Hebrews

Hebrews 11:1-4 (The Faith of Abel)

Hebrews 11 - God’s Hall of Fame. 

Hebrews 11:1-4 - The Faith of Abel (v4)

"Now the just (by faith) shall live by faith” - (Hebrews 10:37). 

What does it mean to LIVE BY FAITH? 

Paul answers this by describing how faith worked in the life the Old-Testament Heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11). These Pioneers teach us the basic principles of the life of faith. 

First he tells us what Faith is.  “Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence(conviction) of things not seen” (11:1). 
Faith is trusting in the invisible God sure that He is faithful to His Word. 

Faith pleases God and proves its genuineness in good works: 
“For by it the elders (the heroes of faith) obtained a good testimony” (v2). 

Through faith we see all life is governed by God and His Word: “By faith we understand that the worlds (ages) were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (v3). 

Faith causes us to understand that ultimate realities are spiritual and are determined and revealed by the Word. It is our 6th sense that contacts and joins us to God, Who is beyond the reach of our senses, seeing past the visible to the invisible ultimate reality. Living by faith is having an invisible Source, leaning on an invisible power, trusting an invisible means of support.

The Life of Faith is illustrated by the Men of Faith in Hebrews 11
 (where God gives His testimony to them). This Hall of Fame is only a partial listing for God wants to add your name and deeds to the list! This passage concludes with:“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (those who have gone before us - described in chapter 11), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (our main example of faith), the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (12:1-3).  The greatest hero of faith is Jesus Himself, from whose example we learn ENDURANCE under attack, trial and pressure - the proof of real faith. 

ABEL teaches us true FAITH in God must be based in the BLOOD of Christ (v4): 

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4). 

Genesis 4:2-8:
 “Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat (sacrificial lambs). And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well (if you come to me through blood not works), will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well (if you have a bloodless man-made religion of works - ‘I’ll do it my way’), SIN (the sin-nature in his flesh) lies at the door. And its desire is for (to dominate) you, but you should rule over it (by God’s grace)." 

God warns Cain that if He fails to come to God in the way God has decreed (through blood) and to avail himself of God’s grace, he will be dominated by sin. When people say: ‘Be free, just do whatever you feel like doing, vent your anger, it’s O.K’, they are giving a license for the sin-nature to take control. This is the way of Cain: to walk after the flesh independant of God and His Word, resulting in sin taking them over. Now Cain talked with Abel his brother.(Cain complained to Abel against God but Abel witnessed to him, reminding him that they must come to God and receive forgiveness through blood, because of sin. He would have told him about Adam’s teaching on this). And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Cain rejected God’s Word and came under full control of sin. He was overwhelmed with anger for Abel and for God: ‘God, you want blood, I give you blood!’.

Down the ages CAIN has been killing ABEL. Unbelievers are still persecuting and killing true believers.

ABEL = the Believer, who trusts in the BLOOD SACRIFICE (representing Christ and His Blood) for grace (the forgiveness of sins and life with God).

CAIN 
= those who reject SALVATION through Blood, replacing it by a man-centred religion and salvation. As a result they become dominated by SIN and hate (murder) fills their heart and lives - especially towards those Believers who remind them of God’s righteousness. God by His Word revealed from the beginning (as of first importance) that SALVATION from sin is only through innocent BLOOD. 

“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness)” (Hebrews 9:22). 

All the Blood sacrifices (which were instituted by God) signified the Blood of Jesus. God was teaching man that this is the only remedy for sin. For justice demands that sin must be punished. We can either pay the penalty (death) ourselves or we can let someone else (a substitute) pay the price. But who would be able or willing to pay such a price and die for the sins of all mankind? Only One, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the final sacrifice! Therefore, if a man rejects the grace of God made available on the basis of the Blood of Christ, He cannot help but come under the power of sin and God’s judgement upon sin (Hell). Cain is the blueprint for all those who make this choice.

In the Teaching of Adam to mankind (given in Genesis 2:5-5:1) the necessity of salvation through the Blood of Christ was made clear. The Book of Adam closes with: This is the book of (the generations of) Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God (Gen5:1). 

SUMMARY of Adam’s teaching:
 

(1) God created man in perfection to have fellowship with Him (Gen2:6-25, 3:8).

(2) Man sinned and was cut off from the Presence of a righteous God (3:1-8). 
They became aware of their need for a covering (atonement) before God because of sin: “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (v7), for they were afraid of God’s righteous judgement upon his sin (v8)

(3) Man’s solution was a bloodless salvation(a covering of fig-leaves) but it had no power to save: “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (v7). If you you try and stand before God in your good-works (filthy-rags) you are like Adam in his fig-leaves! “When they heard the Lord walking in the garden they hid themselves from His presence” (v8). 
"I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself" (v10).  Man’s works and self-made religion (fig-leaves) are useless in the Presence of God. 

(4) God still loved sinful man and reached out to restore him(v9). 
God in His love for the sinner provided a covering with innocent blood: “For Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (v21). This was the FIRST SHEDDING OF BLOOD. God was telling man that the only effective covering of sin would be through the death and blood of an innocent substitute - such was the terrible nature of sin and its penalty. Here the use of animals for clothing was sanctioned -but not for food yet. God covered them in another’s blood but the blood of an mere animal could never save. This spoke of the blood of the Coming Messiah - Jesus. 

So along with this Blood sacrifice, He prophesied the coming of Messiah, his sacrificial death and resulting victory over sin and satan: “I will put enmity between you (satan) and the woman, and between your seed (sin) and her Seed(Messiah); He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (v15). So God preached the Gospel to Adam who then taught his descendants. 

(5) Man must accept God’s blood provision or be spiritually naked-a lost soul forever. Adam and Eve accepted God’s covering and were saved and passed on the teaching of SALVATION by BLOOD to their descendants. Abel accepted it by faith and was saved but Cain knew better! Since then Blood sacrifice and covenant has been the deepest thing in the human understanding. Modern man thinks he is superior and has advanced beyond primitive religion but he is actually the most ignorant and lost, for since the fall there is no true faith in God or salvation without blood.  Man was expelled from Eden for his owns benefit (v22), signifying exclusion from the full 
blessing of God until the Messiah comes and opens the gates of Heaven for man again. Are you a Cain or an Abel? You must accept and trust the Blood of Christ as only basis for your forgiveness, your standing before God, your access to God, and all your blessing, healing and salvation. 

This is the necessary first step in the life of faith.
You must accept the Blood of Christ for yourself.

The blood of every martyr or murder/abortion victim calls out for judgement: 
“The Lord said to Cain, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother's BLOOD cries out to Me (for judgement)from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand” (4:9-11). 

But thank God, the Blood of Jesus speaks Mercy because He has taken our judgement on himself: “You have come... to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the Blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24). If you accept the powerful Blood of Jesus mercy will overcome judgement.

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