Kings. In the New Testament, the widow of Nain received back her child. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, comes back to life by Jesus. It continues like this, and all of this shows that God’s power is much greater than the grave. Jesus is alive and working among His people in this world. The helpless people and the helplessness that we all encounter in the face of death is removed by the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we see that no one is outside of God’s reach no matter how helpless they have become.

And of course you have the resurrection of Jesus, and many believers who have died who have come out of the grave. It says in Matthew 27:51-53:

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Turn back to Hebrews for a minute. It tell us that others were tortured, not accepting their release so they might obtain a better resurrection. Look at the rest of Hebrews 11:35:

Others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection.

A better resurrection is contrasted with the other resurrections mentioned in the passage. In other words, the young sons restored to their mothers were given the temporary gift of life, only to die again. So in a sense, it was a resuscitation for a period of time only to die again. But by contrast, the better resurrection that they look forward to has to do with the final defeat and being raised to eternal life in Christ Jesus. That is what we all have to look forward to.

While we are in this world, we need our Lord to continually reduce us from the effects of the fall. The curse has been removed because of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lamb. Christ bore the penalty for our sins on the cross. But we who are saved will not be removed completely from the effects of the curse until we are home with Christ in the city of God.

So the key to successful endurance is faith. Your faith grows when your knowledge and understanding of God is correct. There is one last thing. When suffering and martyrdom is your lot, you ought to endure by faith until the end.

In Hebrews 11:36-37, the ill treatment that came upon these believers as a direct consequence of them having embraced the Christian faith because they became open followers of Christ. It says:

And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.

This was Jeremiah, Joseph, Micah, and Elijah. So many people could fit into this category.

They were stoned.

Zechariah was stoned to death because he told the people the truth.

They were sawn in two.

Some say this was Urijah the prophet, but there is uses just the word sword. There really is no connection you can find for this passage except for a Jewish legend. And it looks like it is Isaiah the prophet that this is talking about.

This is what it says in the legend:

Jewish legend has it that Isaiah the prophet was sawn in two. Hezekiah the good king died, and Manasseh came to the throne. He worshiped idols and tried to compel Isaiah to take part in his idolatry and approve it. Isaiah refused. He was condemned to be sawn asunder with a wooden saw. While his enemies tried to make him recant, his faith steadily defied them and he prophesied their doom. And while the saw cut into his flesh, Isaiah uttered no complaint and shed no tears, but did not cease to commune with the Holy Spirit until the saw had cloven him to the middle of his body.

I don’t doubt that about Isaiah. If you know anything about his ministry, God tells him that he is going to go to these people and preach but no one is going to listen. So if you preach the Word of God and no one listens, the people won’t like you. As a matter of fact, a lot of people will hate you and will look for an opportunity to win. That is not something you can substantiate by Scripture, but it sounds like that would happen to Isaiah.

And then back in Hebrews 11:37, it says:

They were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated.

This section talks about how they treated the prophets. That is why when you get into the gospels, you see how Jesus kept bringing up how badly the prophets were treated. They were sent to give a word from God, and they were killed, abused, stoned, ostracized, and imprisoned. The people didn’t listen to the prophets because they already rejected God. And if they rejected God, they would have rejected the messengers who were there to tell them the truth.

As a matter of fact, Zechariah was stoned to death simply because he told them exactly what God wanted them to hear, the truth. They wanted to hear what they wanted to hear.

And then verse 38 if you noticed there it says:

Men of whom the world was not worthy.

The world here means humanity and rebellion against God. And of course men and rebellion against God judge God’s man as unworthy for this world.

And what are they? What do they do? They wander in deserts and in verse 38, in mountains and caves and holes in the ground. See if you don’t read this section with this thought that, “my life’s not that bad,” then that’s good. Most likely your life will not get that bad, thank the Lord, right? But it may get that bad.

But in any case whether God provides a time of blessing and victory whether it’s a time of apostasy and rejection, those are not the point. The point is that you can by faith in anytime you live endure right to the end, even if it means losing your life. Because you have not lost your life in Christ, you gained it. My loss is my gain.

In fact each one of these people mentioned here. There’s a striking similarity in their faith. And here it: is each lived in a time where faith in God was scarce. Each battled overwhelming odds. Each had to stand alone. Each had a flawed faith. You find no perfect people in this lot.

