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Text:  Heb. 11:35-40
Title:  "God's Better Thing--Faith"
Subject:  Those who died in faith 

Intro:  The Bible says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Heb. 11:1 
Put simply, faith is trust in the word of another.  The "another" is God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  The "Word" is the Bible.  So we could say that faith is complete, abiding trust in all the attributes of God, as revealed in the Bible. 

The Lord Jesus Christ made some astonishing comments regarding faith. The reason I bring this up is because faith is all you have regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, your daily Christian walk!  You have never seen Christ; you have never spoken audibly to Christ; and you have never been physically in His presence!  The totality of your Christian experience operates on faith!  So what the Lord said about faith is of crucial concern to each of us.  Let's consider a couple of His comments.

To two blind men seeking healing, Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you."  In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ is going to determine a great deal of what happens in your life, and how you handle it.

To the disciples on many different occasions, Jesus rebuked them for their "little faith."  1) Their faith was little in regards to the daily necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter).  2) Their faith was little when they were in the midst of a storm.  3) Their faith was little when it came to recognizing religious errors, and appreciating the D.B.R. of Christ.  4) Their faith was little when confronted with spiritual adversaries. In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ is going to determine a great deal of what happens in your life, and how you handle it.

In fact, their faith was so small, smaller than a grain of mustard seed, that Jesus said to His disciples, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain--move!--and it will move--and nothing shall be impossible unto you."  Jesus is not talking about a mound of dirt here, He is speaking about their unbelief!  If they could exercise the faith of a grain of mustard seed, the mountain of unbelief would move, and nothing would be impossible unto them.  In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ is going to determine a great deal of what happens in your life, and how you handle it.

To Peter, Jesus said, "That Satan hath desired to have you...but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." The only thing that stands between Satan sifting you like wheat is your faith! In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ is going to determine a great deal of what happens in your life, and how you handle it.

It is only by faith that you can or will obey the direct command of Jesus Christ, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."  This Christian kindergarten command of Christ, which, if obeyed, reaches the pinnacle of the Christian walk, can only be obeyed by faith.  In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ is going to determine a great deal of what happens in your life, and how you handle it.
Therefore, because of Jesus Christ's concern about how you will live your Christian life, He said, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"  That is the question of the hour!  There has been faith on the earth, but when He comes again, will He find any active faith left?      

Heb. 11:35-40 -- "God's Better Thing--Faith" --prayer  

I believe, young people, if history is any guide, that you will be the most faithless generation that has ever lived.  You will reject many of your parent's, and your church's standards outright, and, those you don't reject, will be severely compromised.  Even those of you who seek to live godly in Christ Jesus, having seen the sins and apathy of your elders, your parents, and your church, will be measuring your Christian walk by a bent yardstick!  Though this has always been true to one extent or another, the floodgates of worldliness have been opened wide, and there seems to be no extreme of worldliness that today's Christians will not only do, but justify as acceptable to God.  Young people, right now the direction you are going is helping to determine your path in life, for good or bad!  Is your life characterized by faith?  If not, I wish today to call you back to a walk of faith, or if you have not strayed, to encourage you to keep on keeping on!

Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter, where the famous men and women of faith are named, but where the nameless men and women of faith are also listed.  Young people, you are nameless, and will probably remain so the rest of your lives!  Vast multitudes will probably never know your name, books will probably not be written about your exploits, and vast continents will probably not be touched by your presence, but you have just as much responsibility to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ as the most famous of His disciples!  Hebrews 11 tells the story of countless, nameless, faceless followers of Christ who lived by faith and not by sight.  Will you be counted worthy to be numbered with them? 


Note: Though these atrocities happened to the Jewish Christians after the burning of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they apply to Christians down through the centuries who stood firm in their faith. The most notorious persecution of Christians was carried out by the Roman Catholic Church's Inquisition against Baptists, which was instituted in 1181 and continued for 400 years!  Any who dared maintain their faith in Jesus Christ, and reject the Roman Catholic Church were deemed heretics. These innocent followers of Jesus Christ included many teenagers, just like you, who stood firm in their faith in Jesus Christ, despite being horribly tortured, and finally, lead to the stake to be burnt alive.  (There was nothing left but their faith!!). 

A. Victory Over Death (v35a)
1. Raised to life again.  This passage begins with resurrection and ends with resurrection as if to remind us that we are secure in Christ despite what the world may do to us.  Some were raised to life, but others were tortured for their faith. 

B. Victory Over Torture (v35b)
1. Torture with the rack
a. But not accepting deliverance by denying their faith
b. But awaiting a better resurrection (something to look forward to) 

C. Victory Over Cruel Mockings ("mental torture") and Scourgings ("physical torture by the whip") (v36a). Use the whip to loosen the tongue. 

