Scripture: Hebrews 11:32-40, 2 Peter 1:2-8
This Sunday we conclude our worship series ‘How to Faith’ by turning to the final portion of the roll call of faith found in Hebrews 11. The preacher brings his sermon to a crescendo by calling out all the stories of faith he doesn’t have time to tell
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again.
Who wouldn’t want faith like that? A life full of conquering, vanquishing evil, flame-quenching, lion-taming, narrow escape, powerful victory, and resurrection? Who doesn’t want to sign on for that kind of life, no matter what the cost?
But the preacher goes on…
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
Now these are not such attractive stories. What’s the point of a life of faith if it leads to torture, powerlessness, shame, persecution, homelessness, and violent death? What could possibly be worth risking outcomes like that?
The preacher tells us ‘these were all commended for their faith.’
People who faith have lives full of victory, and people who faith have lives full of pain and defeat. From the preacher’s view, all of the lives on his list are faith-filled lives.
And the preacher goes on to say that all of these faithful ones, named and unnamed, the ones who achieved victories and the ones who suffered defeats, all of them were merely waiting for the promise that we have received: Jesus.
And Jesus offers us one thing, and one thing only.
I hope you’ll join me for worship. I’ll tell you the one thing Jesus promises us. Then you can decide if it’s worth risking everything to receive it.
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