And you know what? The Bible puts it all out before us that there’s no perfect people that God uses. So in your flaws and in my flaws and even in my sin, God will use me. He will increase my faith. I can endure you can endure, and you have the victory because you are Christ.

This is radical and this is risky faith, but it’s the kind of faith that shows forth real conversion to Christ and resolve not to shrink back, not to apostatize, not to throw in that your towel, and not to sit on the bench.

You are to keep going, you are to keep pressing on, you are to keep growing stronger in the Lord. Look at Hebrews 11:39:

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.

Again an unfinished symphony. This verse has already been mentioned in Hebrews 11:2. He uses the same thing where men of old gained approval and the phrase “gain approval” spoke of the public witness to a person’s character.

And in this case, God testifies to their faith. These are mine. I’m going to keep them, they’re going to endure, they’re going to persevere to the end and in their life they are going to show the world that God is real.

This is the kind of faith the ancients had that enabled them to endure through all kinds of difficult situations right to the end. To live in this manner assumes that one has a living knowledge of God , and that they know how to gain approval of God. They know how to live for God and please God, that they know how to serve God.

This must always be kept in our minds, and in faith’s sight. Even faith rewarded in this life is only partial fulfillment of the promise. The fullness of what God has in mind for us would not be known until we stand before God beyond the grave.

You will never fully realize what God has for us in this life. Only in heaven. And if you look at the end of Hebrews 11:39, it says:

They did not receive what was promised.

Why didn’t they receive it? In Hebrews 11:40 it says:

Because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

He says God provided something better for us. Now he takes us and he throws us into the mix with all the others who went before and he says that he provided something better for us so that apart from us, they would not be made perfect. In other words in the Old Testament, on that side of the cross, they had to be saved by the atoning work of Christ on the cross. We on the other side of the cross have to be saved by the atoning work of Christ on the cross and together, we’re going to be made perfect. No one can go without going through the cross.

So don’t forget, we are God’s unfinished symphony. The final movement of the symphony that which completes the whole will not sound forth until we stand before the throne of God and of the Lamb in our glorified bodies. But between now and then it may be really rough waters.

What’s going to get you through? It’s always faith. Faith always sees God’s way. Faith always looks to the character of God and the promises of God and no one can take that from you. Even if they take your life, they cannot take that.

So it’s turn. I said it before, it’s our turn to live on the Earth today with enduring faith, to believe the unseen, to trust God’s promises, to wait and hope expectantly in that which the great Savior Jesus Christ will bring to ultimate fulfillment in the end.

Why? Because we have a great cloud of witnesses. That’s why we have a great cloud of witnesses that have finished the race already and they’re waiting for us to finish.

So that’s what he does in Hebrews 12. Look at Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

We are runners in the Christian race and the moment you became a Christian, you entered the race. There are no benches to sit down on. But there’s a great crowd in the stands cheering us on.

We’re waiting for God’s plan to come to a conclusion, to be consummated, and bring it all to a glorious end, and all the promises of God will happen.

So enduring faith works in any kind of environment and during any kind of circumstance, but it’s end has the same destination. So that ends Hebrews 11 on faith. And I pray that both you and I would learn daily to live that way and to trust God in that way, and to examine our environment and our circumstances to see what is keeping us from growing in faith.

What is keeping us in the rut? We’re not holding to our joy. What’s preventing us from moving forward? What encumbrance is holding us back from running this race. How come we’re not enduring? How come we want to sit on the bench more than we want to run? That’s what we are trying to answer and we’re going to try to answer that question in the weeks ahead.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank You so much for Your Word. Lord, just as we look at this rapid fire section of men of faith and women of faith. Those who have looked to you and kept to the promised and didn’t give up and didn’t throw in the towel, even in the face of incredible odds. When they were outnumbered and when they should have given in, they didn’t because they trusted in you they knew you had something better for them beyond this life. Lord, You do and thank You for it.

We want to praise You, and we want to give You glory because You are great God. Continue to increase our knowledge of you so that our faith increases, Lord. Let us always know that You keep Your hand on us and You’re causing us to persevere until the end.

So in our times of weakness, Lord, help us to know Your presence is there and I pray this in Your Name. Amen.