D. Victory Over Bonds ("physical restraint") and Imprisonment ("jail") (v36b).  The minimum sentence for the innocent was life in prison. 

E. Victory Over Stoning ("to be overwhelmed with rocks") (v37a) 

F. Victory Over being Sawn Asunder ("cut in two, while alive") (v37b) 

G. Victory Over Temptation ("tried to see what they were made of") (v37c)
1. Any and all means of intimidation were used. 

Note:  Of 21 men, women, and teenagers, "It was said that their suffering that horrid death by burning at the stake] was truly astonishing: some thrust their hands and feet into the flames with the most dauntless fortitude; and all of them yielded to their fate with such resolution that many of the amazed spectators were dumbfound."  All prayed, many sang hymns, others implored the audience to receive Christ. (There was nothing left but their faith!!). 

Note:  When the Inquisition did not stamp out the Baptists, Roman Catholic crusades (civilian armies) were mounted against them, especially in the Piedmont Mtns. of France, yet their faith overcame them...... 

H. Victory Over the Sword ("slaughtered") (v37d) 

I. Victory Over Want ("in need of the basic necessities of life") (v37e) 

J. Victory Over Banishment (v38b) 

K. Victory Over Circumstances (v37f)
1. Destitute ("suffer want")
2. Afflicted ("to be pressed hard upon")
3. Tormented ("ill treated") 

Note:  These Baptists were turned out into the elements (men, women teenagers, children, infants), while all their possessions were seized by the Catholic Church.  No one was allowed to offer them any help on pain of death.  These Baptists were pursued to the mountain tops where they died of the sword, cold, hunger, thirst, and attacks by animals. (There was nothing left but their faith!!). 

A. Our Faith Lived Out Makes the World Not Worthy
("not worth it, not of equal value") of us.  And the world knows it, and hates us, because we convict them of their sin. 

Note:  Though the world is not worthy of a Christian who lives by faith, "God so loved the world that He send His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  The Christian is to be like the Son to a world not worthy of either!  

B. But Our Faith Lived Out Makes Us Worthy ("of equal value") of Christ
"He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me."
 Matthew 10:37-38
"It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord."
  Matthew 10:25                             

A. A Good Report
("testimony") for all who live by faith in Christ 

B. Based on a Future Hope to all who live by faith in Christ
1) Received not the promise--yet!
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."  1 Cor. 2:9

A. From God's Provision
("foresaw, and provided" just what you will need) 

B. A Better ("more advantageous") certain] Thing 

Note:  Not to be free from persecution and reproach.  Not to have a greater degree of happiness in this world, but Christ, a better thing, lived out in your life for all the world to see. 

C. A Perfect ("mature") Hope
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive"
Ephes. 4:14 

Concl:  Young people, you nameless, faceless disciples of Jesus Christ, God is calling you to a life of faith.  Not faith in yourself, nor in the abilities of another, but faith; full dependence and complete reliance on Jesus Christ. You don't have to be worldly, unseparated believer, just hanging on to your salvation by the skin of your teeth, but you can be giants of the faith by determining to serve God, body, soul, and spirit. When all is said and done, There is nothing left but your faith


The Steps of a good man are despised by the Roman Catholic Church

First, they were falsely accused.  Then searched, robbed, and stripped.  Then imprisoned. There was nothing left but their faith!!).
If they confessed, they were often imprisoned for life.  If they stood mute, they were tortured until they confessed.  If they claimed their innocence, they were labeled as heretics and proceeded to torture and death. There was nothing left but their faith!!). 

The first round of torture was the rack (v35b), where the teenager was laid on an elevated stand fastened by an iron ring around the neck and both feet.  Ropes were drawn around the arms and legs, and four men pulled them tight while the ropes cut to the bone and pulled the arms/legs out of their sockets.  This was done 4 times. There was nothing left but their faith!!). 

The second round of torture had the teenager's hands brought behind his/her back, with the backs of the hands forced together and tied.  At the point both the backs of the hands were brought together, the shoulders dislocated, and blood issued from the mouth.  This was done 3 times, each time being reset by a "Dr.". (There was nothing left but their faith!!).  

The third round of torture consisted in being fasten to a board, with chains being placed on the wrists, then drawn across the body until the shoulders and wrists were dislocated.  This was done 3 times, each time being reset by a "Dr."  There was nothing left but their faith!!).

This is not to speak of the seats that were heated to red hot, or the caskets with the swords pushed through them, or the actual roasting of teenage Christians alive over a fire on a spit.   

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